Saturday, August 29, 2009

Writing advice from Sharon Olds

"Would that we could write about ourselves."
- Sharon Olds

Last night I dashed home from work so that I could make it to Bath. Susannah and I had tickets to see Sharon Olds read poetry, and I didn't want to be late. I need to give a full confession here and say that I don't read a lot of poetry. I can only read one or two at a time or I get too tired. But listening to poetry is a whole different thing. When poetry is written by someone who really loves it and read by that same person, listening to it can feel like a meditation.

She had us sitting in the palm of her hand from her first soft words. There were troubles with the microphone and she had to tie her hair back, commenting on how she had to lose her 'shawl.' Later when the microphones were sorted out, she pulled it free and told us that now she felt safe again. From that moment so did we. We knew that we were in the company of a real person, but one who was about to give us an incredible gift.

After she read some of her poetry she sat in discussion with one of the organizers. I couldn't get very much down, but here are a few of the things she said. When asked about why she draws in her letters she said, "The pen just wants to do different things." She also said that "We as humans have a need to write poems." But my favorite thing (and you'll have to excuse me as I can only give you the gist) was when she talked about her writing process.

She writes longhand in spiral-bound notebooks so that she doesn't get intimidated by beautiful blank books (there was a lot of laughing with recognition in the audience at this one.) She writes quickly, scribbling words out as she goes. She said, "I don't want to put a word in to hold the place of another word." She said that each word has a sound, and it calls other words with a similar sound to it. When you put a word in to hold the place of another word it makes the work into something, and if you go back and change the word to the one you actually want, the whole thing goes wrong.

I needed to savour that a little this morning - that each word has a sound that calls another word to it - and think about it in relation to my own writing, and indeed the way that I think. Not allowing a word in that isn't drawing its like to you and your work is a very powerful decision.

Thank you so much Ms. Olds. You have inspired me enormously.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I guess this means go.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): What life will you be living at noon on September 1, 2014? Who will you be? How thoroughly will your dreams have come true? What kind of beauty and truth and love and justice will you be serving? Will you look back at the time between August 27 and September 21, 2009 and sigh, "If only I had initiated my Five Year Master Plan at that ripe astrological moment"? Or on September 1, 2014 will you instead be able to crow, "I can truly say that in these past five years I have become the president of my own life"?
- Rob Brezsny

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My alter-ego

"A woman must find her own voice."
- Maureen Murdock

If you were to meet me on the street, you would see one version of me. I would probably be wearing jeans and a fleece or a sweater or a t-shirt. I'd be dressed practically and sensibly and ordinarily. You might be able to see from the sparkle in my eyes or the book I was carrying that there was more to me. You might not.

What you wouldn't see is this crazy alter-ego that has begun asking for a voice. You wouldn't see the me that used to scoff at pink who is now looking at pretty floaty dresses on line. You wouldn't notice that I have a secret desire to own red sequined heels (or converse!) And you definitely wouldn't see that I sometimes debate buying rock chick t-shirts and biker boots.

Has anyone else found themselves growing up and growing sideways at the same time?

Shall we have an alter-ego party? I'll host.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fantasy Dinner Party

"Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?" - just about everyone

This is the prompt at Sunday Scribblings this week. Even though I am the co-host, I don't usually do the writing. It's too much pressure to get around and see everyone. For some reason, this felt like something fun to do this time. So... who would I invite to a fantasy dinner party?

I suppose it depends on what you want. Imagine having dinner with a load of true comedians - the Pythons, John Candy, Billy Connolly, Peter Kay, etc. Or you could have a serious meal with interesting women. Wouldn't it be nice to find out what it was really like from Marie Antoinette, Amelia Earhart, Frieda Kahlo, Emily Carr, Katharine Hepburn or Anne Boleyn? Another good one would be a table full of Hollywood Stars. Imagine dining with Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo and Cary Grant! I would also love to share a meal with several generations of my family. As for writers and artists - oh heaven's, there are dozens, living and dead that I would do anything to spend some time with!

