The Conflict of Serious Silliness

Generating Laughter by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the silliness in seriousness and the seriousness in silliness. I’m excited for today’s study, because I take my silliness very seriously, or is it that I find my seriousness very silly?

definition: silliness n. the quality of lacking good sense; foolishness 2. absurdity, ridiculousness, or irrationality 3. clownish, whimsical, or exaggerated humor and playfulness; unrestrained high spirits

Interesting how the first two definitions appear to be negative, deficits, lacking, but the third includes whimsical and playful which are positive and “Unrestrained high spirits” sounds great. The more I study these abstract nouns, the more they also appear to be Janus words; which adds another dimension to this study. It makes sense to create one image for contradictory abstract nouns if each one actually contradicts itself.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a conflict poem.

A Seriously Silly Conflict

What are you doing sitting in the mud? You look like a fool who lost a one man tug-of-war. I’ll find some rope and hold one end. I’m offering an out. You don’t have to thank me friend. Take it. I’m serious. And don’t let it tangle. I’m not trying to interfere with whatever you’re doing here, but don’t run against the tide just keep up the appearance of having some sense.

What are you doing there avoiding this mud? It’s cool and fun and perfect for play. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day. It squishes through my fingers. I can shape it like clay. It inspires happy thoughts of all manner of shapes. And it makes funny sounds that make me bubble with giggles, and fills my body with energy of squirmies and wiggles.

Don’t be absurd. You look ridiculous. The mud’s not for us, it’s for worms, or should have grunting pigs in it.  Here take the rope, and I’ll pull you out. Before you get a parasite or grow a snout.

I’ll take that rope, but I’ll pull you in. I don’t want to lock horns, but I think it’s important for you to relax. It’s not good for your health to view the world with that stress and that weight. Come play with me, play with me, play in the mud. 

Just take the rope. Give it a tug.


Today I may pass 70,000 words in my draft. It’s a good time to be ramping up the conflict. I think I’ll start my writing session by listing my planned conflicts, then brainstorming five to ten ways of making them worse, and more surprising.

#SoCS: The Pride of Morning and Disdain of Pain

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the disdain in pride and the pride in disdain. Though I’m not going to risk trying to take the images today—yesterday I twisted funny and almost ended up living in the mirrorworld because my back seized up—I did want to share an interesting find in my study this morning. Pride appears to be a Janus word, a word that also means its opposite. While exploring the definitions and collecting words in the thesaurus. I found disdain in the thesaurus under pride, and pride in the thesaurus under disdain. Thus finding the disdain in pride and the pride in disdain only takes looking in the thesaurus. There are positive aspects of pride such as happiness and self-esteem, but it also has negative aspects such as egotism and narcissism which can lead to disdain. I think this study deserves another look when I’m not in pain, and I’m capable of exploring its imagery.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS)

Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “morning.”

This morning was so beautiful—the sun rising behind the mountain; the mountain reflecting on the lake, four shadowed water foul drifting on its surface, a soft, pastel world—and filled with sharp back pain.It’s hard to see what will be best for me. Some movement, some rest. All I want is pain free stillness. Hiding from the pain, from any expectation, putting words on the page, but worried that was what I was doing to get this pain n the first place. Why pain, why did you come to visit me? Why did my happy typing call you? Why did my contented creating deserve this? What did I ever do to you? And yet, here you are, my constant companion. What can I say, to kindly ask you to leave? To suggest your departure without being rude? Perhaps this is my punishment for pride. I don’t know if my happiness for finishing NaNoWriMo on the thirteenth was exactly pride: I was feeling grateful for finally understanding what it was like to feel the flow of words that others experience; I was feeling joy that my novel was continuing to inspire me to write, that my characters were talking to each other in my head as I made breakfast; I was feeling excited to possibly finish this draft in one month and see it through to the end: Is that pride? My pride? Before my fall? I didn’t physically fall. It just started to hurt. I don’t even remember when it started.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is “The Myth of (blank).”

