Friday, October 20, 2017

A Place of Your Own

First of all, I’d like to remind you that you’ve only got a week left to come up with a story for this month’s picture prompt. And in case you also need a reminder of what the picture was, you can find it HERE. I’m hoping to get my story done this weekend...you know, in all my spare time. ;-)

As you know, or maybe if you’re new here you don’t, I’m in the midst of The Great Office Shuffle - I’m moving my office to the smaller room across the hall. Pretty much everything from my old desk and the filing cabinets is in boxes stacked in corners or in the small storage closet. I moved the hubby’s electronic equipment over onto the desk and dismantled his old work space. And that’s pretty much where things stand at the moment. I can’t do much else until my new desk is in place.

I really didn’t think it would be a big deal to have to wait until this weekend to set up my new desk. Apparently I was wrong.

I had just started getting into the habit of writing at my desk before I started the Shuffle. But not only was I unable to use my new desk this past week, I also couldn’t use my old desk - it’s covered in “stuff” that won’t have a home until I get my new office set up. I was actually kind of surprised at how much I missed it.

It’s important for a writer to have a space of their own in which to write. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a room of my own, but not everyone is that lucky. So what do you do if you don’t have that kind of space?

A desk in a corner of the living room or basement would work. The bedroom is a good choice because you can close the door to keep interruptions to a minimum. A screened in porch could be winterized so it can be used year round. I know one writer who turned a large closet into their work space. If space is an issue you can use the kitchen or dining room table. And there’s always the option of writing in a coffee shop.

Roald Dahl, George Bernard Shaw, and Dylan Thomas wrote in a sheds. Agatha Christie came up with her plots while in the bathtub. Gertrude Stein wrote in her car. Maya Angelou liked to rent a hotel room to write in. Truman Capote, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, and Marcel Proust all wrote in the comfort of their beds. Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up at their desks.

The important part about having a space of your own is that once you start using it on a regular basis, your brain will realize that when you’re sitting there it’s time to write. And that can only lead to being a more productive writer.

This week’s excerpt is from Wandering Wizards, the third installment in my Moonstone Chronicles series. There have been a few signs that there’s trouble brewing, and this scene, taking place during a class in divination, only confirms it.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

“Try again, Horace,” Paranithel encouraged gently.

Dutifully Horace scooped up the stones and placed them back in the velvet bag. Paran was pleased to note the boy remembered the cleansing spell, to alleviate any negative energy, before he started gain.

“Remember to focus on the question you wish answered.”

“Maybe you should focus on whether or not you’ll pass this class,” one of the other boys snickered.

Paranithel rapped his cane sharply on the ground. “That will be quite enough of that!” His voice gentled as he gave Horace an encouraging nod. “Go ahead.”

Face fierce with concentration, Horace slowly dipped his hand into the bag and stirred. He pulled five stones out at random and cast them onto the table in front of him. All five fell with the symbol marking them facing down towards the table.

There were murmurs from the boys and tears filled Horace’s eyes. “I focused, I really did!”

“I’m sure you did, boy.” Paranithel patted his shoulder. “These things happen when the stones have no answer to give. Garnet, why don’t you have a try?”

A little nervously, Garnet approached the table. She took the bag of stones Horace offered her, smiling slightly in thanks. Taking a deep breath, she cast the cleansing spell and then focused on her question. Dipping into the bag, she pulled out five stones and cast them on the table. One again they all landed face down.

“Most curious,” Paranithel murmured, looking over her shoulder. Rather than have Garnet try again he nodded to the next student. “Warner, you give a try.”

Warner swaggered up to the table and took the bag from Garnet. “Let me show you how it’s done,” he boasted. He made an elaborate show of the cleansing spell, shaking the bag and casting the spell again for good measure. Finally he reached in and cast his stones. For all his theatrics, his also fell face down.

Paranithel had to bite back a chuckle at the boy’s crestfallen face. Warner was one of those students who sometimes needed to be taken down a peg or two.

“Maybe the stones need to be re-energized,” one of the students suggested.

“Perhaps, perhaps,” Paranithel agreed, although that was not how the stones worked. “But it is plain we’ll get no answers from them today. Class dismissed.”

Murmuring amongst themselves, the students picked up their notebooks and filed out of the room. When the last student was gone, Paranithel reached into his pocket and pulled out the small box that held his Tarot cards.

Lifting them from their silk wrapping, he did his own cleansing spell and began to shuffle. While the cards were capable of being more specific than the stones, he focused on the future and what it held. Done shuffling, he laid the cards out in a spread.

