Monday, April 16, 2018

A Found Poem Using Psalm 91



 In my previous two blogs for the month of April about poetry, I gave two suggestions: trying your hand with a “found poem” and imitating a favorite poem or poet by copying one example and substituting its form with your own words to practice “writing a better poem.”

To illustrate how a found poem works, I took a favorite Psalm from the Bible and did the following:
1.     I copied words, phrases, or verses from the psalm that I really loved unto a sheet of paper, one example per line, then I cut them into movable pieces with a pair of scissors.
2.    In a found poem, you are not allowed to add or change ANYTHING; you can only work with the words, phrases, or verses you have chosen. You cannot punctuate differently or add punctuation where it might be needed, but you can repeat words, phrases, or verses to create a refrain or make transitions or to emphasize images.  It will look very “modern.”
3.    I took my bits of paper and moved them into different positions, paring phrases down to single words if necessary and creating line breaks where I wanted.   
It is always best to show an example so below is my version of Psalm 91. I hope it inspires you to try your hand at a found poem. Happy April is Poetry Month!

Psalm 91: I Will Be With You
I will protect those who know my name
You will not fear the terror of the night
I will be with them
When they call me, I will answer them
command angels
                     find refuge
                     bear you up
          no evil shall befall you
guard you in all ways
                     from the snare of the fowler
You will tread on the lion and the adder
You will not fear the terror of the night.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Writing a Better Poem



Do you want to learn how to write a better poem?
1.     Read poetry.  Immerse yourself in it.  Find and sift through until you find the poets and the poems you like and admire.
2.    Imitate their poems.  I do not advocate plagiarism; I advocate practice and study.  Imbue yourself in the form, the spacing, the use of line and rhythm – all the elements that interest you. 
3.    Copy your poems into a journal or notebook, or copy and paste it into a digital folder, and also keep ideas, lines from favorite poems, figurative language, vocabulary, pictures, and practice, practice, practice.  Keep finished and unfinished poems in one, easily accessible place.
4.    Hunt, search, research for new poets and poetry.  No need to spend money.  Use libraries, bookstores, the Internet.  Use recommendations from Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble.  Remember there are thousands of novels available, but we only read the few genres we like; likewise, with poetry, there are thousands of poets and poetry out there waiting to be discovered, read, and enjoyed.
5.    Join a group of poets who write, share, and critique each other’s work.  So much can be learned from those who understand the genre best.
Looking for ideas? Try:
1.    Julia Alvarez.  Homecoming
2.    Niki Giovanni. The Women and the Men
3.    Trinidad Sanchez, Jr. Why Am I So Brown?
4.    Tupac Shakur. The Rose That Grew from Concrete.
5.    Alice Walker.  Revolutionary Petunias.

Monday, April 2, 2018

April is Poetry Month: THE Found Poem


One of my favorite teaching units when teaching middle and high school students was The Poetry Unit.  
The kids would groan; the poet beaten out of them in elementary school, what with haikus, and tankas, and diamantes forced upon them by well-meaning teachers, year after year.
I allayed their fears, promising them I would take their concerns to heart and maybe teach them something new, something innovative, something that would change their minds about April is Poetry Month that would not be too painful.
I started off by brainstorming on the white board everything everyone knew already about poetry. 
“It rhymes.”
“It sometimes doesn’t rhyme.”
“It’s short.”
“It’s sometimes long.”
“It follows conventions.”
“It sometimes breaks conventions and rules.”
And so it went until we had covered the white board with everything everyone offered.  During lulls, I would ask questions to get more ideas.
“Why do some poems rhyme and others don’t?”
“How does a short poem get its message across?”
“What are some poetic conventions?” and if that didn’t work: “What are some rules you have seen a poet break?”
When the white board was covered with all of their ideas, I showed them a quick way to write Poem #1 (and copy notes off the board).
THE FOUND POEM
Take a sheet of paper and number 1-20, skipping lines in between your numbers.
Copy twenty ideas from the white board that stand out to you the most.  Maybe they are new ideas or contradicting ideas or ideas that you feel a need to remember most. At this point just copy twenty ideas, one per line. Copy them exactly as written on the board. 
Do Not Change or Add Anything.
When you are done, double check that you chose the twenty ideas you want to remember the most about today’s lesson. Scratch out one you do not want to keep and replace it with one you do want to keep.
Read your list of twenty.
Reorder them in any fashion you prefer; renumber the list out in the margin: most important to least, or least important to most, or mix one of each per line, or short line followed by a long one, or the reverse, clump together in stanzas, or clumped together in stanzas but the final line ending each stanza has the most importance.
Remember a poem does NOT have to rhyme, so have fun with this.
This is your rough draft, so when you are ready, rewrite (or if working on a laptop, move) your lines into their new positions, adding spaces between lines or stanzas.
When finished, there should be twenty “lines.”
Some follow up lessons to this were lessons on enjambment, refrain, and punctuation, but one look at their finished products always lend themselves to other ideas.
HAPPY APRIL IS POETRY MONTH.
  

