Posted in Writing

A View From Here

Peaches lie all over the ground, tossed down yellow,
too early, by this morning’s storm. Bahia grass shushes the singing birds,
heads held high despite the damp. Melancholy swims up
and over me and clings as snug as the humidity.

The old neighbor appears, their new fence recently painted,
which clashes with their pile of old slate landscaping stones,
ivy springing eternally around everything in sight.

More peaches fall
and hit the rotting stump of the once towering
loblolly pine. Only one of the original five still guards the threshold separating
their wet grass from mine, but he’s not lonely. The gray squirrels
still swing from his branches and little finches nest in his crevices.

The Tuesday sound of lawn care services
blowing leaves from yard to yard interrupts
the hum of traffic as it crushes past too fast
on its way to the college down the road.
The harsh machine noise echoes through the trees
And sends our animal friends scurrying.

I yearn for neighbor’s past who cared
for the yards themselves, sweating
in the sunlight while joking about my use
of yellow fabric shears while I knelt weeding at the curb.

Their azaleas that smelled so heavenly
the day we moved in, now lost to occupants
who replaced them with easily maintained gravel,
which smells of guano from the bats.
Next I imagine they’ll try to replace the bats, to the delight
of the ever present mosquitos.

I smell damp earth and the light, sweet smell of the peaches.
A sociable squirrel we’ve named Randy
chitters at me through the screen,
daring me to keep him from his fruity treasure. A cardinal
stops to argue with him and he runs elsewhere
like always.

A copy of this poem also appears here, as part of a padlet of coursework from a writing class I’m taking.

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Writing

Rough Week

I had that one really great writing day last week and then it all dried up. When I say “dried up,” I don’t mean that no words came to mind…not exactly. I was just too cranky to find the words and let them out.

It started with a migraine that wouldn’t go away. I woke up migraine free this morning after 7 days of migraine. It was not one of those all-encompassing-bad migraines, but one of those where your head hurts and you feel dizzy and things look weird and nothing seems right.

Then I joined a reading group for next year where you try to read a book a week all year, only you fit the books into categories that someone else makes up. It sounded fun, but led me down the deep dark path of “what did I read this year?” I only had like 20 books in GoodReads and surely I’d read more than that, right? Turned out I had 38 books in my “Currently Reading” list that I’d never gotten around to finishing. So I’m making my way through the ends of those now. I do the audio book of “Becoming” when I’m in the car waiting for kids, a fun kids book “5 Children and It” (from the Top 100 Fantasy Books list that came out not too long ago) in the morning when my brain isn’t awake yet, and “Thinking Fast and Slow” when I have more brain.

Then my sister told me that my dad caught Covid. Seriously? He goes nowhere and sees no one. He doesn’t even feel bad from it. He went to the doctor for something else and they tested him for it any way. So now he’s super perky because he’s on good drugs. This did not make me feel better about life, though, because now our carefully laid out Thanksgiving plans are not going to happen. We were kind of all depending on having a few lazy days somewhere that wasn’t this house for the first time in seven months. It made the crankiness worse. And a cranky Lisa is not a writing Lisa.

A few days into this “no writing” phenomena, I just decided I hated everything and I was done writing forever. I cleared off my desk, took down a bunch of art, and decided to work on some other projects. One of those was clearing out my hard drive. So I spent a solid day combining all my photo files, deleting the randomness out, and making those nice. Then I spent a day sorting out my documents folder into places where things actually went. That led to me shoving all my poetry into a Scrivener document, like I’d always planned. Which led me to looking for poems that I couldn’t find, but knew I’d written. Which led me to tidying up my writing from the TPL writer’s group and putting it all into the right Scrivener files.

Which sneakily led me back into real, actual writing again because I kept finding things that just needed a little tweaking here or there to fit into place in their own main storylines. So I’d tidy this bit up over here, and change the time of this piece right there, and bam: a whole new scene just appeared. MAGIC!

Posted in My Own Personal Weirdness, Writing

Day Five of Nanowrimo

Despite my lack of planning on my official nano piece, things are going well. Since I am using Lady Air Pirates (the new story) to bribe myself to work on Caro’s Quest (the older story I am supposed to be finishing this month) I am, in effect, doing a double nanowrimo this month.

