The Week in Review: Reading, Writing, and Abstraction

Mountain by Maria L. Berg 2023

How was your week? Did you try reading like a writer? Though I didn’t find a lot to apply to my novel from The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill, I did have fun brainstorming unique formats for my novel, and it inspired me to get a copy of S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst from my local library system. I was curious to see how all the inserts worked. They are neatly tucked within the pages of the book and the book comes in a box sleeve that is velcroed shut. Imagine my happy surprise when the first insert is two copies of a letter. The first in Swedish and the second its translation. It was fun to be able to read the letter in Swedish and also see their translation.

The Ship of Theseus, which is the fictitious book in which the characters write in the margins, is also the name of an interesting philosophical puzzle which asks, if every piece of a ship is replaced over time, is it still the same ship when it doesn’t have a single original piece left?

As for the reading experience I haven’t figured it out yet. There are so many different things to read: The translator’s preface and footnotes is one story, the novel, the layers and layers of notes between the students, and the inserted materials. I thought I would read through the novel first, but the notes were too distracting, so I think I’ll have to spend the time on each page to read the novel, the translator’s notes and the students written notes all at once.

I finished reading Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert for my coursera.org course “The Modern and the Postmodern” through Wesleyan University. In class, it was an example of the Disillusionment. I know I read Madame Bovary as an undergrad, but I really didn’t remember anything about it as I read. It was long and boring and the characters were abhorrent people, but that’s why it’s going to be interesting to discuss for reading as a writer. I found a lot to learn from it and apply to my work.

I liked the note-taking capabilities in Kindle and will talk about that tomorrow. I also found some interesting surprise connections  in my other reading that I’ll talk about tomorrow.

This week I found a new-used mirror large enough to create a mirrorworld that has eternal depth, as in mirrors reflecting mirrors all the way to infinity. I’m excited to explore all my new techniques within this space while thinking dialectically. My idea for this week is: if I take an image that includes my shape both right side up, and upside down and backwards, and I use that shape as a filter to take a photo of the shapes right side up, and upside down and backwards, will that get me closer to synthesis? I’ll try it out and talk more about these new ideas of capturing synthesis on Tuesday.

Moon by Maria L. Berg 2023

Using drum beats to create poetic lines

This week’s rhythm I’ve been playing with is: one, two, three, four and. This is the cha-cha rhythm. I looked through my old records and the only cha-cha I found was by Henri Mancini called “Something for Sellers.”(Fun fact: Henri Mancini also wrote the theme song for Remington Steele which I enjoyed as a kid, and is a fun distraction available on Amazon Prime Video.)

The last word of each phrase should be a trochee, having the stress on the first syllable. Until this week I was only looking at the rhythm as syllables not the stress of the words, but with this four & beat, it feels like the trochee vs. iamb(ic) foot is important.

Where is this going? Who’s out there knowing?
Can I make something, from all this nothing?
two rights come center, once new thoughts enter
is the mean better, once her match met her?

After four week of looking at this idea of drum beats becoming lines of poetry, I thought it would be fun to see how the lines work and sound together. Let’s see what happens. First I’ll take four lines from each of the patterns I’ve played with so far in order:

I say I’m good when we meet, but you’re not buying
I talk of truth, honestly, I know I’m lying
If truth is fine, why do I find yours is ugly?
If flaws make rich, why do I wish to be smudge free?

but I was waffling, so I just followed
to enjoy the talk and be in the walk
but I could not stop my mind from worry
we needed to go and be in a hurry

the third unknown point joins in unseen lines
to a future hurt that your secrets hide
where the haunting blues find life’s conflict caught
ache in yearning flesh moves the wand’ring eye

Where is this going? Who’s out there knowing?
Can I make something, from all this nothing?
two rights come center, once new thoughts enter
is the mean better, once her match met her?


Now let’s try one line from each in a row to make the quatrains:

I say I’m good when we meet, but you’re not buying
but I was waffling, so I just followed
the third unknown point joins in unseen lines
Where is this going? Who’s out there knowing?

