#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.

It Takes Faith to Be Jealous

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Obsessive Suspicion by Maria L. Berg 2022

Today I’m looking at finding the jealousy in faith and the faith in jealousy. I chose faith as the contradiction of jealousy because jealousy is a form of mistrust, not believing a relationship can withstand a challenge imagined or real, or believing that others can accomplish things but you can’t, where faith means believing in the relationship or one’s ability to do anything. The more I thought about it, one has to have faith in their own imagination to be jealous, because more often than not, that little green-eyed monster, is all in one’s imagination. But what does that look like?

For today’s images I put different transparency filters in a thought bubble and had some fun and surprising results.

Faith in Jealousy and Jealousy in Faith by Maria L. Berg

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is a fill in the blank title prompt: “(blank) of the (blank).”

I’ve been enjoying the exercises in The Art of Voice by Tony Hoagland, so I continued with Exercise 3 from chapter three “Connecting through the Admission of Failure and Error.”

Faith of the Jealous

My attempts to do what you wanted—
to feel jealousy when you played in her band
to feel envy when you stayed late at practice
to worry and wonder when you didn’t call
—were a complete failure.

I tried to obsess over her fingers on your shoulders
the way she praised your skillful fingers playing
the  shared glances that were not quick or secret at all
but I had my own music to write and fingers to callous
Turns out jealous possession took too much attention

My efforts to feel the pain of your loss
before you were gone was an error
because it did eventually erode
my faith, so finally I just gave up
and turned green, all of me a pretty emerald
I gave you a going away party, invited everyone
but you, and I gave my heart permission to break
which also failed; the bloody dagger stayed there in the cleavage
the blood pumped out in gushes like old Faithful
with each heartbeat, but I wasn’t jealous
I didn’t feel anything at all.

Growing Jealousy by Maria L. Berg 2022


As a plantser (someone who likes to let the words flow, but also likes to know where she’s going in the story and have an outline), I’m starting to worry about how to get from today’s scene to the big first crime solve. I’ve brought up some hints, but need some real clues. So today, after my planned writing session, I am going to do my very best to fill out “A Blueprint for Planning a Mystery Novel” from Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron.

At this point I think I have all the information I need to fill in the blanks; I just need to connect the dots. Hopefully physically writing the details onto the worksheets will how me visualize how to get from where I am now to where I want to be for the midpoint.

The Disappointment of Fulfillment is Intimate

Finding Disappointment in Fulfillment and Fulfillment in Disappointment by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the disappointment in fulfillment and the fulfillment in disappointment. For today’s images I chose a couple of the hot glue filters that I didn’t think had reached their potential previously, and took them out in nature. Not knowing what would constitute fulfillment, and searching for disappointment, was freeing and led to some interesting images.

Fulfillment in Disappointment by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

It is two for Tuesday, so today’s prompts are:

  1. Write a form poem, and/or…
  2. Write an anti-form poem.

I thought an anti-form poem fit well with an exercise from Tony Hoagland’s The Art of Voice. The second exercise that goes with Chapter Three: “The Sound of Intimacy,” provides a list of “speech additives.” I thought I would walk around with a recorder and use these phrases to literally create a “voice” in my poem.

dVerse Poets Pub

Today’s Poetics prompt is to include titles of movies that won Razzies (from a list) in the poem.

This fits well with my idea for today’s poem. I will see which of these movie titles fit with the “speech additives” as I record myself talking my poem. Then I’ll choose my favorite phrases and write it down. Here goes. Lillian promised no poem Razzies.

Thinking Out Loud: Fulfillment or Disappointment

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the lonely lady speak of fulfillment
I mean she must have known it at some point for better or worse

Don’t laugh, I—
Laugh if you like, but it seems odd to me for the lonely lady to be talking about fulfillment
Don’t worry I’m not trying to sensor her, but it seems odd, don’t you think?
Someone who obviously knows disappointment,
where would she find fulfillment in her loneliness?

Don’t let me get swept away in these difficult abstractions
come to think of it my bias might come shining through

And when she’s lonely in the empty darkness
swept away by her dreams the color of night—hmm
and another thing is there really ever fulfillment for anyone?
As we wander along between right and wrong
in an area with at least fifty shades of gray,
what is it that defines the disappointment?
Is it the one who seeks fulfillment,
or the one who doesn’t measure up?
I mean, you tell me
Where is the line?