The Myth of Morning Pride

The sun crosses the horizon
a threshold accomplishment
she meets with glowing pride
she rises through the branches
casting shadows on nests
she awakens birdsong, and
taking it as praise, she rises
higher, buoyant in her importance
she shines upon the land, warming
the soft grass and sand, and the people
who come out of their boxes
and worship her with their lifted faces
closed eyes and smiles
they bathe in her glory
and she rises higher, kissing
their skin and their hair, soaking
up their laughter and joy
and then she hears,
“Get the sunscreen, hon,”
and the sparkle is blocked by shades
and she hears,” You don’t want to get burned,”
and descends in disgrace at the disdain
the people go back into boxes
the morning has ended
and the sun lowers her head
down the other side of day.


Though I’ve managed to stay on track with my new goal of another 40,000 words by the end of the month which puts me at 2353 words each day, I’ve lost my excitement, and I’m back to having to yank the words out of me. I think it has a lot to do with back pain I’m experiencing causing frustration with life in general, but I think it may also have to do with not being excited about the scene I’m writing, but feeling like it’s necessary to the plot.

Time to brainstorm! If I’m not finding this scene fun, the reader won’t either. There has to be something that can happen that’ll be more interesting to get me from here to there. Maybe it’s time to explore a sub-plot, or maybe today’s the day I jump around a bit. I could even write the end, if that will get me excited again.

I also picked up a mystery novel, The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny. Maybe reading a few chapters with get me excited to get back to my mystery.

The Funny Thing About Exacerbation and Relief

Exacerbated Bas Relief by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Yesterday, a wind storm knocked out the power. In a way it was a nice reprieve. I read for a while and enjoyed the strange contrast of the sun shining, and the power outage. Today I’m looking at finding the relief in exacerbation and exacerbation in relief. I’ve been dealing with some sharp lower-back pain the last few days, so I’m rather focused on the relief and exacerbation of physical pain. It’s amazing how sudden mysterious physical pain can steal all one’s joy, fun, concentration, and motivation. But relief and exacerbation are about so much more than only physical pain: we also seek relief from emotional distress, and the ache of need, and exacerbation—that which makes a problem worse—can constantly change through our perceptions.

One thing I found in my search through definitions this morning was a Botanical definition of exasperate: rough; covered with hard, projecting points, as a leaf. Those projecting points made me think of a visual for my back pain. For a visual for relief, I thought of bas-relief art, or sculpture of low relief from a surface. I started imagining how I could create the impression of bas-relief in today’s images.

For today’s images, I used a fabric backdrop and the net-lights on the opposite end of the closet from the main mirror and saw some interesting effects with different flash techniques. The irony is, while taking today’s photos I exacerbated my irritating back twinge to full on I can barely move and the pain is making me want to throw up.

Relief from Exacerbated Pain by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a funny poem. While looking through the definitions of relief today, the final definition was comic relief, which I thought was kind of a funny coincidence that it lined up with today’s poetry prompt, especially since comedy doesn’t appear to be bringing much relief these days.

Comic Relief for Back Pain

Isn’t it comical when life throws curves
and every hit flies foul
It’s kinda funny we act like it’s the first time
Relief has a kind of forgetfulness

Isn’t it peculiar when pain comes from nowhere
apparently some fault or punishment for something we can’t remember
It’s kinda funny how we think we have to push through only to make it worse
Exacerbation has a modulation

Don’t you find it humorous that we like to sit by stagnant ponds and complain about the mosquitoes
when we know they breed in stagnant water
It’s kinda funny how we always forget the bug spray until after they’ve quenched their thirsts
Relief has a kind of forgetfulness

Do you find it bizarre that when we get into trouble we can’t help but try to lie our way out
once you have a shovel and start digging, it’s nature to dig deeper
It’s kinda funny how we jump in the hole and dig and dig
Exacerbation is cruel punishment for trying to avoid pain

