As I did last year, I found this Halloween challenge inspiring. I made more detailed cuts for my filters this year inspired by PBS’s Monstrum, and came up with the idea to use tiny brads to add movable aspects to my filters. Thank you Tourmaline .
Today’s prompt is Costume. I put my lights and decorations along the driveway. The candy table is ready just inside the door, and the candy bowl is full. Now for my costume:
I think it’s a good fit. I’m drinking “Three Ghost” Pinot Noir. I had to open it early to let the ghosts out.
I didn’t see a prompt today, so I’ll finish out my thirty-one poems with an Ode to Halloween.
Ode to Halloween
The neighbor’s black cat has crossed the path and back, and he’s the kind to keep company of witches, so I await their hour to witness their power, or at least a glance of bewitched dancing in the moonlight
Soon it will be night time to plug in all the lights to invite the strangers to come the monsters good and ill the doorbell gives a thrill and I’ll run to see the hideous and cute candy grabbing hands
Oh, Halloween finally arrived that one night a year we accept the dead alive, and slash open the veil to the other side where do they all hide when November comes?
We made it! The last flash fiction story of Writober. Thirty-one flash fiction story drafts, or at least some. Did you try it? I managed full drafts the first two days, but then didn’t write much more than what I shared here until I joined 4theWords. The last few days, I’ve been writing one or two full flash fiction drafts each day. I mean, they are absolute garbage first drafts, but they are complete stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. It has been great!
I couldn’t find any information about the artist or title of today’s image. That’s something that bugs me about Pinterest (and the internet in general). I’ll be more careful next year, and learn a little bit about each image I choose before I put it in the collection. Anyway, These lanky lamp-face creatures are intriguing. Where did they come from? What are they doing?
Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “element.” Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal pages:
These days everything is an element of novel prep: story broken into characters, settings, plot points, broken into their elements: physical, psychological, sociological. My life, each day broken into its elements, sleep, work, play broken into their elements, trying to gear everything toward novel writing, to organize to efficiency and motivation.I’ve seen a periodic table of writing tropes, I wonder if there’s a periodic table of novel writing. How would I organize it? Like the periodic table of elements has metals, metalloids, and gases: my table would have story elements, writer’s life elements, and what else? Or maybe it needs for categories like the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. What am I thinking? I don’t have time to be making some silly periodic table of novel writing, I still need to develop my characters.
Today’s prompt is Pumpkin. I didn’t get a pumpkin this year, but I did grow some adorable tiny acorn squash in my garden. They are delicious. I bake them with a tiny bit of olive oil and fresh herbs. I thought I would have some fun attempting to carve one this morning.
I am so happy with how my tiny Jack-o-Lantern squash turned out. I put some color-changing fairy lights inside and this is now my favorite Halloween decoration!
Today’s prompt is about writer’s block, and the challenges of birthing something new. Bianca mentions blackout poetry, and I decided that would be fun since I’m having a crafty morning.
When it comes, timid and predictable, It’s been watching the world. You don’t survive when it comes nobody does
View—for the night has fallen
Switch on in the early evening You will see I know scared, ponderously slow, ferocious, and seeking to survive
View—for the night has fallen
Many are the figurative, especially those under the bus tomorrow who are pretty and have totally collapsed that, of course, is no accident I swaggered into a hotshot; they carried me out in a body bag.
Today’s prompt is Scream. This morning I’m thinking of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. How will I visualize a piercing, shrill sound? Is the scream the sound outside the body, or the gut-wrenching terror vibrating inside before it escapes through the vocal cords? And how would I visualize that?
Today’s prompt is “Courageous & Daring.” What do I fear and avoid in my poetry? Is there something that I haven’t had the courage to attempt in a poem? It’s hard to know. If I’m avoiding it, I’m probably not aware of it.
In a State of Constant Courage
Sympathetic— a misnomer of the very worst order for a system so nervous it discerns all things as danger. How does hypertension and an irritable bowel prepare me for fight or flight when stuck on the porcelain bowl? And how does a hand tremor fight human judgement? Or loss of breath, sweating and racing pulse escape embarrassment? There is no agreement in emotions between this system and me, for I either fight or flee its hyperactive insistency constantly and my intestines show no sympathy.