For a long moment he stared at the cards in front of him. Too many reversals, too many swords, all leading to an uncertain future. With a sigh he gathered them up again. He needed to talk to Thackery again. But before he did that, perhaps he would have a chat with Aracelia to see if the elves were experiencing similar problems.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Squirrel

The idea for this poem came from a prompt from Brazen Snake Books. If you’re looking for inspiration, you really should check them out. There are new prompts, both poetry and prose, each Monday. And if you don’t see one you like off the bat, scroll down for heaven’s sake! There’s sure to be one in an earlier post.

This one was from October 9 and said: Write a poem from the perspective of a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter. How cute is that? I just couldn’t resist. :-D

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Squirrel

Here’s a nut, there’s a nut,
what’s under this big leaf?
Watch out it might be a trap -
it’s not, to my relief.

I’ll put it here, I’ll put it there
then look around for more.
Winter’s coming - hurry, hurry
build up the winter store.

Run and pause, run and pause,
nose twitching in the breeze -
chitter at the cat below -
he’s such fun to tease.

Careful, careful, have a care
upon the wire high -
a better way to cross the street
if you’re brave enough to try.

A trap, a trap, look out a trap!
In that garden there -
that human’s out to get you
though there’s plenty there to share.

Scurry, hurry, careful now
to the feeder just in reach
I see it’s filled with seeds today
oh, won’t those blue jays screech!

Jump and climb, climb and jump
move from tree to tree -
race through leaves and branches,
chirp out loud in glee.

Home again, home again
my nuts are safe inside
the hollow tree I call my home -
this stash a source of pride.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Writer’s Brain and the Great Debate

Short Fiction - 250
Long Fiction - 1443
Poetry - 302
Total Words - 1995
Editing Hours -0
Paragraphs of Notes - 7

Here’s where that “honest about my writing, or lack thereof” comes back to bite me in the ass. As you can see, my numbers weren’t all that great last week, although I did manage to produce a brand new poem. However, you may have also noticed I skipped both blog posts on Friday.

This give and take of words pretty much sums up the rest of the week. There are things I need to add to Wandering Wizards in order to move forward with it, but I keep changing my mind about what and where to add them. I’ll write out a scene and then change it and change it and change it and then delete it. I’m starting to see the benefits of plotting things out ahead of time.

At the very least there’s one scene that needs to be added to the end of the last chapter I wrote, but every time I think I’ve nailed it I get writer’s brain. You know, where this little voice in your brain tells you that something doesn’t sound quite right, but if you make this change it would be perfect, even though it means having to go back and change a bunch of other stuff leading up to it? And the worst part about writer’s brain is, it’s usually right.

And it doesn’t help that it’s that time of year again. November is fast approaching and I’m caught up in the debate of will I won’t I do NaNoWriMo. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of National Novel Writing Month, go HERE - it’ll save me a really long-winded explanation.

I’ve been doing NaNo for many years now. I have 9 unfinished novels to prove it. Actually, make that 8 of them - Lucky Dog started out as a NaNo novel and I actually finished that one. I skipped it a couple of years ago, breaking my streak of seven years in a row, and I really missed it. And I noticed the NaNo widget to the right (that I was too lazy to remove) has reset itself, all ready for this year. I didn’t even know it could do that.

There are two things I wanted to have happen before I threw my hat into the NaNo ring. One, I wanted to have the draft of Wandering Wizards finished, and two, I wanted to be able to write at my new desk in my new office.

While I’m confident I’ll be able to write at my new desk by November 1, I know for certain I won’t have Wandering Wizards finished. If I’m going to even consider doing NaNo this year, I need to at least knock off a big chunk of it. Therefore, my goal is to do 5,000 words this week. Let’s face it, if I can’t do 5,000 in one week, there’s no way I’ll be able to manage almost 12,000 words a week (1,667 a day) during NaNo.

So let’s meet back here next week to see how I did, shall we? If this doesn’t motivate me to write, I don’t know what will!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

To NaNo, Or Not to NaNo

Okay, for those of you who don't know any better, NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month which takes place all over the world for the month of November. You can find out more about it HERE.