I always find it absurd that when something is finally finished
like my newly painted sewing room, the ceiling falls in on my head
It’s kinda funny that we never had mouse troubles before
Relief has a kind of forgetfulness

I always find it curious when I’ve finally reached a goal that I then no longer like the work
thinking I’ve reached perfection, I can only find fault in it
It’s kinda funny how at the highest peek the view is a peek that is higher
Exacerbation is a kind of cruelty

I don’t find it amusing that sitting still can irritate my back which irritates me if I don’t sit still
It will threaten pain, then scream when I move never in the same way twice
It’s kinda funny how everything is painful because of one little part, now everything
is horrible, suddenly everything I do is terrible
Relief has a kind of forgetfulness

I don’t find it perplexing when
It’s kinda funny

A Panel of Compromised Beliefs

Belief in Disbelief and Disbelief in Belief by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the disbelief in belief and the belief in disbelief. A book I’ve been waiting on for a long time finally became available at the library. Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists by Lisa Slominski (and contributors). Much of the art in this book especially the Art Brut, was created by people in Swiss Asylums. The pieces I am most drawn to are obsessively detailed pieces that the artists say were guided by spirits. Hilma af Klint’s work is also included in this book along with other spiritualists.

I find this belief (of these artists) that spirits use human vessels to create art, and that these spirits bring their messages through abstract art, fascinating. Inspired by the images created by Augustin Lesage and Adolf Wöfli, I thought I would revisit my pinhole technique adding lines to the dots and try using the quality of color and shape overlap in the mirrorworld to build a similar structure through repetition.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is write a panel poem. This makes me think of different people on a panel. Judges, critics, gate keepers; people who make decisions that effect other people’s lives. I like a numbered stanza grid poem with each stanza representing the view of one of the members of the panel for this prompt.

In Disbelief

I. Oo, oh, I don’t know
You see, there’s a very
fine line between droll
and best in show, see,
looking away brings me relief

III. The colors and lines
these detail so fine, it’s hard to believe
this precision was created by hand,
that type of obsession,
could drive someone mad

V. I’m in awe, in disbelief
that this particular piece
came to us for jury selection
I’d like to proffer we take up a coffer
and buy it for the museum

II. I do believe I would
choose this piece if he
didn’t have such strange beliefs
if a spirit showed him what to do
isn’t it he we should attribute this to?

IV. Did you see this here, where the music
appears I believe it’s a real song. I mean,
like he copied it from sheet music, or
did he compose it, and should we
consider that, in choosing, I mean?

VI. And now I am certain
you’ve all lost your minds
in this discussion of colors and lines
for there’s clearly one winner, and I won’t
hear another, look at the fur on this cat!

Disbelief in Belief and Belief in Disbelief by Maria L. Berg 2022


As I’ve mentioned, I’m using Novel Writing Blueprint Workbook by Jill Harris as my morning pages journal. I’m not using it to plan or plot my novel, I’m already almost halfway through, but as I write in it, it keeps me thinking about noveling, and it’s working! Highly recommend. I finally got to the character section and I really like Harris’s idea for exploring character creation: Instead of filling out character sheets, have another character describe that character. All the characters can take a turn describing each other. There could be a panel of characters that describe your main characters. 😃

Thoughtless Maturity, and No.

Immaturity in Maturity and Maturity in Immaturity by Maria L. Berg

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Since we’re halfway through the month, here’s the calendar again in case you would like to join in:

Today I’m looking at finding the immaturity in maturity and the maturity in immaturity. Yesterday’s thoughts about time maturing an acquaintance into a friendship had be thinking about how my work has matured over time: I have clearer expectations; I have more control over my results; I have a lot more tools in my toolbox. I decided to put some time into my filters this morning, starting with a balance filter I gave up on recently because I felt pressured for time. I felt the excitement of carefree immaturity as I looked through these filters that had matured through obsessive, relentless, serious, responsible, focused labor, so I could have some fun with them.