Once a goal is reached, there is always a further one
Fulfillment is never completely reached
Like I always say:
You can’t be disappointed, if you have no expectations.

Finding Fulfillment in Disappointment and Disappointment in Fulfillment by Maria L. Berg 2022


I’m glad I used my character creation spreadsheet yesterday. I used the results to brainstorm a series of scenes in which my protagonist and the character from her past had strange interactions that made her suspect him. The character creation spreadsheet informed the scenes with his fears, hobbies, and obsessions.While she can’t sleep, these scenes are playing in reverse order in her head. I’m enjoying writing it.

When I finish this series of quick scenes, I plan to introduce a scene with one of my Big Five characters, so I’ll quickly fill in her character sheet using the character creation spreadsheet before I dive in.

The next exercise in A Writer’s Workbook by Caroline Sharp is “Picture This.” For the exercise, she says to find an image that makes you feel, then write for thirty minutes about what’s going on in that image. I set up a Pinterest folder of cinematic images before NaNoWriMo began, having no idea I would pick up this book and do these exercises, and I haven’t looked at the images since I collected them. I’ll take a look at the first image, and see how it inspires some scenes, or informs a scene for my novel.

Adapting to the Artistry of Artlessness

The Artlessness in Artistry and Artistry in Artlessness by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the artistry in artlessness and the artlessness in artistry. Artlessness has some interesting and unexpected meanings. Yes, it does mean without art, but it also means free from deceit, cunning, or craftiness; ingenuous 2. not artificial; natural; simple; uncontrived. And when I looked up ingenuous, I found: free from reserve, restraint, or dissimulation; candid, sincere 2. artless, innocent, naive. So this got me thinking about the wisdom in naivete and the naivete in wisdom. So I decided to use my honeycomb filters out in nature and got some fun results. I didn’t remember which of the big five abstract nouns I had categorized artistry and artlessness under and was happily surprised to find it was Beauty, not Wisdom. So this creates an interesting connection. Before (back in June) I talked about the famous Keats quote:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all

                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

But do we need to add, and Beauty is Wisdom, thus by the transitive property Truth is Wisdom? This could add an interesting connection between my characters in my novel. How will I show artistry in artlessness and artlessness in artistry? I already have an idea. It will link the opening scene to the end of the second act going into the third.

Artlessness in Artistry by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write an adaptation poem. The second chapter of Tony Hoagland’s The Art of Voice, “Showing the Mind in Motion presents Gerald Stern’s poem, “Blue Skies, White Breasts, Green Trees,” as a model poem as an exercise in writing a poem where the speaker’s mind is in process. I really like the idea of the poem, the speaker recognizes misinterpreted perceptions. I thought this would be a great exercise for looking at how humans adapt.

Accepting an Arduous Adaptation
~after Gerald Stern

What appeared to me as a clear blue lake
turned out to be a dried out basin
holding invading bivalves in its alluvion
and what sounded like the whistle of a ghost train
on these long-crumbled timber trestles
turned out to be the Amtrak taking the people elsewhere
with hopes of quenching death’s thirst somewhere
It was my hope deluding me,
creating mirages in the acrid haze
for what I believed was a bather about to dive
turned out to be a fire starting from the glare hitting glass
and what I saw as a boat pulling a water-skier like always
was really a pile of dead fish about to explode from expanding gas
and what I felt was a lovely long summer that wouldn’t end
turned out to be the last gasp of life on earth
and a new adaptive species emerging.

Artistry in Artlessness by Maria L. Berg 2022


Yesterday, I hit the twenty-five thousand word mark in this new novel draft. I really can’t believe it. I’ve never had such a smooth and consistent NaNoWriMo experience. I wake up every morning excited to start working on this novel. I hope you are having a similar experience.

So far I have mentioned all five of my Big Five contradictory abstraction characters, and three of the five have been in scenes. I’m getting to know my protagonist and antagonist pretty well, and I enjoy them both. I thought today would be a good day to explore some character exercises as I move into the second act of my story. I need to get deeper into my main characters’ motives and desires and get to know the rest of the characters better.

