The Little Writer that Could(n’t)

 

The evil mancreature was bent on destroying each of us, because we were the group with the power to save the world. It sent terrifying robots and magical monsters disguised as friends so that they could get close and then the battle began. By the time we realized what was happening, it was almost too late.

“Run, Lisa!” someone yelled in the struggle for their life. “Only you can run to get us help! Only you can shut these creatures down if you reach the Capital.”

So I ran.  I had the powers of running with fleet feet at impossible speeds. I ran so fast that I was practically invisible. I could run up steep inclines and faster than traffic. I could weave up and down buildings and through alleys without a trip. The creature stalking me, trying to prevent me from saving my friends, lost me as I followed a complex path.  I only ran into difficulty while running up a giant tree that also served as a playground for children. I had to slow my pace then, for fear that I would harm them. I reached the top, only to discover the only way down and forward was a giant water slide. I climb on and start speeding down toward what I hope is safety. Out of nowhere some of the evil creatures hunting for me appear at the bottom of the slide. They have no idea where I am, but I seem to be speeding toward imminent capture.  What am I to do?

I wake up.

As usual, after my adrenaline stops pumping from a dream that lies somewhere between exciting adventure and terrifying nightmare, I lie in bed hoping I will go back to sleep. Sometimes I want to go back and finish the dream, see where the adventure takes me, defeat the monsters. Other times I know that sleep will not return, as my mind starts spinning with interpretations, trying to process and understand the meaning or the message.

This was one of those no-going- back- to-sleep times, but I think I understood.

A few days ago I crafted a post that made me proud. I spent time finessing every word, selecting the appropriate pictures, and trying to make it into a story someone would want to read. I read it out loud about a million times, checking for flow and language flaws. I did all of this for several reasons:

  • I always want my posts to be quality, and I want to start growing as a writer.
  • The post itself was about a labor of love.
  • I knew, because it was part of a Daily Post Challenge, that it would actually be seen by those with the power of selecting Freshly Pressed posts.

My end product, I thought, was one of my best.

If I hadn’t had high hopes, I would have waited to post that post either later today or tomorrow, as I won’t be giving the gift until this evening. I called my mother and asked her not to read my blog until tomorrow, because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise but I also wanted to try for that elusive golden ring.

Meanwhile, I spent the rest of the week working, for the first time in a while, on my new book. Ideas kept pouring out of me. I had found my writing groove, even if I am still unsure what genre of book I am writing. I felt a surge of new hope, even though (since this is for a course) I must now begin the process of figuring out how I might want to get this baby published. That’s the part that terrifies me, because I feel like finding a publisher or an agent is like battling those dream creatures disguised as friends.

It means putting myself out there and waiting to be judged. It means hoping for acceptance and facing rejection again and again and again.

It means the feeling of looking at the Freshly Pressed page and realizing that I was, yet again, not on it.

What am I doing wrong? I ask myself. Is it because I linked to two of my own posts, posts that were specifically related to the whole story I was trying to tell? Is it because I included ONE picture that did not belong to me, even though I linked to the source and cited it? Is it because I included ONE picture that I have used before? Or am I deluding myself into thinking that my writing is good when in reality it could be printed out and used as toilet paper?

I don’t know the answer. But, despite my disappointment, I continued to work on my book yesterday. I woke up from my nightmare and realized that I had to write, even if I am doomed to facing the demons and monsters on a daily basis. So I got out of bed and started writing this. I will continue to fight the demons, run the race, and mix my metaphors.  I will keep chugging away even if I never get over the mountain.

 

Finding Comfort in Words

I don’t know if it is the fact that April is National Poetry Month, but my mind keeps going to poetry these days, and where my mind goes, my fingers and heart  follow.

Words written on fragile pages
journals of my life’s journey
sometimes joyous
often sad
meant for no eyes but my own
except . . . perhaps
future generations.

These words comfort and console.

Friendships formed
over books devoured
and discussed in lively groups
some loved
some hated
some faced with confusion.
Books written in words
of hope, of pain, of life.

I travel with these words and feel less alone.

Words written in
the pages of technology
linking me to voices
across the nation
across the world
reaching for people who understand
who celebrate
who love words
who love thought
who live fully.

These words connect me beyond my emptiness.