But, dear readers, at this stage of my life, on this night, I have an entirely different dinner party in mind. (Note: Dear Universe, consider this a cosmic order!) The dinner party I would most love to host would be: Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Natalie Goldberg, Mary Oliver, Joni Mitchell, Annie Leibovitz, and Christina Baldwin. Imagine the discussions we could get into about creative process, beauty, and passion. I have goosebumps just thinking about it! (What would I serve? I'd get it bloody catered - I wouldn't want to miss a thing!)

Please, universe?! Please?!


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Vision According to Toast

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes."
- Andrew Carnegie

After several years of cutting pictures out of magazines, collecting images, reading self-help books, perusing catalogues and creating vision boards, I thought I had enough shots to make a proper This-is-What-I-Want board. Then the BBC* came over, bringing with them a NEW pile of magazines and catalogues and in the space of one afternoon I had it. My vision. And it all (except the word *giggle*) came from the same place: Toast.

Boy do they get it, those Toast photographers and stylists. They tapped right into my psyche (and lots of other psyches at the same table!) They know what I want. I just want to be happy.

So what do I want to create in my life? Freedom, Creativity, Abundance, Serenity, and Health, with a little Laughter thrown in. Doesn't that sound good?



(For more Dream Boards, go here!)

Monday, August 03, 2009

How to Make a Vision Board

"If you have trouble seeing your goals, use pictures, images, and symbols you collect to keep your conscious and subconscious mind focused on your goals."
- Jack Canfield

What you need to create a successful vision board:

1. Do not be in a hurry. It takes great patience to go through piles and piles of magazines!
2. A huge pile of magazines.
3. Scissors, endless cups of tea and a glue stick or two.
4. Clarity. It's no good just cutting out pictures of the things you want. You need to know what you expect those things to bring you. The funny thing is when you boil everything you ever want down to its essence, all any of us really want is to be happy. Deliriously, gently, deeply, lastingly happy. So get really clear. What does happy look like for you?

What do you want to create in your life?

5. Time. Cut out pictures, words and phrases that you like and then leave them for awhile. Come back to them and sift through the pile. Take some away. Go away again. Find another magazine and cut it up. Send away for catalogues. Look at the pictures: would that be what happiness looked like to you? Make collages of things that you want and live with them for awhile. (Like vision boards in training!)
6. When you have some pictures that you know are just right, start making your vision board. Play with it. Enjoy it.
7. When it is finished, put it somewhere where you can see it every day.
8. Practice paying attention. Be aware of appreciation. Be grateful. (...and keep clipping things out! Sometimes all you need is one picture for the a-ha moment!)
9. Repeat as necessary.

(I'll show you mine if you show me yours!)

For more vision board inspiration: Jamie hosts a monthly dream board session, and to take it a step further, Jennifer Lee has an amazing kit to help you with your vision.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Brit. Bloggers

"There are things you do because they feel right & they make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other's cooking & say it was good." - Brian Andreas

At 11:20am they began to appear at my garden gate. Laughing, talking, carrying bags of food, piles of magazines, and dressed like summer, they soon filled my little house. I have been off sick for over a week now, and they were all just what the Dr. ordered!

Something wonderful happens when bloggers meet, and when bloggers meet that have met before it is magic! We eased back into conversation like we had seen each other yesterday, dancing between topics as big as our dreams and as normal as shopping. We laughed, took hundreds of pictures, talked about toast catalogues, love, life and began unfolding our life visions.

I have lots more to say about them. I want to tell you how truly beautiful (inside and out) Penny is in real life, and how Susannah sparkles and fills the room with her energy. I would like to tell you how Leonie shines from somewhere deep inside, how Jo is one of the wisest fiercest women I've ever met, and that Emma makes me feel like anything I want to do is possible. But I am sleepy now. I have to do the dishes, clean up bits of magazines from the floor and smell the roses that once lived in Emma's garden.

It was a good day.