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Stories for Kids and Others

I’ve written a poem – “Ways to Tell a Story”. (Please find it in the “Poems” section above.)

I have what I call a “Sesame Street” mentality, in which many of my poems and songs are written. I call it that in part to soften the blow of some people’s reactions. On more than one occasion I have recited to someone one of my original (often freshly written) pieces, which I consider deep and meaningful, and the reaction has been that it’s good for kids. Not that writings for children can’t be deep and meaningful – it’s just not what I was going for.

Now, as a form of self-defense, I often silently put what I write in the category of “for kids”, though I look for the opportunity to move into into some other, more respected category, depending on how it’s received.

I don’t like that I do that, for a few reasons:

  1. It implies that children’s literature is inferior.
  2. It implies that what I write is not worthwhile if it’s for children (or simple enough for children to appreciate).
  3. It hurts my feelings.

I need to keep writing, appreciating what I create, making it the best it can be, no matter who the audience may be – even if that audience is just me.

 

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Some Nerve

This weekend I accomplished little except to rest and ride out the pain of a migraine. Migraines are the in category of “headache”, but in my experience, more than the head is involved. Of  course pain anywhere in the body never affects only that body part. Being connected as one united organism, the whole body is affected, though some parts more than others. When a migraine comes upon me, it could start in the neck (left side, usually), or behind my left eyeball, and it often moves down into the shoulder blade and leaves my whole body aching. Any normal movement – pouring myself water, hugging my husband – leaves me breathing heavily, grasping for oxygen, and I yawn profusely. My vision gets blurry, and the pain makes it hard to think. When it’s at it’s worst, I break out into a full-body sweat and succumb to dry heaves.

Good times!

The title of this post comes from an old-fashioned phrase. If someone did something inappropriate, rude, too bold, it could be commented that the person had “some nerve”. “The nerve of that guy,” was another phrase used. I wonder about the origins of that. Could it be that people really thought that there was a nerve in the person’s body that was responsible for their behavior? I don’t know how migraines come about, but the pain feels like it could be following the line of a nerve – some sensitive nerve, fritzing out like a frayed cord – that reverberates its malfunction body-wide.

It seems odd that one nerve, out of the billions (I think?) nerves in the body, could cause such havoc and completely disable a person for a whole, sunny weekend.

But it also makes sense. No nerve is an island unto itself.

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Truth to Power!

I have not been posting as regularly as I like, but the only way to remedy that is to post something. Funny how my mind seems to think that I should, instead of writing, feel bad about not writing, which then reinforces no writing happening, since it’s hard to write when I feel like I’m a failure at writing.

Truth to power!

That phrase doesn’t necessarily relate to the above paragraph, but it entered my mind this morning, for some reason, and eventually I wrote something inspired by it. I put it under stories. Enjoy!

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Gnomefest

My latest assignment from the Margaret Atwood master class was to write a story from three different perspectives, or points of view. I started out by writing down 16 different scene ideas, then choosing one from the list. My story start was: Rearranging gnomes on a neighbor’s lawn.  Once I got the writing going, I decided to give each of my three characters one written page worth of space, helping me to focus.

I will post the results of the above assignment under the Short Stories section of this website. Enjoy!

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Public Dump

Margaret Atwood – amazing author – teaches an online Master Class that I’ve been taking. The latest assignment was to write a story using the following technique:

1. Make a list of 10 events that could spark a story.

2. Make a list of 10 characters.

3. Make a list of 10 story “Legos”, such as folk tales, family stories. I think of them as archetypal stories, the kind that stick around due to some deep significance to our psyches. (She also calls them story shells or foundational stories.)

(Note: Instead of 10 each, I added items until I seemed to run out of steam. I got to 18 items for each list.)

4. Choose one item from each list, and begin a new story.

The three things I chose were:

Event: Pooping in a doorway.

Character: Artist preparing for first show.

Lego: The Shoemaker and the Elves.

I feel like I need to explain myself concerning the event I chose.

One of the rules of spontaneous writing that I like to follow is to write down whatever comes to mind. Not too long ago, I was driving somewhere (I can’t remember where), when I saw in the shadow of a closed business entryway, a woman, pants down and squatting. It’s not the first time I’ve witnessed a woman pooping in public, either. Seeing that happen, twice, made an impression on me. But I didn’t want to write about it.

