The World is Black and White

Any of y’all ever listened to the John Mayer song “Stop This Train?”

Talk about a song to just drive you nuts with thinking. Most of the people that know me would be surprised, but I do that on occasion, and it definitely can make a body weary.

Thinking takes work.

But aren’t we lucky to be among those who think? Look around you – how many people are running all over the place, scared of getting older, trying to make money and do things that at least other people will think are exciting, even if they don’t; fighting to keep marriages or find new ones, trying to make their kids into more successful versions of themselves…and with all that running they’ve never once stopped and seen themselves or the world around them.

We get to see it. It’s a burden, and a joy all at once. Sounds like life itself, don’t you think?


Setbacks and True Confessions

True Confessions: Haven’t written anything but a couple short-shorts for almost a week. Until today, when I started another new novel, though it’s only two chapters in.

True Confessions: I think my words are stuck.

Setbacks: The medication I am obliged to take for my illness sometimes cause terrible swelling in my hands, wrists and forearms. This has hampered EVERYTHING for almost three days. It’s finally gone though!

Setbacks: grad school. I don’t think it really requires more information than that!

Setbacks: My illness in general. I’ve been so tired I can’t concentrate on absolutely anything: not school, not work not writing. On the plus side I’ve had some inSANE dreams lately!

They say you’re only a writer if you write every day. Other people say you’re a writer if you think you’re a writer. Some people say you’re a writer if you see the world in stories. Others say you’re only a writer if you have pages and pages of words to show.

Are we still writers – artists, creators – when we have setbacks and true confessions?

Stars part two

The search for inspiration goes on: other art forms.

I play the piano, and inspiration often strikes as I run my fingers through familiar melodies. I think it just allows me to relax and meld myself into malleable form that can stumble upon new things quite easily.

Come to think of it, music in general is inspiration for me. Often a particular lyric or melody will strike just so, and I find myself diving for the nearest writing implement and scrap of paper. As a side note, who else thinks its the WORST when the pen you grab doesn’t work? Oy!

Photography is wonderful. I once wrote a story by selecting three pictures, and forcing myself to create a tale that centered around those scenes. I also had to do this as a psychoanalysis assignment for a class…but we won’t go there. A beautiful image, sometimes, is all I need to get back on track.

Dance is the final source I’ll explore here – images of impossibly lithe, arching dancers, gravity-defying leaps caught in a moment, the beauty that can be expressed through such movement – it’s astounding.

What sets your literary wheels a churning – or if you work in other mediums, what helps you find your creative juices?

Following the Star

I know, I know – wrong season. But I’d like to do some delving into inspiration this week, and for some reason I’ve always pictured inspiration as a white star on the horizon. Because my mind is a vast repository of sappy imagery.

First up: Places.

i find that I tend to have great ideas in very particular places, as follows:

1) The shower. Don’t know why, just something about shampooing my hair must massage good thoughts out of my brain. But then, it’s squire an unfortunate place, really, for ideas, because unless I want to scrawl them in blood from the slice in my leg across the shower wall, there’s little I can do but cling desperately and hope for the best.

2) While doing laundry. I absolutely loathe laundry. My brain is desperate for other thoughts so it dives most gladly into imagination.

3) In church. I’m always scrambling for a scrap of paper to write an idea, a reference, a theme, or some other such thing down to race back to The Notebook of Swell Ideas.

4) Right before bed. Just as I’m drifting off to deep, fulfilling sleep, it strikes like lightning. Then one of two things occurs – I either stay up all night and sorely regret it in the days to come, or I reach blindly for the closest paper, only to wake to an indecipherable scrawl.

5) Work. This is my favorite, because I look remarkably industrious while secretly only furthering my own ends. Cue evil laughter.


So, where does inspiration strike you? Don’t say somewhere accommodating, like your computer. That’s just mean.

The Art of Bravery

I happen to be something of a stubborn person. Or so I’ve been informed.

i don’t like to be told what not to do, or that something is impossible. That’s how I ended up with an associates degree before I graduated highschool. That’s how I ended up with three jobs, 18 credits, and a novel in progress in my second year of college.

Thats how I’ve ended up a part time graduate student with a disease and a full time job.

Fine, maybe I’m a tad stubborn. As Sheldon says in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, “I’ll acquiesce to [your statement] if you give me [my way]”.

i just have to apply this same (ridiculous, sometimes downright dangerous, annoying-as-heck) quality to my writing as well. It’s a skill we all need – the ability to bounce back and be resilient, to harness our less than endearing qualities and bully them into our service. With this in mind, my temporary goal is to submit at least three pieces to journals, reviews, or other publications by Easter weekend. One way or another, in my lifetime, I am determined that someone will publish me in something…even if its a “never write like this” book!

What evil quality will you harness for good today?

Hold On

The inevitable blow has arrived – times two!

I checked my email today, to learn first that I’d been dropped from the preliminary round of the contest I entered, and then that a story I’d submitted (and waited four agonizing months to hear back on, hoping against hope the longer and longer it remained “in Progress” instead of rejected) had also been rejected.

remember when I said that writing is like pushing forth a tiny bit of your soul out to brave the wild world? It’s times like these that can make it feel as though that raft didn’t just capsize – it shattered entirely, and your soul wasn’t wearing a life jacket. And then a giant shark came along…

Alright, I exaggerate, but only slightly. Surely those of you who’ve been there understand the vague feeling of bruises and scars woven together beneath the skin. Someone found you – your words, your art, your dance, your photography, your acting – wanting. In satisfying.

You pause a moment. Wonder what that means about who you are, what you have to offer…the magic your life revolves around.

But what would your time better be spent on? Surely not only the work that pays your bills, the labor that keeps your home clean, mindless tv watching and fun but fleeting moments.

You were burdened with the call to greater things than this.

Keep the light alive. Go on. For better or worse, you are: a singer, a dancer, a musician, an artist, a photographer, a designer, a writer. Make it for the better.

I’ll be here, pressing fingers to keys. No white flags.


The Schizophrenic Writer – and other ridiculously accurate ideas

Don’t you all make me a liar, now.

Please tell me I’m not the only one standing, at times, in a living room, all alone, having conversations out loud with myself, trying to sound out who these people are, the images they represent.

What do they want out of life? What does life want out of them?

Please tell me I’m not the only one furtively scribbling, willing to sacrifice my ability to potentially read it later on the off chance that the person next to me might decipher the neurotic scribbling and think me mad.

But I have to capture it – because if I miss that dialogue, that line of music, that particular drop of rain – it’s gone.

Please tell me I’m not the only one washing dishes in the sink and suddenly realizing I’m standing there, hands loose in the soapy water as my mind spins gloriously perfect sentences – which are of course forgotten before I dry my fingers.

Please tell me I’m not the only one ripping the tabs off tea bags because they have the most amazing quotes, saving the slips inside fortune cookies, collecting my Dove wrappers, attempting to sneakily rip a bit of newspaper or ad out because somehow it sparks the thought I’ve been seeking.

And please – please do tell me I’m not the only one who greets the morning with more of a curse than a song on their lips. And then swiftly blesses the coffee pot.

It’s not an easy load we bear!