And Justice for All by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today is the third two for Tuesday prompt:

  1. Write a thoughtful poem, and/or…
  2. Write a thoughtless poem.

For creating a thoughtless poem, I had the idea of collecting the first things I hear randomly listening to radio stations. I’ve done this before, by actually turning the dial on a radio and collecting a couple of snippets. Since I wanted to collect a lot of random lines from different stations, I thought the process might be easier if I could find a station randomizer on the internet. What I found instead was a world of internet radio I had not experienced before. Here are some of the sites that I sampled:

Live 365


Maturity in Immaturity and Immaturity in Maturity by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s prompt for Poetics is a fun poem called “November” by Thomas Hood. While reading the poem, I thought of a toddler who upon discovering the power of “No” now only says one word. I thought I would add the word “No” to my collected radio phrases, and see what I come up with. Sarah challenges us to take a line from Hood’s poem as a springboard for our poem. I decided to use the line I chose as my title.

No comfortable feel in any member –

Sure, we have thirty seconds to tell you no
and we’re going to rampage the most
important news ever covered:
They are duking it out with each other
side by side, no, it’s quite an international city
where you get deeper into this stuff
with family, no with friends, no
with people on the streets
and you dance, dance, dance with
the woman who lets you
No, I am pointing my finger at you,
and I’m pointing it back at me
and we’re looking at some real No-
vember weather this week
as a conduit for the wellness company
where no radio has been called
the theater of the mind
but she’s got a frequency
and No! Now I’ve got it
all over me, and at no angle
of the hallway did he not believe
he was in charge aha, aha, aha
nothing promised, no regrets

Trying to Find a Balance by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Time Between Acquaintance and Friend

Acquaintance in Friendship and Friendship in Acquaintance by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the friendship in acquaintance and the acquaintance in friendship. I journaled a lot about how friendship is in acquaintance and acquaintance in friendship and it all came down to time. One has to be willing to put the time in to listen, to ask questions; one has to want to spend time with a person, concept, or idea.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge & dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s prompt is “(blank) Story,” and it’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub where the word “wing” needs to be included in a poem of exactly 44 words.

Hour Story

Let’s pretend time broke a wing and can’t fly
so your warmth next to me as we look out at the lake
while the sun gets low in the sky and sparkles in our eyes won’t roam
and you won’t look at your phone.

Friendship in Acquaintance and Acquaintance in Friendship by Maria L. Berg 2022


Today, I’m celebrating because I “won” NaNoWriMo yesterday by writing 50,000 words on my new novel draft. However, I want to complete my whole first draft since it’s going so well,so I reset my goal on the NaNoWriMo website for another 40,000 words. This ups the daily goal to over 2,353. It seems daunting, but my new “wake up and write on the novel” practice is working. I already have 1400 words on the day, and I haven’t really gotten into today’s planned writing. The only thing that’s bothering me about resetting my goal is I had to get rid of my original goal because they can’t overlap. Thus, my pretty win on the site is gone. I guess that’s a good motivator to meet my new goal. Still a bit of a bummer.

Satisfied with Staying Dissatisfied

The Satisfaction in Dissatisfaction and the Dissatisfaction in Satisfaction

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the dissatisfaction in satisfaction and the satisfaction in dissatisfaction. No matter what, when I hear the word “satisfaction,” the Rolling Stones’ song is instantly in my head. Why is “I can’t get no da da dum da da da dum satisfaction da da dum da da da dum” so stuck in my brain? In a way, that line itself, represents the contradictory abstract nouns for today, so does today’s image look like Jagger?