This is actually a new poem for a change, written in the form of a parody. And in case you flunked high school English, it's a parody of the famous soliloquy from Hamlet, To Be, Or Not to Be. :-D

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

To NaNo or Not to NaNo

To NaNo, or not to NaNo--that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to write
For thirty days without stopping for breath
Or to just not bother trying at all
So as to avoid failure. To write, to sleep
No more--and by a sleep we say pass out
From utter exhaustion, pen and paper in hand
Unable to let go. ‘Tis a decision
Not to be taken lightly. To think, to write--
To write--perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that writing what great ideas may come
When we write without looking back,
It gives one pause. There’s the website
That makes a community of strangers.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of this experience
Where there are no judges, just writing
And struggles with the muse, the word counts,
The de-railing of thoughts with LOL cats and
The society of write-ins, and the frenzy
Of word wars that weed out the unworthy,
When all you want is a quiet hour
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a heavy pen,
But that the dread of some weird plot twist,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, screws up your story line,
If not your word count so that you start padding
Your prose and your novel becomes you know not what?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And you start to edit even though
Time is running out and you should be adding words
Not deleting them and your plot has disappeared
Under the stroke of the red pen. But persistence
Is key here -- Keep writing -- For in the end
You will have written an entire novel in thirty days,
And you and your book shall be remembered.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hey, Wagon, Wait Up!

Short Fiction - 0
Long Fiction - 1596
Poetry - 322
Total Words - 1918
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 5

I may have written a few more words, but I didn’t keep track of them. But yeah, I pretty much fell off the writing every day wagon last week. And I don’t even have a good excuse lined up, other than I’m still fighting my sinus cold.

Now as to why I got no writing done over the weekend, I have excuses coming out the wazoo. Saturday I had a pile of errands to run, many of which took me out of town, and Sunday I was re-organizing closets plus I had the family dinner for Thanksgiving.

And then there was this:





This is what I’ll be dealing with today instead of writing. One of these days this is going to be my new office. That day will not be today, nor will it be tomorrow. If I’m real lucky, maybe by the end of next weekend.

That whole desk like area has to be cleaned off and the stuff on it and in it relocated. That big sheet covered thing is my desk, and I’m not quite sure where I want it. Facing the window for sure, but right under the window? Halfway back from the window? Turned so it’s edgewise to the window? I have no idea.

Then of course there’s the stuff from my old desk to bring over, which I can’t really do until my new desk is in its place. And most of the stuff from the desk area in the work room will be going on the old desk, which needs to be cleaned off first. You see my problem?

Oh, yeah, and I’ll be bringing the narrow book case over from the current office to replace the white one. And don’t forget that futon needs to be dismantled. And that white blanket? Yeah, you can’t tell from the picture, but it’s not really white any more. It’s mostly dark grey. I put the blanket on the futon to keep the cat hair off it, but the cat likes to sleep under the blanket. Needless to say, add cleaning the cat hair off the futon to my list.

All I have to keep in mind is the big picture - which is the satisfaction of sitting behind my dream desk in my new writing space.

Then all that will be left is the writing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Prompt Me - Cat

Someone requested a "happy picture" for the prompt for a change, but seeing as it's October, it's not going to happen this month. ;-)



There's a lot going on in this picture - you've got a full moon, geese in flight, lots of atmosphere, and of course a black cat. But maybe there's something else, something you can't see. Who, or what, is the cat looking at? With Halloween fast approaching, this is the perfect chance to let your imagination run wild.

The challenge is to come up with something creative inspired by the above picture - a story, a poem, or even a non-fiction article. I'd love to see what you come up with, and if you send it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com by Thursday, October 26, I'll post it here on the 27th. Please try to keep it to 1,000 words or less and if I get more pieces than will fit comfortably in a single blog post, I'll post them over a couple of days.

I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dinggedicht

This is exciting for me. It’s not often I come across a new form these days but during a somewhat fruitless search for a different form I stumbled across this one. The Dinggedicht is a German form that means literally: poem of things. Points if you’re able to pronounce it. LOL

It’s similar to the Ekphrasis, which is a poem based on another work of art, but in this case it’s the mood, or inner being of the object that’s being written about. And it is not restricted to works of art, the poem is formed by observation of images in the world around you, expressed symbolically; the subject can be drawn from everyday life or current events.

You’d think, considering there’s no rhyme or syllable count, this would be any easy poem to craft. It’s not. It can be very difficult to capture the mood or inner essence of something, which made settling on a subject even more difficult. I’m hoping the subject of my poem would have been obvious even without the title.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Global Warming
The wind scatters your denials
flinging them back at you
ripping your objections up by the roots
only to crush them into splinters.

The siren call of the sea
becomes strident, irritated,
hurling epithets as it slams the shore,
not stopping there but crawling inward
to reclaim the already saturated land
while ignoring the parched earth elsewhere.
The land shudders, heaves, rips apart -
reconfigures itself with no rhyme nor reason.

Fueled by the hot, dry wind
the inferno devours everything in its path
scouring the surface
abrading the skin of the land
until all that is left is ash.

Deny it though you may
the truth is out there
staring you in the face.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

If you’d like to learn more about the Dinggedicht I suggest one of the following links:
Ada's Poetry Alcove
The Collagist
All Poetry