Another Kind of Blank Canvas

I haven’t had the urgent need to write for a while and that’s concerning to me. After giving this a lot of thought, I think I’ve figured out why.

It’s this new house. The fact that it is new and we are the first people to live in it means it’s a blank canvas; ready to be filled with whatever we decide.  

Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas

In February I made a note to myself with these words:

New house. This is a blank slate, an empty canvas waiting for us to paint our lives onto. It holds no secrets.

Today I will add: It has no expectations. It exists. Now it is up to us, to me, to fill it with wonderful things.

And that’s where my creative energy is going.

I find myself visualizing what colors to paint the rooms. What kind of furniture and art to decorate it with. (Mainly how to refresh what I have since I haven’t won the lottery!)

Most important of all is to fill this house with love, positive energy, laughter and happiness. Because I truly believe that wherever we live absorbs our energy and I want to make sure that is good energy.

I feel like homes, whether they are individual houses or apartments, take on the life of their inhabitants. You can feel that when you enter any home. Some places make you feel like you need to be very careful not to disturb anything and a need to leave as soon as possible. Other places invite in, encourage you to take off your shoes and curl up on a soft seat.

Have you ever noticed how quickly a house will fall into disrepair when it has been left empty? It seems to happen much quicker than seems natural. When a house is truly abandoned it quickly falls apart.

Which brings me back to my point. This house is taking a lot of my energy to turn it into my home. To turn it into a space that is as nurturing as a person. My refuge. My cozy safe space. A place where I can recharge my energy, be creative, be happy.

So I will try not to worry about not writing as much as I have in the past. I know I will do more writing in the future. I have too many characters, stories and ideas not to.

I see many ways to express myself creatively which I look forward to. I’m being creative and that’s what’s important.

Stay tuned! I’m sure I’ll have more to say and maybe more to show!

 

First Summer Here

Now that Fall has arrived I realize how much I have been observing and soaking in my surroundings.

I’m learning new roads and new places to shop; establishing new routines and favorite routes.

Driving along these back roads in the midst of this gorgeous and productive farmland I realize how out of touch most of us are about where our food comes from. I know! We hear that all the time but when you watch the corn grow on a daily basis and you see the labor put into caring for the earth and the food growing on it, I really feel grateful about how easy we have access to good food. I appreciate the incredible amount of labor that goes into growing it.

One of my observations was how quickly the corn grew making the roads feel more like tunnels. Everyplace felt closed in. I missed some of the beautiful views. In the last few weeks the roads have been slowly opening up again. Row by row the Amish harvest the corn. And row by row the drive feels more open. Some of the fields are left with nothing but a few inches of stalks sticking up from the ground. When you look at a whole field, it reminds me of whiskers on a man’s face.

I hope in time to see a pattern to the planting. Corn, wheat, soybeans, squash, onions, tobacco. None of the fields stay empty for long. Once one crop is harvested another is soon planted. Sometimes cover crops to keep the soil rich and productive.

Oh, and I have to mention the ‘spreading’. This is probably the biggest drawback to living in this area. Manure and a manure sludge are spread and sprayed on the fields continuously until they are all planted. Let’s just say that the smell has a physical substance to it! Ugh! I overheard one woman complaining about the smell in a parking lot one day only to hear another woman proclaim that it was the smell of money. That is an interesting perspective!

The various techniques are fascinating too. In the spring I saw families planting field after field all day. There was one piece of farm equipment that was pulled by one horse or mule. One person, usually a man, steering the horse. Down in front two people, usually women or girls sat on narrow wooden seats with boxes of plugs or tiny plants and leaned down planting them one after the other as the whole thing moved down the row. As I drove to work and back I saw the fields fill up with these plants. I also had to wonder how it felt to do that work all day for days at a time.

In the tobacco fields I saw bundles of sticks ready to hold up mini tepees of tobacco leaves in the fields. I assume it’s one way to let the leaves dry. Sometimes they take all the leaves and hang them in ventilated buildings, hanging them upside down to dry.

