Spring Has Sprung

White, and a few pink, cherry-plum blossoms reach into a blue sky with wispy white clouds.
Spring is in the Air by Maria L. Berg 2022

April is coming very soon. It’s a busy month here at Experience Writing because it’s National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), and the A-Z blogging challenge. This year, since I photo-illustrate my posts anyway, and was so inspired by one word daily prompts last fall, I thought I would add a photo-challenge to the mix.

How will I do all that AND continue building healthy habits to finish my novels? Good question.

First, let’s look at all the fun challenges and events coming up in April.

National Novel Writing Month

I started participating in NaPoWriMo in 2018. I really enjoy reading all the different responses to the prompts and the inspiration of the global community of poets celebrating poetry (language(s), perception, symbolism, creativity, imagination) together.

Writer’s Digest also has a Poem-a-Day (PAD) challenge through the month with daily prompts. I like to combine prompts, so I usually write to both.

When I renewed my membership with Academy of American Poets this year, I noticed that I can create my own anthologies: collections of poems I love from poets.org. I’m excited to do that throughout the month (and beyond). They also have special events like poem in your pocket day, and you can sign up for daily poems in your email, if you haven’t already.

Blogging A-Z

I have combined the Blogging A-Z challenge with NaPoWriMo since 2018. I really enjoy this challenge. I get to make up my own topic each year, so it adds another element to the daily poetry. For this challenge I like to explore words and language. Last year I explored Janus words; the year before it was musical terms. Look for this year’s theme on Wednesday.

April Daily Photography Prompts Calendar

I will be putting my one word daily prompts into a calendar like I did last November and December and include it with my A-Z announcement on Wednesday.

White and pink cherry-plum blossoms against a cloudy sky with part of the slope of Mt. Rainier in the background.
Sprung by Maria L. Berg 2022

Haibun Monday

Today’s prompt for Haibun Monday at the dVerse Poets Pub is “cherry blossoms.”

Sprung

Last week, the house had a stroke. I plugged in the air-popper and the lights dimmed. Then part of the house was out of power, and my desk monitor was flashing madly. I ran to the fuse boxes, but nothing was flipped. The overhead light was pulsing and I heard a clicking noise.

I pulled the main switches down then sharply up again. The pulsing and clicking continued. I pulled each of the fuses to the right and then the left, and checked the water heater. It was the source of the rhythmic clicking, blinking rapidly on and off again and again, the beat to the pulsing lights. Not wanting to lose my newish water-heater, I shut it off at the fuse box. I unplugged everything. Turned everything off, and went to sleep with memories of cold showers, and expectations of hard days ahead.

The morning after the morning I called the power company–and they sent someone out and then some more someones and had the problem fixed by the afternoon–I opened the door to my cherry-plum trees in full bloom. I heard a loud electrical hum, and only imagined more electrical problems. I stepped outside and saw the trees writhing with bees in every blossom.

A yard book-ended in pink
overnight blossoms
pulsing in pollination

{Strange note: I started a draft of this post yesterday. When I came to work on it today, it was published, back-dated to March 8th. The only thing I can think of is the cat walking on the keyboard, and that’s pretty impressive, even for him.}

A Year of Finishing Novels: Surprises & Set-backs

Snow Cat by Maria L. Berg 2022

This week was both surprising and challenging. My daily writer’s meditation and novel writing habit almost got me through some very freezing weather and surprise snow, and my feeling of impending doom from world politics. My morning stretching and exercise followed by meditation has really changed my relationship with my body. I’m listening to my body, and feeling like a complete system, instead of an opposing duality of mind and body that I have been for years. However, my mind was eventually worn down by distraction and horrible thoughts of “What’s the point of creation when humans are bent on destruction?” So I took yesterday off.

Set-backs will happen. I feel like giving myself a break was a healthy set-back. But only one day off and I’m finding it hard to get back into my new system. Especially since I feel a need to write more, not less. I’ve had to remind myself to be patient a lot today. Patience is everything when trying to make lasting changes and create systems of positive habits. I just started reading Atomic Habits by James Clear–I enjoyed his email course that I got through the Best Year of Your Life Summit–and plan to talk more about habit systems in my next post.

