Tag Archives: writing

Where are my writing prompts this fall?!

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I’m sort of at a writing loss this fall. First, I fell behind on mindful52. Recently, I’d been trying to catch up, but noticed that the organizer lost some steam as well and posts and responses have become fewer and far between and maybe even stopped completely in October. Then, I gave up on NaNoWriMo (although I’ve kept up with NaBloPoMo).

I was really looking forward to Reverb, which last year took place during December. But today I received an email from the main organizer who has decided not to host it this year. She encouraged everyone to write our own Reverb prompts and then comment on them throughout the month, possibly inviting others to respond to our prompts. I can tell the community feels a little abandoned and irritated that she waited until the last minute to let everyone know, and I certainly feel this myself. It’s just not the same as being given a new prompt each day, with several thousand other people responding to the same prompts on the same day in a sort of collective group meditation. And tomorrow is already December 1—not a lot of time to come up with our own list. However,  there are a few people seeing this as a challenge: brainstorming ideas and posting them on twitter. Maybe I’ll end up following one of those, or come up with a list tomorrow morning…

Although it’s disappointing, I can’t really blame the organizers for petering out on mindful52 or reverb. They put a huge amount of time, energy, and resources into creating and maintaining these challenges, and who knows what is happening in their personal lives?

If not for December, I like the idea  of writing the prompts ahead of time for my February light box month.

NaNoWriMo (and NaBloPoMo) here I come, once again

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National Novel Writing Month

It’s time, once again, for National Novel Writing Month. I’m utterly exhausted from work, and so very sick of sitting in front of this laptop, but how could I resist signing up for the craziness that is NaNoWriMo? Won’t you join me? Or, do National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and post daily to your blog. I’ll be doing BOTH, because I like to punish myself that way.

Tomorrow marks one year since I began posting a daily blog post! I only missed two days out of the last year: One crazy long day when a friend of mine and I drove to Portland and back and got back in the middle of the night and I just forgot to blog, and one deliberate day of silence. Although I’ve enjoyed the blogging habit, I’m looking forward to some longer private writing sessions again, with some public contest fun thrown in to make it interesting.

Last year we didn’t have kids here in November, and the show was just starting. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to handle it all—we’ll see!

 

 

 

I love it when people surprise me. Have you met Alan?

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I love it when people surprise me.

Have you met Alan Roettinger, chef, and author of Speed Vegan? Artist and Poet?

I had the pleasure of sitting in on Alan’s cooking demo at VegFest, where he waxed philosophic, had us all laughing, and gracefully brandished his knives, all the while creating some lovely food in a most non-speedy way. What Alan said Saturday was this: instead of calling himself a vegan, or an animal activist, he considers himself “a joy activist.” And I like that very much, even though I would never consider that label for myself. Joy, it has always seemed to me, is a fake word for people who bury their head in the sand. But Alan 1. did not appear fake, and 2. seemed very aware and in tune with the world.

A quick conversation with Alan at his author’s table solidified my impressions.

So, check out Alan, his philosophy, his books {more than just cookbooks here}, maybe tell him hello:

Sunday recap: butte, goodbye twins, banana french toast, the show, upcoming blogging events

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Sunday recap: Walked the butte for the last time this summer with the twins, made french toast with leftover and slightly undercooked “banana bread,” made sure the twins were packed and ready to go and said goodbye to them for the summer {boo!}, read a couple of sci-fi short stories, and worked on the show for 4 hours or so {laptop, back porch, with cats} during which the sky clouded over and grumbled quite a bit, but never lost its temper and started crashing things around.

(I also spent a few hours Saturday and Sunday at the station working on the show with my co-host, who is going out-of-town. I’m trying to get ahead because I need to finish the show up on my own and it’s due in a week—I think I’m in good shape, though, especially since I have time booked at the station tomorrow night.)

I’ve been thinking about what’s coming up this fall blogging-wise: Vegan MoFo (Word is, it will be October, but I don’t see an update on the website yet), NaNoWriMo, Reverb. Wondering if I’ll have time to do both NaNoWriMo and the radio show? NaNoWriMo (plus blogging every day, kick-started by NaBloPoMo) was really cathartic last year, especially since we lost Deimos that month, so I hope to do it again.

I’m going to attempt early bedtimes this week, since work is going to be just as bad this week as last, with early morning meetings, long days, and high expectations. So, good night.

Love me some sleeping in

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Sleeping in tomorrow is going to be delicious.

Did First Friday Art Walk with the kids again. Something about the Art Walk makes me sad. All those people (including myself) wandering about, looking for something—mostly for free alcohol and snacks, wrapped up in the guise of a little entertainment and “art appreciation.” Hah!