For today’s images I was inspired to address some filters I had put in a repair pile. Some of my older filters, though satisfying when created, had fallen apart, or needed some changes and had become dissatisfying. My original wire lines in an open circle filter had fallen apart, so I rearranged the wires and resecured them, but the real satisfaction came with how the lines interacted with the shadows from the string-lights I have in the mirrorworld.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write an ekphrastic poem. I think I will attempt to write my poem in response or in conversation with one of today’s photographs.

The Dissatisfaction in Satisfaction and the Satisfaction in Dissatisfaction by Maria L. Berg 2022

Tide Predictions

Dissatisfaction rolls through
rolls across, over, and around
like waves jostled by rocks
then reflected back upon themselves
waves of satisfaction ebbing
spreading doubt, turning in

the excitement of achievement
not reflected back when shared
like waves crashing upon the sands
of days cooling the warm pride
irritation of errors like sand fleas
hopping on bared skin soon
what was contentment becomes
shivers, goosebumps, and itch

Dissatisfaction brings the blues
but may light the way to  greater
satisfaction another day.


Yesterday’s work with Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot by Arwen Lynch, took time, and I wrote less words on my novel than I might have liked, but I feel like I have a real understanding of where my novel is going and how everything fits together. And the cards I drew for the scene, helped me figure out connections to other clues and how the two characters are trying to manipulate each other.

I did a Celtic Cross and a Hero’s Journey reading for the novel itself. What was fun about interpreting the results for each of those, is they each informed some choices I had been waffling on for future scenes and confirmed or solidified my ideas about what I’ve written so far. That’s what’s so fun about plotting with tarot, the cards are symbolic and broad enough to leave room for interpretation, but specific enough to help make decisions.

Though I went to bed feeling a bit worried that I was burning out, I woke up and went straight to my scenes and already have my minimal word count for the day. It feels great to have any self-imposed pressure off. I think I will try to get straight to the page in the morning for the rest of the month and see how it goes.

#SoCS: The Inelegant Pursuit of a Future Elegant Celerity

The elegance in inelegance and inelegance in elegance

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the inelegance in elegance and the elegance in inelegance. When I think of elegance, I think of long lines and smooth curves, of jewel monochromes against black, exotic smells and tastes (more spicy than fruity), lush soft and silky textures that shine in soft light, and traditional sounds played on intricately carved instruments. Inelegance is blaring car horns and screeching brakes, boring monochrome spray-painted tags in easy to reach places in parks, the dry sharp skin that keeps growing on my heels, fast food chains, and fruity chemical perfumes. How, when, and where do these two worlds meet? And what does that look like.

After playing in my dictionary, I found that “Suave” seems to encompass both elegance and inelegance. Suave adj. 1. smoothly though often superficially gracious and sophisticated 2. smooth in texture, performance, or style

An old rhyme from my childhood popped into my head, “He was suave, debonair; he used oil on his hair.” I looked it up and found a PSA from 1980 at IN27WORDSORLESS “Mostly forgettable TV quote (7)” . What a fun blast from the past, and I think it expresses these contradictory abstract nouns perfectly.

The Inelegance in Elegance

For today’s images I enjoyed the elegant patterns created by light and shadows on my closet doors by the inelegant overgrowth outside my bedroom window.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS)

Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “starts with or contains ‘cel.’” Find a word that begins with or contains “cel.”

The first word that came to mind was celebrate. I am celebrating an acceptance letter from Stone Canoe literary journal yesterday. I will have to images in the March 2023 issue. It was such a happy surprise and transformed me into a celebrator. But there are so many fun “cel” words, like cel itself. Spelled either cel or cell, it means a transparent sheet of celluloid on which objects are drawn or painted in the making of animated cartoons. And right under cel in my dictionary is celadon which is a grayish yellow green which makes me think of the final leaves falling from the trees, and the color of by wet and dry sad looking grass right now. But for my final selection today, I settled on celerity which is a noun that means rapidity of motion or action. Not only does it seem to be a new to me word, which I always love to discover, it also has a great sound and meaning. From the Latin celeritas, celer in French meaning swift. My dictionary says it is from the 15th century.

