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) 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.

Gobolinks and Blottentots

You may recognize these inkblots from my last post. The image on the left looked to me like two teddy bears playing with a ball from the moment I made it. The image on the right, however, originally looked like an angelic figure or winged creature (turned 180°), but when I looked at it again, I saw a canyon carved by water flow. Because the original inkblots were made with glitter-glue, the blue watercolor flowed like water and did not soak into the paper, so it even acted like mountain lakes flowing into a river in a canyon. It was very fun to make.

More Fun With Klecksography

Gobolinks and Blottentots

At the turn of the 19th to 20th century,  people expanded on Justin Kerner’s ideas of Klecksography, the art of using inkblots in illustration and created works of their own. Ruth McEnery Stuart turned the creations of inkblots and verse into a game called Gobolinks and John Prosper called the inkblot creatures he created and described in verse, Blottentots. Both of these books of inkblots and verse are now available online through Project Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg ebooks:

gobolinks coverGobolinks or Shadow Pictures For Young and Old by Ruth The Blottentots coverMcEnery Stuart and Albert Bigelow Paine 1896

Blottentots and How To Make Them by John Prosper Carmel 1907

Inkblots As Story Inspiration

I had a lot of fun creating a bunch of inkblots the other day. One of the great things about inkblots is they are a super-cheap, if not free (you can make them with things you already have in your house) art form and you can make them very quickly.

I did a little experimenting and found porous paper, like regular typing or printing paper works better than thicker paper. So any scrap paper you have lying about is the perfect canvas, and any drippable liquid will do. I used a cheap, hard-disc watercolor set with a lot of water. If you don’t have watercolors, you could use acrylics, or left over house paint. If you don’t have any paint, use mustard and ketchup. Use coffee or tea. Try mud. Why not? Make sure to protect your work area. I rolled out a bunch of butcher paper.

As I made more and more inkblots, my scrap paper got smaller and smaller. I found joy in the black and white blots that were about 2″ X 2″.  Many of them looked as if they could combine to become more detailed creatures, so I got out a metal board and some magnets and had some fun.

metal board and magnets play area

Looking at all these unique beauties made me ponder the stories they could tell. For those of you who have read Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, what about using inkblots to inspire or illustrate your nine boxes?

Nine Box Plot

Or how about using your inkblots to access your subconscious ideas about your hero’s journey? Perhaps in a similar way to, or along with Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot.  The hero's journey in inkblots

You could also use inkblots to inspire setting and character:

spring garden

A spring garden

mantiss gnome

A garden gnome spinning on a spike

Character development: Use your inkblots with your characters like Rorschach tests to explore their psyches.

Group dynamic/ character interaction: Have your characters play a game of Gobolinks.

Since I am having so much fun with inkblots, I hope to find ways that they will help me enjoy my editing and revision process as well. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Further Reading

Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity by Margaret Peot

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

The Inkblot Pack: Includes the 10 Classic Inkblots for you to interpret & a beautifully designed journal with thought provoking quotes

And Just For Fun

Rorschach mask

As a photographer and a costumer, I imagine many possibilities for The Original Moving Rorschach Inkblot Mask, so I bought one. I should have it in about 10 days and will definitely write a review.


Happy Reading and Writing!