Since I know physical description of characters is one of my weaknesses. I thought the exercise, “Character, Character, on the Wall . . .” from Caroline Sharp’s A Writer’s Workbook would be a good place to start. In this exercise you start by doing a character description of yourself, describing yourself as if someone who didn’t know you was reading it and then had to pick you out in a crowd. I think I’ll write this in the third person. The second part of the exercise is to write a character description of someone you know. And then, in the third part of the exercise, you write a character description of a fictional character. Sharp recommends setting a timer for thirty minutes for each section of the exercise. I really like the progression, and hope it will help me get the feel of really describing my characters, but not in an awkward superficial way.

The next exercises I want to explore today are from The Compass of Character by David Corbett. 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. I want to work through these for my Bid Five, and maybe a couple other characters that have popped up.

Today’s scene was inspired by an idea that came up at the end of yesterday’s writing session. A character (not one of my Big Five contradictory abstractions) from my protagonist’s past, has come back and connects a crime in the present to an unsolved murder. I need to know a lot about this character in a hurry. So I’m going to use my random number generator and character creation spreadsheet to see if I can generate some three-dimensionality in a hurry and dive into some flash-backs.

I may not get much more than the necessary 1700 words on my novel draft today, but I’ll have so much more to work with tomorrow, and the rest of the month.

May Your Words Flow Like a Waterfall, and Don’t Forget to Read!

#SoCS: Peril of Purloined Patience

The Patience in Impatience and Impatience in Patience by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the impatience in patience and the patience in impatience. While thinking about what I wanted to say about patience and impatience I thought “It takes time to have patience,” so I thought of my cog-clock filter. It wasn’t raining, so I hurried outside to play with my outdoor light set-up.

Wow, it was bitey cold out there! That’ll make someone impatient, but it takes patience to find the shot that represents these contradictory abstractions. I think purple LEDs represent the agitation of impatience well. And I liked how the net lights brought a patient order to the ticking of time.

Impatience in Patience by Maria L. Berg 2022

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS)

Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “your favorite word.” Linda invites us to choose our favorite word and use it however we would like. But how to choose?

Purloined is not my favorite word; it just seems to go very well with peril. For today’s peril poem, I did some word collecting and came up with around two hundred words having to do with peril. A lot of them are great words like exposure, gash, slipperiness, and one of my favorites wonder. But what to choose for my favorite word?

I just opened The Art of Voice: Poetic Principles and Practice by Tony Hoagland and read:

“A poem strong in the dimension of voice is an animate thing of shifting balances, tones, and temperature, by turns intimate, confiding, vulgar, distant, or cunning—but, above all, alive. In its vital connectivity, it is capable of including both the manifold world and the rich slipperiness of human nature.”

Tony Hoagland 2019

How often do you read the word slipperiness twice in one morning? It’s a great word. And I love that phrase, “the rich slipperiness of human nature.” So great. But slipperiness is still not my favorite word.

In April 2021 in response to a NaPoWriMo prompt, I made a Personal Universal Deck. It’s a deck of cards with words you like on them. I kept it, so I pulled it out this morning, shuffled it and picked a card. Each card has two word on it: one at the top, and one upside down at the bottom. The card I picked had the word “silence” at the top. I read it out loud to the cat twice, then said “That’s wonderful,” so I’ll go with “silence” as my favorite word today.

I adore this time of year for its silence. The boats of summer pulled and gone, the whooping boaters and their horrible choices of blaring tunes forced on everyone so they can hear barely an impression of them over the boat engine as they wake-board or wake-surf, or whatever the latest new fad is for pulling a body behind a boat. Now is the time when the vacation homes are vacant and the full-timers return to indoor lives. The revving of chainsaws, howling of leaf-blowers, and high-pitched squealing of power-tools lay dormant as glistening raindrops fill the air. And there is no sound, except the occasional haunting train whistle in the distance, even the planes and helicopters seem sparse today. So do I sit silently and soak in this silence? No. I put on a movie I’ve seen a million times, to silence my inner-critic, drown-out my mind-voice, and distract, so these words will flow. It appears I love silence, so I can choose what to fill it with when I can’t stand it anymore.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a peril poem.