So what does celerity make me think of. The robot’s celerity only discouraged the other workers doing their best to keep up. Her celerity made me think she was acting impulsively. And if I put both of those ideas together. The celerity of the robot may lead to problems in situations that need thoughtful weighing of pros and cons that do not have easy answers. Celerity is a fun word, but obviously makes me think of celery and celebrity and celebrity celery which I don’t think has ever existed but should. Maybe there’s a Guinness record for largest or heaviest celery which would then be a celebrity celery in certain circles.

The inelegance in elegance and the elegance in inelegance by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a future poem. Since the scene I’ll be working on today in my novel includes a psychic, it makes sense to have a psychic as my speaker in my future poem.

The Seer

What do I see?
Future people, future places, future things
or extrapolations of present people
present places, present things
or extensions of past people,
past places, past things
all the same to me
and all disappointing
when you’ve seen it all before

What do I see?
betrayal, infidelity, hypocrisy, and cruelty
all the desperation caused by want
acts of the delusional causing
ripples of sadistic torment
leading to unfulfilled needs
causing hunger, thirst
and bad behavior

What do I see?
insecurities, fear, and doubts
miserable people who want simple
immediate answers, who want
everything to be alright, who want
someone else to fix it because
change is too hard

What do I see?
Whatever she wants to hear
whatever answer brings a smile
everything he hopes and dreams of
everything his fantasies reveal
and something fuzzy that won’t become
clear until they come back
with more cash


Today I’ll be working with Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot by Arwen Lynch, not only to find ideas for my plot, but to create the reading that my protagonist receives from her new friend the town psychic. It should be a really fun writing day.

The Honestly Dishonest are the Scariest

Dishonesty in Honesty and Honesty in Dishonesty by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the dishonesty in honesty and the honesty in dishonesty. While exploring honesty and dishonesty, I happened upon the Honesty plant. Lunaria annua, also called Annual honesty, Money Plant, Moonwort, and Satin Pod. For today’s images I made filters to look like both its flower and seed pod stages.

Honesty in Dishonesty and Dishonesty in Honesty by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt was to write a scary poem. For today’s poem I went back through all the poems I wrote in October and chose what I considered to be the scariest lines. I randomly combined them with a collection of words having to do with dishonesty, made new lines and reorganized them.

The Honestly Dishonest are the Scariest

lurking on the porch in this uninviting hour
responding to demands of hunger’s tasks

nothing is easy when superficial
every movement subterfuge
a glance of bewitched dancing

sophism in the moonlight
threatens fallacy

silver glints and a shiver quivers
and words will mince as delusive

I know scared
fallacious, ponderously slow,
false, ferocious, and seeking
tricky to survive

escape chicane embarrassment
the point will pierce cavil
raising fears

as fear nears frivolous
shiny spoons to quivering spines
impenetrable by doorbell or phone

beguile as you slowly drive past
defraud the people pretending to live

The Struggle to See What’s Between Humility and Arrogance

Arrogance in humility and Humility in arrogance by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the arrogance in humility and the humility in arrogance. After exploring definitions and a lot of journal writing, I kept thinking about birds (raptors), feathers, and Robin Hood.

One would have to arrogant to steal from the rich, and perhaps humble to live in the woods with his merry band and give to the poor. But wouldn’t that humility have led to anonymity? Instead he let his name be known, and enjoyed the fame from his good deeds which was arrogant, and he even beguiled Maid Marion which was sheer arrogance. The other arrogance humbled that I thought about was the hummingbird feathers I received from a friend that I’ve been using in some of my filters. The arrogant, flashy hummingbird, hovering, being snatched from the air by a cat, its shiny feathers left on a doorstep. So I decided to try two feather-related filters: a feather in a cap, and feathers in a cat.