I talk of truth, honestly, I know I’m lying
to enjoy the talk and be in the walk
to a future hurt that your secrets hide
Can I make something, from all this nothing?

If truth is fine, why do I find yours is ugly?
but I could not stop my mind from worry
where the haunting blues find life’s conflict caught
two rights come center, once new thoughts enter

If flaws make rich, why do I wish to be smudge free?
we needed to go and be in a hurry
ache in yearning flesh moves the wand’ring eye
is the mean better, once her match met her?

*I think I like that. This second one has some interesting connections happening.

I guess I’ll be moving on to a slightly more complicated drum beat this week. I’ll have to figure out how that works with this idea of drum beats and poetry. Maybe I’ll see how a simple drum fill works with this idea.

I chose “(I’m Afraid The) Masquerade is Over” by Herb Magidson and Allie Wrubel as the song to work on this week as I continue working on my second call to action, “To find the ugliness in beauty and the beauty in ugliness; uglify the beautiful, or beautify the ugly.”

Memento Poetry Form

Color Explosion by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is a new to me poetry form called “Memento.” The Memento form “created by Emily Romano is a poem about a holiday or an anniversary, consisting of two stanzas as follows: the syllable count should be 8 beats for line one; 6 beats for line two; and two beats for line three. This is repeated twice for each stanza. The rhyme scheme is: a/b/c/a/b/c for each of the two stanzas.” Here’s my attempt at my first Memento:

sky lighting

we gather, heads tilted, eyes wide
as pyros, born of flame
alight
each explosion elicits cries
of fright then quickly came
delight

brilliant color blossoms fall wide
Boom! rockets rise again
free flight
when lights sparkle in hopeful eyes
we bathe in warm ash rain                                                                  
tonight

                                                             

Light Explosion by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Week in Review: Reading, Writing, and Abstraction

Spotlight by Maria L. Berg 2023

How was your week? Did you try reading like a writer? I really enjoyed applying the things I learned from The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny to my short story. This week I’ll be talking about The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill.

I’m enjoying my coursera.org course “The Modern and the Postmodern” through Wesleyan University. I really like how my study of contradictory abstractions overlaps with philosophy. This week’s section “From Enlightenment to Revolution” talked about Hegel’s dialectic thinking. I’ll talk more about that on Tuesday.

This week’s images were inspired by painters from the Northwest School, that emerged in the late 1930’s, especially the work of Mark Tobey. In Modernism in the Pacific Northwest by Patricia Junker, there’s a photograph of lights on US Navy ships in Elliott Bay during Fleet Week, July 1937, on the opposite page from Tobey’s painting “White Night, 1942. One can see how the overlapping spotlights could be the energy Tobey tries to capture in the painting. I played with creating the overlapping spotlights with light-forming photography and enjoyed the results.

Enlighten by Maria L. Berg 2023

Using drum beats to create poetic lines

This week’s rhythm I’ve been playing with is: one, two, three and, four. It made me think of the cha-cha, but when I looked up some cha-cha videos it turns out the cha-cha is actually next week’s beat: one, two, three, four and.

The first lines that came to mind for one, two, three and, four:

she is always late; she has fifty dates

sweet treat healthy fruit; brown round wrinkled suit

time to go-to bed; Mis-ter sleepy head

time to go-to work; he’s a soda jerk

Here’s some of a draft of a poem idea I wrote the other day:

a triangle from two connected points
the unknown third point
making invisible lines
of connection
to future hurt
to future revelations
the invisible lines
of secrets and lies
one of those fine lines
is the line between love and hate
a triangle of love
betrayed and hidden
where the deceit in truth
is found, where the
haunting blues find soul
where song after song
find life’s conflict
the wandering eye caught
attention grabbed by the new
and in motion
the yearning flesh aching
knowing there’s a good ache
that frees the mind
from form

Let’s see what happens when I try to put it into the rhythm:

the third unknown point
joins in unseen lines
to a future hurt
that your secrets hide

where the haunting blues
find life’s conflict caught
ache in yearning flesh
moves the wand’ring eye

*I really like how the rhythm helped me condense the ideas. I think this is an intriguing opening.

