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


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!

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


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


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!

Family: the calm in anxiety and anxiety in calm

The calm in anxiety and the anxiety in calm by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the calm in anxiety and the anxiety in calm. Actually, I’m looking to find that every day, but I’m looking at it differently today. For today’s images, I revisited the pin-hole patterns I’ve created, thinking of the black space as calm and the points of light as anxiety. I like how the images evoke both calm and anxiety: a keenness, a botheration in a halcyon harmony.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a family poem. Combining my prompts reminded me of a family gathering poem I wrote back in October of 2017. The poem was inspired by a flying horned monkey in a Joan Fontcuberta photograph which appears in this short video where he presents a museum showing of his work:

Joan Fontcuberta challenges the perceived reality in photography

The Horned Flying Monkey In The Room

When it flew into the room
You had just said, “That hurt my feelings”
She said it never happened
He wondered when you would get a real job
He shoved his mouth so full of mashed potatoes
he couldn’t answer any questions
and the baby hit his sister, hard
On purpose

When it flew into the room
You were staring at your empty plate
She was serving pork and steak
He was asking about the bank
He was chiding you for your tastes
And the baby threw his food on the floor
On purpose.

When it flew into the room
You were fighting back tears
She was poking at your fears
He was pushing Roth-IRAs for later years
He put his steak on top of your salad
And the baby was kicking the table
On purpose.

By the time anyone noticed it was in the room
You stared at it curiously
She said she didn’t see it
He threw his plate at it
It swooped down and pierced his neck with its horn
And landed on the baby’s head
On purpose.

Today’s Poem:

This year, I’m looking forward to a quiet, relaxed Thanksgiving with my parents.For fun I revisited this poem, imagining the horned flying monkey arriving at tomorrow’s dinner.

This Year’s Horned Flying Monkey In The Room

When I first heard the flapping
He had finished the same short grace
She had passed me the mashed potatoes, and
I was full of thanks for this quiet, relaxed meal

When it flew into the room, its horn glistening
I put down my fork and knife and watched agape
He stared at his plate and cut and cut, and
She discussed the most recent Proverb of study

When it circled the room, dropping more than feathers
She had mentioned a piece of political news
I had argued a counterpoint, but needed to produce evidence, and
He was yelling, though we were inches apart

When it perched on the table next to me
He said, “I don’t know” in that sing-songy way,
She made a connection about something unrelated, and
I plopped a scoop of mashed potatoes on the tablecloth

When it stole her corn with its tail
I wanted to laugh but didn’t say anything
He decided it was time to unretire for the third time, and
She admitted to the sin of pride

When it stabbed the turkey with its horn
She said, “but what about the murdered babies?”
I said, “Turkey’s gross! Why turkey?” and
He said, “How do I get that thing out of there?”

When it flew away and we stared after
He said the meal was delicious (though he has no sense of taste, or smell)
She brought out her home made pies, sweet and rich with flaky crusts, and
I knew that my dream holiday repast had finally come and gone

The anxiety in calm and the calm in anxiety by Maria L. Berg 2022


I’ll admit that I’m feeling a little anxious about actually getting to “The End” by the thirtieth. With all these words I keep writing, I would hope to see an end in sight, and I think I do, but I also don’t want to force it. I’ve enjoyed how the relationships between my characters have guided the story and I want everything to go into this draft, every single idea so I can carve out a great book from it in 2023, so today I’m going to stop stressing about it. Whatever happens, happens. I’m going to keep typing away, calmly having fun with this story, and see where it takes me.

If the American readers don’t stop by tomorrow, I hope you have a calm and relaxed Thanksgiving with tons to be thankful for. I’m sure I’ll have something to say about mine in the coming poems. 😊

Holding Memories While Gathering Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness in memory and memory in forgetfulness by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the memory in forgetfulness and forgetfulness in memory. Today I recalled my recent detailed cut, covering the top and bottom so that it was more of a rectangle, so the repeated design was more stackable. Taking the images made me think of how recall itself is a form of forgetting because each time a memory is recalled, it is changed through the process of remembering.

Somehow the blue LED’s of the net-lights created an interesting 3-D effect in this configuration. If I remember, I’ll have to see how else I can use this effect.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to use at least three of six words from this given list:

  • button
  • gather
  • hold
  • not
  • sweep
  • toxic

Return to an Original Shape After Deformation

We are all vessels to hold memories
filling with the Lethe’s waters
leaving only the rose colored

Forgetfulness is memory unbuttoned
the connection missed ripples, gathering
the misaligned garment

When a memory calls unexpectedly
forgetfulness puts it on hold
and makes it listen to smooth jazz

Forgetfulness is memory swept
under the rug, not collected
but removed from sight

Have these memories become toxic?
Perhaps forgetfulness is the cleanse.

Memory in forgetfulness and forgetfulness in memory by Maria L. Berg 2022


Yesterday, I went to my first write in of this year. It was at my local library, in a glass meeting room in my local library. My ML was the only person who showed up. I’ve wanted to meet her and we enjoyed a long chat before we got to writing. However, I got a lot of writing done in a short time. I’m not sure if it was the need to get out of the house and into a new environment, or just the energy of meeting a new person, or the inspiration of talking shop, but the scene I’ve been working on finally came together, and a new avenue of clues and connections opened up.

If you haven’t done it yet, I highly recommend going to a live write-in if you can.

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.

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. 😃

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.