Unfortunately, this became a case of “Don’t think about elephants” ensuring that one will think about elephants. Or, in this case, public defecation.

So, the choice was made. And the story worked. I hesitate to say it was good, because, with almost everything I write, I go through a honeymoon phase where I’m infatuated with the most recent thing I have written. But over time, my feelings and ideas about it often change. So I’ll type up the story, let it sit a bit, and then maybe I will share it here.

 

 

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Spring smells and ideas

Spring is gearing up and smelling lovely. Every first step outside is perfumed with growth, and I breathe deep, as if taking in the aroma of chocolate baking, or warm  berry pie. It’s air to be eaten up, this time of year, gobbled and gulped with the hunger and thirst that comes after winter deprivation. I love the increasingly warmer days, and they make me feel loved; I take weather very personally.

The vitality of my yard/garden is making me wish I knew more about landscape design. I have watched some of a Udemy course on the topic, but I haven’t gotten to the main principles yet. I have gathered most of the recommended drawing and measuring supplies, but I haven’t done a full survey of my yard. I need an architectural level (I can’t remember the official name of it) to measure the dips and rises in the yard. Once I have a to-scale drawing, I can better figure out what structures and plants I would like to put in various places. Some of my ideas involve more time/money/labor than I’m currently able or willing to invest. But some day I will have benches and swings and gazebos and decks and fountains and ponds, and lovely spaces to wander and daydream, even if only on paper or in my mind.

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Sunday Evening

I have to write something, because it is Sunday evening. But I’ve had difficulty making myself sit down and do it. It’s been a negative thought day, and I’ve pushed away hopelessness by ignoring it, distracting myself with tasks or mindless computer games. It reminds me of how I handle being sick – escaping pain through television or reading or sleeping. In the case of depression, which I hesitate to say I’m experiencing in a place as public as a blog, but which I definitely am, the pain comes from thoughts and brain chemistry. As with physical sickness, I have to accept that moving forward (in this case mentally) will be difficult for awhile. But I will get better.

One of my disappointments in myself is that I haven’t yet compiled my writings from throughout the years. I have hundreds of poems and short stories, plus a couple of novels and screenplays that I would love to look at and do something with. Will they go in a book? (To be published? Self-published? Given to friends/family?) Will I clean up the screenplays, flesh out the novels? Will I use the best in the bunch as a portfolio for application to a masters program in creative writing? I should be reading more, writing more, fulfilling my duties as a Mom/Wife/Baha’i/Gardener/Human. But I’m 50 years old. What can I really accomplish now? Will I just limp along trying to balance life necessities until I’m too old to function well and don’t have any writing juice left in me?

That was just a taste of the mental chaos that stirs inside me when I’m in this state. I can be doing something as simple and necessary as folding laundry, and up comes the despair and the why-bother. So I will take my evening meds, put myself to bed, and start another day tomorrow.

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Bombardier Weeds

I did not post a blog entry yesterday, in part due to a war on bombardier weeds. These are prolific plants with spring-loaded seed pods that, when ripe, will fling their potential progeny in many directions. I’ve seen these weeds triggered by the lightest touch – even a stiff breeze can get them to pop. And if there is a wide expanse of them (which there often is, in my yard), one seed explosion can trigger all the plants nearby and beyond in a chain reaction of proliferation. It’s entertaining to witness, even joy-producing if one doesn’t imagine the future consequences of such a display.

So, I was determined to pull as many bombardier weeds as possible yesterday, before they had a chance to ripen. Pulling them once they are ripe is an exercise in unhappy futility. For every 1 weed I pull, dozens more are being scattered in potentia. So I spent many hours yesterday, digging and pulling and dumping buckets of dirty, sandy greenery. By the end of the day, I had a deep, pre-migrainey headache, stiff, aching muscles, and a bad attitude, so I didn’t blog. I had also planned on calling my Mom, but I was outside until past her bedtime (Montana is one hour ahead of us), so I didn’t do that either.