Today, I start looking at the last of my chosen Halloween themed abstract nouns: finding the weakness in strength and the strength in weakness. This morning’s thoughts took me full circle to watching Hellraiser to start the Halloween season. Those movies are all about carving and weakness of the flesh. I’ve always found it fascinating how something as strong as human skin— that keeps all our moving parts together, stretches and grows with us while we slosh and throb about—is also so fragile. Any small, sharp point, even a thorn or tiny sliver of wood can open us up and let our vital fluids pour out, leave us open to infection and even (in extremes) death. Why, if we’re so evolved, don’t we have cool armor like an armadillo, or a pangolin? I would say our thermoregulatory system and our immune system are the strengths in that weakness, but still, pangolin armor.
Nano Prep and Looking Forward to November
Yesterday I started thinking about what I want to do here at Experience Writing during November. At first, I thought I would only post once or twice a week with dVerse poems, but then I remembered the Writer’s Digest Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, and how continuing daily prompts really improved my abstract photography last fall, so I’m going to continue to post every day through November with photography, poetry, and things I learn while working on this year’s NaNoWriMo novel draft.
For my daily photography prompts, I will continue to explore contradictory abstract nouns. As I talked about back in mid-September when I finished Calvino’s Memos, I organized a big list of abstract nouns into the Big 5, highlighting the words with different colors that I thought put them into those categories. During November, since my characters will personify the Big 5 and their contradictions: Love/Apathy; Beauty/Ugliness; Truth/Deceit; Wisdom/Ignorance; and Happiness/Misery, I’m going to look at the other abstract nouns on the list that I put into these categories. I’ll make a calendar and put it up this weekend.
I’m glad I decided to try 4theWords, the words flow in a hurry, and I’m having fun. I hope it continues to motivate when I switch from my horror flash fiction to my novel.
Today’s prompt is Carve. Trying to think of “carve” differently this year, I looked it up on dictionary.com and found these three definitions in a row:
to make or create for oneself (often followed by out): He carved out a career in business.
to carve figures, designs, etc.
to cut meat.
These three together put very horrible images in my head. So using my new tiny brad idea from yesterday, I created a couple moving carving tools, and drew figures and designs on plastic in an attempt to replicate the texture of “meat.”
I’m not sure what happened this year: Tourmaline disappeared after Day 8, and there hasn’t been an OctPoWriMo prompt in five days. And no one joined me for Writober Flash Fiction (here at least). It has been a bit of a loner Writober. Luckily, I’m a lone water nymph who doesn’t mind throwing her voice into the void.
Today, however is Open Link Night at the dVerse Poets Pub, so whatever poetry I do come up with, I can share with this great supportive global community of poets.
When I Carve
When I carve into this supple flesh plump yet starved of expression, indecision of first incision stalls— the point will pierce raising fears as it nears even the fierce flinch and words will mince as silver gashers glint and a shiver quivers
goose-flesh—dents bends, stretches, holds then gives, slits, permits lays open to grit the slash brash is but a start this endeavor is to sever, however clever, to gut the glut omit the pit, and outwit
then slice—twice at any price a bargain to excise this vice and sacrifice the dry ice to spice up this carving party.
Today’s prompt is Moon. For today’s images I thought about making a transformer filter for the phases of the moon which led me to the idea of using a small brad and turning the moon. For this filter, I used a tiny, black brad (shaped like a button) to hold a circle of paper over a round hole. I attached clear plastic under the hole to create my moon’s texture. I love this simple new technique, I’m excited to use all the tiny brads I bought a long time ago when I was making fancy gift tags one Christmas. They have moved from box, to drawer, to drawer for a long time, and now have found their true purpose.
No prompt for today, so I thought I’d focus on finding the evil in good and the good in evil for my contradictory abstract noun study. There can be an “evil” in trying to be and do good. Wanting to help people means that you believe they need help. Unless one is responding to a call for assistance that one is skilled and able to give, one is not accepting others the way they are, making a judgement that the other needs to change, and that they can be “helped” to be more like the helper.
Can there also be a similar good in evil? I guess one can say that without evil there is no good, so is that a good in evil? Or when one recognizes evil, one is reminded of what is good and how to be good. I keep thinking of developers, destroying nature for profit, putting tinder-boxes so close together they may as well be adjoining cages, and yet, people may find their best friends in their neighbors, and find a sense of community at a block party. So there may be good in that evil.
Driving by the New Development
Row by row of identical boxes line serpentine streets straight up the hill until recently covered with trees my whole life, holding the earth in place, graciously receiving our carbon dioxide and gifting us oxygen, hiding so many lives among their branches and leaves, but these empty boxes—small windows, vacant eyes void of life, so close together two neighbors could reach out and touch— can’t hide the one fake family in the model home A mother, a father, an older sister, a younger brother I imagine the cattle call for a job to play a family, being paid to impersonate genetic connection Why were these bland norms chosen? Who thought those thin smiles would entice the “right” buyers? The new street light that had us stopped at the new cross-street straight up the hill turns green. “That’s really creepy,” you say as you slowly drive past the people pretending to live, pretending they are neighbors we want to go into debt for the rest of our lives to live next to, and interact with every day. How strange it must be to wake up in the house across from them one morning and realize they are not there, they never were.
