Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chicken by Chicken: Accepting Who We Are.

Hi, folks, this week is another response  blog. I heard a song called Constellations by Brendan James and it resonated with me. This is a long ramble, a thought journey, inspired by that song, and I hope that you find something to take with you.

I feel like don't really understand the world, and it makes me cry. I feel so out of step with the seasons and times. I can't stand reading the news, or even checking out my Facebook half the time. There are too many wars. Nation against nation. Neighbor against neighbor. Here inside me, I hunger to see people come together, to take a deep breath and just figure out where to go from here. I hope bridges are built, coalitions are made, and every voice is heard. I dream that we would all listen and find better ways. I don't want to join the madding crowd that wants to heckle the stupid, drop bombs, and dehumanize others, all in the name of a better world.

I see the Universe at night and how it is able to spin out wondrous things and at the same time wreak great destruction. I feel the transience of life and yet eternity hums in my heart. Everyone I know is trying to get through the day without dwelling on the darkness. Some take the "be positive about everything" route. Some take the "find a cause" route. I swing between the route of despair and the route of hope, that I might be the voice that breaks through the noise and says something helpful.

I have had unshakable confidence throughout my life that if I got a chance on a stage that I would move the hearts of those shivering on the edges. I have believed that I would grow like a wild weed, but now see so clearly that my life is just a breath and is gone. A Monarch butterfly was caught in between the window and the screen in my house. Some hapless caterpillar crawled between the window and screen and formed a chrysalis. The butterfly emerged and now would die if I did not figure out a gentle way to remove the screen and let it go on it's way to the graveyards of Mexico for the day of dead. When I figured out a way to set the butterfly free, it occurred to me that all of my life might be just for that. Perhaps those beautiful wings have more purpose than I will ever have.

This brings me to the heart of this thought journey. I have hungered for purpose. I have believed all my life that a day was coming that the gifts within me would become visible, like the span over us -- Orion, the Pleiades, the evening star, the moon, and the swath of the Milky Way. I have believed my gifts would come clear like those lights in the heavens. But here I am making less than minimum wage and imploding under the stress of another miss in terms of my intended goal.

In the end we are not in control of our story, and hence I must embrace the days given us. I find embracing the smallness of who I am is difficult. Megalomania is expected in rock stars, but not here in Suburbia. I have to laugh at myself a little and laugh at my little dramas.There is certainly a ridiculousness to me.

Ah, you are just a onion flower in the yard. Most folks will pass by the onion flower but, hey, go ahead and bloom. Touch ten hearts, fifty hearts, A copper star for you.  Not the silver, not the gold. That's all, dear. Work it out.

Thank you for dropping by and remember every little thing shines.  See you next week.

This week is a page from my Halloween project: CHICKENS TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN. 

Here is a quote for your pocket.
The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.John Locke.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Chicken by Chicken: Living in Today

Hi, folks, as promised my amazing chicken doodle project will be featured at the end of this post!  I am over the top busy right now, but that is a good thing. This week I continue my "Chicken by Chicken" series.  This week I'm going to write about today.

OK, I'm in a waffle mode this week. If you want my Kindle rant/ramble, I will email it to you if you ask. I've been wandering around today and thoughts keep pecking at me. What keeps coming to me is "living in today."  It's something that I struggle with. I struggle with worry. I worry about tomorrow -- will anyone love my work? I worry yesterday -- why isn't anyone into my work,  and this worry does a good job of derailing (at least in part of) today.  I'm working on this.

Writing a book is a slow process. I show up day after day, bright eyed and ready to go. I cut out my stories piece by piece. I stitch them together and then polish and polish.  It takes some time to create a book.  Today I can effectively write some of a rough draft, polish a chapter, write a synopsis.  Writing requires all this crazy faith that I will eventually spin out a book that resonates, but at the end of each day I live life in the creation of works, not in what happens to that creation.