A Cold Mountain Haibun Poem Interlude

Over at dVerse Poets Pub it is Haibun Monday and Frank has challenged us to contemplate both the work of a poet from the Tang Dynasty and a physical mountain. It’s pouring today, so the mountain is not out, but I know it’s collecting snow behind those clouds.

Cold Mountain Sky

My sky is a giant, cold mountain. Even in summer its glacier keeps it white-capped. It is easy to forget the volcano sleeping inside. Like me, its heat and pressure are hidden, tucked under a thick, calm crust, for now. But it is dormant, while I toss and turn.

You shared your blanket
white covering the morning
a fluffy surprise

Photograph of Mt. Rainier and its reflection in the lake.
Cold Mountain Sky by Maria L. Berg 2022

Assessment

Last week was challenging. Luckily, the work I’ve done to create a daily writing habit got me through (mostly).

My weekly check-in:

  1. What went right last week? My morning habits are really going well. I added a ten minute vocal warm-up after the full writer’s meditation and before I sit down to write. The cat absolutely hates it. It’s pretty funny. I read a thriller novel from the rather large collection of e-books I’ve collected. I’m finally excited to read one thriller after another until I’ve cleared my kindle. I can already see how I can learn both what to do and what not to do from these books. I used to have trouble finishing e-books, I guess I finally got used to reading on my tablet. I also had one night of (mostly) good sleep without the laptop!! Victory. This week, I’ll hope for two in a row. That would be amazing. But, as I said last week, I can’t try to sleep; I have to let sleep happen.
  2. What didn’t go well last week? Russia invaded Ukraine and I had trouble concentrating on much else. I finally took a day off yesterday, and I’m not upset about it. I’m kind of amazed I got anything done at all last week. A day of distraction watching movies and cuddling with the cat was what I needed. Now, I’m ready to get back to work. I also did not meet my submission goal, but reading thrillers took priority as a novelist.
  3. What small steps will I add this week? This week I’m adding the poetry MFA eight week program. I’ve been reading The Portable MFA in Creative Writing from The New York Writers Workshop and the poetry section interested me. Rita Gabis lays out an eight week plan of writing and reading to emulate a semester of an MFA in poetry. She recommends dedicating forty-five minutes a day to writing poetry. She also recommends breaking those minutes up into small sessions at different times of the day to explore when the optimum time is for my poetic musings. April is National Poetry Month, so I think I’ll start now, fitting the MFA program into my system. Then the second half of the “semester” will coincide with the daily poetry writing challenge. I am also going to try the Sleep Smarter Sleep Makeover again. A lot of Shawn Stevenson’s ideas have stuck with me, and now that I’ve identified some of my deeper issues, and created some good sleep habits, I’m hoping the two week program will be the extra motivation I need to get my sleep habit to stick.
  4. Is it time to increase one of my habits? 750 words each day felt challenging, but I want to get to 1,000, so this week I think I’ll split my writing session into two 500 word sessions and see what happens.
  5. What else did I try? I made a collection of all the thriller e-books on my kindle. There are twenty-seven. I plan to read one after the other until I have read them all.

Accountability

One area that every resource talks about is social accountability. I have found many times in the past that if I share my goals here on Experience Writing, I am more likely to achieve them.

I would really enjoy if you would like to join me in an accountability club. Every week, type your goals in the comments, or leave a link to your post and we can check in with each other to see how we did with our goals.

My goals this week are to:

  1. Two 500 word sessions each day
  2. Read two thriller novels this week
  3. Week one of the poetry MFA
  4. Sleep Smarter Sleep Makeover

That’s it. I hope you will hold me accountable.

We Can Reach Our Dreams Together!

Naked Trees

My newest publication by Maria L. Berg 2022

Thank you readers!

Experience Writing has over 1,000 Followers!

During my break, Experience Writing reached an exciting milestone. Over a thousand people have chosen to experience writing with me. Thank you. I’m so glad you are here. Please let me know how I can bring value to the time you spend here.

Also during my blogging hiatus, I got my copy of 2021’s Writer’s Games winners anthology 72 Hours of Insanity Volume 10. My story “To Know Her Inside” placed third in the third event. My mom read it and said it’s “creepy” and “very well-written,” so high praise.

