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I am warming up for my own words, so I will start with a few of the things getting me to them. I did my water color practice this morning and many other students finished up with well-represented fruit images of even impossible things like artichokes, but me, no I am still on apples and bananas. And I will revisit this to play with the smudgy shadow and add other colors into it and lift what I don’t like and a few other things and stay at it.

Two things keep me motivated. The young male instructor lives his passion for art by teaching all the art classes offered at the senior center, including drawing, mosaic, pottery, and more that I don’t know about. And the other thing is he said we are doing nudes in the final class next week.  I’m on board. But I don’t think he was serious.

Also, I am going to write another person’s words here and then just get on with my business of writing.

Writing Advice from Lydia Millet

https://booklife.com/create/writing/0/20/2015

Lydia Millet was a Pulitzer finalist for her book Love in Infant Monkeys, and Publisher’s Weekly called her novel Mermaids in Paradise “a thrilling piece of fabulist fiction.

These tips are aimed at bucking the limits imposed by time as well as mental space.   (I will fill in #5 and just list the others.

  1. Quantity before quality. Today is the day for production.  Put words on paper. Later, clarity can be achieved.

2.  Bore not thyself. That rain of sludge may not be your finest hour. Yes, you need to put words on the page, but to qualify for the page those words must always interest you.  Delete-delete-delete, all the way back to the very line where last you cared.

3. Suffer the fools gladly. And by fools, I just mean other people.

4. Prefer the new.  I try to write the story I wish to read. I am most inspired when I suspect that what precisely I have in mind to make does not already exist and this is the sole reason for the bother of its present creation. Your hand should be a hand that trembles to make the new.

5. Seek to be licked by holy fire. Of course, I use the terms “holy” and “fire” fairly loosely. One man’s holy is another woman’s sublime. If you’re doing creative work, that work should never feel trivial.  If you’re going to do a thing, do it fully, so that no writing you give the world misrepresents you — so that nothing you put out there is like a sad regift you couldn’t throw away and had to find a place for.

(and here’s the part I REALLY like!)

I advise, if you’re stymied by a passage or paragraph or plot point — whether it’s for an assignment from the outside world or one that comes only from within – get up from wherever you’re sitting, walk outdoors, and do nothing but look at the sky for five minutes. Just stare at that thing. Then execute a small bow and go back in.

You’re welcome from Napkinwriter.

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“It may not look like it, but I am writing now,” I said to Tom as I was folding a new batch of clean, fresh towels just taken from the dryer and still snuggly warm. He was watching me from his lounge chair as I completed the task on the top of our new spring bedspread.

I was heading for my writing room as soon as I completed this household task, something writers often do — put other “stuff” in front of creative time. Yet starting points were bubbling up within me for writer’s warm up, so that’s why I count it as writing.

The next part of my writing was sitting a spell with words by Michele Weldon, author of Writing to Save Your Life, about the quality of quiet in a writer’s life. Something that really attracts me, since I am writing a book titled, Being Faithful to the Quiet,  (subtitle, Finding the Silence that Soothes Your Soul). My book is a mix between memoir and mystery, a long-lived mystery that encircled my life like the ripples formed when a pebble is thrown into the water. And that pebble was thrown at my birth.  It is about the grace of the quiet and the pain lived out in  being silenced.

I relate to much of what she says in one very small section of a great book. Did you know that the genre of books on writing is only topped in numbers sold by the Christian Bible. So many writers write about writing!  Anyway, this is not a diversion, my reading about writing, is is part of my warmup practice to get into the quiet myself and begin writing. Hence, before I begin on searching my words and rhythm for my drafts of my book, I continue warm up with a short contribution to Napkinwriter. I am grateful to  the writing and readership of my five year Napkinwriter blog to keep me practiced in writing. It has spawned poems and memories I either did not know was there or thought I had forgotten. That’s the magic of the written word. So many creative journeys open up.