Once all the fields were growing the smell of the earth has been amazing. I know we all get that real earthy, loamy smell of good soil every now and then but that aroma is ever-present. With the high humidity and heat this year, smells get amplified and that is a good one.

When we get storms, it pours hard here. I’ve learned which roads to avoid in case of flash flooding and have decided my next car may need to sit higher. Then the sun comes out again with amazing clouds off in the distance.

Now there are wagons and stands full of pumpkins, squashes and gourds everywhere. I didn’t know there were so many varieties of these crops! They come in every shape, size and color. I’ve learned that if nobody is there to take your money when buying some, you leave the money in a box or plastic containers. The local economy relies on the honor system and it works beautifully here.

I feel like I have spent this summer filling up on the way life is here. There are families here who have lived here for decades if not a century. I feel like I am settling in and growing into a feeling of being home.

I know I have rambled a bit in this post and I apologize for that. As you have read, there was a lot to share and this is what happens when I don’t post more often. Thanks for reading!

Writing, More Tortoise Than Hare

A._gigantea_Aldabra_Giant_TortoiseI mentioned in my last post that I was thrilled to have reacquainted myself with a story I started a couple of years ago and was off and writing like crazy. Now I have slowed to a crawl but instead of being daunted by this, I’m continuing to write even if it’s a sentence or two at a time. The fun in writing fiction, for me, is the surprise of how I get there.

This story is tricky. I know where I want it to go and why but making sure that I make it clear to a reader who isn’t in my head is the puzzle. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the nuances of the story as shown in my mind with what I am getting onto the page. And this story is very weird but fun. Once I get it all down, it should come together. I hope.

This is also a short story which I find much harder to write. I tend to write in scenes. There isn’t as much wiggle room to get from one scene to the next in a short story. I’m sure I will end up writing much more than I need to and will then cut it down to size. It’s all part of the journey, right?

Does anyone else sometimes feel that writing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle? Finding tiny pieces of the whole picture and putting it together in the right order? That’s okay with me. I like doing jigsaw puzzles too.

I’m proceeding slowly and trusting that the words will sort themselves as I go. And didn’t the tortoise win in the end?

Will a Story Wait?

I haven’t been working on my fiction writing much at all for the last couple of years. At least, I haven’t put a word on paper. During the brief times when I thought about my writing I also got a niggling tiny fear about whether I would want to keep writing and if I did would the stories still be there?

There are at least three of my unfinished stories that have been waiting patiently while I dealt with life. And they gently prodded my attention throughout this time. They whispered to me that they were still there and wanted to see what happened next. Or they would give me a scene to show what was coming. Sometimes I got an entire concept of how the story should go.

I paid attention to these moments and found comfort in knowing that these characters and stories still mattered to me. More importantly, I still matter to them.

The other day I picked one of these stories and searched my files for it. I found files that I don’t remember creating and will revisit them eventually. Since they haven’t stayed in my consciousness, I will be curious to see if they still have life. For now, I will focus on the stories who have remained alive and full of energy.

I’ve let stories go before and when I go back to them I can’t recapture the voice or the point of a story. Sometimes I find that sad but mostly find it puzzling. But one story in particular has been on my mind a lot so I started to reread it.

I reread it twice. And I was immediately back! It was thrilling! I started where I left off and wrote almost 800 words without hesitation. And I’m ready to continue.

I am beyond happy to know that some stories will wait. I had to trust that would be so because I knew I didn’t have the energy to write for a while. This is Big Magic. Just like Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book by that name. Which is a very inspiring book, by the way.  

I wonder why some stories don’t wait. But those are thoughts for another day. For now, I need to write the next scene.

Isn’t creativity fascinating? Have you had stories wait for you?

Unclaimed by Erin McCole Cupp

Jane EyerFinal-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700

If you like Jane Eyre and science fiction/dystopian stories you need to read Unclaimed!

Who is Erin McCole Cupp? Well she’s one of my favorite visitors to the library I work in and a few years ago I learned that she’s a writer. After we talked writing and books for a while I couldn’t wait to read her books. First I read Don’t You Forget About Me which is a mystery and it was good! After reading that she told me that she had written a book called Jane_E, Friendless Orphan: A Memoir. When she told me it was a science fiction take on Jane Eyre I was in! I read that and really liked it.