The whole Lady Air Pirate story started with a dream I had that was a mash up of several things I’d been reading or watching at the time, like three months ago or longer. It stayed with me all that time and my brain has been amusing itself with what if’s along the way, but I told myself I needed to finish Caro’s Quest first. Then I completely burnt myself out on that when my critique group went from twice a month to once a week and we got some new members that just did not get the fantasy genre. It became such a slog. So my brain kept telling me these silly little side stories that were not going to work in Caro’s Quest. I thought I might shove them into The Dreaming for a while as well, since I have some pseudo pirates in there. I had zero time to work on that, though, with the increased critique group load. This lady air pirate was not willing to be squashed down into a side character in a novel not her own, in any case. No, not her.

So when it came time to declare my nano novel, she just took over and told me she was not going away. I’d have to find time to write her, too. That was the day before nano started.

Day One hit and Lady Air Pirate went into hiding. In her place, the little girl at the bottom of the gazebo came forward. She knew she was going on an adventure with the Lady Air Pirate from the moment she saw her hanging there in the air, but first she wanted to tell what she was escaping. So day one became about that.

Day Two was more of Melanda’s story. Her mom Joan was actually about to win an award for once and she was not going to let Melanda’s wild ways ruin her day.

I made a rough outline of my story on Day Three. I dumped all those plot points into Scrivener, a sentence or two per section really adds up the word count. I also got some character sketches done that day, in between a visit from a friend’s family.

Yesterday was Kerani’s day. She’s the Lady Air Pirate. I got to hear how she ended up doing the super risky thing she was about to do, how it was supposed to save everything for her crew that had just had an upheaval, and how it was actually going to be an unmitigated backstabbery disaster. Then to add insult to injury, there was this kid they accidentally abducted. Yeah. I wrote nearly 3,000 words on Caro’s Quest yesterday morning as well, doing word sprints at mywriteclub.com with my friend Elizabeth. I also got nearly caught up on my Vein of Gold classwork in the afternoon. It was a fantastic day.

Today I need to up my count for the Lady Air Pirates piece. My brain got stuck on this picture of Amy Pond as a pirate while I was researching the other day, so she may in some form or fashion appear in my story as well. Not sure how. It may just be her hair, who knows.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week. How’s everyone else’s week going?

Posted in Computers and Internet, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Writing

NaNoWriMo 2020

Another year, another NaNoWriMo. I prepped all October to finish up the rewrite for last year’s Nano novel (Caro’s Quest) but then there’s been this other story this last week (Lady Air Pirates steampunk thing) that I cannot get out of my head, so I changed courses this morning and started on that instead. I’m in a mood, what can I say?

I’ve written 1711 words so far on the weird steampunk thing. It’s really weird, man. I had to stop for lunch (frozen cheese pizza for the third time this week – Greg’s trying to get it out of his system before he goes back to in person school tomorrow), but I feel like there’s more story in me and I’ve already done all the other personal life stuff I needed to today, so I think I’m going to write some more while my brain is still good.

I am still working on Caro’s Quest, though. I have thirty days of re-writes planned out, so I’ll do those and use this new story as a bargaining chip. As in, “do your rewrites, Lisa, and then you can write the crazy lady air pirate story after.”

I’ve made myself a crazy excel spreadsheet of all my projects and am going to track and see how many words I write a month overall. (A kid came through just now and wanted to know how many projects that is and I’ve counted four fantasy novels, one mystery, one memoir, all the short fiction I do during my writing group times, and this blog.) I’ve been curious about what that number would like for a while now. Maybe I’ll share that with y’all later. 🙂

What are y’all working on this month? Doesn’t have to be writing. What’s your passion project? Tell me about it in the comments.

Posted in Crafts, My Own Personal Weirdness, Writing

VoG: Creativity Doll and Inner Editor Monster Doll

Today (or whichever day I am currently on that may or may not be the right day – it’s hard to keep track with the group calendar changing) we were supposed to make two different kinds of dolls: one a Creativity Doll and one an Inner Editor Monster Doll.

I have a lot of random craft supplies at my house because, as you all probably already know, I am a craft dabbler. So I dug out a bunch of stuff, traced an outline on some beige fabric, pulled out my mom’s old sewing machine, and I went to work. I’d made a doll once in the distant past, around third grade for the one room schoolhouse experience. And when I say “I’d made” I really mean that my mom made it while I stood by and handed her things, as was the way of my people.