Weldon quotes Sarah Orne Jewett in a 1908 letter she wrote to Willa Cather,

“You must find your own quiet center of life and write from that to the world.” And she says these words hold true almost a century later. They do, for me. And from that quiet center of life, I also resolved mysteries and dilemmas in my life.  That is what I write about in my book because I continued to find practices of prayer and movement and contemplation, different types all through my life. They were gifts of grace to me. Saving grace, I would even say. And not all grace and prayer look like prayer, just like my folding towels didn’t look like writing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Change 6 overview

It’s a process! A little at a time. Some of the changes you can see. Some you cannot. Some of the inside changes are hidden away in my computer files, organizing and planning for upcoming projects.  Some inside changes are taking root in my heart and intention to complete long-awaited and dreamed of “children of my mind” before they become “orphans of my soul” as Anne Murray sang in one of her songs which did not make the pop charts.

Those on the outside are designed to create more light, space and inspiration in my room.  Also to rid myself of the papers and images that I can let go of to make room for the new. This is my plan. I already feel I am sitting in more light as I write this.

Change 4

Like the blank page I come to most days in my writing practice, I have cleared a surface for work and clear thinking. Also some “moodling” as Brenda Euland, author and teacher, calls it. That’s like daydreaming, which many of us have been discouraged from doing at an early age in the long-gone-by days.  Opening space for the little, unconnected to purpose thoughts that don’t seem to be on the highway to any “big idea.”

Change 2

Storing, but not putting out of sight my Reiki table, clearing the center space of the room and making it easy for set up when needed. Journals, that need harvesting reside on the bottom shelf, room for Soul Collage essentials on next shelf up, while many more materials are stored away in closet awaiting the next workshop or call to service.

My favorite “go-to” books on writing and spirituality and world evolution have designated positions within the bookcase shelves These are topped off by my $10 garage-sale buy world globe to keep my consciousness open to our world and current conditions. The two turn of the century 1999-2000 memorial white and gold plates refresh my consciousness that, indeed, my gift of life includes living through the time of the 1900’s into the years of 2000.  Fifteen of them so far which with a few more months of grace will include celebrating 50 years of marriage to my true soul-mate and life, service and love to my family of children, their spouses and our grandchildren. It’s been the best life I could ever have thought of.

Change 3

My prayer chair for reflection and my Reiki panels, and a long time framed picture, “He Shall Hear My Voice”, and surely He has over each of these past 72 years!

Change 5

My new altar for Spring, with my grandmother’s embroidered linen as altar cloth, the angels guarding me, St. Francis keeping me fresh to be a channel of peace daily in my life.   My Little Sue doll from Rosann, a treasured and loved gift from “the sister I never had”.

The mandala wall hanging is one I bought at one of the IWWG workshops I attended back in the 1990s, and this year it will serve as a permanent mandala design on which I will create my yearly Intentions Mandala.   My 2015 Intention Mandala is titled,  “I Am Living As Love”…..in my mind, my heart, my hands, my life, my world.

I have been creating these Intention Mandalas since working with Janet Conner. The focus of these mandalas in on the inner conditions we commit to live during the year.  What we hope to manifest gets listed on the circumference of the mandala…..these manifestations, large and small, have regularly showed up in my life since I’ve been making these and living by them and it is truly a huge act of faith and amazement.  I am so grateful to Janet, of Writing Down Your Soul that these mandalas are in my life, as well as my soul writing journals.

Change 7 Intention Mandala

Onward through my light-filtered room.

Change 8 to be dealt with

As I said, it’s a process. There is much left to be done…..a day or step at a time!

And then, there is this!

Change 9 - Behind closed doors

I am graced with Grandma Tanberg’s embroidery of the 1940s. She is the mother of my birth mother, who died within days of my birth. I had the great honor to know Grandma into my high school years.  She was my “huggy” grandma who giggled a lot and played with my brothers and cousin Diane whenever we were together.  She didn’t mind getting us in trouble either!

Change 10 - Grandma's embroidery

And when I approach the unwritten loose leaf page or the blank computer screen to be filled, I only have to remember these screensaver rules and I am off again.

writing rules

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Napkinwriter

Such faithful companions my journals have become and a it is a joy to look back upon them. In them, I find courage, fears faced and not faced, triumphs that didn’t look like triumph at the time. In them, I find an awed sense of “I wonder how I knew that then.”

In them, I find patterns and deserts, wastelands and green pastures. In them, I find the many, many paths I have walked. In them, I find the wisdom of my guides, human and Spirit. In them, I find the passage of my time and my place upon this earth.

