I’ve met a number of people from all different walks of life; the one trait I admire most across the board is humility.
I was at a writer’s conference signing. I happened to be waiting at the front desk when another writer walked up and took me for someone who worked there. He didn’t look at my name tag; he didn’t look at me at all. He said something to the effect, “I’m in a hurry, get my tag for me.”
I smiled and said, “let me get you someone who can help you.”
He huffed out a breath.
I found it rather humorous. He would run into me once or twice during the event and didn’t remember the front desk incident. But, moreso, I found he treated most people as if they were there to serve him. I’d never heard of him before, and I haven’t bothered to read any of his books. Had he been the least bit human to anyone, I probably would have bought his book then and there.
We don’t have to act like asshats to get what we want. Self-importance rarely serves anyone and doesn’t win any awards. It may get you knocked off the invite list.
Humility is not a denial of our skills or our sense of self-respect. Humility is being modest about the skills, talent, and dreams we are working to achieve. And it takes nothing away from us or from those around us.
January 19th, is the 210th anniversary of Poe’s Birth.
Although many people are content with the reason of Poe’s continued relevance in our society is the stereotypical tortured artist. There is no doubt he was tortured, and for reasons of which we are all familiar; he was an orphan who lost every women he ever loved.
His battles with alcohol, I believe, are highly exaggerated. But it makes for a good story. I’m not saying he never drank – he drank to excess plenty of times, he may have officially been an alcoholic as we understand the word today; however, it was not a constant. There were many years through his marriage to Virginia that he did not drink or drink to excess. Before his death in 1849, he’d joined the Sons of Temperance Movement – to get people to stop drinking.
The reason Poe has remained relevant throughout the years is his work touches our deepest fears and deepest desires. He has continued to inspire other writers
and artists of all types.
He wrote far more than what we, today, consider horror. He wrote essays, literary analysis, investigative pieces. He wrote about street paving, Stonehenge, and he was inspired by what he read in newspapers. Berenice and others were inspired by stories of grave robbers in local papers.
The famed portrait of Edgar Allan Poe was taken three days after his suicide attempt in 1848.
And, Eddy, my imaginative fiction, was inspired by that suicide attempt. He bought two bottles of laudanum on a cold winter night meaning to do himself in. He’d lost Virginia and felt he had no one. (Laudanum contained opium and derivatives of morphine and codeine.)
For Poe’s Birthday, I offer an excerpt from the novella:
He stumbles from the pub, slips, and falls on the iced over bricks of Boston’s November streets. Save for the muddled voices beyond the closed door, the street is quiet as his body thuds to the ground. His breath billows in front of him as he gasps and grumbles and struggles to his knees, then his feet, to regain his drunken balance.
The gaslamp on the corner offers a wavering yellow glow for the struggling figure on the lonely winter night. Thin strands of hair blow in the chilled breeze; he runs his hands over his head, straightens himself before he pulls at the sagging overcoat and tugs it closed.
Remembering the tinctures of laudanum pried from the chary pharmacist, he hurriedly shoves his hands in his pockets, retrieves the bottles.
His heavy breath mounds in front of him and, for a moment, he can’t see; then the luminous cloud of brandy scented air dissipates. The medicines are intact. Relieved, he stuffs them back in his pocket and buttons his jacket.
“Edgar,” someone calls from the corner; the noise from the pub trails the swarthy figure out until the door slams to a close behind him. “You alright?”
Edgar waves him off without turning around.
The thick shadow chuckles as he staggers in the opposite direction.
The winter is freezing cold, but the snow hasn’t endured. Small white crystals pile in corners and fill the air. The icy rain soaks him before he reaches his chamber on the second floor of the boarding house. The room is small, impersonal, but warmer than the street. An unlit lantern shimmies on the desk as he unsteadily seats himself, glances out the window.
A barely discernable outline disquiets the otherwise muted darkness on the corner of the street below. He knows it’s the black dog that’s stalked him his whole life. Suddenly angered, he shoves himself forward, pushes the unlit lamp aside and topples the ink jar.
“Get outta here, you wretched creature.” The incensed command lost in the night.
Recovering the secreted bottles of opium from his coat pocket, he sets them side by side in front of him. Unsteadily he tugs the lid from one and snorts in a single gulp.
Much love and luck.
Visualization, scientists believe, is important in achieving what it is you desire.
If you’re concerned about an interview – picture it first
Concerned about completing an assignment? – visualize it finished!
What do you want to happen in the near future?
Sometimes these are large goals – end result goals, and that’s good. We see the big picture. What about the little picture?
This deals with a little bit of realism. If you’re not writing and you choose a photo of you at a book signing, that’s the end result. Perhaps keep that photo, but put it on the larger board.
I’d love for you to share your results in our newly formed group: Writing 365. Join us!
I had a hellava 2018. It felt like my life was under construction. My house was growing, my family was growing, and it all culminated right around Christmas.
Since then, I feel the desire to run a hundred miles an hour. I have so much energy and joy, I feel I need to focus on my writing.
In 2017, I had 17 publications. In 2018, it held steady around twelve. In 2017, I finished a novel. In 2018, I began three and finished none!