Today’s prompt is “Creature.” For today’s images I attempted to create a creature to represent the sudden fear I felt while letting the cat out in the middle of the night. That split second horror of what if someone or something is there, waiting on the other side of the glass.
For today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Punam provided a list of words, and challenged us to choose any four to use in a poem. I had some fun with it.
The bodies parted and my gaze fell upon an avatar ablaze all her bangles dangling, clanking and clanging against the crystal punch bowl a jungle juggernaut wafting jasmine shampoo when she floated away into the moonlight on the verandah all I could do was mutely admire I would have gladly thrown myself to be crushed beneath her jaguar sleek black hair shining blue but my girlfriend had had enough what a hullabaloo.
Since today’s theme is creature, I chose “Mimic Dress” by Leonardo Wyrnist as the inspirational image. The illustrator noted that he loves mimics, so I looked up what that might mean and found that a mimic is a monster in Dungeons & Dragons that can shape shift into inanimate objects (especially chests).
To finish out October, I’ll be looking at finding the evil in good and the good in evil until Wednesday, and then finding the weakness in strength and the strength in weakness through Saturday with my images on Sunday.
When I was thinking about drinks for the Halloween Challenge the other day, I watched an animated version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll believed that good and evil were qualities that could be separated into their purest forms with the intention to remove evil completely. His experiment failed, but he did manage to find the evil in good and the good in evil.
Yesterday I started my free trial of 4theWords. I wanted to give myself some time to get used to it before November, with the hope that it will be a fun motivational tool to use to write my novel draft. The sign-up was straight-forward and they did not ask for any personal information other than an email. I watched the walk-through video, then tried my first monster battle which consisted of writing 250 words within 30 minutes. I decided to work on my Writober flash fiction story, and quickly defeated three monsters, and had 750 words of a draft. What I wrote was downloaded as a word doc with the click of a couple buttons. So, so far, so good.
Today’s prompt is “haunted.” Since I already did some images with a new ghost filter, so I wanted to find something about “haunted” that wasn’t specifically ghostly. So I opened my dictionary and found:
haunt v 1. a. to visit often: FREQUENT b. to continually seek the company of 2. a. to have a disquieting or harmful effect on: TROUBLE b. to recur constantly and spontaneously to c. to reappear continually in 3. to visit or inhabit as a ghost.
I found it interesting that the idea of ghosts didn’t come into the definition until the last. So how do I create this image of frequent trouble? I thought of an image I painted after I was robbed, of long fingers reaching for my guitar. I decided to try creating these ghostly fingers.
I didn’t see a prompt for today, so I thought I would create a poem to look at the good in evil and the evil in good.
Cold dinners in dying candlelight, wax dripped over handmade tablecloths swept smooth over milk-crate tables, worried waiting extinguishing imagined intimacy, the cruelty of equations with passion over time unequal in each lover’s mind. The second time, there were no instruments to take, only sentimental value and fear remained, and the new alarm that startled them to leave the pillow case containing the disappointments of violating rummaging. Another argument on the way home, after feeling the ecstasy of camaraderie, beauty and elegance of shared glamor, the delusional comfort of acceptance when told “you can ask me anything,” prying a bit too far, picking a scab never healed, crashing painfully into the barrier. The replacements never lived up to what was taken, not that the original possessions were of better quality or held more value. They were of then, of there. He said it was good they were gone. They would lose their hold. But he was wrong.
Today’s inspirational image is “Racing” by Valera Lutfullina. The image shows three giant greyhound-ish dogs, racing, teeth bared in the dark, along a highway where a truck with blood smeared along one side of its front looks much like a “bunny” on a track at a dog-track. Upon close inspection, there is a red light in a black rectangle in the windshield, and no apparent driver, which makes me think the truck is autonomous.
So this week I looked at two sets of abstract nouns:
Find confidence in fear and fear in confidence This week I tied this in with the perfectly imperfect and it could be represented by my tainted Halloween treats: It takes confidence to ring doorbells and demand candy, but there is precedence for fearing what one might get. But I don’t think I captured this contradiction earlier this week. Today’s prompt for the Halloween challenge is Forest. The saying “Can’t see the forest for the trees,” is used of someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole. Fear can be like that, and so can confidence. If one is completely confident in a detail, she may be surprised by the big picture, and if someone is confident in the big picture, they may be struck in the face by a detail.
