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White Noise

WHITE NOISE

Trying to wake up this morning, my eyes still closed, I saw white noise.  Snow. Static.  Like you used to get when the TV went off the air.  The X Gen and the millennials have never experienced falling asleep to a TV show and waking up to white noise.  Media runs 24/7.  If you don’t like what’s on network tele there is Netflix, Facebook, twitter, YouTube to occupy your thoughts.

But I’m trying to wake up and all I get is a hissing noise in my head, where thoughts usually are.  Thoughts about the day to come, the day past, bills, work, aging parents, fading relationships, dying celebrities… a running list that never stops.  But for a few seconds, I have static in my brain.  You would think it would be restful but it terrified me.

New Year should be an awakening; a new beginning; a butterfly emerging from a cocoon; the Phoenix rising; a new baby, all those clichés.  But instead David Bowie dies.  Last year we lost a ton of the greats: Natalie Cole, ANN RULE, Henning Mankell, Ruth Rendell, Terry Prachett, P.D. James, B.B. King, Meadowlark Lemmon, Yogi Berra… and including a couple of my personal heart throbs: Leonard Nemoy, Omar Sharif. I grew up with these people leading the way for me, inspiring me, showing me how to.  They were only 10 to 20 years older than me.  How can they be gone?

Then I start looking at my own life.  I want to be a published author.  I want a row or books on the shelf with my name on them.  According to the deaths listed above, I’ve only got 10 or 20 years left to accomplish this.  I’m ready to either scream and pull my hair out or curl into a ball and cover up my head. ACKCKCKCKCKCK!

Functionality low.  Batteries at 15%.  Recharge source is not attainable.  White noise.

My husband says I should start channeling my high-functioning-sociopath tendencies!  Now there’s an idea!

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2016 in Writing

 

A PLARN purse (crocheted grocery bags)

A PLARN purse (crocheted grocery bags)
 
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Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Post post-graduate blues

Post post-graduate blues

I finished my thesis and got official notification of completing my graduate degree on March 30, 2015.  I am now the proud owner of a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.  Since then, I’ve been crocheting and haven’t written a word.

I get yarn free from my mum-in-law’s church and I crochet prayer shawls that are donated to veterans or the elderly.  In three months I’ve made seven shawls and two afghans. (Some photos posted here.)  I was crocheting so much I was getting corporal tunnel in my wrists.  This is a pretty nifty accomplishment considering I work 40 hours a week outside of the home.  I would crochet rather than eat, (lost a little weight); rather than sleep – staying up past eleven at night and getting up at 5:30ish; rather than see my friends.  I just wanted to go home and crochet.

I bought a book with several hundred stiches and have mastered more than half of them.  I spend hours on the internet searching for free crochet patterns and printing them off.  I now have a 3-inch binder, organized in sections full of these print-outs.

Last week my husband said, “I re-read your thesis yesterday.  It’s still brilliant.  Why aren’t you writing?  Do I need to hide the yarn and hooks?”

And that is what I had to really take a look at, What’s the problem?  Why am I NOT writing?

“Hey,” I responded, shaking a size H hook at him.  “If you hide the yarn I’ll just get more from YOUR mother.  This isn’t costing us any money?   I’m going to work every day.  What’s the problem?”

The first month I told myself I needed a break from the deadlines, pressure, and stress of working full time and going to school.  The second month I told myself I was crocheting for a cause, helping man- and womankind.  The third month, I justified it by saying I was taping into my creative side with tangible objects that had real meaning.  Then I fell off the horse.

When I completed a purse made of plarn (plastic yarn – yarn made of grocery bags – pictured here) I realized I have a serious addiction.  But WHY?

I told my husband, “I’m depressed.”

He said, “How can you be depressed?  You just got your MFA.  You’re a fabulous writer, and you’ve created some really beautiful crochet.”

Right?  How can I be depressed?  So I Google’d ‘post graduate depression’ I got 12,300,000 results.  Talk about depressing!

I read articles about the grey-zone, an intellectual and social lull.  The Guardian had a great article – Realty Blue, by Lyndsey Winship, Tuesday 13 Feb 2001.  I found a description of what I was feeling.

“Feeling tired, restless or agitated, losing interest in life and becoming unable to enjoy anything, finding it hard to make decisions, having difficulty sleeping, avoiding people and losing self-confidence are some of depression’s guises.”

