Monday, November 26, 2012

The Writing Life

Next up on the writing agenda is an author signing at the Peachtree City Library, Peachtree City, GA, on December 2, 1-3 pm.  C'mon out if you're local, and order online if you're not!  You know you need a stocking stuffer or two, don't you?! 

Another choice is A Quilt of Holidays, an anthology of holiday-themed poetry, story and memoir published by Silver Boomer Books, in which resides my essay, "Grappling with Ghosts." Check out the cover, website and author pages. You can order A Quilt of Holidays from Silver Boomer or Amazon.  (Or, if you're local, see me or visit the OM Bookstore!) 

Another bit of fun was participating in the Think Long Island First Limerick Competition.  I earned two Honorable Mentions, and give you one here: 

“Mosquito” as most would say
Is “Skeeter” in Oyster Bay,
and the name of a boat
on which we would float,
summer day after day after day.

All my limerick submissions are posted on the site (scroll down), so I won't do that here.  It's a fun form, especially for those of us with the Irish blarney in us! 

Still pending:  I'm waiting to hear about The Boatman's Daughter, manuscript which went to Finishing Line Press's chapbook competition in July, but already know I didn't make the first cut.  Possibly I'm in the second cut, which is ok with me, as it still means publication.  (And I think I've found a second potential publishing market in the meantime...yay!)

Pink Toilet Paper: The Culture Shock Poems  to Tiger’s Eye Press definitely didn't make the cut (whale face) but it was fun trying.  And I have a good base to build what will be my first full-length collection of culture shock poems.  In no time soon...but on a distant horizon...hmmm...I wonder if they'd like The Boatman's Daughter?!  Decisions, decisions...

On it goes...I'm currently focusing on a non-fiction project, and stretching my brain in new ways with that.  On occasion I spurt out a new poem, but trying to keep my focus in a non-fiction sort of way.

Hope you are finding some fun reads for the holiday weekend, and if you haven't found the perfect Thanksgiving poem yet, may I suggest W. S. Merwin's Thanks.  One of my all-time favorites.

Onward after food comas, rejections and Black Friday! Have a creative week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Pre-Thanksgiving Warm-up

Well, haven' t I been the delinquent blogger?! 

But the tide returns...five days off to lollygag, overeat, and sleep in...they roll out before me like a summer beach.  Fingers flex, poised over the keyboard just bursting to be the courriers for the cascading thoughts that have sat idle too many months.  Now they must be channeled into coherence...books, poems, blogs…and I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet.  Eloquence may take a few days, and I'm wondering why I am even attempting it this early in the morning?!  

Because that’s what writers do.  Write their way into writing.  The spiritual practice of creating is as rigorous as the spiritual life.  And as easy.  'Always we begin again.’ says the Rule of Benedict--that’s what writers and monks do.

Today is a day to begin again.  It has been a long dry spell, in no way except writing, which has unfortunately taken a back seat to Life.  Rude Life.  Now as we sit poised on the brink of Thanksgiving, that uniquely American holiday, our heads spin, our souls are whipped by Rude Life, wallets (if not camping gear!) are at the ready  for Black Friday, to spend--fiscal cliff be damned. 

Hurricane Sandy has ripped through so many boatyards and clamshacks, I can't write about that.  I'm so sorry for the damage to people and some of my favorite places, for the remapping of Long Island, Staten Island and New Jersey, to name only 3 disaster areas.  Hurricane Sandy intruded on my life only in that family members live in its trajectory; many nights normally given to writing went to phone calls, and the news. 

Elections chewed up too much time.  I think I wrote a poem once about elections...We won't go there. 

I struggled with my own fiscal cliff, in a year with possibly the heaviest travel schedule I've had yet, on (too literally) a wing and a prayer; a year to live the age-old artist/writer challenge: produce! and keep the cash flow coming!  

About a year ago, I began the ancient monastic practice of Examen, a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day, in order to detect God’s presence in our lives, and discern his direction for us.  The goal is the “inward migration of the soul from slavery to freedom” (Tozer), to come out of denial of past pain, out of false views of ourselves, or how others have viewed us, and relinquish our fantasies about ourselves.   

Examen is neither self-examination nor the disease of introspection, but an honest dialogue between the soul and God, inviting him to come and review matters in our hearts.  there are plenty of feel-good gratitude exercises out there; skip the spiritual junkfood and go for the gusto:
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.  (Isaiah 1:18) 

One of the questions in Examen is: what are you most grateful for today?  I honestly believe the best time to ask this is crashing into a pillow at night.  With lights out, head down, body sprawled, just before the lapse into that most blessed activity--sleep--what thoughts come to your mind?  When you can no longer fool anyone, when no one can see, no more role has to be played, or avoided, what bubbles up first? 

Probably the more spiritually robust among us could carve out a half hour or so from their evening and sit up straight to do this, but frankly, I find it much more conducive to lie down, head on pillow, pretend I'm asleep if I have to, and think about what I am most grateful for.  I have certainly forgotten the question many nights; have certainly fallen asleep before the 6-word question could be framed.  But having set my intention almost a year ago, I find the question now comes unbidden, sometimes stirring me out of that pre-sleep twilight as I doze off.  There were things to be thankful for, in the worst of days, in the deepest exhaustion. 

Let's warm up for tomorrow, when it may be easier to be thankful, or harder.  Two resources on Examen for your consideration, a book and a blog, may help in the journey.  But you don't need anything to toy with the question, as you flop into bed, or sit up late in a dark room with that one light on, the fire going out:  What are you most thankful for today?