Writing Toward Home

Writing , Ideas, and Encouragement

Month: April 2017

Make Time For An Artist Date

  Wordplay Wednesday: Make Time for An Artist Date

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            If you are familiar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, you know that two practices she recommends are Morning Pages and the Artist Date. While I find both to be beneficial to my work as a writer, Artist Dates are my favorite.

            Basically an Artist’s Date is a date with yourself. The idea is to go somewhere that will help you recharge your creative juices. Cameron calls it “filling the well.”  Writers, artists, and other folks who produce creative work can become easily depleted by their endeavors.  The Artist Date is a way to self-nurture and restore a sense of playfulness to your creative self. The idea is to go alone on a field trip of sorts. It does not matter where you go as long as it is just for fun. No errands or to-do lists allowed.

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             Here are some of my favorite places to go: bookstores, art supply stores, craft stores, flea markets, antique shops, fabric stores, libraries, museums, thrift shops, toy stores, art galleries, or botanical gardens. I set aside a couple of hours and I just wander, browse, and let my imagination roam while I become re-inspired.  It is a highly effective practice and always restores my creative equilibrium.

            I try to do an Artist Date once a week, but admittedly, sometimes my schedule becomes overcrowded. Recently I could feel the restless tension building as I was working on several very different writing projects. I knew I needed an Artist Date to help me get centered again.

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            On Monday I drove to a nearby shopping center, bought myself a large tea at the local bagel shop, and wandered in the craft store for a while. Then I headed to my local indie bookstore, which was my target destination.  I spent a long time meandering through the aisles, dipping into books whose covers called to me.

            It was a slow day in the shop; the quiet murmurs of the employees and the few customers produced a soothing sort of background “music.”  I had several  books in mind that I wanted to purchase. One was out of stock, one prominently displayed, and the other required a bit of a search by one of the diligent booksellers.  I purchased the two I had come in search of plus three more treasures I had found among the shelves.  Yes, I was a bit more self-indulgent to my muse this time than usual, although my lack of self-control in a bookstore is legendary. I excuse this behavior by my assertion that I am supporting the last independent bookstore in the city.  My muse also pointed out I had neglected her for a couple of weeks. I discarded my guilt and carried out a bulging bag of books and renewed energy for my work. Plus, the glorious anticipation of many hours of pleasurable reading ahead.

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            Take yourself on an Artist Date and become reacquainted with your playful inner artist.  Share your Artist Date destinations and adventures. I would love to hear about them!

Everyone Needs a Little Poetry

Everyone Needs a Little Poetry

 

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When I tell people that April is National Poetry Month, I often get frowns, eye rolls, or shrugs accompanied by the phrase, “ I don’t like poetry.” My response to this is, “Really? Then you just haven’t found the right poems.”

 

I believe that saying you don’t like poetry is like saying you don’t like music. Everyone has at least one type of music that they enjoy, whether it’s reggae, to rock to chamber music. I have many that I listen to depending on my mood: classic rock, jazz, classical, show tunes, Big Band, New Age and Christian music. Sometimes I like instrumental songs and at other times I want something I can sing along to.

 

Poetry is the same. There are many kinds of poetry as well, from Haiku, to Sonnets to Free-Verse, just to name a few. If you think you don’t like poetry, then you just haven’t found the right form or poet yet. Poetry is word-music. When you discover poems you like, they sing into your soul just like great songs.

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People have an idea that poetry is high-brow and filled with all kinds of mysterious meaning. This comes from well intentioned English teachers dragging us painfully through poems line-by-line looking for the metaphors or symbolism. Poems were and are not written to be dissected; they are meant to be read in entirety for pure enjoyment and for the shared human experience that is conveyed in the poet’s words. Poets, after all, are using their work to  try and make sense of the world, just like the rest of us.

 

The other misconception about poetry is that its scope is limited to certain topics or themes that are not of modern interest. Not true! Poetry can be about anything. My new favorite poetry collection is Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver. Yes, the entire collection is all about dogs. How cool is that?

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How do you find poetry you like? Go on a search, with an open mind. Look on the internet, browse in a library or bookstore. Read lots of poems. If you don’t like or connect with one poet, try another, and another, until you find someone whose way of looking at the world resonates with you.

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Everyone needs a little poetry.

 

 

 

Homage to April: Weather, Poetry, and Baseball

Homage to April: Weather, Poetry, and Baseball

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 Early April  in the South is the most inconstant of months. The weather is a continual surprise with its variety. Impetuous  folks  set out their bedding plants on the summer-like days only to rush out with blankets and  tarps  a day later when the thermometer takes a nose-dive. One day it rains as if a new Noah is rushing to fulfill a building order followed by a brilliantly sunny day  with enough breeze to carry away small dogs and children.

Nope, April is not known for its predictable weather. The only thing you can count on is change.  Don’t make concrete plans if the activity depends  on environmental conditions. However mutable  the elements,  April possesses two reliable constants: National Poetry Month and the beginning of baseball season.  

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As a word nerd, I am of course, a lover of poetry. It was my introduction into the intoxicating world of writing at age eight. A poem I created ended up posted on the bulletin board  in the front hall of my elementary school and I was hooked. I wrote a lot of poems during childhood and adolescence , but I eventually realized that my skills were more suited to fiction.  I do not write much poetry any longer, but after grappling with it for so long, I can appreciate the work, imagination, and talent that goes into making a good poem.

I do enjoy reading poetry and  hearing it shared aloud by an accomplished and experienced reader.  In the right hands a poem can sound like music.  Garrison Keillor, on his site, The Writer’s Almanac, shares a poem each day. I love listening to the poems in his mellifluous voice. I recommend you check it out. I will  have more to say about National Poetry Month and poetry in general in a future post.

Now to baseball.

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To find out if someone you know is a baseball fan, mention the phrase “It’s almost Opening Day”. You will get either a blank look or a grin of epic proportions. For baseball fans, anticipating Opening Day is like waiting for Christmas. We count the days, know exactly  when catchers and pitchers report, check the scores daily from the Spring Training leagues, and wait. Finally, on the first Monday of April, the day arrives and for 6 months there is bliss.  You have  teams to cheer for and against, players to follow, and stats to monitor.

I like baseball for its pace, the firm parameters of  9 innings, 3 outs, 3 strikes,  and the fact that each player has an opportunity to contribute to the offense. While the players win or lose as part of a team, each man has to stand alone at the plate and in his position and is therefore accountable for his efforts.

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While there’s nothing like watching baseball on the patio on a cool evening,  going in person is even better. My husband and I have traveled to many cities around the country to catch games and have a goal of making it to every stadium. For now, since our city does not have a Major League team, we have season tickets to the Charlotte Knights AAA games.  Tonight is their home opener and I will be there, keeping a scorebook and enjoying the murmur of the crowd, the crack of the bats, and the calls of the vendors, all of which will lull me into a feeling of  Zen-like contentment.

Play ball! But, remember it’s April and take a sweatshirt and poncho along just in case.

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