It made a little more sense of why I wasn’t feeling a sense of accomplishment with all these finished crochet project that I was DONATING.  Then another quote I found in the same article …

“…other mature students, also went back to doing the same thing they were doing before their degree, “not because they wanted to, but that was just the easiest thing to do”. She had succumbed to the luxury of learning, and she and her friends all wanted to go back to it, to the active mind-set of constant discussion and discovery.”

That said it all.  My addiction is merely avoidance behavior. 

Time to move on, move forward… just move.  Writing and submitting in the real world not only lacks the immediate gratification and feedback found in the university setting, it’s lonely!  Thank God for my writer’s group, WUTA (Writers Under the Arch), a weekly critique group.  They have been so supportive of me attending group week after week and not sharing any of my writing.

With this blog, I’m hoping to cut through the invisible box which I have crocheted around my life and take up a discipline of writing.  Thanks for letting me rant.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Writing

 

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New Year / New Beginnings 2015

New Year / New Beginnings 2015

The New Year bristles with good intentions, resolutions, and many times, regrets.

For me 2015 is a year of beginnings.  2014 I completed many things: folded 1000 Paper Cranes, paid off a few credit cards and got within one class of completing my MFA.  It was a roller coaster ride but well worth the price of admission.  I only published one short story, but I didn’t submit much so that was as could be expected.

January of 2015, I am embarking on my thesis.  I’ve agonized over it and worked on it for the past year.   I was originally planning to write the diary of Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary- historic fiction) while she was in quarantine for two-plus years on North Brother Island.  I did the research and completed about 40 pages of the projected 100 pages required for the thesis.  But the difficulty of using a diary format is very challenging.  Close first person point-of-view limits use of action, dialog and little more than what Mary Mallon experienced first hand.  It’s not an impossible project.  In fact, I believe it’s a very worth-while endeavor, but not for my thesis.  I was really stressing out about it.  Then I realized I don’t have to be so stressed about it.  I can write something else.

I switched my thesis to The Haunting of Sugarloaf, an historic, ghost story.  I’m well into it with sixty-six pages already complete and it is not due until mid-March.

I’m excited to take to heart that 100 pages of fiction is publishable.  What was once considered a Novella and not publishable is very much part of the selling market of digital books.  E-books open the world of publication to authors as the serial-story published in magazines was once in the early to mid-1900s.  It’s like there are new dragons to slay, and new adventures to pursue.  2015 will be a year of submissions for me as I edit the many stories I wrote in class, pushing them out to the public.

But I digress, my goals, not resolutions are as follows.  And I’m counting you to keep me true to accomplishing them.

New Year / New Beginnings:

  • Publish 10 short stories
  • Acquire an adjunct teaching position in creative writing
  • Edit and make ready at least one novel for publication
  • Acquire an agent for said novel above

And the last two, which are the most difficult for me personally,

  • Get out of debt
  • Lose 50 pounds

Whew, I better get busy!  What are you goals?  We’ll keep each other honest.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Writing

 

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Writing Energizes Me…

Writing Energizes Me…
I’ll be having a really low energy day and I sit and write for awhile and it picks my spirits up.  Even if what I write is garbage, unfit for human consumption.  I think this means writing is my passion.  Is it the escape to another world or depending on what point of view I use, into another mind?  Is it the challenging puzzle of making the story stick together?  Is it the act of creation itself that happens when you write fiction?  Is it the results or the process?
I think I’m lucky to have several passions: writing, piano, beading, and of course my children and friends.
I used to play the piano; was classically trained for eight years and even taught piano for another ten years.  But I’ve drifted away from it.  The few times a month I do sit down in front of my electronically engineered keyboard and do some scales, then Bach and I feel a sense of calm envelope me.
What do people do that have not found their passion?
Whether it is music, or writing, or running, biking, knitting, scrapbooking, or whatever; what is your passion and why do you love it?  I want to hear about it and I’m not talking about SEX.  Let’s keep it clean!
 