Monday, March 26, 2018

Getting Good at This: Losing a Loved One


Odd, what some people say when offering their condolences.  In an attempt to say something meaningful, they stumble out what they think is kind and well-intentioned but sounds rude instead.  At my mother’s funeral, one stark comment that stayed with me was, “You’re getting good at this.”
Good at this?  What did that mean? Losing my family? Managing a funeral? Penning eulogies? I would rather be good at anything else but this. I know those who said this to me did not mean it to be rude, so instead of being offended, I try to understand why they think I am “good at this.”
I was in my early 30’s when my grandfather was dying from cancer.  In their grief, my grandmother, mother, and aunt hadn’t thought about getting him a priest to give him “Anointing of the Sick,” what non-Catholics like to call Last Rites. I called my mother’s parish priest and he came immediately. My grandfather died soon after. I like to think he found comfort in this rite.
A few years later, I did the same for my dear grandmother.  As a matter of fact, I got her two priests.  One came immediately after she was admitted into the hospital after her heart attack, and the second one came later in the day.  At her bedside, I joked with her though she was in a coma.  She probably thought we heathens had forgotten our obligation and she would face eternity without her last rites. She too passed away soon after the second priest left, probably relieved that we hadn’t forgotten our Catholic upbringing.
Years later I did the same for my dad, my grandson, and my brother.  I asked for priests or chaplains to come pray with us so we could keep God and His angels close as our dear ones met their ends on this earth. I know it gives those left behind comfort for I have seen the sense of relief prayer gives them in their grief and loss.
Yes, I am getting “good at this.”  I could see my mother was losing her battle here on earth the day she died, and as difficult as it was to be strong and grown up and resolute, it would have been unforgiveable to be anything but.  If I truly believe in Jesus Christ and life everlasting, then I had to be like Him at that moment: committed to my task and mission, kind and compassionate, afraid but brave. I only hope that when my time comes, someone does the same for me.   

Monday, March 19, 2018

My Grandmother’s Tamales



Grandma Ene made sure I had the recipe for her tamales.  She stopped and waited for me to write each step down before adding another.
“Una cucharra de sal y una poquita mas porque se pierde cuando los cocinas.” Add a little more salt than usual because they lose their saltiness while you cook them, she said.
I think she may have known she would not last forever and none of us, including my mother, had ever bothered to learn her recipe for tamales. I wrote it all down, translating “handfuls” into table- or teaspoons and “tanto asi” into measuring cups.
The filling was made with pork and beef mixed together in a red chili pepper sauce and a whole box of raisins thrown into the simmering pot.  The raisins were an Old-World addition that cooled the hotness of the spices.  She supervised the making of the dainty tamales, a thin smear of corn masa inside a corn husk and a stingy tablespoon of meat tucked into the center. She made sure they all looked and felt the same.
The Christmas after she passed away, we decided to make Grandma Ene’s tamales. How hard could it be?  We labored over the process, using the recipe I had written down a few years earlier. We laughed because our tamales were of all sizes and weights but we got them done, knowing Ene was looking down at us from heaven, shaking her head.
We tasted them and were pleased with our results but something was missing. Maybe a little more salt? A little less red chile?  We all preferred the dainty tamales over the husky ones. Then we realized what was missing. 
We missed her supervising our efforts, handing out orders, redoing the fat tamales into trimmer versions. She missed her patient voice, showing us over and over how to make tamales.
We never tried to make them again, instead we trekked to a tamaleria and bought them by the dozen.  Even when we find some that claim to make half pork/half beef/with raisins, they don’t taste the same.
There are just some things, moments, and people who cannot be replaced.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Living our Life Story/ Autobiographical Writing Prompts