I’ve made some small changes to Experience Writing, including adding a publications page where you can find links to my stories and poems that have been published, and are upcoming.

My break lasted a little longer than anticipated, but it was just what I needed. After looking at January journal entries from previous years, I noticed that I had the same goals and ideas I’ve had every year, and though I make a little progress every year, I appear to get derailed and distracted from my main goal which is finishing and publishing my novels. So this year will be different!

I spent the last three weeks evaluating where I get derailed and making small changes in my mind-set, environment, and behavior that are already showing results! I’m so excited to share what’s working, but I also want to continue the things I enjoy about blogging so . . .

A Winter Toupee by Maria L. Berg 2022

Haibun Monday

Today is Haibun Monday at dVerse Poet’s Pub, and the theme is Winter.

Naked Trees

It is quiet. The trees must not threaten when naked, for there is no whine of chainsaws, even though it is not raining. Winter is when I forget the battle of man and nature while I watch the birds, and the lake is only a mirror for the mountain when it brushes back its cloud toupee.

Robins in the yard
peck, then stand at attention
while seagulls gather

Winter Robins by Maria L. Berg 2022

The Year of Finishing

Though I really enjoyed the daily photography and poetry posts I did last fall, I didn’t reach my main goal which was, and has been, to finish my novels. I’m not willing to face another January with the same exact goals, so I have to make some real changes. I hope you will join me for this year’s exciting writing experience of finding the grit and drive to follow-through to the finish.

The first step that was very important for me, was to look back through my journals and notebooks and critically look for where I get derailed. Lucky for me, I write dated morning pages, and have for many years, so I read from January first where I would be writing about all the great goals I had with all my hope and enthusiasm and then read until it fell apart. What did I find? Cramps, erratic sleep, and the next new distraction.

I readily found three areas I could work on: Better sleep, hormonal imbalance, and priorities. I have a wonderful local library system that lets me check out twenty-five e-books at a time, so once I had defined the areas where I want to make change, I filled up on every book I could find. As I finished one, I found another, and I have many on hold, that will trickle in as I learn. I will be adding a resources page to Experience Writing with links to the best books, websites, and other resources that I am using and finding valuable. If you have similar issues to mine, or are interested where I started, these are the three books I would start with:

Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson : This is where I started and it quickly became clear that all of my efforts would intertwine and work together. The small, actionable steps in this book were a great place to start.

In the FLO: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life by Alisa Vitti: I wish I had found this book a long time ago. I was diagnosed with endometriosis as a teenager. The doctor delayed the laparoscopy until after his vacation as if my pain was nothing, and then after burning the external tissue off said the only treatment was the pill and my mother refused. As an adult, when I did try the pill, I ended up having my period twice a month and couldn’t afford it anyway. Because of shame and bad doctors, I have ignored my hormonal health (and possible condition) and suffered my whole life. Now, I am taking the small step of color-coding a calendar with the possible dates of my cycle so I can explore how my hormonal changes affect my productivity. And the best part is the book talks about every aspect of respect for your cycle like diet, exercise, mind-set, etc.

Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt this helped me look at the whys of my goals and breaking them down into actionable steps.

Soon after I found the areas I wanted to work on, I stumbled across The Best Year of Your Life Summit, which was a free series of videos put together as a ten day online Summit. A majority of the presentations were about meditation and mindfulness. It was fun for me to watch Sharon Salzberg’s presentation because a friend gave me her meditation CDs a very long time ago and I enjoyed them. It also reminded me that I had Madhu Bazaz Wangu’s Meditations for Mindful Writers , which has been a great anchor habit to create my daily writing habit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

If you would like to join me on my journey to finishing my novels, and I hope you will, the first step is reflection. You may have another goal, it can be anything, that you haven’t been able to finish because it overwhelms; because you don’t feel good enough; because even though you love it, you can’t seem to finish. Please join me.

The first step is to evaluate why. Why the goal is important to you. Really dig deep and be specific and honest with yourself. Then, look at why you aren’t finishing: define your fears real and imagined, define your time limits, your self-perception. All of it. Why is this goal not happening so far? Then go back to specifically defining why you want it, really want it.

