Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Turning the Page

The past few days have been interesting to say the least. BJ and I have begun serious work on the travel book. She’s been processing photos while I deal with the text portion, etc. Her work seems to be progressing much faster than mine.

For the last several months, what with being on the road and then getting re-established here in Kalispell, I haven’t done interviews or book reviews for blogs or Amazon, either. I haven’t felt that I’d gotten settled enough yet to take on either type of activity.

A couple of days ago, though, I got an email from one of the publishers that I review for. It asked me if I’d please do reviews on their new line of ebooks. They’ve decided to put some of their books into ebook format first. Later, the manuscripts will go into print form.

About the same hour of the day, I received another email from the other publisher that I review for, which asked me to take at least one of their coming releases for review, and gave me all the pertinent data on the offerings.

While all of this is going on, I have my hands full with getting a new travel blog put together—it’s going to be awesome—as I take care of poetry book manuscripts, travel book work, keeping up with blogs, and the rest of the daily activity.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I merely surprised that so much could come together so fast and at the same time.
I know I will do a couple of reviews. I’m already thinking of whose interviews I’d like to do and how I will approach them. It sounds like a lot, but in truth, most of my real “work” of writing is that travel book which takes far more thought and consideration.

I know others among the ICL crowd and those of my connections and friends on FB, LinkedIn, and other social networks who have far more on their plates than I do. And most of them have families. Just because I’m thinking on things doesn’t mean that meaningful progress has been made toward them.

Oh, yeah, I was also approached by another writer who wanted to send clients my way if I had room for them. Someone up there must be trying to tell me something. Either that, or… oh, we don’t want to go there.

I have several pieces still to go out in the next couple of weeks. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on those. Hey, a girl can dream. Besides, rejection is good for the writer’s soul. At least I keep telling myself that.

That’s my update, gang. BJ and I have been taking small tours in the state to use for that new blog I was talking about. That camera of hers will be worn out before we know it. It’s amazing what you can see on the road at 6 am.

Take care, all. Until later,


Friday, June 17, 2011

Time’s Awastin’

Everywhere I look, it seems, people are talking about procrastination. I go to my writer’s forums and at least one and sometimes more threads will be discussing the various forms of it and how to cure us of it. Some of my poetry sites are having the same discussions about the same subject---procrastination.

We all think about it, write about it, and talk about it—to the point of discussions in the grocery store. The other day we were wandering through the meat department and I overheard a couple of ladies talking about not being able to get started on "that new flower bed." The one lady didn’t know what was wrong with her; she always had things settled in the yard long before now.

This type of lament appears to be sweeping the nation. Is it the odd weather that we’ve been having since last December, do you think? Perhaps it’s a new virus that’s infecting the general population.

I wonder if the latter is true in its own way. What if the virus that’s taking over this country is a reflection of the hectic, non-quality lifestyle that many of us lead?

Here’s what I mean. Each of us has a list of things we “need” to get done on a given day. We’ve made that list because: a.) no one else will do those tasks and there’s a time limit on completion, b.) someone else has asked us, told us, or blackmailed us into becoming responsible for said task, c.) we look at those around us who seem to be getting so much more done with their time and we don’t want to appear under-achievers, or lazy, or ill-equipped to handle the load.

Does that about sum it up? I could add a few more reasons for those arm-long lists, but you get the idea.

This is my question. When do we get to do those things that actually make us happy, that give us great pleasure, that help us grow as people? I ask that because until three days ago, when my mind went all scattered because of a family issue, I picked up one of my comfort books.

A comfort book is one of those favorite books of ours that allow us to escape the daily issues, wrap ourselves in selfish pleasure with familiar words and feelings, and give us a chance to bring our minds back to a more balanced state. In my case it was Janet Kagan’s “Hellspark,” which is a great SF book.

I use it as a gyroscope and now know it almost by heart. Taking this time has afforded me a good look at what I’m doing as well.

Yes, I’ve taken on more projects than anyone should ever put on a schedule. Some are very long term, while others take only moments to accomplish. I’m trying to sprinkle them all with things that give me small crumbs of pleasure. I love writing almost as much as breathing. But in working on the writing for gain and publishing, I’d lost sight of why I started doing it in the first place.

I loved to read, and I wasn’t allowing myself time to do that. Now’s my chance to remedy that. I agreed to do a review for a new writer friend of mine. I haven’t done a review lately, especially non-fiction. Monday I get to release that little bit of heavenly pleasure for others to see. I will have taken some of my pleasure back from the work schedule.

I think that’s what most of us need to do more. We should do as many things as give us pleasure as those which are necessary. If we procrastinate because we’re tired of being forced—by ourselves or others—to do only those things required, are we living, growing, and stretching as people? Or, do we merely exist?

Think it over and decide for yourself. If you’d like, share your conclusions with those who drop by here from time to time. Until later,


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blessings and Irony

I’ve been thinking for the past few days about blessings and how often we fail to take the time to count them. I’ve been trying to take the time for a few blessings each day and ruminate over them so that I can truly appreciate them.

Being thankful for the ability to write anything and have someone read it seems a petty thing. But when you think about it, it’s not petty at all. For instance, I have this blog and another, plus the website. I have poetry and short stories. There are articles around and about and essays. And now, BJ and I are putting together the beginnings of our book.

Those aren’t really petty at all. They may not garner a Pulitzer, but then I never expect to get one of those anyway. Hanging on the edges of that blessing is one other consideration.

The ability to write and have it read and appreciated is a blessing for me and others. But, what if all you could write was something for only a few and it brought them nothing but pain and sorrow? See what I mean about edges?