Books read in the privacy
of loneliness
speaking  in the voice
of friends from afar,
sharing  thoughts, ideas
opinions, refutations
and connections.

These words validate and enhance the words I seek.

Words are my friends
words are my enemy
words are my sustenance
words are my emptiness
words are my life.

” . . . I realized that maybe writing doesn’t require sacrifice. Maybe it’s a gift to experience emotions through our brushes, ink, and paper. I wrote out of sorrow, fear, and hate. You wrote out of desire, joy, and love. We each paid a heavy price for speaking our minds, for revealing our hearts, fort trying to create,but it was worth it, wasn’t it, daughter?” (Lisa See, Peony in Love, 242)

In Search of Her Story

I mentioned a few days ago that I had signed up for a class to try to help me get toward my goals of writing a novel. The course has started, and for my first assignment I am supposed to suggest two ideas for what I would like to write. Suddenly, despite the hundreds of ideas that have poured around me at different times in my life, I am drawing a blank. This is it. This is real. I must now make a commitment, and if I ever really want to write fiction I must make some choices. I woke up in a panic, still no closer to a clear idea. But then, I realized, the Storyteller plays a role in this. I may not know the Story, yet, but I am the Storyteller, or at least I am her apprentice. I sat down and began to write this:

The young woman, Leahannah,  wandered through the rows of light, cultivated trees at the edge of the clearing. She never stepped over the line into the dimness of the forest  abutting this protected grove, for despite everything she had learned from the Storyteller, she still had fear of the Others. Those fears, ingrained in her since childhood, sometimes interfered with her learning and growth as she tried to master the skills of the Storyteller.

Leahannah felt like she was disappointing the Storyteller by not letting go of these fears.

She wandered closer to the line between darkness and light, peering into the depths of the trees. She kept seeing eyes peeking back at her from the crevices of trees or under bushes. Were they real or imagined? Were the eyes from human animals, the Others, or real animals on the hunt?

A chill went up her spine. Not one of fear, but of realization. She still thought of the Others as animal, and that would never do. If she wanted to someday step into the role of storyteller, she needed to overcome her ingrained fears and recognize the truth. A surprising tear formed in her eye at the thought of losing the Storyteller, for the old woman had saved Leahannah by making her the storytelling apprentice. Without her, Leahannah would still be doing drudge work and living on scraps, little better than the Others people hated so much.

But the Storyteller was old and had been for a long time. Each day, each time the Storyteller used the magic to tell stories, Leahannah noticed she got slower, and seemed to  fade into the glow of the magic never fully coming back to solidity. The Storyteller was becoming the magic. It did not look painful, and in some ways it seemed Storyteller embraced the change–as if becoming the magic was the final transition necessary to fulfill her purpose in life.  The transition would carry her stories on into forever.

That couldn’t happen, however, unless Leahannah was ready to become the next Storyteller. She couldn’t do that until she passed the next trial; the sharing of Her story, a story that spoke from her very soul and from the heart of the magic. It couldn’t be a story told before. It couldn’t be a simple story. It had to be a story that drew the listeners in and shared important messages without them even knowing it. It had to be full of magic, but the magic that comes from Leahannah’s being, not magic borrowed from the Storyteller.

Leahannah sighed. This was her struggle. Where was she to find that story? She could tell stories of the village, but those would not work. The villagers did not want to hear about themselves, at least not in a recognizable way. She could tell a story of the gods, but those were not new. Where could she find Her story? The story that she needed to tell.

Leahannah heard something in the dark woods behind her. A crackle of leaves, perhaps, maybe a bird or a whisper of wind through the trees. She peered into the darkness and felt her heart grow, a spark of magic building. Suddenly she knew, she would find Her story in the darkness. She would find her story with the Others.

She began.

500 Posts, Now What?

I haven’t really been paying attention to how many posts I’ve written until my brother posted his 200th post yesterday. When I glanced at the number I saw 499, and thought, wow I should celebrate 500. This is by no means to diminish Steve’s accomplishment, as I have been at this longer, but it is a nice round number worthy of acknowledging.

Like Steve, I don’t really have any momentous words for this occasion. Actually, a short time ago I said to Nathan, “I have nothing to write about today.” I’m not blocked, I just don’t have any ideas fighting for attention. I don’t have anything I particularly feel like ranting about this morning (as I have basically chosen to ignore all the ills of society for the time being). I don’t have a specific soapbox to climb on. I don’t even have anything silly to reflect on. It is simply a Friday.