Among the many preparations for my mother’s funeral last week, I was responsible for collecting and scanning photos to create a video of her life.  I also volunteered to deliver her eulogy, a presentation and a farewell for a long life well lived. 
Not everything I collected was used.  Both the video and the eulogy were heavily edited by me, not because my mother lived a scandalous life, but because some things were private. 
Some folks sent pictures that out of context were no longer funny.  Some things that happened in her ninety years on earth were not for display.
All of this makes me aware of how I have lived my own life.  Some things were not of my choosing and also not for public display.
My maternal grandmother once told me one should have no regrets at the end of the journey on this earth.  I asked her how one accomplishes that, and she said, “Forgiveness.”  Forgive yourself and the other person. Life is full of mistakes, but instead of dwelling on them, forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on.
Wise woman.
Here are some autobiographical writing prompts.  They dwell on the positives in our lives.  Use them as a guide as you move toward a life with no regrets.
1.    Who did you love most and why?
2.    What are your best accomplishments and why?
3.    What are your best characteristics/the best things about you?
4.    What were the best days of your life and why?
5.    Who were your best and truest friends and why?
6.    Who are/were the people who made the most difference in your life?
7.    For what would you like to be remembered?
8.    Make a list of “firsts,” firsts that shaped you into the person you are today:
first kiss, first car, first love, first encounter with death, first moment you realized you were now an adult, first heart break, first disappointment, first . . ..

Monday, March 5, 2018

Be the Hero of Your Own Story



Half a lifetime ago, an acquaintance walked up to me and handed me a worn paperback book.  She thrust it at me in passing and said the book reminded her of me.  I was caught off guard.  We were nothing more than fellow employees so I was intrigued by what she meant by that.  I looked at the book and noticed its imprint.  It was a romance novel. 
She took off, back to work before I could ask more from her, but she did yell over her shoulder that she wanted me to return the book once I read it. Since it was Friday and the weekend loomed ahead, I decided to read the book and return it the following Monday.
It was long ago but I remember the plot and the author’s name.  It was about a single mother of three who falls for the hunky neighbor next door.  Since both my neighbors were happily married and only one kind of fell into the hunky description, I figured that was not the part that reminded my fellow worker about me, besides there was no way she would know either of these two men unless she stalked my neighborhood.
I must have reminded her of the lead character – a single mother of three and her sad sack life:  divorced from an abusive, freeloader of a husband, one who abandoned all responsibility onto the ex-wife.
How this woman knew my personal life is the bane of all small, tight working communities.  Everyone knows the other person’s business and feels it is their right to interfere and offer counsel. Either this woman was offering me hope – I would one day find a hunky handyman and live happily ever after, or she wanted me to stop with the hangdog frump and get my act together.
I pasted a smile on my face when I returned her book and thanked her, not for the comparison to the protagonist, but for introducing me to Nora Roberts. She looked surprised, probably thinking I had missed her not-so-subtle hint, but unless she came out and voiced her insulting opinion of me, I wasn’t going to let her off the hook.
I now own about half of everything Ms. Roberts has ever written but that is because it does not include her J.D. Robbs’ books. My library includes first-hand and second-hand purchases.  I even own an original copy of her very first romance novel that I found at a used book store. As a true fan, it means more to me that owning a diamond ring.
I have forgotten the name of the lady who handed me her worn out paperback, but that day is etched in my mind forever. I decided I would not wait for some handsome hunk to save me from my distress. I would save myself, thank you very much. Ms. Roberts would expect that from me. 
And if I ever met a handsome handyman (shout out to HoneyBunch), he would love me for being the hero of my own story.  

Monday, February 26, 2018

Once Upon a Time . . . There Lived . . .



          I love movies with well-told stories, interesting characters, and realistic endings. 
          When Rhett Butler walks away from Scarlett in the last scene of Gone with the Wind, my heart breaks for her but I go with him.  Though his character changes in the story, hers doesn’t.  She will continue to be who she is, while he learned, though painfully, from their experience together.
          In Something’s Gotta Give, an aging playboy, who has always dated young women barely old enough to vote, wonders if he can settle down with one woman, especially one more his age, one eligible for AARP benefits.  Harry Sanborn spends the better part of Act II facing and atoning for his past before trying to reunite with Erica Barry.  As the credits roll, I wonder how long before his eyes start roaming again, but more importantly, what happens to Dr. Julian Mercer?  
I suggest a sequel.  Since he seems to go for older women, I picture the following: he treats me for the H3N2 flu and sees past my runny nose, watery eyes, and commanding cowlick.  My inner beauty erases the heartache and memory of the fickle Erica and we live happily ever after.  (At least, I would. What?  I know I said I like realistic endings, but this could happen.)
Another favorite movie is Sabrina.  I own both the 1954 and 1995 versions but prefer the more recent edition better.  The Humphrey Bogart/Audrey Hepburn age difference always makes me cringe, while the Harrison Ford/Julia Ormond version is not only more believable, but the actors are also more likeable on screen.  When the viewer is given the backstory of all the times Linus Larrabee noticed Sabrina Fairchild before her ugly-duckling-into-swan transformation, I agree she should chose him over the flighty playboy David who has always been more concerned about looks.
There are many other favorites, but you get the picture:  good story line, identifiable characters, sensible ending. You might have noticed these three examples depend on the male lead’s transformation more than the female’s but I am saving those for a future blog, so I leave you with this. . . once upon a time. . .   