Radiating by Maria L. Berg 2023

And the Real Work Begins

Today’s the big day! I’m putting the first draft of my novel I wrote in November into a PDF and I’m going to read it through on my tablet as if it’s someone else’s e-book. From now on, as I’m reading like a writer, learning and writing rhythms, and studying contradictory abstractions it is all toward my novel revision.

Here’s to an Exciting Adventure!

The Warm-up Week: Creating New Systems

Warm and Fuzzy by Maria L. Berg 2023

How was your first week of the year? Mine was busy and fun. I love how writing down what I want to do, here at Experience Writing, motivates me to do it. With all of the new things I’m trying, I have to remind myself that I’m just getting started. I need to be patient and give things time.

I did read a novel this week. I finished The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry. Tomorrow I’ll have a post about how I plan to start reading as a writer and applying what I learn from reading novels. Then later in the week I’ll have a post about what I learned from The Manual of Detection and how I can apply that to my work.

I was inspired to look at my contradictory abstractions study in a new way and will share that on Tuesday.

This week’s images were inspired by early abstract painters, Kandinsky and Mondrian. I used different size sharpies to color and draw on clear plastic then cut shapes out of black paper to represent large brush strokes, or paint blobs. I like the effect. I’m still trying to figure out the arrangement of my mirror room, but I think I’m getting results.

After realizing last week that my motivational issues are due to fear, I decided to face that fear by facing myself. I set up a chair and fabric drape in my office and have started taking self-portraits every day just as I am, no make-up, messy hair. So far it’s great practice. I’m hoping after a while, I’ll loosen up and get past trying to pose for the camera. Over time I’ll play with different looks: wigs, make-up, costumes, etc. It’ll be fun (I hope).

I finished up my chapbook for the Writer’s Digest NovPAD Challenge and sent it in, I entered a Sony Photography contest, and sent images to two literary magazines. I like that I’ve started the year submitting my work. I want to keep that up consistently this year.

I got a fun e-mail from the editor of Heron Tree. They are looking for submissions of found poetry, and one of the text options this year is Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. I am so grateful she emailed me and turned me onto this fabulous text from 1826 with color plates of drawings of the different herbs, and text of how Mr. Nicholas Culpeper used them in his work. I’m going to start by putting sections of the text through the Mesostic Poem Generator and see what comes out.

I started a new (to me) Coursera.org Course, “The Modern and Postmodern (Part 1)” through Wesleyan University. One of the texts led me to Project Gutenberg and now my Kindle is full of philosophy and aesthetics books from the early 1900s. I will never run out of things to read.

I also started my first SloPo mini-course with ModPo Penn. We’re studying Joan Retallack‘s poems.

I Got It Bad and I Think That’s Good by Maria L. Berg 2023

Using drum beats to create poetic lines

This week I started something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’m working on my drumming and applying it to writing poetry. To do this I found some videos from Music College TV on Youtube. This is the video I’m starting with:

I practiced playing four beats of quarter notes, then four beats of eighth notes in different combinations of cymbals and drums. Then I thought about how to represent that with words as a line of poetry. Thinking only of the rhythm, I came up with:

cat cat cat cat, kitty kitty kitty kitty

fox fox fox fox, vixen vixen vixen vixen

Easy right? And fun to say, but not exactly poetry. So then I took a section of a poem I wrote this week while thinking about finding the bad in good and the good in bad, and attempted to keep the meaning of the line while changing it to my new rhythm.

Here are the original lines:

I tell everyone I meet that I’m a good person,
but I’m not.
I talk about honesty and truth,
but I’m lying
I recite poems that equate truth to beauty,
but I think they’re ugly
I expound on the value of flaws and natural beauty,
but seek perfection

And here are the new lines in my simple drumbeat:

I say I’m good when we meet, but you’re not buying
I talk of truth, honestly, I know I’m lying
If truth is fine, why do I find yours is ugly?
If flaws make rich, why do I wish to be smudge free?