My inbox is suffering from an overload of hiking challenges, yoga challenges, travel challenges, change-your-life, improve-your-health offers. I sat down and thought – all of these things are important to me; I strive to be healthy, happy, in shape. However, the most important thing to me, at this time, is writing. I feel I didn’t do enough in the last six months and want to stay focused.
I believe writers are living more distracted, less supportive lives. In an effort to focus myself, I thought I would begin my day by being inspired and inspiring others. We receive what we put out there.
Therefore, I propose my own 365 challenge. I want to offer a short blog every morning. It will include writing tips, unblocking tricks, inspiration, and writer interviews. Occasionally, it may be as short as a quote or a question – that’s where you come in. Sometimes, I may offer you a prompt, share your response if you want.
You can follow this blog, my facebook page, twitter, or instagram. I may create a group, but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. You certainly don’t have to follow all or even feel obligated to participate in the prompts. I’m asking you to participate in your own writing life – whatever that looks like to you.
What makes me the person to do this? I mentioned my publications. I’m also a teacher. I feel I have something to offer. If you feel you can benefit – then join us. Come and go as you please, respond or don’t.
In your responses, feel free to be honest, but let’s be respectful to one another as well. In this harsh world, which is getting harder all the time, leave the negativity elsewhere.
I’m not sure I can do this for 365 days. But that is my challenge for the year – to write every day of 2019.
It all starts on January 1st (my birthday, by the way); I intend to hit the ground writing!
What is your challenge?
Some years ago, John Voso Jr. put together a cookbook, Italian Recipes from my friends; the proceeds from which went to the Richie White Fund. Richie White was a young boy who spent most of his young life in the hospital battling cancer. He lost that battle a few days after his fourth birthday.
This year, John has put together Ethnic Recipes From My Friends. The proceeds benefit a number of good charities.
The book contains JackFruit tacos. You’ll remember that some months ago, I tried JackFruit tacos at a vegan restaurant and loved them.
When John Voso, his wife, Debbie, and myself met for dinner, I was surprised to find this recipe in the book! I, personally, can not wait to make them myself.
The book contains recipes from a number of different people and cultures:
Angel Wings from Poland,
Sonoran Style Carne Asada,
and don’t forget about dessert, A Nut Kuchen!
Ethnic Recipes from My Friends will make a great gift and it supports great causes. Contact John Voso to order your copy!
Close your eyes for a few seconds and think of the word ‘inspiration.’ What comes to mind? Are there images of magnificent places you’ve been, impressive people you’ve met, or extravagant stories that stimulates your soul, sparks your imagination and almost brings you to tears? These everyday inspirations lead me to be the best version of myself, however, this is not a source of inspiration for my writing.
What if I told you my writing inspiration is in the overlooked, the forgotten and the displaced? I see potential in the bleakness of a shadow. I take interest in peculiar sights. I notice the unnoticed. My desire to write stems from the stories that are cut short. Not just unrequited love stories, but stories attached to the abandoned—whether objects, people or places. I am intrigued by ghost towns, and the remnants of memories left behind.
Sometimes inspiration comes from one word. I have a fascination and love of words. Maybe it’s a name, a word I overhear in conversation, or one that stands out while I’m reading. To me, words hold weight and are springboards for the fine details of characters, setting and, sometimes, plot. I call these words, triggers. One word triggers a plethora of infinite possibilities. Couple this with an innate curiosity about the little things in life and inspiration calls out from every direction.
Inspiration also comes from pain. Writing is a resiliency of spirit. It provides an avenue to unleash hurt by navigating emotions through an alignment of fictitious stories. I also believe the act of writing is an acute desire to heal. This is true for reading as well, as there is nothing more enjoyable than being whisked away in the transfixation of a book.
I wonder sometimes if writing is a window into the subconscious. Much of what I write is not intentionally thought about, but comes out in a stream of consciousness that can surprise me. In dreams, I hear the music of the most haunting melodies and poetic lyrics. In the middle of the night you can find me scribbling what I remember by the light of my phone, blurry-eyed. Unfortunately, in the morning the indecipherable lines can never match the beauty of my dreams. Words that enter my mind are often ones I’ve never heard of before, and after I’ve written my word count goal, I will look up the definition of the word, to find it fits perfectly with the meaning of the sentence. Although it’s likely words stored in my subconscious, that I’ve encountered somewhere along the way, it shocks me nonetheless.
When I wrote the novel ‘Saltwater Joys’ I had inspirations from childhood memories of oral Newfoundland folktales and ghost stories—ones I still love to hear again and again. I explored these memories and extended the stories into what might have been, had the story taken a different turn. It is like a scavenger hunt in my mind. One idea gives me a clue to where I might go with the story or character next. Other inspirations for this literary fiction novel came from the works of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as many classic tales and poems that made me see the unimaginably intricate, and sometimes horrific, connections in life.
I like to explore the darker sides of life, which is interesting to me because I am naturally a good humoured optimistic individual. There are an unbounding instances of inspirational dualities in life, the play between light and dark, life and death, vice and virtue, and I realize as a writer I am one of them.