Monday, February 19, 2018

Story without Structure/Costello without Abbott

    
“Story without structure is like . . . Abbott without Costello,” says James Scott Bell in his book Story Structure: The Key to Understanding the Power of Story.   
          Who didn’t love the famous vaudevillian comedy duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello where Abbott played the straight man and Costello played the comic foil?  I suggest story without structure is more likely Costello without Abbott. Without the straight man feeding jokes to Costello, they would not be the team we remember.
A good story is nothing without good structure.
          Extending the analogy of their memorable skit of Who’s on First, let’s look at what Mr. Bell says about story and structure.
·      Who’s on first?
The writer starts with an idea so meaty it merits a story, but the writer needs a playbook - work out a plan, a strategy, a smattering of ideas - before taking the field. 
·      What’s on second?
Next, the writer brainstorms scenes, fleshes out characters, studies emotions, and lists problems with possible solutions.
·      I don’t know is on third.
While watching first and second, third base keeps a keen eye on plays, possible tangents, and the opposite team on base.  He covers for second, knowing he is the stop closest to home. In plain speak, third base explores and extend ideas and tangents, studies obstacles, makes connections between characters. 
·      Why is left field.
“. . . there are three kinds of death: physical, professional, psychological.” Who doesn’t jump to their feet when the batter hits it out into left field?  It adds excitement to the game. The person playing this position has to be quick and have a good arm. When a ball is hit into this zone, the game is reduced into its simplest form: a three-act play: an action, a battle, and its result.
·      Because is centerfield.
What’s at stake? What must the character overcome? What’s the quest? Centerfield covers most of the outfield, including first and second base.  The author does the same, delving into the emotions of the main character, the antagonist, the secondary characters, the whole reason for the story – the conflict, the tension, and the theme.
·      I don’t care is the short stop.
Without a well developed main character, one with whom the reader identifies, there is no story. There is no investment.  When Costello died and the duo was no more, Abbott’s career ended as well. The short stop covers first and second base – the who and the what of the story.
·      Tomorrow is the pitcher (and so is the catcher).
“Creating magic takes work, not just play.” The pitcher and the catcher are the two most important players because all action depends on them. The catcher faces the players and advises the pitcher.  Together they read the game and the players and decide what to play.  From this perspective, the author does the same with each chapter as the story is structured into its final form.

I read that as their popularity waned in Hollywood, Abbott and Costello went their separate ways.  They tried working comedy on their own but were not as successful, so they reunited off and on when the opportunity arose until Costello’s death.  Just like Mr. Bell’s analogy, they did their best work together.      

Monday, February 12, 2018

Forming Something from Nothing


My father tucked us into bed at night when we were children with stories – memories of his childhood, both funny or poignant; fairy tales passed down from parent to child; or fables he created to teach us life lessons. We never tired of the stories he repeated night after night, but sometimes he would beg us to let him come up with something new. 
He would ask us to name a main character, choose a problem to be faced, and call out whether the story should be funny or serious. Within minutes, he would have us entranced with a new nighttime favorite.
His credited his mother for his skill as a storyteller. He said he looked forward to bedtime as a child after a long, hard day eking a living on the “rancho” in deep south Texas, because she would regale him and his siblings with the most wonderful, pleasurable “cuentos” and “fantasias.” She would sweep him away from the hard life they lived into fabulous places where everything always ended happily.