The new lines in rhythm felt like they needed to rhyme which I think is interesting. It’s challenging, but it definitely makes me write and think in a new way.

No Rush

I’m happy that I’m making progress, so I’m not going to rush things. I’ll stick with finding the good in the bad and the bad in the good while continuing to work on the song “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” and playing around with my simple drum beat. I may stick with this song and beat for one more week or two or through the end of the month, as long as I am continuing the work and feeling inspired.

I do plan to stick to a novel a week though. This week I’m reading The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny.

How are you diving into the New Year? I look forward to hearing about it in the comments.

Endings and Beginnings: THIS is a Great Day

Winter Wonderland by Maria L. Berg 2022

I woke up in a winter wonderland. It started snowing yesterday evening, and the snow stuck. There was about a half foot of snow when the sun came out. I was so excited to try my reflection balls in the snow. What a great way to celebrate finishing my draft.

I Did It! I wrote THE END on my novel draft. Over 100,000 words in one month. I’m so excited and happy: not only because I pushed through to the end, but because I get to put it away while I read books, and work on revising my poems for the Chapbook challenge, and then I get to come back to it to start the new year off right.

Contradictory Abstract Nouns

Last month I looked at a different combination of abstract nouns each day, however each of them was related to the big five: beauty, truth, wisdom, love, or happiness. So this month I’m going to sort them back into the big five and review what I’ve learned. It’ll be interesting to see if collecting the images back into their big five counterparts leads to different ideas for the what their contradictions are, and what their unification looks like.

Reflections in the Snow by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s Meeting the Bar prompt Laura challenges us to look back over our recent poems and make a poem out of twelve of our last lines to celebrated the twelfth month. What a great way to start my review of the poems I wrote in November for the Poem a Day challenge.

Forgetting Every Ending Leads to No Beginnings

You can’t be disappointed, if you have no expectations
perhaps forgetfulness is the cleanse
so cross that bridge over and over
in the glow of morning

as serious as life and death
that sweet resolve
to defraud the people pretending to live
the blue bottle in the icebox waiting to warm the way down

I knew that my dream holiday repast had finally come and gone
when I was given a cup of cocoa, and told to go upstairs
on second thought I see it like it is
nothing promised, no regrets

So that’s it. November is over. It was an amazing month. I’m looking forward to reviewing everything I created, and polishing it in the future. For now, I am going to get lost in some reading, exercise, and cleaning the house. Have a great weekend! I’ll be back some time next week.

And a Successful NaNoWriMo Comes to an End

Failure in success and success in failure by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the failure in success and the success in failure.

It is finally here, the final day of November: the last day of NaNoWriMo; the last day of prompts for the NovPAD challenge; and the last day of this extended study of the big five abstract nouns and their contradictory counterparts. This month has been huge for me in terms of creation, invention, and discovery.

I now have yet another novel draft, and thirty new poems, and a ton of new images, all successful failures and failed successes. Luckily, they don’t end there. November succeeded as a month of creation. Now it’s time to spend as much time in review, and to find the failures, examine them and learn from them; to sort through and find what I still like after letting time pass, and see why I think it succeeded and how to use that successes to transform the failures. I plan to let the novel completely rest, while I focus on the poems and images in December.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

The last prompt for this challenge is a title prompt “And (blank).”

And Success Will Follow

The undertaking is a complete fiasco
The shapes are blurry,
the colors are dull
so step over the line again

The performance is a total flop
the notes are wrong
the movements sloppy
so square off against butterflies once more

The operation is an absolute loss
alarms are sounding
footsteps approaching
so laugh in the face of fear anew

The design is a full-scale bust
the pieces don’t fit
the vision is not birthed
so muster the courage afresh

The quest is a downright defeat
the return is without elixir
the dragon still hoards the treasure
so cross that bridge over and over

Success in failure and failure in success by Maria L. Berg 2022

NaNoWriMo

Today I will write until this draft is finished, no matter how many words it takes, even if I have to write through the night, I will get to “The End.” I’m very excited. I’m so close. I won’t let myself down. 

