Read, Write, Publish

Billy Collins – famous poet – says he published everywhere. Any literary journal that accepted his work, big or small, he was honored.

It’s wonderful to have your hard work recognized. My gratitude for all the literary journals which have published my work. And today – thanks to Jelly Bucket!

JELLYBUCKET.ORG

The Importance of Running Away

Getting away, even if for a day or a weekend, is so important to refresh the creative spirit. Whether or not you actually work or write on this get away isn’t the valuable moment – it’s a temporary respite from the usual.

Research shows “blue space” and “green space” (the beach and the woods) do our minds and bodies good.

Having not taken a trip in the last 18 months has left my spirit in a state of desolation.

Therefore, I took a drive up the coast and landed in Cambria. Cambria is known, I think, as a beach town, but I stayed tucked away in a little cabin in the woods – I got my green space and my blue space. I didn’t write so much as I walked, explored, meandered – but it was enough. It was a gift to my pandemic weary spirit, a reset. Ending the old, beginning anew. It felt nearly normal again.

I returned refreshed, ready for the school year to begin, ready to finish another story.

Runaway. Runaway often. Near or far. Explore. Unplug.

Writing with Music

Some time during my teenage years, maybe I appreciated music so loud it pounded out reality and forced me to live in between the beats of the drum.

Mostly, however, I don’t want to live between those beats.

As much as I enjoy music, I enjoy the people around me just as much. When we are seeing a band or hearing a new song, it’s the conversation, ideas, opinions, and other things I want coming through just as evenly balanced.

Loud music subtracts – for me.

I know a number of artists, writers, and others who feel it is the very loud music that helps them escape and create.

But for me – the thrumping, bumping, strumming does not allow room for creation – or conversation.

I do enjoy the thick lovely tones of strong vocals belting out meaningful lyrics – but in moderation.

I’m a person who appreciates balance, creates within.

Life, however, can often be off balance – and I still must create. Maybe that’s why the things I can control – like volume – works around my creative efforts.

Blooming Ideas

I stumbled upon a video of Stephen King last night. In it he stated that he had the idea for The Dome in 1973, but he didn’t have the maturity to write it. The idea, he seems to indicate, needed to marinate.

I believe that. Some ideas need to marinate, form, develop. And sometimes we have to wait for more experience or more education to be able to make the story real, believable, and relatable.

Stephen King says he doesn’t keep a notebook (or at least in the short clip I watched), but that good ideas stick around. I, personally, keep a notebook. I also have sticky notes, journals, notes all around the house, in my desk, my nightstand, and occasionally in the kitchen recipe drawer (I don’t know how they got there!), and in different files on my computer. I like to refer back – and sometimes I find that an idea I had 5 or 10 years ago has come stuck around and developed into a story.

After my book Eddy was published, I found notes in files from long before that I’d completely forgotten about. Good ideas do stick around. But sometimes the memory plays tricks!

Eddy – on tshirts and mugs!

What Does Writing Mean to You?

It was suggested to me recently that I give up writing for awhile.

My mouth fell open and my eyes widened. “Give up writing?”

I was in shock. I jumped to defense, ready to tackle, grab the ball and run for the 50 yard line.

What would I do with all the voices in my head? All the characters who wrangle for a voice, the scenes that require breath to be brought to life? These are real things in writer’s heads. People, places, stories. Non-writers don’t readily understand that.

(I wonder what it’s like to live in a non-writer’s head? What goes on in there if there are no stories? Is there math? *Shudder).

Who in their write/right mind would “give up” their passion, their purpose.

She asked, “What does writing mean to you?”

I realize my defense is not really an answer. What does writing mean to me? I know what is used to mean – it was a survival mechanism. But it was more than that too.

I’m still working on it by the way – a current, present answer to what writing means to me. I just know I can’t not write.

Share with me please – what does writing mean to you?

I Love this “Weird” Review!

Gosh, it’s hard to get people to review a book. I get so many nice emails and notes, yet the same people have not written reviews.

This review, however, is hilarious!

After reading Harvey Levin Can’t Die, Alex K wrote:

Thank you, Alex K. I can agree, on some level, some of my stories are strange. It’s the way my mind works – just a little different than your average person. That’s probably why I’m a writer.

Harvey Levin Can’t Die tells the story of a how a slight change can affect society. Could we live without reality tv? What better time to read this story, when reality seems so harsh!

Troglodytes Unite! uhm, on zoom?