Maybe that is where I get my intrinsic need to create stories.  Maybe it is not only genetic but hereditary.  There is something magical about birthing a story where none existed before.  I love plucking ideas out of thin air and breathing life into them.  I love forming something viable where nothing existed before. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

In the Movie of my Life


          If my life were a movie, I would be the quirky sidekick, the nerdy friend, the sage mentor in the background who offers a shoulder, advice, and a mug of cocoa or a glass of wine to the lead character.  I am Ally Sheedy, Mary Stuart Masterson, or Lee Sobieski in every movie they ever made before fading into obscurity.
          The roles they played made them seen more clumsy than cool, more pokey than popular, more bookish than beautiful, but without them the lead would never find herself.  They stood firm and sure of themselves while the lead floundered and struggled and got top billing.  Without them there would not be a movie.
          In retrospection, they are the true heroes of the movie.  Without them, the lead would continue to whine and lose or allow herself to be bullied. 
          In the movie of my life, I push my way to the front and make the camera focus on me; after all, it is My movie and not theirs.
          We carefully nourish our bodies with healthy foods, so why not nourish our souls as well?  Why surround ourselves with the harmful, the pessimistic, the bullies who want to tear us down?  I prefer to love myself, give myself top billing, and advocate for what is healthy and productive.


“The light of the body is the eye; if then your eye is true, all your body will be full of light.”  Matthew 6:22

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Few of my Favorite Things


Raindrops on roses . . .
I love getting presents, but I love giving them more.  While shopping if I see something that reminds me of someone, I buy it and give it to them the next time I see them.  I seldom wait for a birthday or any other special day.
With ten grandchildren, I am on the constant look out for things they might enjoy – books, toys, clothing.  I love to shower them with presents, but come September, as much as it hurts, I stop doling out goodies and start hoarding for their Christmas stash.
Brown paper packages tied up with string. . .
My blog turns seven years old this April.  It needs a revamp, a rebrand, a rejuvenation, so I decided to celebrate its anniversary with my followers, those dedicated few who have stuck it out with me throughout the journey finding my “voice” and all.  Hey, we celebrate birthdays with presents and cake, right?
But there will be no cake. Sorry.
To be eligible to win the end-of-the-month giveaway, a reader has to follow on my blog page (and, sorry again, be a member who lives within the contiguous United States because of the postage).
For January, I have chosen to giveaway my favorite thesaurus The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale.  I found my first copy years ago at a Borders bookstore and have since owned five copies of this book.  The original one sits on my book shelf, tape and glue holding its binder together, but I have a second copy on my desk.  Two were gifts, and the fifth copy sits inside a “If it fits, it ships” postal box, waiting for its new owner.
I have also chosen a movie whose story made such a huge impression on me that I scoured the Internet for years until I found it for purchase.  Made in Ireland, and originally a four-part series on the BBC, Falling for a Dancer didn’t make it to the US (and Amazon) until recently.  I own the DVD and the original book by its author, and I watch all three hours and twenty minutes of this treasure once a year.
The reader/writer giveaway would not be complete without including a swanky new journal and some writing implements, so I added some of those in there too.
I simply remember my favorite things. . .
I keep hoarding things for future giveaways and have to restrain myself from doling them all out at once, so favorite readers. . .  
Join as a follower. Get in on the fun.  I promise you will enjoy the gifts.

 And thank you for sticking with me all these years. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

My Most Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World



          My father taught me to read long before I went to school.  There were few children’s books in our house, so he opted for the encyclopedia set displayed in the living room. 
          Volume 1: Aa-Az.
          He loved nonfiction and probably wanted a return on his investment since the set was so expensive.  He thought it was a good place to start.
          I know everything there is to know about aardvarks.
          I have been in love with reading and writing all my life. I remember playing in my mother’s flowerbeds and scratching letters into the dirt with a stick when I was barely out of diapers. I spent seven years in a Catholic elementary school with a library so small that all the books were my friends. By the time I graduated, I had read every book twice, sometimes three times.
          At home, my mother bought provocative, pulp, best sellers, and my father collected graphic, historical, nonfiction, but both were strictly off limits to us kids. Since they both worked full time jobs, I snuck and read my parents’ books whenever they would not be home for long stretches of time.  My grandmother took care of us, but she was too busy reading her own “Mexican novellas” written in Spanish to notice what I was doing, reading from the “adult” section of our book collection.
          I have read thousands of books in my lifetime.  Many are memorable and many weren’t, so not one stands out as my favorite.
          Sure, I could name the Bible or some classic.  Maybe a book on social change or an eye-opening best seller.  How about a sleeper that no one else has stumbled across?  I could impress you with my superior knowledge, pretend to be cool and cosmopolitan, but the truth is – I am a book nerd and nothing else. I am in love with books, hundreds of them, and it all started when I mastered the encyclopedia entry on aardvarks. 

