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Archive for July, 2009

One Word at a Time

I am in awe of the power of fear, angst, phobia. This power has the ability to stop otherwise talented, disciplined, determined people… very Harry Potter-ish in how insidious and invisible the fear can be. 

It took maybe an hour (and that was with a lot of setbacks from a non-compliant computer) to do what i had procrastinated in doing, resisted with the hopeless passivity of a giant, hairy mule stuck in six feet of spring mud,  for many months. And now, here i am, logging on, stumbling along since it took me ten minutes to locate “New Post” in the gray line at the top of the page… and following, albeit with trepidation, my hand-written directions as to how to actually do a new post.

This is a post, people, and this very old girl can, if led by the hand and nurtured with soft encouraging words, learn a new trick or two. What makes this all ridiculous is that this same old girl has done everything and more described in her little bio description on the home page. I can fly to foreign lands, set off on an autobahn to find towns not on maps, and do just about anything…. out there. But with technology, there is a brain-freeze. Like a math learning disability, or dyslexia, we just don’t get what other people can see so clearly. It’s all muddled up. It’s the same reason my husband sighs, deeply, when i pathetically request that he get the machines (he would call them the TV, DVD, On-Demand, etc.) all lined up for that program he recorded (also a great mystery) last night before he abandon me and leave for work. Because if he does not, I never will get it up. 

“One word at a time” is my mantra. And “This too shall pass.”

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Decades of being phobic and techno-challenged has become a serious  liability for my writer-self. Last winter I had my  writer’s group over for a lovely evening and dinner during which we all shared our lives. The group decided to put together a site and to blog, collectively and individually. Six months later they are all up and running. with photos and bios and bogs. Me, I’m still in the dark. But today, fellow writer Mary Howe is sitting next to me, directing word by word and step by step. And soon, very soon, I will be one of the group again.

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If a man wants to be sure of his road, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark. –St. John of the Cross

The first thing most of us do when we get a new idea is seek out the advice of an “expert.” While there’s certainly a time and place for outside help, that’s not the first place to turn.

When we go outside seeking direction, we create at least two hurdles. The obvious one is the time we waste. Instead of leaping in when the idea is fresh, when its voice demands to be heard, we put it off, insist that it be patient and wait until we learn how to punctuate our sentences or mix our paint. We ask this burning, passionate idea that wants nothing but to dance and scream to sit quietly outside the door and wait.

But it can’t wait. It needs to be heard now. It’s crying out today. Think of the idea knocking on your door as a small child. It can’t understand that grownups have other things to do.

“But,” you insist, “I really don’t know how. I have never written an article, let alone a book.  I have never created a character, let alone a whole play. I have to seek help.”

This may sound like a rational plea. But it’s only a stall tactic. Sure, your reason for waiting may seem reasonable and mature, but you’re dealing with an idea that is anything but reasonable and mature. In fact, if you do wait, it, too, will become reasonable and mature, but then it’s too late. Who wants to see a reasonable and mature sculpture? A reasonable and mature stage play?

You can polish your skills later–after the idea that’s pounding in your skull is aired. Get it down now.

Waiting until you “know how” can take a week if you read a book, a semester if you take a class, a lifetime if you perfect a skill. By then, the idea is stiff, lifeless. It has faded like the old gingham curtains hanging in the kitchen window.

Once the fire is gone, we have a great excuse not to write it at all or if we do persist, we get discouraged by the stiffness and wonder where we missed the boat. Guess we should take another class.

It’s imperative that we answer the questions when they’re first asked. Otherwise, the question has no choice but to look elsewhere. It must find someone who has the time and the confidence to carry the torch. Now.

Go ahead. Jump in. Get your feet wet. Place your faith in the idea itself. Trust in the story, the dance, the painting. It has the ability to teach you anything you need to know. Within its fiery beat are the questions AND the answers. If you surrender to them, they will take you home.

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Can’t believe it’s July 15 when I officially resign from my temporary appointment as  “A Wing and a Page” blogger. I gladly pass the reins on to the next bodacious writer from our Lawrence Writers’ circle. Quick shout-outs to Mary and Caryn for getting this started. It’s exciting to learn a new skill, something my rusty mind needed.

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Don’t fall for it

This is a list of partial excuses your Inner Salieri is likely to throw at you and the reason you should refuse to buy into them.

The excuse: The truth:
1. I don’t have time. 1. What this excuse usually means (as do most excuses once they’re translated) is “I’m afraid it won’t be any good.” If you make what you’re working on, “no big deal,” you can squeeze in writing time between errands, between rinse and soak cycles, between meetings and parent-teacher conferences.
2. I’m too tired. 2. By writing you will feel energized and fully alive.
3. I’m afraid I have no talent. 3. Well, at least you’re being honest. See Truth no#1 and repeat  after me  “perfectionism is the enemy.”

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“When we commit ourselves to writing for some part of each day, we are happier, more enlightened, alive, light learted and generous to everyone else. Even our health improves.” –Brenda Veland

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Free Creativity Test

I recently participated in a book launch for a writer friend of mine who left Kansas City for the fairer pastures of Central Park.

Those of us who participated–Mariel Hemingway, SARK, John Gray, to name a few writers you might recognize–offered free gifts to help Victoria promote her latest tome.

My gift was a free creativity test.  Most aptitude tests, as you know, cost big bucks. There’s the SAT to see if you’re bright enough to get into college, the LSAT to see if you can make it in law school, the MCAT that opens doors to med school.

But here, being offered for absolutely no charge, is the very best test I know for measuring creativity in human beings.

Pam Grout’s Test of Creativity

1. Are you breathing?

Yes_____

No______

Check your score here.

If you answered “yes” to the above question, you are highly creative.

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Quote for the day

A Scrabble buddy of mine recently attended some Sci/Fi convention at Crown Center. One of the vendors there was selling blank books with quotes on the front. My favorite was “Many may say we can’t write. But let no one say that we don’t.”

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