BJ and I went on a short car trip on Saturday, winding our way through the mountains and across the eastern high plains to Great Falls. Photos were many, but not as many as we would have liked. One of the things we noticed throughout was the river levels being so high. Flooding is going on throughout the northern Rockies and plains. Just ask Iowans about the Missouri.

We looked at the headwaters of the Missouri Saturday from its edges. It was running full and heavy. The geese and pelicans didn’t seem to mind, though. One of the little towns we drove through to get to Great Falls is called Sun River because the Sun River runs alongside it. The Sun was running high, fast, and heavy, too.

Word came down this afternoon that all roads leading into/out of that sweet little town are closed right now due to being under water. We can say that if the roads are under water, I feel for those residents that couldn’t get out in time.

We talked about the weather following us around the country while we were on tour and little of it was good weather. I had that same déjà vu feeling when I heard the news about Sun River today. Talk about irony! BJ and I discussed how high the river was as we sailed past on one of those roads on Saturday.

Speaking of irony, here’s one for you. If any of you have gone to my http://claudsy.wordpress.com/  blog, you’ll know that I posted little travel piece about our drive on Saturday. This morning I received a notice from Wordpress admin that someone had liked the post so well that a finger had been engaged in pressing the “Like” button. Admin congratulated me and told me that said reader was from Manila, Philippines.

I loved this notice. It told me that someone really enjoyed my words. The irony is that try as I might, I looked everywhere I could think of and couldn’t find a like button to click. Did they hide it? If someone knows where they keep it, let me know. I’ll start clicking. There are some marvelous postings over there each week.

My writing blessing brought pleasure to reader and to me. It brought deeper thoughts about serendipity of events and the irony that’s carried with some of those events. I’ve run the gamut this morning.

Now, you want to hear the last little topper. We’d planned on doing lower Glacier Park this morning. It began raining during the night and it’s still going. Up there it will be snow. The last word on Glacier’s Going-to-the­-Sun road—it’s iffy whether they’ll be able to open the Visitor’s Center this year. Right now it’s buried in snow. That Center sits a good twenty feet above the parking lot, and they can barely find a speck of roof. It seems the Park Service did aerials on June 4.

Our temp right now is 43 degrees in Kalispell, with rain. The blessing for us—we live on the northwest side away from rivers barely below flood yesterday. We also live on the only hill around of significance and we have a second-story apt. Sometimes it pays to have irony work in your favor.

Hope you all stay dry and happy. Take care. Count those blessings, too.

Until later,


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mental Movies and the Things Dreams Are Made Of

Since returning from our trip, I’ve found myself in a wonderfully interesting place in my head. Once I actually got accustomed to sleeping for longer snatches of time, my find began filling in the space between my ears with a large movie screen. Each night I get to sit in the front row and partake of the movie of the night.

I’m never disappointed, though there have been mornings when I remember the movie selection from the night before and wonder at the creativity involved.  I’ve been on battlegrounds, along shorelines watching for ships to approach. I’ve gone on hunts on horseback amid a group of obviously experienced huntsmen. I’ve found treasure and lost loved ones. I’ve sat at table with my grandmother presiding and talked with my family, reminiscing and thoroughly enjoying myself.

It’s been a grand time of movie watching. Last night’s triple header was a real winner. A war fantasy about a Middle Eastern Princedom and the military coup that puts an insane teenager on the throne that makes things far worse than they were before began the night. Navy S.E.A.L.s and native rebels were in pitched battle while a young native woman was trying to secure her family and hold onto a method of communicating with the outside world. Secret rooms held whispered conversations among rebels. Revolting acts of brutality marred every turn of the rebels escape route. In the end, the good guys did win their freedom, but at a terrible cost.

The second feature was a light-hearted comedy starring BJ and two enamored middle-aged men who were both determined to help her with her photography. The piece got really interesting when I informed them of her ever-present phobia of heights while they readied a cherry-picker to get her high enough to take aerial photos of a particular landscape. The resulting activity had me in stitches as I watched their antics and BJ’s response to them. This, too, ended happily for all.

The last film was probably the best of the night. Jim Belushi starred in a comedy about marriage, boredom, and a wife’s determination that it turn out in her favor. I rolled through that one, mental popcorn in hand and anticipation in mind.

I woke laughing.

This is the kind of thing that’s been going on in my dream life since moving into this apartment.

I can look at those three mental flicks from last night and figure out the triggers for them. I read an article yesterday about trouble in Syria and the heavy negative response to the torture and killing of a 13 year old boy. That made for the first film of war. The scenario that followed the beginning of the dream seems a natural outcropping of that story.

The second film undoubtedly came from an incident that took place here last evening. Details aren’t important, but the trigger makes perfect sense for me.

That last dream film was probably an offshoot of the second as far as characters was concerned. My mind evidently needed the comic relief from yesterday’s frustrations. The almost slap-stick quality to it filled the bill nicely.

My question after all of this is “Do you watch full-blown mental movies in your sleep and do you know where they came from?” Another question for the writers out there is “Do you ever use these dream films for stories that you write and submit?”

On top of that question is one other about us as writers. Do we dream differently, more completely, than those who don’t write? We’re always looking for interesting bits of news to pin a story on. We scour reality, news stories, and even commercials looking for characters to sprinkle in those stories to make them unique and memorable.

How big a part do our dreams play in our creative life on paper once we’re awake?

Help me answer this question. Do you use your dreams or parts of them to write stories? Let me know by dropping an answer in a comment and leaving it behind.

Until later,