I’ll talk more about what I discovered exploring my whys and some useful resources in my next post.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Celebrating Play and Treats

What a Difference a Day Makes by Maria L. Berg 2022

As you can see, the snow is gone. I know I said I wasn’t going to publish all my word pictures here, but I wanted to show the result without the snow, and then I did some playing indoors.

Playing Indoors by Maria L. Berg 2022

New Poem

The dVerse Poets Pub is open after a two week vacation and today Lisa invites us to write a “celebration” haibun. I haven’t written a haibun in a while, so I think I’ll give it a try.

Celebrating Release from a Beautiful Imprisonment

I saw large, white flakes fall during my white-knuckle drive home through thick rain and sporadic drivers with speeds from infrared to ultraviolet.

Ten days it snowed since we opened presents, and ate Mother’s delicious strawberry cake, everyone generous and grateful. I remained sustained.

Overnight snowmelt
frees me from joyous ice jail
I return with treats

Playing in the Mirrorworld by Maria L. Berg 2022

And this image of the Mirrorworld fits with Of Maria Antonia’s 2022 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt “Chill,” I think.

Chillin’ in the Mirrorworld by Maria L. Berg 2022

Happy Reading and Writing!

The Cherry Blossoms Starting to Fall

A bee pollinates a light pink cherry-plum blossom against a blue sky
Pollination – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today is Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and I found the cherry blossoms prompt timely. I went out to admire the cherry-plum trees in bloom and noticed the grass is already littered with pink. I’m glad Frank inspired me to spend some time admiring the pink against the sky before it is gone.

Emerging

The first delicate, pink blossoms burst early this year, or was it me, still clinging to winter’s safe cave? Any excuse to stay hidden under the blankets ripped away by the brash budding cloud of cotton candy, contradicting the sky. But today, upon closer inspection, burgundy leaves already clash with the petals along the branch and the grass is littered with fallen flowers. The bee’s hum fills me with hope for future fruit. Last year I missed the juicy, pitted presents withheld, perhaps, due to a confusing late freeze. I am lucky to have poked my head out in time to witness this peek-a-boo of nature. Like an updraft billowing a circle-skirt, it surprises, shocks, and delights then is gone.

tiny pink blossom
tickling periwinkle skies
the flasher of spring

Fallen in the Grass – by Maria L. Berg 2021

#Writober Day 20: Mountains or Oceans

mountain panorama

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Mountains or Oceans. This was the second prompt I wrote for OctPoWriMo and I chose Haibun for the form.

The call of the seagull

The gull, a dark speck on the white mountain backdrop, reminds me how close I am to the ocean by wing. If I could rise above, I could see it from here, the crashing waves filling the tide pools, rocking the sea stars and hermit crabs, mussels, and barnacles. But I am not a gull and it seams so far away and so long ago.

gasping with wonder
inside a rising falling
turning of the tides

 

sea star attack

#Writober4

The image for Day 20 on the Pinterest board shows a man with small octopi all over his face. He looks scared.

My take: To go with today’s theme, this guy could have just gotten out of the ocean, but I think it’s much more creepy if these little guys fell from the sky, or jumped him, or grew out of pustules on his skin, ew.

Micro-fiction: Perry had an annoying itch. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he had been itchy since the last time he went to the beach about a month ago. He couldn’t help but scratch at the bumps and now he had scabs all over his face, neck, and shoulders. He couldn’t go out. People thought he was on drugs or unclean. Then the first tentacle poked out of a scab on his face. He couldn’t believe it. He watched it wriggle further as if testing the air, or scouting for danger. Then all the scabs burst to life.

Writing Process and Tools

Emotion:  Happiness – this is an interesting contrast to the image. I wonder how this story could be about happiness

Creepy verbs: repulse, gross out, sicken, fill with loathing, turn one’s stomach

Story Cubes Symbols: world, light bulb, shooting star, die, cane, rook, arrow all directions, magnet, magic wand

Woodland creature: raccoon – a gaze of raccoons, a mask of raccoons, a nursery of raccoons

Collective nouns: a handful of palm readers

Horror trope: evil wizards

Oblique Strategies: Humanize something free of error

 

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

dVerse Haibun Monday: Compassion

I want to say THANK YOU for this prompt for dVerse Monday Haibun. It is so easy to feel like I shouldn’t forgive because no one else shows compassion, or responds in kind, but that’s the wrong way to look.