The draft is a complete mess. I know most of it is garbage, but the whole story is there. I have used the process of drafting to get to know some really interesting characters, create a small town world, and create and resolve conflicts. In this way, this NaNoWriMo has been a complete success. The words flowed, and I wrote more in a month than I ever have before. But what I really succeeded in doing was creating more work for myself.

I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about my plans for the dwindling days of this year and what to expect in December, but then I’ll be taking a break, at least for the weekend.

Happy Final Day of November!

The Glow of Daring Disinterested Infatuation

Disinterest in infatuation and infatuation in disinterest by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the disinterest in infatuation and infatuation in disinterest. Today’s study of infatuation brought me to foolish passion and and another look at that great word “unreason,” which made me think of the obsessive works in Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists by Lisa Slominski (and contributors).

For today’s images I changed my lighting preparing my palette for next month. And I cut a new detailed filter.

Infatuation in disinterest and disinterest in infatuation by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today we get a two for Tuesday prompt:

  1. Write a truth poem, and/or…
  2. Write a dare poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s is an ekphrastic prompt. Of the four painting to choose from, I felt the most connection to “A November Morning” by John Atkinson Grimshaw.

What We Dare in the Glow of Morning

We dare the cold bite of winter chill
getting through sweaters and coats
mittens, scarves, and caps
to find purchase in our bones
We dare the slippery sidewalks
the threat of the hard meet of concrete
embarrassment of flailing
pain, bruises, and scrapes
We dare to dream of a different world
where all this courage has purpose
inspiring, changing, improving
every trek to a destination desired
We dare to imagine a future in which
our Novembers are paintings of the past
in which we dared to venture out
in the glow of morning

Excited to Realize Indifference is a Challenge

Indifference in excitement and excitement in indifference by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the indifference in excitement and excitement in indifference.Everything about my work is excitement to me, the lights the shapes, the discovery, so how do I show indifference in that excitement. A second person might be indifferent to the excitement. The  world might be indifferent to the excitement. What does indifference look like? I was thinking no filter at all. Only looking at circles. But even that is exciting. Maybe not looking through the lens finder at all.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a remix poem.”This could be a different take on the same subject, or retrofitting a free verse poem into a traditional form (or vice versa).”

dVerse Poets Pub

It is Quadrille Monday where today’s challenge is to write a forty-four word poem which includes the word “warm” in some form. It will be an interesting exercise to condense all the lines I collected from the poems I’ve written this month into only forty-four words as my remix poem.

Attempts at Indifference Went Down in Flames

Let’s pretend I found indifference—
was free of bias learned from experience
and could know vibrations of unfiltered perceptions
and nerves afire went for broke
Nothing is as incomprehensible as honest truth
—would I in my excitement be warmed by the fire
or burned?

Excitement in indifference and indifference in excitement by Maria L. Berg 2022

NaNoWriMo

Last night I set up files for each of the scenes I need to get me through the end of this draft, and hopped from one to another writing about five hundred words into each. I still have a ways to go, but I think I can get to the end by the 30th. I’m excited.

The Enhanced Diminution Resolution

Diminution in Enhancement and Enhancement in Diminution by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the enhancement in diminution and the diminution in enhancement. Today’s study definitely starts with the dictionary.

enhancement noun the state or quality of being elevated, heightened, or increased, as in quality, degree, intensity, or value

diminution noun the act, fact or process of diminishing, lessening; reduction

If one thinks about the law of supply and demand, one could enhance the value of something through diminution: lessening the available quantity. So that could be the diminution in enhancement. I’m still thinking about my first attempt at cubism yesterday. Cubism is a type of diminution, reducing something to its shapes and angles, and yet also increasing them by showing the shapes and angles from more than one point of view at the same time. So cubism could be the enhancement in diminution.