But it is the Friday of my 500th post.

In a way, it is truly significant, as I attempt to embark on this Simultaneous Stories project which I believe comes from the desire to understand the role blogging plays in our society and in my life in particular.

I just pointed out the title of this post to Nathan. “Wow! Congratulations,” he said.

My response, “I don’t know if that is something to be proud about.”

“It is,” he answered.

You’ve gotta love a husband who is supportive.

I guess I question the importance of this because, as I wrote about a few days ago, I’m no longer sure why I write. That post sparked some interesting discussion and led me to other posts on the topic, including this one at Tossing It Out called “Is Most of Our Writing Done in Vain?” My response to Lee’s post moved we one step closer to understanding my own purpose as a writer. This is what I said,

Reading this made me realize something about why I write. Yes, I have the dream of achieving fame and glory through writing and always have, but that is not why I write. I write to share my story with a small audience. Right now, I write for a future audience, my daughter and descendants unknown. I know very little about my parents, despite them still being alive and together. If my words now give my daughter a better understanding of who I was, then I will be happy. I can’t share everything with her yet, but as she grows I have begun to share some posts and other writing already. She knows more about me than I ever did about my Mom. So, I may write for joy, or to be heard, or to understand, or to remember . . . but I also write to share.”

Now I look back on these 500 posts to see what stories I have really shared. What can my daughter learn about me from this blogging adventure? What legacy do I leave with my words? Here are some of the things I hope she has learned about me (including links to posts that share these aspects of me) I tried to link to older posts that you may have missed:

I could continue this list forever, but now it is time to post this momentous post to the universe and say, it has been a fascinating journey. Should I continue for 500 more?

The Storyteller: Pictures in the Flames

Note: As many of you have pointed out or noticed, I seem to have a story project novel nebulous creation coming out of me lately–one that links the value of story with the lines connect and divide us, one that comes from someplace I have yet to understand. I don’t know what will come of it, but I have to go with the images and words that insist on pouring themselves onto the screen. So far, however, I haven’t found the body of the story, only the links between. The Storyteller. The camp fire. The dark woods. The Others. Sparks in the sky. These are the images that tie this project together, in whatever form it ultimately takes. So, giving into the whims of the creative forces guiding me, I’ve trotted myself over to my favorite coffee shop work space of this summer (pictured below) and share the meager offerings with you, my fellow travelers on this journey of words.

I find it helpful to write in a place filled with fun creativity. Prairie Chick in Okoboji, IA suits the bill, especially since I just discovered they have Chai!

Pictures in the Flames

Heart Beat! Drum Beat! Heart Beat! Drum Beat!

The people gather round the camp fire, swaying to the beat of the drums. As a unit, their hearts fall into rhythm together.

Ba dum! Ba dum! Ba dum!

They begin to hum a wordless chord that blends to create a harmony that bounces off the earth and flies into the universe.

Mmmmm! Aaaaa! AAaaaaaaaaaahhh!

Ba dum! Ba dum! Ba dum!

The Storyteller joins her voice to the song. At first she blends with the chord,  but then her hum turns into words.

Let me share the stories of human kind
Listen children, with heart and mind.
Learn the lessons that I must share
and from my stories you shall learn to care.

Her song continues with many versus, but the listeners fall into silence. A silence so deep one can hear the beating of their hearts.

Ba dum! Ba dum! Ba dum!

As her voice raises in glory, sparks fly from the fire, swirling and twirling into the dark sky. At first the sparks seem to join the stars, but then the stars and sparks come together in a complex dance of creation. Pictures join and depart for fleeting moments.

Each person around the camp fire sees something different. A hushed murmur builds as they point these visions out to one another.

” Look, a mother holding her child,” says the woman who had lost many children and yet holds a gleaming hope inside her womb.

“Three men pointing rifles at another man,” says the gruff man, carrying in hidden in his pocket a medal that represents his deep  sorrow. A son killed in war.

“A clown juggling balls,” giggles a group of children, who then began to toss small rocks in the air.

“Hush,” the women near them say, “Listen to the Storyteller.” The children obey.