I show up for a thousand todays and finally a time comes for people to see my work. There will be opinions all over the place. Some love me. Some hate me. Some  say meh. Meanwhile I must begin the journey of the next thousand days.  My life is the thousand days, not the day everyone sees my work and makes their decisions about it. Worrying if someone will care in the future, and worrying about if someone doesn't care is past, I have to do the work of letting go of worry and embracing today.

I hope that you find the celebration of today this week. I hope that you find the words you are searching for. I hope that you let go of yesterday and tomorrow, and embrace today.

Instead of a doodle, here is my cover or my chicken project.  Here is the link. 

Here is a quote for your pocket:

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Chicken by Chicken: Chopping Your Own Path in the Wilderness of Art

Hi folks, I am working hard right now: a little fun project that features my chicken doodles (more to come about that) along with the first draft of my next novel (Top Secret Title). On my chicken doodles, I am an amazing chicken doodler.  This is, of course, self-aggrandizing praise and has no meaning, except to inform you that I really like my chicken doodles. Prepare to be dazzled.

Anyway, on to this week's topic: chopping your own path in the wilderness of art is akin to breaking new ground in a garden. It's back breaking work. The yields are going to be low until the ground gets its mojo going.  Weeds will war with your newly turned land. Everyone will admire your work, and at the same everyone will say you aren't doing it right. They may mention your method is too complicated or too different. Or that you are growing a crop that no one wants. Many will say you are too obscure. Dear Lord, apparently there is no room in this world for the unusual.

Pardon me while I howl over the Grand Canyon. I like the echo.

I love art that goes into the wilderness. I had to wake up to this fact a while ago. I'm an outsider. I've dedicated my life to chopping new paths.  Like most folks on who travel into the wilderness, I have no idea where I am going. I have a feeling something is out there, somewhere, beyond -- it's difficult to say. I am pioneering. Like Willa Cather said in O Pioneers, “A pioneer should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than the things themselves.” You must embrace the  unseen if you want your own patch in the wilderness.

Here I give you encouragement to follow you crazy ideas. Yes! Here are your new words: Why not! If the road isn't working for you. Cut into the field. Look up at the stars as you go. I get plenty of strength from the stars. There are new patterns to be explored, There are new stories to be told. To understand now you might have to look to the future or the past. How can I be so sure? I see this written in the stars. You don't have to know where you are going. I think that there is room for pioneering in art. I believe we need unique voices. Don't let folks shut you down with their fear of the unknown.

Finally, if you got down this far, you're probably a fan of my work.  I have a book out there called PLUMB CRAZY. If you can give it some reader love, I would appreciate it.

Here's a newsy item. the Cybils, a bloggers award for children's literature,  are open for nominations. You can nominate your favorite books. 

I will be back next week with more musing.

Here is a doodle: Gandalf Chicken

If you are going down a road and don't like what's in front of you and look behind you and don't like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path! Maya Angelou

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How Play Helps Me Find My Groove

Hi folks, I've been pressured this week. I have a deadline looming. It's a few months off, but it mocks me from the distance. A ton of work is between me and that deadline. My creative self is just not happy being forced to perform. The writing is feeling very mechanical, and I've been feeling edgy. I can do the ton of work ahead, but I have to have an infusion of fun or this is going to be a dismal project.

As a professional writer, I don't have the luxury of waiting for a muse or finding the right mood. That said, without the muse or the mood, I struggle to get anything on the page that is infused with awesomeness. Without finding my groove, my work is painful and generally worthless and uninspired.  To find my groove, I have to give myself time to play, a lot of time to play, This week I started up a project that is really for the fun of it. It's a silly project that is self-indulgent, silly, and sarcastic. No one wants this project. It's just for me. I delight in it.