Find death in life and life in death. For this image, I really liked using decomposing leaves as filters. It shows the circles of life through the seasons, but also the image brings a new life to the dead leaf. I pick the mounted deer head decor image as a close second.
This year for National Novel Writing Month, I think it will be fun to bring my study of contradictory abstract nouns to writing a novel. My idea is to turn the Big 5 into my main characters and have them experience a mystery. Using the wonderful worksheets from Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron, I’ll be personifying abstractions as sleuths, victims, villains, side-kicks, mentors, red-herrings, enemies, and friends.
Because I want to approach this draft completely through my characters, I’m exploring the character creation parts of the acting classes on Masterclass. I’m already finding useful ideas to explore the physicality of my characters. I like the idea of thinking about how my character exercises and doing that exercise to become that character. Maybe one of my characters is into meditation and yoga, on days when I’m focused on that character, I can start my day with a yoga video. I’m also thinking of creating personas with costume, wigs, make-up to really get outside myself. I don’t want to take time away from writing, so I’ll keep it simple, but I think it could be a fun way to get out of myself, and into my characters’ physicality.
I’ve also been thinking about gamification. I still haven’t tried 4theWords. I looked at it last year, but didn’t like the idea of typing my novel into the game. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I’ll give it another look. My other idea is to create a game board for myself based on clue. Once I figure out my settings, characters, possible deaths, etc. I can create a game that not only encourages word count, but hopefully generates ideas. I can create figures representing my characters to move around the board and when they meet, write their interactions.
I’m also organizing my office into stations, so when I lose steam at the computer, I can type on the typewriter, then move to a notebook and colorful pen, then put post-its on butcher paper, or draw with a crayon, anything to keep the juices flowing, then circle back to the computer.
I’m going to print out my favorite contradictory abstraction images and cover the wall behind my desk for inspiration and start collecting everything that sparks thoughts about contradictory abstractions and their mysteries in a “compost journal.”
I want the words to flow this year, and to have a lot of fun. I hope you’ll join me. I’ll be posting more prep ideas this week.
I didn’t see a new prompt today, so I went over to Poetic Bloomings and found today’s prompt is to write an “anticipation poem.” Since I’m starting to anticipate NaNoWriMo that feels like an appropriate prompt for today’s poem.
Letting Go to Know Them
I want to be consumed invaded, presumed secondary present for clarity, for dictation I prepare in anticipation of possession by personified abstraction and interactions of contradictory unknowns I desire a mystery a murder of the cruel inner-critic whose misrule finally comes to an ecstatic end through synthesis of passion and practice and psychological slight of hand making hours disappear turned to scenes to grip a seer transforming words into feelings and actions, and dreams The anticipation tastes sublime sweet and sour, dripping thyme fresh and tingling like the open window during rain, cleansing readying an open vessel for consumption.
Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “bowl.”
A bowl is both a hemispheric vessel, and the substance that it does or does not hold. A bowl can be a ball that’s rolled, its act of rolling and its action on a thing. An intense feeling, being bowled over, and being a bowl, an unstable empty vessel tilting like a pendulum, sloshing liquids like waves, ebbing and flowing. Being bowled, rolled toward, spinning, turning, speeding along a lane, or being bowled, struck, toppled, tilting, tumbling, losing stability, knocking others over while falling, ricocheting off the walls before losing momentum, either way a force acting upon another, changing its position and direction; a form of surrender.
Am I like the pin or the ball, each limited until acted upon. Is it self-limiting to stay still, to not knock into things? Or am I the full or empty vessel, limited by size and rim?
Today’s prompt is “Surrender Self-Limitation.” Today’s suggested poem form is the Catena Rondo. It has similarities to the Roundabout which I tried on Thursday: The repeat of the first and last line of each stanza, the rhyme scheme, the circling back to A in the last stanza. However, the Catena Rondo, unlike the Roundabout, does not focus on meter.
This Year, Break the Cycle
How will I quit my judge-critic? Sit in the dark and listen Write faster than thought second-guessing How will I quit my judge-critic?
Sit in the dark and listen Drop spoons into bowls, clang of metal to grasp edges of dreams not yet settled sit in the dark and listen
Drop spoons into bowls, clang of metal How will I quit my judge-critic, and push past my fear-based limits? Drop spoons into bowls, clang of metal
How will I quit my judge-critic? Sit in the dark and listen Push into the frightening frisson How will I quit my judge-critic?