I’m not a materialist. I don’t run out and buy products for the newer, better version. I don’t sway toward bells and whistles or shiny objects. .

When I wrote on my fb that I was getting a new TV after not having one for more than a year, people seemed to collectively gasp. Prior to that, I had an old model – I joke it still had the tube in the back, yet it wasn’t quite that bad.

I don’t own a microwave or a blue ray player and only updated my phone last year.

I’m not a troglodyte. I definitely keep updated, especially in regards to teaching with technology. I’m certified by a national online teaching organization. I train regularly with new learning software.

I’d like to know the ins and outs of more programs like photoshoppe and whatever else I have on this computer.

However, therein lies the problem with technology. There is SOOOO much. And I feel like I’m starring at one screen or another all day every day.

So not having a new whatchamacallit is my way of engaging less with the screen, attempting to live more inside myself than outside myself. I’m not sure how much it works. And it may take more will power than less technology.

The Ghost….

My short story, The Ghost in Her Room, has been published by Dreamers Writing.

The editors were very sweet. Kat mentioned in an email how much the story touched her.

Working with Dreamers Creative Writing has been an extremely pleasant experience.

Thank you!

So now I write….

This morning began as perfect set up for a good writing day. I walked the dogs in the cool air, rain dripped daintily from the sky, neighbors waved from their patios. I brewed a beach bellini tea and plucked a fig fresh from the tree. What could go wrong?

Life happened.

Paperwork of the financial type, grading essays, responding to emails.

Nails on a chalkboard.

The dream like setting beckons, the adoring characters wait. The world I was so lovingly creating has come to a standstill.

I am filled with liverwurst sandwiches.

This is why writers have phoneless, internet limited, no contact writing retreats – which are harder and harder to find.

Can you imagine even being disconnected these days? I used to say – “nothing is going to happen that you can’t hear about an hour later” – to my students to encourage them to put down their phones. But I, too, feel that same tug of addiction these days. The world moves fast. Don’t get back to someone and you lose an opportunity.

Our insta-world expects an insta-response or you’re history.

I just want to write. I want to sit down and not have to worry about anything else except the setting, timeline, character arc, beauty of language, reasoning of scene.

I’ll take the transitional cuppa, the stroll in the garden, anything to get back into my writing state…..

until the next interruption.

To Infinity and… I’ll Stay Here, Thanks

Richard Branson flew to space, then Bezos and his blue crew. A friend of mine wondered about their choice. I said, hey, they’re filthy rich; they’ve been all over the planet. They need something new.

Those who know me know I love travel. I have a deep seated need to experience new spaces, new places, new cultures and people.

For a sliding moment, I felt sorry for these billionaires whose only novel rush might come from a space flight; however, I rejected that thought quite quickly as reductive. They have the cash, why not fly to space?!

And what about the lucky soul who won the extra seat from the person who had to cancel? (First, imagine that! No refund on that ticket!)

I, like many of you,, cannot afford to go to space. But would I want to? I have to ask myself this question. I used to dream of winning publisher’s clearing house, occasionally wish I could guess those lottery numbers. Hell, I’d take finding a wheel full of cash along side the freeway. (I’m not sure why I would ever be on the side of a freeway looking at tires, but stranger things have happened.)

Given the current state of the world, I’m concerned about getting on a plane because of all the f’n nutty people acting out after a year of being locked in. Everyday someone’s being an asshole, refusing to wear a mask, smacking a flight attendant, or trying to open an emergency exit while in flight (did you see the woman duct taped to the seat?!), and getting yanked off a plane by the police.

Bottom line – I’m not ready to fly in our atmosphere. I’m not sure I’d want to fly out of it. Then I heard the trip to space was only ten minutes long. Ten minutes? I’m risking my life for 10 minutes? Yeah, I don’t think so.

When can I spend a week up there? Call me when they have a Starbucks and a CVS. Kitchy shopping. Trinkets to bring home. First painting done in space. Where I can sip space tea next to an asteroid crater. Hike the lunar landing site. Let me know when we can see how real aliens live and tour old space ruins.

I guess there’s still plenty to see and do here. For me, anyway. The natural beauty of New Zealand awaits. There’s an owl sanctuary in Spain, cocoa farms in Costa Rica, the ruins of Pompeii.

I’ll be here. Gaging my luck, I’ll plan my next flight to NC to see my bestie.

Maybe someday space. But not now. I’m writing.