Allowing myself to do something that lights me up, whether anyone else cares or not, fuels me with energy. The project has one targeted audience and that is myself. I am always working on projects like this. I doodle. I bake, I crochet, I knit, I sew, I sing, I play my flute, pluck on my dulcimer, weed my flowerbeds, chase with the cats or let them chase me, joke with my kids, write silly bits. I play. There are reasons for this creative play. One, I must be able to finish things because it makes me feel jazzed. Two, I must be free to complete something for my own self, something that sends a sense of accomplishment into my soul. Three,  I get to call the flaws in my work character.

Play is like taking a tub of olive oil and tumping it on my head. It a lubricant that cuts down resistance. I jump into my work and slide forward with a rush of speed. I'm ungummed from the commercialization and commodifying of imagination. I find that sweet place of the song bird, croaking frog, or shimmering cicadas.  I find what heart tells me to do. The dreaded deadline no longer looms. It's just a date on a calendar that happen to coincide with the marvelous creative journey I'm on. This dear readers, is the GROOVE.

I hope you have some fun and find your groove this week!  I will be back with more musing next week.

Here is a doodle.

Here is a quote for your pocket.

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. ~Mark Twain, Following the Equator

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Indomitable Struggle for Meaning

Hi folks, This is a real ramble this week. I was out having breakfast at my favorite little breakfast stop yesterday. It was late morning and I was the only one in the place. I took some pages of my WIP, bought my obligatory cup of iced tea (this is Texas), and picked up the provided newspapers to sift through. I still like to read a newspaper one or two times a week. It brings back warm memories of growing up when my family shared the Sunday paper. 

One of the employees was reading from her phone. 

"Oh, I love Shel Silverstein," she exclaimed.  

Her fellow workers all chimed back similar love.  Immediately. 

"Which one are you reading?" one called.

The phone reader called out, "You have to hear this. Hug O'War."

She read it. Tables stopped being wiped. The kitchen grew silent. The manager put down his tablet.

When she finished, I heard murmured happy comments of how much they all loved Shel Silverstein and how they have treasured him their whole lives (18 to 25 years). They called out his book titles; Light in the Attic, The Giving Tree, and Falling Up! And when this conversation ended they launched into the The Giver by Lois Lowery. 

I felt like a very happy fly on the wall.This conversation brought me close to my life's mission -- I'm caught up in the indomitable struggle for meaning.  I know, I have a life mission. I'm fighting the sound and fury part of life. I'm kicking against entropy.

This hunger to share something of who we are and what we want feels like rocket fuel inside me. Unfortunately, failure is an option that I have run into again and again. You see, I really want to create a morning in a breakfast shop in the future where someone reads from her phone, shares my words, and heads nod in happy communing over these familiar words. I so want to contribute a verse. 

I keep searching for that spark of meaning that will light the fire of human souls. I call this an indomitable struggle because I will not quit. I will not, but I must be honest. I've been feeling like Moses looking over into a promised land this week, wondering if I'm just barred because I hit a rock in frustration to make water flow. I'm feeling like Apollo Thirteen astronauts who got  mighty close to the moon but their story became one of just getting home and the wonders of duct tape. The worst of it, I'm feeling like the member of a host of women whose quiet serviceable lives are lost amid the clamoring voices of the flashier members of our species. 

I am the most pedestrian creature to have a far flung dream. I'm off the beaten track, dwelling in the yawning wilderness of suburbia, You really don't hear much about the "Voice that Cried from Surburbia!" I live in a "little box" on a street of ticky-tacky houses. I'm a housewife and a mother. I think the government calls me unemployed. My everyday projects are a garage sale and going grocery shopping. I might mow the lawn.  

And yet I'm caught up in this indomitable struggle for meaning. Here I am, hoping to rattle the bones. You know, a weed will spring up in any crack in the concrete. I hope that you hold onto your struggle. I hope you find meaning on this journey of life. I hope that you share it. Bloom, even in that impossible place. I have a deep seated belief that "every little thing is going to shine."

Will be back next week with more musing. 

Here is a doodle.

In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love. Marc Chagall