In them, I find deep breath. In them, I find acceptance. In them, I find images and quotes from others that inspire and please me. In them, I find the comfort of my own words and thoughts. In my journals, I find written words for what I could not verbally express at critical moments in time.

My journals are my all-time best seller classic writings of my life.

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Eating the Write Foods {Guest Post with Cari Kamm}

03 Wednesday Apr 2013

Posted by Kristin Conroy in Food For Thought, Health & Well-being, Interviews/guest posts

Kristen says: I met Cari Kamm at a wellness event in Soho about 3 years ago. Intuition told me I had to get to know this lovely lady…and I was right! Not only has she become a friend, but she’s also become a writing buddy and mentor to me as I embark upon my first novel. Cari knows a thing or two about those–she just published her second novel, For Internal Use Only, which made the list on my A Few of My Favorite Things post in February. Her writing is witty, entertaining, and just plain gorgeous, and her stories have meaning you can chew on. I highly recommend you get to know this future best-seller!

Now on to the guest post…

I finally got the message years ago that what I eat affects how my mind and body performs. Whether we realize it or not, the quality of food we take in permeates all aspects of our life. It either gives us the energy, attitude, and fortitude to help us get through the day…or it doesn’t. Cari’s post is a fantastic example of just how extreme a difference eating the right food makes.

Eating the Write Foods

by Cari Kamm

When I’m not writing . . . I’m eating. Well, I’m thinking of eating or where I want to be eating.

I’m a self-proclaimed foodie and seriously enjoy every bite. My rule is “don’t pick before pics.”  I love to look at food. Take pictures of food. Dissect food. And of course eat food. A chef is an artist and unlike admiring a painting or absorbing words, you get to literally bite into their work and digest it.

So . . . how does this affect my creativity? The saying is you are what you eat. I find the same goes for my writing. My eating habits are different when it comes to the writing stage and editing process.

I begin writing first thing in the morning. Before anything can shift my mood or motivation, I make coffee and boost my body with breakfast before I hit the keys. Writing is my morning stretch. I write from home or head out to one of my spots in New York City. Sometimes, I just walk into random restaurants, bookstores, or coffee shops. I find inspiration in the unexpected. Not having a plan is sometimes the perfect plan for creativity. For eating…that’s not so productive.

My breakfast always includes a fresh pressed juice, scrambled eggs and oatmeal or wheat toast. My favorite morning juice includes apple, pear, pineapple, wheatgrass & mint or carrot, beet, apple, pear, lemon & ginger. Also, eggs contain Choline and that helps my memory and builds strong mental muscles. The benefit of this is keeping my characters and scenes straight!

There are foods I eat to nourish my mind. However, when emotions come into play during the creative process, I try to remember that I need to write my feelings…not eat them. Depending on which stage I’m in during creating my manuscript, food definitely contributes positively or negatively to my writing health. Knowing this allows me to be a better writer.

The creative process. My favorite part of the writing process is creating the outline of the story I have in mind. Then several months down the road realizing where the characters actually took me while reading the story they created. My creativity tends to crave carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this can lead to a food coma. Sugar becomes a big saboteur and doesn’t help my writing or my waistline! At first, eating sweets tends to make me feel happier and comfortable when I beginning a new project. One thing I know is that with all of the unknowns in developing a new story…I get nervous. When I hit the emotional rollercoaster peak and quickly come crashing down off the sugar high, I tend not to feel proud about a scene or a character even if it’s terrific. My characters’ emotions somehow control my food cravings. Well…I like to blame it on them! A romantic scene may call for chocolate and wine; a stressful scene made lead to Twizzlers or Thai takeout. If all else fails, I drink more wine.

The editing phase. This stage requires concentration, patience, and attention to detail. Protein keeps me on point! My characters cannot afford any food mood swings. I tend to focus on protein, fruits and vegetables! My favorite foods that are rich in antioxidants, folic acid and omega-3s include salmon, walnuts, blueberries, goji berries, cantaloupe and kale. I’m addicted to the deliciously dark green leafy guy! My favorite recipe at the moment is from the New York City restaurant Lupa.

The only culprit left is Mr. Coffee. I’m striving to lower my cups per day and sip more green tea or calming teas, especially during those late nights of writing or revising my manuscripts.

So…what’s the bottom line?  When I eat better, I feel better. When I feel better, I write better!