Now Erin is re-releasing Jane_E’s story as a three part e book series. She has updated and revised it and part one is now available. Erin has sprinkled Unclaimed with so many wonderful details like perks rings, woven codes, interesting cultural mannerisms and people being re-keyed to fix any flaws they may have. The world of Jane E goes from sleek futuristic technology to gritty real world issues. The book is written in the first person so the reader is immediately pulled into Jane’s world. Jane is a strong and feisty ten-year-old at the beginning of the book and I found myself rooting for her right from the start.

So here is a summary of  part one which is called Unclaimed (The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan Book 1).

Born not in a past of corsets and bonnets but into a future of cloning and bioterror, could Jane Eyre survive? This Jane is an “unclaimed embryo,” the living mistake of a reproductive rights center–or so her foster family tells her. At age ten she is sold into slavery as a data mule, and she must fight for freedom and identity in a world mired between bioscientific progress and the religions that fear it. What will happen to a girl without even a name of her own?

This is a fun book to read which I want to share with you and help Erin spread the word about its release.

Brain Holiday

I hope this makes you smile. Please enjoy.

wordsthatserve

Just stumbled across this , which I originally wrote and posted three years ago, but it’s that holiday time of year again, so thought you might enjoy. Written after reading The Lorax by, who else, the inimitable fantabulous most marvexellent … Dr Seuss!

(LOL – I think I just gave my spell checker a heart attack…maybe IT will take a holiday…)

I’ve thought and I’ve thunk

And I’ve tickled my brain

I’ve chased all the thinkylink

Thoughts you could name

I’ve just about caught

Every thought the world has

But they’re all just too big

Or too small or too sad

So I told my brain, ‘Go!

Have a holiday friend,

Find a beach or an island

A planet, a star

Go further than the furtherest

Everest star

And please don’t come back

For a few years or more

‘cos me and that drum

Playing musical chest

Where it beats…

View original post 416 more words

Coloring

As I’m sure most of you have noticed there is a lot in the media about adult coloring and the benefits of this activity. Just type in ‘benefits of coloring for adults’ in your browser and see all the results that show up. Coloring helps you relax, focus and be more mindful. We could all use more of that! 

Fish

Fish

First I have to say that I’ve always colored and have adult coloring books from years ago before it was the ‘in’ thing to do, so this is nothing new for me.

What I do like is the wonderful variety of good quality coloring books that are being published now. Have you looked at any? And the variety of topics is almost overwhelming. But fun!

I got one of these new books last fall when we were in the middle of moving. The only change I made is that I treated myself to a big box of colored pencils and a cheap sharpener. I know some people use magic markers, some use watercolor pencils and some still use crayons. Why not combine a few of these tools and see what happens?

Since last fall, I have been given four more of these books. I now have enough coloring books to last me for years!

I agree with the experts that this is a great way to relax. I don’t watch a lot of TV and when I do I feel like I’m wasting time but coloring while watching TV is a great combination. Or while listening to a radio show or podcast.

Forest Stump

Forest Stump

One thing I have learned is that you can’t rush these things. You need to slow down and take your time. Take your time in picking out an illustration that attracts your attention. Then look at it for a while and see if you can imagine what color would look the best in each area. When you do start coloring, have fun experimenting with the pressure you put on the pencil. Start out light and increase the pressure which makes the color more brilliant. Try combining colors. Do some shading to give a more three-dimensional look to your picture. Experiment!

Some of these pictures are very intricate so don’t rush it. I’ve only finished a few so far but there is no time limit on these. Take your time.

I’ve found that having a piece of scrap paper nearby helps to sample the colors before you use them. Or do what I do and scribble little samples on the edges of the last pages in the books if you have one that has blank spots for this use.

Whale

Whale

Don’t restrict yourself to making the subject look real. Who says an elephant has to be gray or the sky has to be blue? Go crazy and make it your own!

Remember when you used to lie on your stomach on the floor as a kid and color for hours? Find a comfortable position or chair and start coloring.

Most of all, have fun.