Saramago: run-on paragraphs and the art of translation

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Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago

I recently finished Death With Interruptions, by José Saramago. This is my second Saramago book. I think I may have discovered him through Ursula Le Guin’s blog. The Notebook didn’t really draw me in, but I went on to read All The Names, which did. I found myself wishing the other day, as I was reading Death With Interruptions, that I could read Saramago in the language in which it was written—Portuguese. Long ago, I was living in Spain and was getting pretty comfortable with Spanish (mostly lost now). I will always remember how mind opening it was to read a book in its original language, that I had formerly read in English. Or more interesting yet, reading a book that I had formerly read in English translation, i.e., Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being—but this time in Spanish.

The art of the translator is not celebrated enough. To convey nuance, tone, and expression, to choose appropriate slang and context. It must be especially tough with an author like Saramago who runs on sentences and paragraphs for pages, who seems to only loosely follow punctuation and grammar rules. Or maybe it is just that he has his own rules, and quotation marks and paragraph returns are not included. I especially admired that in Death With Interruptions, there is a page in the book that says to the reader something like, hey, you remember that guy I mentioned on page X, yeah, that guy, well… And sure enough, if you flip to page X, it’s the page where that character was mentioned. It’s pretty cool to think they have to keep those two pages in sync throughout different versions and language translations! Hmm, the same person translated both books: Margaret Jull Costa. Nicely done. I think. I’ll never really know unless I learn to read Portuguese.

It’s like watching a foreign film. After a while, your brain stops trying so hard and you’re able to read the subtitles and follow the flow without consciously thinking about it. When I read Saramago, at first I’m annoyed that everything seems to run together, but after a while I find that I’m engaged and am able to follow different trains of thought, action, and dialog without all of the usual markers. And it is more intimate, somehow. What it lacks in clarity, it makes up for in feeling and perspective.

Do I get José Saramago? I doubt it. I don’t pretend to understand what the whole long metaphor means about death taking a holiday in a certain country and then changing her mind and giving everyone about to die a week’s notice with violet-colored letters, and then falling in love with somebody to whom she can’t seem to deliver his death notice… I can guess at the meaning, see a glimpse of what he might have been intending, and that’s it. But I love that both Death With Interruptions and All Then Names make me think about death in a way that I haven’t before. And prompt me to think about language in ways I haven’t before. That’s why I pulled this quote out the other day, and I don’t mind repeating it here:

It’s called metamorphosis, everyone knows that, said the apprentice philosopher condescendingly, That’s a very fine-sounding word, full of promises and certainties, you say metamorphosis and move on, it seems you don’t understand that words are the labels we stick on things, not the things themselves, you’ll never know what the things are really like, nor even what their real names are, because the names you gave them are just that, the names you gave them, …

Do you ever hear a word, and it just doesn’t sound right? You roll it over and over on your tongue, and it just sounds strange that day. Or you see it written, and you wonder why you never noticed the shape the letters make together. We rarely ever stop to separate out the sound or shape of the word from the meaning of the word. In fact, for me, the same words can sometimes seem like different words in my brain according to the context they are used in. This seems true to me—”words are the labels we stick on things, not the things themselves.” Of course. We do our damnedest but we have only brushed the surface of the truth of the thing that we are describing.

Out of the Ordinary

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A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 19

This week, pay attention to the ordinary—it is primarily what makes up our lives. It’s what makes the extraordinary that much more special! … How can we regularly find comfort, joy and peace in the ordinary, mundane moments of life? This week I pledge to be in the moment and find joy in the ordinary. You?

This is a tough one for me. How insulting to be considered ordinary, boring, typical, mundane! I don’t want to look like somebody else, dress like somebody else, talk like somebody else, or think like somebody else. I cringe when somebody thinks they recognize me from somewhere, but they don’t, I just look like somebody they know. (With so many of us on this planet, how could some of us not look alike, but still, do you have to rub it in?) I prefer to read a book once, see a movie once, and then move on to the next one—there are so many more to discover! Why would I wear the same combination of clothes twice, choose boring colors, or eat the same foods day in and day out? Why not spontaneously change my plans mid-stream, and come home four hours late?

As you can imagine, this attitude, which generally works well for me, sometimes has negative consequences for others—like those in my family who are much more creatures of habit and routine. They are the ones who don’t understand why I don’t come home exactly when I planned to, or will watch the complete Firefly or The West Wing series over and over, while I’m rolling my eyes, wanting to watch something new (I love both of these, but I don’t feel the need to watch them more than once). And it sometimes has negative consequences for me, in getting things done, as I don’t naturally stick to a set routine.

Uniqueness is an illusion anyway.

And yet, even though I have always felt this way, I do know what my Mindfulness friend is getting at. Because I also like some routine. I like the comfort of a lived-in house, with everything in its place, hanging out with the same animal friends every day, hubby and I and sometimes step-kids repeating the same things day after day: preparing food, playing games, reading, watching Netflix, walking the Butte, blogging, writing, gaming. There is comfort in these things—and they are the things that keep me sane during times of grief, or great disappointment. In fact, family routine is what got me through a very rough last week.

So, I will try to respect the ordinary, and remember the peace that it brings me. After all, things can’t be out of the ordinary, if there is no ordinary to begin with.