A friend of mine helped me see that even when I want to give up on a human, there are so many reasons why people are what I see as mean to me and don’t understand me. It has nothing to do with me. My compassion is needed elsewhere.

Mountain of two minds

Not By Choice

I did not come here by choice. I lost everything by staying and everything else by complying. But somehow I am now for use, the modern day Cinderella. That is how you are obtuse: You don’t remember. You didn’t see it; It is timing; I could not make it my fault: again.

Swimming in the lake
We came here every Summer
You are equal; too.

 

dVerse Monday Haibun: Take a walk

And as a treat for finishing NaPoWriMo and the A to Z Challenge, I took the advice of the prompt at dVerse Poets Pub and took a walk.

black crust on stump

 

Self and Setting

For this respite, my reward for diligence, I grab my lens, aspiring to share my view. I find myself not walking, but squatting, twisting, turning and reaching for the space and light. Pushing buttons, twirling knobs, zooming in and out to capture contrasting colors in secondary stewardship. Wings flit seconds before the click. I debate if taking a walk had to mean wandering the neighborhood. A pedestrian coming toward me, a man in a red jacket, whom I would have to pass, answers my question for me. I do not have to wander to break a sweat and hear my muscles sing their discordant threnody.

Am I of this place
A loop of known origin
The last or the next?

 

curlinglording over

little white pills

Chijitsu: The Lingering, Long Spring Day – A Haibun

No longer Cohesive

The Lingering, Long Spring Day

Each second, like a drip from a faucet–like the faucet he took apart, so I could clean it while he waited for the silicone to dry around the new sink–drops into the abyss. The sink leaked, then he fixed the leak, but came back and took it all apart because he didn’t like the plumbing, but it wouldn’t be mended because the old sink had corroded. A small drip now a three week project.

The seconds pool to minutes like the rain never stopping fills the lake and the river pouring over its banks. The chopping, angry waves threaten. The rain is incessant. Sheets of streams cut the gray at diagonals and meet the windows like acrylic nails impatiently waiting at the bar. I imagine them tapping on the porcelain of the new sink.

The minutes accumulate–drip by drip, converging pools to rising lake–into an hour. This hour is heavy with rain and the cleaner faucet lords over the new sink unused awaiting more hours to dry and your unexpected call brings a glimmer of cheer, but quickly whirlpools into uninvited conspiratorial nonsense and the seconds stand still until you will stop.

Fat droplets linger
At the bottom of streaked panes
Then fall to the earth

 

I wrote this in response to the Monday Haibun prompt at dVerse Poets Pub

 

 

K is for Kainotophobia and Kakorrhaphiophobia

kainotophobia – fear of change

kakorrhaphiophobia – fear of failure

Rorschach mask

 

Summer Comes Too Soon

Wind whips a chill of impatience. Roiling waves chop at the bulkheads and ramps, speeding the jade of aged concrete, leaving lapilliform spaces for the next surge to fill.
Only the lowest hills are free of the cloud blanket. Toes of snow hint of the giant hiding behind the screen.

Unexpected kainotophobia isolates and penetrates this paradise;
man versus nature in constant battle. He fights the clover, the moss, the dandelions;
the crabrass, lambsquarters, and pokeweed. He is always on the defensive
to the marestail and witchgrass. But kakorrhaphiophobia rules the day.
Every day. Every moment of every day. And he will rule his Eden prison, this utopian cage.

Molten lava heart
Commander of the cloud sky
All watch the mountain

Feather in the Foreground

This is my first attempt at a haibun. When I read the prompt, I worried that today would be the first time my word of the day didn’t fit with the theme, but I think it worked.

Interested in haibun? You may want to check out Contemporary haibun online,

or one of these books:
Journey to the Interior: American Versions of Haibun by Bruce Ross

Landmarks: A Haibun Collection by Ray Rasmussen

Journeys 2017: An Anthology of International Haibun by Angelee Deodhar

Happy Reading and Writing!

See you tomorrow.