On a side-note – I googled “bombardier weeds” and found nothing to indicate that this is even a plant. I would like to find out what other people call them. When I babysat my honorary niece, I would call them firecracker weeds because I didn’t want to have to explain what a bombardier is. Firecrackers are more entertainment than war-related explosions, and thus seemed more appropriate for a young kiddo.

Now I must leave for work. I might even get there on time.

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Wednesday Post! (May this start a trend…)

Doug is dutifully and admirably working on his computer, creating visual art to post on Instagram, and I am following his creative example. We sit side by side on our couch, with blanket-filled space between us, both with laptops in our laps.

I’ve been thinking about the poem I posted most recently – Us. I’ve decided that the ending is a bit awkward, because “we”, when read aloud, could also be heard/visualized as “wee”. On one hand, it seems unlikely that a reader would hear this pronoun-heavy poem and think that I was referring to urine with that word, instead of the first person plural pronoun. But on the other hand, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so others may notice the homophone issue as well. Also, since there’s a precedent within the poem for playing around with words, maybe readers would consider that I threw in a double meaning for fun.

However, I do mean “we”, not “wee”, and since I may read this aloud to an audience someday, I decided to experiment with a version of the poem that is less ambiguous. Here is what I came up with:

 

Us

 

This and That loved Those and These

But always avoided Them.

 

They liked Them and a little of That,

But These were never Their friends.

 

It felt It didn’t belong with Them,

But was chummy with Hes and Shes.

 

Them like That and That liked Those,

But neither were fans of These.

 

One day They and Them met at

A stop with Hes and Shes.

 

Up walked Those and This and That,

Joined by It and These.

 

It followed the motley group as It

Boarded a local bus,

 

And panicked, until It recalled that We,

Together, all make Us.

 

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Plan and Poem

Here it is, Sunday, March 24th, and I have not followed my blog posting plan. I may have been too ambitious to set a goal of posting something four times a week, at least just starting out. So I’m revamping the plan to follow that of my husband, who posts on social media twice a week, on Sunday and Wednesday. He shows amazing discipline in doing this, so if I follow his example, and sit down to blog when Doug sits down to do his bi-weekly Instagram drawing, I will be more likely to get it done. I’m hoping it will be like a bicyclist drafting a large truck, going speeds way beyond his or her own leg power by letting him-or-herself be pulled along in the lead vehicle’s slip stream.

The above paragraph fertilized two thoughts in my mind.

  1. According to Wikipedia, “drafting can significantly reduce the paceline‘s average energy expenditure required to maintain a certain speed and can also slightly reduce the energy expenditure of the lead vehicle or object.” Wha….?! Could it be that being followed can actually make the effort of leading easier? When I put it that way, it actually makes sense. But as far as physics is concerned, I find the idea a little confounding.
  2. I’ve been thinking about pronouns lately, both in general (as evidenced by the poem I wrote and will post today, Us), and also those that are gender specific. Notice the clunky “he or she” and “him-or-herself” references above. I suppose I could have used the word “one”, saying “one’s own leg power” and “letting oneself be pulled along”. It works, but it seems a little awkward or old-fashioned to me. Doug brought to my attention that some folks are using the pronoun ze to refer to a person without referring to zeir gender. (I used “zeir” there instead of “their” or “him or her”.) But if ze replaces he and she, what form of it replaces him or her? Zim? Zer? Fertilizer for future writings.
  3. Check out my husband’s Instagram Page, Ethical Creatures. He’s a brilliant artist with a penchant for the humorously bizarre. (Or maybe bizarrely humorous?)

Today’s writing is a poem entitled Us. I’m still trying to figure out if I should put it in this blog post, just refer to it here and post it in full on the poem page, or do both.

For now, I will do both. So here’s the poem, also available for viewing under the Poems heading.

 

Us

 

This and That loved Those and These

But always avoided Them.

 

They liked Them and a little of That,

But These were never their friends.

 

It felt It didn’t belong with Them,

But was chummy with He’s and She’s.

 

Them like That and That liked Those,

But neither were fans of These.

 

 

When He and She and This and That

And They met on a bus,

 

It saw Them and These and Those

And started to make a fuss.

 

Until It noticed Them and They

And Those and He and She,

 

Along with These and This and That

Together all make We.