Exposure to the Risk of Being (Destroyed)

Prickly sweet almond smoke
Obtuse spikes hazard taste buds
Exposing misconceptions of danger
Trouble steeped in gasoline fumes
Rough and hard and suddenly too close
Yells yield to yawns needing more air

Injury can be seen and unseen
Menacing snarls alarm the senses
Pitfalls surround the doubtful
Exhibitions of horrible imaginations
Remembered after nightmares
Indecision leaves one vulnerable
Looming risks a nuisance or threat
Soaked in sweaty incertitude

Stabbing in the pitch-black night at
Intimidation, an evil laugh’s shadow
Lording over, bigger than you
Endangerment, anxiety’s wager
Nerves afire go for broke
Chance brings quicksand’s change
Expressed as an exposé of panic

Patience in Impatience by Maria L. Berg 2022


I woke up thinking about my novel! I’m excited to report that my draft is coming along very well. Though I have yet to have a day that I get to my novel before noon, it appears to be working for me, because I’m already over 17,000 words. I think this is my best start ever. And since I barely managed any planning, I believe the success so far is due to 4theWords.

This weekend I would like to organize what I’ve written so far into my Scrivener file, and into a chiastic outline; take some time to plan out my major plot points. But as long as the words are flowing, I’m going to keep having fun.

This Rain is a Cruel Kindness

Kindness in Cruelty by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the cruelty in kindness and the kindness in cruelty. I woke up planning to turn on the lights outside and admire the kind lights in the cruel demise of the colorful leaves, but it was pouring rain: a kindness for a Nanowrimo writer who enjoys writing on rainy days, but a cruelty for the electronics of the abstract photographer with her lights strung outside. So, still searching for the kindness in this cruelty, I took it as a sign that it was time to re-imagine the mirrorworld. I moved some things around in the attempt to find the eternal depth of field, and decided to only use white light today, and add more colors to my palette tomorrow.

I’m really enjoying revisiting some of my filters with new intention. For today’s images I used one of the hot glue filters I hadn’t really liked before, but the heart-ish shape worked so well for today. And a filter I made with the tiny hummingbird feathers that my friend sent me, which was such a kind gesture, which gave me the opportunity to repurpose the results of the cruelty of nature (cats killing birds and leaving their feathers strewn on the doorstep).

Nature’s Cruelty in Kindness and Kindness in Cruelty by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s challenge is a fill in the blank title prompt, “In the (blank).

In the Thick of It

kindness is thick as molasses in a pudding of cruelty
cruelty is thick as fat in a stew of kindness

kindness is thick as thieves in a dense forest of cruelty

cruelty is thick as blood in thorn bushes of kindness

kindness is thick as pea-soup fog over the underbrush of cruelty
cruelty is thick as chili in the traffic of kindness

kindness is thick as smog in the darkness of cruelty
cruelty is thick as bodies in a mob of kindness

kindness is thick as spit in the mucous of cruelty
cruelty is thick as sewage in a mushy mud of kindness

kindness is as thick as secrecy in the oil of cruelty
cruelty is thick as perfume on conspirators of kindness

Cruelty in Kindness by Maria L. Berg 2022


I’m excited to say that using Novel Writing Blueprint Workbook by Jill Harris as my morning pages journal is working exactly as I intended. This morning, I started writing in the “Genre Awareness & Organisation” section which inspired me to take a look at the Mystery genre at StoryGrid.com. I was surprised that Mystery wasn’t its own genre or under Thriller, using the Genre 5-Leaf Clover, I found it was part of Story Grid’s Crime genre. My story definitely fit the Crime genre, so I looked over the 5 Conventions and the 6 obligatory moments, and started brainstorming. I’m really happy with the timing, that I was inspired to do this this morning, because I can imagine a ‘speech in praise of the villain’ coming up in today’s scene.

The next section in my journal was tropes, so I headed over to TVtropes.org and searched for “mystery tropes.” There’s a long list of mostly over-done clichés, but Jill Harris reminds that some of these are reader expectations. So there may be some gems in there that I can twist and combine, reform and make my own.

So today I’m approaching my scenes with my genre and reader-expectations in mind.

I also want to bring my contradictory nouns into my scenes today. My protagonist is the personification of the truth in deceit and deceit in truth. Honesty can be both kind and cruel. How is my character kind in her cruelty, and cruel in her kindness? How will I show that?