Cari Kamm has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, building brands, working behind the scenes, and even selling her own skin care line. She has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University. Kamm currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries. Living in New York City with her mutt Schmutz, Kamm loves finding inspiration in the most unexpected places, being a novelist, and convincing her fiancé that ordering takeout and making dinner reservations are equal to cooking. More information can be found on her website, CariKamm.com. To check out the book trailer, click here: http://tinyurl.com/bdr7bfn.

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Continuing with February’s heart and love theme, I choose to pull a few quotes from Hal Zina Bennett. Many years ago, it seemed that in the books I was reading at that time, quotes frequently popped up from Hal Zina Bennett.

I had not read any of his books yet but I always liked the inserted quote of Hal’s sharing on the topic. Then a notice appeared in the newspaper that he was making an appearance at a local book store and sharing about his newly published book, Write from the Heart. 

Writing from the heart was a leading premise in the programs I was facilitating  in my “Write Now!” workshops, so my interest was high and I went to listen to him. I don’t remember a whole lot of what was said there, but we must have had a good interchange. On his autographed page he wrote to me: ”

                               “For Susan, Thanks so much for sharing
                               your story and your healing.”  HZB

I don’t remember what I talked to him about–it may have been my unknown mother and subsequent information-gathering and writing I did to make peace with this life event. It probably was.  The need to clear this within was certainly a prime motivator for my writing.

I am grateful I have the purpose to write and that I have found many avenues of expression for this writing. The main one, however, seems to be to just continue to write. It is a time-filler, but it is a way in which I choose and desire to fill time….as a writer.  And I am grateful to the many authors who published books confirming the activity and way of the writer to be valid and necessary, in itself, whether published or not. They have achieved much in the way of  keeping us seated in our chair, writing.

Hal Zina Bennett began his writing career in 1970 with the publication of The Well Body Book, a pioneering work that helped launch the field of self-help/holistic health, now a major publishing category. He has authored more than twenty successful books and consults for many of the country’s leading independent publishers.

In addition to his own books, he is one of the most sought-after collaborative writers and shaping editors in the country. He has helped more than 200 authors develop projects for today’s highly competitive book industry.

So I will share just a few quotes from his book, which I probably haven’t had off the shelf  for more than a dozen years, and find that some of the statements he makes in this book are truths, if not known by me for sure by then, have come into focus by this time. That is always delightful for me to discover…

….Words are tangible bridges of thought held over time that come into reality.  If that bridge wasn’t completely visible to me at one time, the paths of inquiry and curisosity and passion create a direction where I eventual discover and cross over it.

To begin with, he says:  “This book is about writing
                                                  …..from your heart.

                                                And it’s about finding
                                                 the Creative Spirit
                                                that lives within each of us.

                                               It’s for anyone
                                              who loves writing —
                                                     whether
                                                a private journal

                                              Or a book
                                              of  nonfiction

                                              Or the first pages
                                             of the world’s greatest
                                            yet-to-be published novel…

                                             Or a single poem…

                                           Or maybe just in your mind. ”

He shares a Matthew Fox quote:

Our creativity is not a cute thing for the weekend dabblers in the arts; it lies at the essence of who we are. We are all creators, and therefore we all have work — good work– awaiting us.”

He says he likes what Matthew Fox says about the creative act in general. “Creativity is the link between our inner work and the outer work that society requires of us. Creativity is the threshold through which our non-action leads to actions of beautification, celebration and healing in the world.”

Hal speaks of being convinced there is such a thing as divine inspiration and that it, undoubtedly is the most powerfuol source of our creativity. He is also convinced this power is accessible to all of us. That’s not a hard thing for any aspiring writer or creator to hear!

“If you take your journey as a writer seriously, the end product is going to be much more than a published book, poem, article, or story, or a lifetime of personal journals. The path will take you beyond the surface of everyday life toward the inner space of human experience, where you cannot escape the awareness of creative sources far greater than yourself.”

I’m sure I enjoyed reading that line on page 31 many years ago, when I first purchased the book, for it is underlined. But, now, many years later I not only enjoy seeing that but can express from my very own experience over these several years, that is is very true for me. That is exactly where my writing has taken me. And that is exactly what propels me on to the next written word.

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