The doll itself was easy to make, with simple lines and a quarter inch edge all the way around. Using my mom’s sewing machine is second nature, unlike the one that I’ve had for the last decade or so that never made sense to me (which I shipped off to a friend the moment I got my mom’s in my hot little hands). I did have a little trouble at first with the thread tension, but a little swearing and rethreading later, I was good to go.

Stuffing proved a little harder because my stuffing tool went missing, but I used a skinny handled jewelry making file instead. Then I decided she needed clothing, so I freehanded a dress pattern while playing games with the boys. Sewed that up, then painted a face, glued on some curly, colorful wool (from needle felting) for hair, and gave her a bit of bling. But something was still missing. Shoes. I had no idea what to use for shoes. But she was just about baby sized, so I hand-sewed her some felt baby booties based off a pattern I’d thought about using for Kay’s twins when they were born, but never got around too. I eyeballed it. They turned out okay.

The Inner Editor Monster Doll is where I went off the rails. I felt like it should just be wackier, I guess. I grabbed an old, much hated bra out of the dresser, cut the straps off, and sewed it into a tube. I really thought I was going to break the sewing machine, but she worked like a dream, sewing through multiple layers and a zipper without any trouble at all. The backside, the secret side I’m not showing you all, is a black and white striped ribbon with all the bad phrases we wrote down during that Golden Words writing experiment several weeks ago, all those not so nice things people, and therefore my Inner Editor, have said to me. After I was done, I didn’t like her staring at me. It made me uncomfortable. Now in this section of the book, Julia Cameron says some people like to burn this creation or destroy it or maim it in some way. Another thing you know about me is that I love setting things on fire. But I just couldn’t somehow. So I came up with option B: a sleep mask. So now my Inner Editor can just take a rest and leave me alone. 🙂

Posted in Crafts, Writing

Treasure Map

The last collage style thing we were supposed to do this week was make a treasure map of what we wanted our future to look like. I made mine a “From Here to There” style map. I know y’all are all laughing at the bottom middle one, but it’s the hardest thing to do for me. I like to help people, but I spend far more time on that than anything else. If being published is a goal of mine, I’m going to need to spend less time volunteering and much more time writing.

Posted in Crafts, Writing

Another Day, Another Collage

I had to go out and purchase more magazines. I tried a couple local thrift shops and in one I found National Geographics from the early 80’s, which was perfect because these next couple collages were supposed to be things from Birth-Age 5 and Ages 6-10. Even more perfect: one had a whole section on Nebraska in celebration of writer Willa Cather. I literally cried seeing photos that my heart knew were Nebraska before my brain read the words on the next page that told me they were, in fact, Nebraska. It was wild.

There weren’t a lot of magazine pictures left for the second poster, sadly, so it mostly got old family photos, interspersed with a few magazine bits from England or California, which were big family trips during Ages 6-10.

Posted in Crafts, My Own Personal Weirdness, Writing

Grab Bag Collage

Another Vein of Gold post. Sorry, it is eating my brain lately, so it’s what you get to see. Here we were supposed work as fast as we could, grabbing thirty or so images that struck us from magazines, and make a collage without overthinking it. Overthinking it. Hahahaha. Well, I hit a couple walls right away: 1) we don’t keep magazines in the house, really, and 2) I was totally out of scrapbooking tape.

So I gathered up all the Entertainment Weekly’s and Tyler Today’s that my dad had at his house (with permission) and here’s what I came up with. It took way longer than you might think. Enjoy!

Posted in Lifelong learning, The Past Comes Back to Haunt Me, Writing

Vein of Gold conundrum

I’ve been doing mine longhand, but it’s about killing my hand after three pages in the morning. Today’s task has us writing a personal narrative and I’ve had to write another six handwritten pages in the afternoon. Our class calendar gives us three days to do 10-15,000 words of a personal narrative and I just don’t write that fast, especially not longhand. What to do, what to do?

Fortunately, some of the writing I have already been doing for BYOB dovetails nicely with some of the questions suggested by Julia Cameron to answer, so I do have some of that kind of thing written already recently. I’ve also had two decades of blogging about my life to draw from, so I have some things I can go back to here to kind of look through for inspiration. I may just not be able to do all of it by hand. Typing or dictating is much easier on the hands.

Thoughts, anyone?

Posted in Lifelong learning, Writing

My Vein of Gold Setup

My cute little notebook for Vein of Gold writing prompts. I’ll do all of my Vein of Gold writing here and leave my regular daily notebook for other tasks.