Misguided Yearning for Contentment Without Agitation

Agitation in Contentment by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the agitation in contentment and the contentment in agitation. The last time I looked at Agitation, it was as the contradiction to Calm. It was July and I was playing with my first two reflection balls. Recently I have been feeling quite contented and yesterday, the smallest agitation left me irritated for longer than it should. But what does that look like. What shapes and colors are the agitation I felt in my contentment? Or how can I create the visual for the contentment I found within that agitation?

For today’s images, I took down my Halloween decorations, but moved a lot of the lights to the corner of the yard nearest the front door. I used the thief fingers filter I created for “haunted.” Today the fingers represented agitation, and the house shape represented contentment. The flashing lights in the autumn bushes and trees were agitation and me, the photographer enjoying the results, was contentment in that agitation. It started raining, or I think I would have stayed content in that agitation for a lot longer.

Agitation by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s challenge is to write a misguided poem.

I spent some time with my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate (tenth edition) and found: misguide v. to lead astray. I really like the word astray, so I looked that up and found: astray adv. or adj. off the right path or route. 2. in error: away from what is proper or desirable. Back at misguided I found: adj. led or prompted by wrong or inappropriate motives or ideals.

As you can see, misguided leads us to the contradictory abstract nouns right and wrong. Can someone or something be misguided without a common understanding of right and wrong? Something to contemplate. I was pondering whether pursuing contentment and avoiding agitation is misguided. A little agitation can keep one alert, and change a current course of action.

DVerse Poets Pub

Today for Meeting the Bar (MTB), Björn introduces us to the Bref Double form consisting of 14 lines: 3 quatrains and a couplet with a two options of rhyme scheme.

Achieving Misguided Goals

years spent yearning to be content
every step forward, a cycle back
finally reached a place of grace
promised morning free from need

clawing to stay in this present
she stares ahead as stories grow
like hurdles along the race
rushed to complete with speed

not a drop of cold rain to resent
but feeling agitation’s itch
misguided calm upon her face
as she offers words to read

But is it that an ease meant
once found to stay is stasis?

Contentment in Agitation by Maria L. Berg 2022


Today, I used the first Exercise in A Writer’s Workbook by Caroline Sharp “What If You Don’t Like Being Alone? or Writing in the Company of Strangers” as inspiration to do the forum quests in 4theWords. Then I was inspired by the second chapter in Every Day is a Poem by Jacqueline Suskin “Make Meaning” to come up with five objects that are significant to my protagonist. I described those five things in my writing warm-ups, then labeled them as either calming or agitating and planned to use them in today’s scenes.

Woke Up Excited to Write

Disinterest in Awe by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the indifference in awe and the awe in indifference. I thought about how the cat was blocking the front door staring at the lights, but I imagined the squirrels were indifferent. I also thought about how in awe I am of each new filter idea—the new tiny brads idea creating moving parts, for example—but imagine most people would be indifferent.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s challenge is to write a sweet poem.

Sweet synchronicity: I opened Every Day is a Poem by Jacqueline Suskin looking for inspiration for a sweet poem, and the first chapter is “Be in Awe of Everything.” I kid you not! I am in awe of serendipity. I love when ideas come together.

Suskin offers two exercises for writing awe poems:

  1. Close your eyes and point in any direction (I recommend spinning around a lot). When you open your eyes, be in awe of the first thing you see.
  2. Think about something that inspires awe then write a rambling list of everything you think about it. Write an entire page of unedited thoughts. Then “let awe find you in a singular detail.”

For ModPo, I still need to try the Bernadette Meyer exercise to remove a type of word from a text. It could be interesting to remove a-w-e in order from a text. But I doubt that will be a “sweet” poem, so I’ll be in awe of something sweet first.

In Awe of the Sewing Arts

needles sweet as honey
thread sweet as candyfloss
pins sweet as nectar
scissors sweeter than wine
stitches sweet as sweet, sweet, revenge
an iron sweet as molasses
trim sweet as dew
buttons sweet as sugar
sweet, sweet symmetry
sweetly sewn for you

Awe in Disinterest by Maria L. Berg 2022


Yesterday I didn’t get started until after noon, but once I did get to my novel, it went well. I wrote over 3,000 words, got through the opening scene, and set up the next one. How can I bring awe and indifference into my scenes today? What is my protagonist in awe of? Which character would see the same thing or situation with indifference? What inspires awe in most people that my protagonist is indifferent to? I think I have a couple ideas.

Time to write!