Thanks, Dad. Your investment paid off. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Why a Wordsmith Should Read Poetry

My father was a poet.  He wrote amazing, long, rhymed poetry for all occasions – birthdays, weddings, holidays – and gave them away as presents. 
He read Shakespearian iambic pentameter and Neruda’s long, laborious odes (in the original Spanish) to me before I knew who these poets were.     
During the day my dad was an accountant, but his real love included music and poetry.  I did not inherit his musical ability (you do not want to hear me sing or play the kazoo), but I did inherit his admiration of poetry.
My own poetry is forgettable so I prefer to relish in the poetry that isn’t. 
My Catholic elementary school had a tiny library.  It fit in what used to be the janitor’s closet, but right there tucked among the hundreds of books on the saints and martyrs was Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  She was neither a saint nor a martyr. Her Sonnets to the Portuguese made me break out in goosebumps. Her profession of love to Robert Browning made me wonder if something so bold did not break a Commandment or two.
In high school I discovered e. e. cummings.  Poems did not have to rhyme.  They could take liberties with convention.  I ate up every poem of his, delighting in his puzzling lyricism.
For years I taught Frost and Dickens and Eliot to reluctant readers. I tried to infuse them with the thrill those great, famous poets gave me.  I may have failed but I had fun trying.
For my own pleasure, I read Billy Collins and Nikki Giovanni and Naomi Shihab Nye, and I pretended to like Silverstein and Prelutsky only for my children and students’ sake, but I still have their books of hilarious poetry on my shelves.  
As a novelist, reading poetry is a daily brain exercise, a study of ideas and images, an interesting formation of sentences and lines, all using an economy of words.

All of this may be why my father was fascinated with poetry. There is a common base to mathematics, music, and verse.  They all have an internal beat, a systematic form, a message to be portrayed.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Finding My Zen in Writing


One of the perks of spending more than half of my life teaching secondary school was the amount of reading I had to do to keep up with the students’ curriculum.  The secondary reading list (grades 6 -12) had been vetted on so many levels that by the time it got to me, it was a guaranteed must-read.
I read hundreds and hundreds of books. Some authors were not my favorites, but then others changed my life.
Ray Bradbury was one of those. “All Summer in a Day,” “A Sound of Thunder,” “The Small Assassin,” Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451.  All deliciously creepy, sad, or shocking.
“To keep a muse, you must offer it food.” He wrote and read daily from childhood until his death – poems, essays, anything and everything - especially other authors who did not think or write like he did.
“Not to write,” he states in his book Zen in the Art of Writing, “is to die.”
Truth in those words.
He perfected a writing process that worked for him, making daily lists of word associations.  He delved into childhood fears and personal nightmares, writing down everything he could remember of each, and from there created short stories that might later become novels.  He said a writer should be excited about the work he or she creates; he suggests “burning down the house” or “standing on a land mine.”
When asked if he wrote prophetically, warning his readers of the future, he stated he only wanted to prevent it.
About the benefit of literary criticism or creative writing degrees, he stated that the only degree or direction a writer needs is to find his own “Zen,” a mindful DAILY writing practice, a routine by which the author comes to an honest understanding of what works and what doesn’t on the page in front of him or her.  Write until at ease with the writing.

Some people call it voice or style; Bradbury called it Zen. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Reap What You Sow


When I walk into a grocery store, I avoid what does not appeal to me – the pet food aisle, the baby goods, the canned foods.  When I walk into a department store, I have no use for the men’s department, the petites, the evening gowns. When I go to a craft show or an antique sale, I avoid any and all that doesn’t appeal to me – jewelry, pottery, paintings.
Likewise, with social media.
I have no tolerance for foul language, graphic videos, and opinionated slander. I have no use for hate, anger, and bullying.
Social media “sells” to me, so I have the choice to avoid them, “unfriend” or “block” them, or erase them all together from my feed.
“Persons reap what they sow,” so I will feed my soul and mind what I aspire to be.
I refuse to be bullied into accepting what others (who are no better than I) think is cool, trendy, or viral.

I keep abreast of the news, I check sources, I keep an open mind, but I also want to live a healthy, happy, hospitable life. 
And that is how I will start 2018. I hope you join me in this venture.