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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Writing

 

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The Mature Student… not so easy after all

 

Jul 1 at 2:10 PM
Wow!  It’s been forever since I posted.  I thought being a mature student would be a breeze.  When I got my undergraduate I worked between 30-40 hours a week between three different jobs and I carried 12-18 credits per semester.  Now I’m working 40 hours/week and taking between 3-9 credit hours per quarter.   It’s been a fast ride.  Two more quarters and I’m done.  I plan to graduate this December!
Lindenwood University MFA in Creative Writing has a very flexible program.  You can take on-line courses at 3 credits each or in-person clusters which are 9 credits and meet one evening a week for four hours.    You can mix and match the two.  So in the fall and winter (bad weather months) I took on-line classes.  And the spring and summer quarters I take two clusters, back-to-back.  This leave me panting at the end of 24 weeks, but it is convenient to me personally and my work schedule.
For myself, my preference is the in-person classes.   The human interaction is important to me because in class discussions and critiques, facial expressions and body language are an important part of communication.  In addition, real-time feedback is invaluable.  Those of you other mature students (50 and over), give me your feedback.
Not only has the MFA program exposed me to authors I’d never read, but it has forced me to write outside my comfort zone, never a bad thing.  I found I like to read AND write creative non-fiction.  Flash fiction is a challenge, but I really enjoy it.  Reading short stories used to be so frustrating.  I’d just start getting into the characters and story and it would be over.  But I’ve learned style and structure and so, so much more.  If you’re thinking about going back to school, do it.  My only regret is I didn’t do it when I was younger.  And if you work at a company that offers tuition reimbursement – do it.  This is the third job I’ve had that offered it.  I should have done this years ago for a richer fuller life.
One more quick comment…  You writers and wanna-be writers, I cannot stress enough the importance of being part of a critique group.  The group of writers I have the opportunity to work with (Writers Under The Arch), are a dynamic, knowledgeable, enthusiastic group of individuals who have made my writing stronger and richer.
Now a question for you…
I’m thinking of writing my thesis piece as an historic fiction about Typhoid Mary.  I’d love to know what the general populace thinks/knows on this subject.  And no fair Googling it.  I want to hear what you know off the top of your head.  Talk to me!
 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Returning to School

 

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Flash NON-Fiction… who knew?

This quarter I’m taking a 9-credit cluster in Advanced Creative Non-Fiction. This isn’t an on-line class like the other two I took. It up front and in person 4 hours a week. 6-10 every Tuesday for 12 weeks. Tough stuff working full time on top of it, but well worth it. I’m learning so much I thought I’d share.

This week we talked about the lyric essay, braided essays, collage, found, poetic prose, and my favorite the ‘hermit crab’ essay. I’m also very excited there is actually a market for FLASH NON-FICTION. So here is my first stab at a 500-word flash! Let me know what you think. Are you scared?

A NIGHT’S STORM
Up until the first crack of thunder, my eyelids were heavy and I floated in the space between. A loud bang rattled the window startling me into a wide-awake, heightened sense of fear. I turned in the bed to face the window, my dog nuzzled closer to the bend in my legs. I could hear ran falling in big drops. Not the tap-tap of a gentle rain, but the splat leaky garden hose. The rain grew thicker and the wind pushed against the window like a shoulder trying to force its way in. A flash of light threw a hideous shadow of a tree in dark relief against the closed blinds, closely followed by another crackle. The metal lawn chair grated again the brick patio as it waddled its way into the side of the air conditioner unit.

Wind whipped around the building, throwing sticks and leaves against it, trying to push it off its foundation. Another burst of light from a different direction. This time the shadows on the blinds form the hideous outline of the face. I wait, expecting the tornado sirens to go off any minute. Visions of the tornado devastation last week flicker across my mind, setting off alarms in my head. I want to run, to hide, to wake the family and take cover in the bathroom. But it’s the middle of the night they are peacefully asleep, unaware of the raging storm.

Another snap of thunder, then the rumble like a boulder rolling down a hill, angels bowling my mother used to call it. The dog starts and growls low in her throat. If only she could scare off this storm. How do they sleep through it?

Then I hear it. The wind thrummed with a steady rhythm, fum,-fum, fum-fum. They say a tornado sounds like a freight train. How much more like a train could it sound than this? Why aren’t the sirens going off? Then I hear a train whistle and remember we live close enough to the tracks to hear a real train.

I worry about my son sleeping soundly in his second floor bedroom, while I lay awake, nearly panting with fear on the first floor. I worry about my 85 year-old mother living less than a block away. I worry about the patio umbrella we just put out yesterday. Thank God it’s still unopened. I can’t do anything to change the course of this storm, so I pray. I pray for me the safety my family, and those I love. I pray the Lord’s prayer, then Psalm 21, then I pray for those already digging out in Oklahoma. As my prayers rush from my brain to my heart to my lips, the wind and the rain become less so minutely that I fail to notice. Finally, well past midnight, my breathing matches the steady patter of rain and I drift off to sleep, still praying and thanking God I live in St. Louis, Missouri not Moore, Oklahoma.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Writing

 

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