For today’s images, I cut another filter in an attempt at cubism, then took shots from different heights, and tried different intensities by adding my purple LEDs to the blue, and then using transparencies with mostly white.

I feel like all of today’s experiments got me closer to the cubism idea I had in mind. I think it’s a fun concept to explore further.

Enhancement in Diminution and Diminution in Enhancement
by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a resolution poem.

The Resolution

Ah, that note
the one anticipated
through elevated
intensity through
recede and decay

Ah, that note
the one needed
through degrees of
dissonance through
heightened state

Ah, that note
the one expected
through learned
settlement through
accord and verdict

Ah, that note
that sweet resolve

NaNoWriMo

Yesterday I got my second NaNoWriMo win, so my draft is at 90,000 words, and yet I have a ways to go before I hit The End. I’m excited that I’m over-writing this year, so for the first time my revision process will be chiseling away instead of building up. However, I also want to get to The End, so I can let it rest, and focus on poetry next month while I put together my chapbook. Determination is key. I have four days: will I write this novel to the end? I sure hope so.

It’s time for the final push!

#SoCS: The Reality of a Half-full Plate of Dreams: On Second Thought It’s Half-empty

Dream in Reality and Reality in Dream by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at the dream in reality and reality in a dream.

I found a fun quote for today in The Aspiring Poet’s Journal by Bernard Friot:

“Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.” ~Georges Braque

Georges Braque was a Fauvist and Cubist painter of still lifes. A ray of poetry sounds like a dream image that reveals reality, thus the reality in the illumination of a dream. Do I want to attempt some cubism today a la Georges Braque? The experiment is how to create the curves and lines to create an impression of cubism.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS)

Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “on your/my plate.

I feel like there is always too much on my plate. But no one puts anything on it but me. Why do I continue to find things to pile on top, when it was already comfortably full? Because my eyes are big, much bigger than my stomach, and everything looks so delicious. When one sees flavor in everything, it’s easy to want a little, or a lot, of each. And when I have cut and chewed, and stabbed and shoveled down to revealing part of the pattern of the plate, a blue petal, the head of a partridge, the blue feather on the speckled beige background, do I celebrate, the accomplishment, rest and admire? No. I fill it right back up. I cover that space with new and exciting spicy explorations, and then pile on some more. Perhaps that’s why I’m never sated, because I never give myself a moment to digest. I guess I like how the colors and flavors combine, the surprises I find when I let it all mingle for a while. Finding something greater than the sum of its parts.

I love putting every color on the plate: the white rice with black beans, red and yellow peppers, orange carrots, green broccoli and spinach, blue and purple cabbage, a full spectrum of flavors for the eyes, mouth, nose, and tongue. The sound of utensils on plates, the chewing and crunching flavors for the ears. Does the plate make a difference. If I filled a different plate would the results, the experience change? If I filled several plates instead of heaping, and heaping on one, would that be better or worse?

Reality in Dream and Dream in Reality by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write an “on second thought” poem.

Is this the Dream or the Reality?

Roaming through a gothic castle on a holodeck, I’m suddenly afraid, digging in a field
on second thought I could be delirious

I cried when found bare after my deflector cape got stuck in glue
on second thought that’s how things are

The screech owl claws at my implant in the wind, but it can’t be fixed
on second thought I could be moonstruck

I recovered my snare drum with regenerated skin, but wove my beats to conceal the goose bumps
on second thought that’s the name of the game

I enjoyed kicking flesh-pods after subduing them with feedback from my microphone
on second thought I could have made it all up

In artificial gravity, feeling a bump during the witching hour is blown out of proportion
on second thought that’s the nuts and bolts of it

In the slipstream I slurp soup from a baked hollow
on second thought that’s the way of it

The imp at the door confessed to jumping through the singularity
on second thought I could be building castles in the air

My neck began to bleed when I saw the object in the interplanetary campfire
on second thought I could be having a nightmare

Roaming through my gothic castle, I see friends I haven’t seen for years
on second thought I see it like it is