Humility in arrogance and Arrogance in humility by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s challenge is to write a struggle poem. Today’s exercise I chose from The Art of Voice by Tony Hoagland is Exercise 3 from Chapter IV “The Warmth of Worldliness” and models “Let’s meet somewhere outside time and space,” by Diane Seuss whose new book frank:sonnets won the 2022 Pulitzer. This exercise is about “developing my image-making strengths,” so I’ll be generating as many word-images of the struggle of humility and arrogance as I can.

“Let’s meet somewhere outside time and space,” made me think of my favorite virtual place the Liszt Academy. I hadn’t visited in a while. I love this place so much. Wandering the rooms and halls and looking at the details never gets old. And it’s the perfect place to explore the struggle of humility in arrogance and arrogance in humility.

The link to the Liszt Academy is now in my favorites bar right after 4theWords, so no matter where I am in the internet, I only have to move my cursor and click on it, and I’ll be whisked away to my favorite place. Why haven’t I done this before? Oh, maybe because I won’t get anything done because I’m roaming around the Liszt Academy. Guess we’ll see, won’t we?

“Truly great men are those who combine contrary qualities within themselves,”
Liszt once wrote. (the Christian Science Monitor)

I’ll meet you in the struggle of humility and arrogance
~after Diane Seuss

between the four identical muses, two on either side
where the green man, or Pan, in wide-mouthed surprise
has become a fountain

Between two large breasted torsos under Medusa and their twins under Poseidon
where the masses watch from above, viewing the performance and the audience’s
hairlines, knees, and hands

Between bench and keys , strings, pegs, and mallets
where all possibilities lie in wait

Between theme and variation
where centuries of hearts swell

Between two swans under a ceiling of delicate gold leaves
where a lyre sings its strings through a woman’s disembodied head

Between the two red velvet curtains in the private balcony box
where the privileged have the best view of the player’s hands, or the back of her neck

Between the Art Deco glass lyres and the ones across the hall
where the music reverberates and fills the imagination

I make my way with violent effort back through the doors
to the lobby, but there is so much more to explore

I strive to return to the place I dust and vacuum
to the space between the grass and the street
between the rain and the freeze
where  humility keeps me

but I am pulled along the corridors
between the classrooms where more stages
more pianos, more Art Deco await my every turn
the pleasure of these empty spaces where I imagine
my virtuoso arrogance, percussive fingers flying

Between the splendor, and the opulence
where I now look into the orchestra pit
under the olive green velvet curtains in the theater

Is the struggle an act of coming back to humility, to this reality
when I can be in this virtual world of arrogance and affluence,
pretending it is mine.

dVerse Poets Pub

Today was Open Link Night Live, and as usual it was over before I looked up from my work. Lillian mentioned it might happen on a different day or time, so maybe someday. Luckily, I can still link up and share my poem with that great global community of poets.


Yesterday was the first day I felt like I was stalling out. I wasn’t really. I still wrote over 2,000 words, but I could tell that I wasn’t sure how things were going to fit together. So I did as I had planned, and started filling in the Blueprint from Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron. I got about half-way through it before I was done for the day, but it helped me get my ideas in order. While I was in the shower before bed, the climactic scene played out in my head, making some of the decisions I was still waffling on, or at least showing me one possibility.

It’s never too late to work on your outline, your novel blueprint. This weekend, I’ll put all my 4theWords files into a Scrivener file and look at all the clues I’ve set up and connections I’ve made so far, and make sure I continue to develop them to the climax and tie them up at the end.

Today’s scene is mostly in my Protagonist’s head as she scours over the evidence in a cold case trying to find new clues. So as a warm-up, I’m going to do the exercise from The Compass of Character by David Corbett. That I didn’t get to the other day. In the first section, “The Logic of Longing,” he presents a series of questions to pose to your Protagonist and Antagonist to get to their: Lack, Yearning, Resistance (Weakness, Flaw), and Desire.