The stars and sparks continue to dance, until they merge together to form the giant image of a woman hiding in the shadow of the trees, where no one ever ventures.

Silence descends again on the clearing, until a young girl speaks in a voice both sweet and confused, “That’s an Other woman, and I think she’s smiling. I didn’t know Others could smile.”

The Storyteller glides over to the young girl and places her hand on her head. “Of course they can smile. They can cry. They can scream. They can do anything you can do,” she says “and I shall tell you why. . . “

_________________________

Today’s Quote

The process of creating is related to the process of dreaming although when you are writing you’re doing it and when you’re dreaming, it’s doing you. Robert Stone

Simultaneous Stories

I wake up and somewhere a child falls asleep. I turn on my computer to start writing a blog post, and another blogger starts typing hers.  People dance in one part of the world while people die in another.

I walk outside to answer the call of the moon, and elsewhere others see the same moon as I do, while still more rise to worship the sun.

We all live simultaneous stories.

This movie intrigues me for a number of reasons. One is simply that one of my high school friends contributed to it. But, the idea of simultaneous stories intersects all of my writing lately.

Stories are what connect us and what divide us. As a newborn takes his first breathe in one part of the world, an old woman might breathe her last. Those breathes are connected through time and space.

As a couple consummate their love for one another in an elaborate hotel room or the backseat of a car, another one breaks apart in irretrievable pieces. Those stories connect through symbolism and meaning.

As our government falls apart in the face of greed and stupidity, people all over the country struggle to pay their bills, feed their children, and take their medicine. Those stories are connected by a lack of understanding.

As we live our lives securely here, someone dies brutally there. Sadly, those stories too are connected, because the explanation for them lies in belief systems that cannot meet half way, as well as a greed and a hunger for power that corrupts the stories of all human kind.

In the link between stories, between lives, between souls we touch, lie the stories that we all know, feel, live and breathe. All cultures have common stories, told in different ways. All cultures have their demons, their ghosts, their creation myths, and their justifications of existence. All cultures have their jokes, and their songs, and their fairy tales. All cultures have their stories, and they only differ in details, not in essence.

All cultures have the stories told around campfires or while  snuggled in under the covers of darkness.

These are the stories I want to write. These are the stories I want to share. These are the stories I want to hear.

“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.” —Harold Goddard

Join me, my friends, as we sit by the campfire and share each others stories. Help me, my friends, link those stories together in a glowing web of understanding and hope.

I am the Storyteller, but I am not the only one. Together we tell the stories we all need to hear. Together we create the stories of life.

Together we are The Storyteller.

And if life is a story, then we have the right to choose how that story ends. We can choose our own destruction, or we can recognize the ties that join us and create a story that allows room for us all.

Join me, my friends, as we sit by the campfire to share our stories.

The Line Between

The world is made up of lines. Lines that connect. Lines that divide. Lines that intersect. Lines invisible and lines visible. Lines as thick as the Great Wall of China and lines as thin as an invisible filament.

I am beginning to think this metaphor of lines might play a significant role in my life. I noted yesterday that I would like to erase all the lines that divide us. But perhaps I need to understand the lines before I can change them.

What would happen if we learned to control the lines, using them only as a means of connection not separation?

I am feeling my way toward a new writing project, one that explores these lines of connection and separation. I’m not sure where this will head, but today I want to share a few old pieces of my writing that somehow relate. The first is a character description of a woman who has created the connecting lines between herself and her family, but those lines are fragile threads. She has also drawn thicker lines around herself, lines growing in weight and strength that they may be impossible to destroy.

Image of a Lost Woman

A woman sits and thinks back on her life, wondering where she went wrong.  When did she suppress all her feelings?  When did she allow the concerns of her world and her family to become more important than her soul?  Is it too late to regain what she has lost?

Her flame red hair has faded now, interspersed with hair of white.  Her face shows the lines of time, but also of frowns.  She has forgotten how to smile, and the tracks of her frowns lie ingrained deeply in her face.  When her granddaughter was born she smiled the biggest smile she had in a long time.  It was painful to see straining muscles that had been stagnant for so long.

Why had her life become like this?  She thought she had done everything right, raising three bright children, providing them with a comfortable home.  But now they have grown and moved far away.  That makes her feel like a failure, because in the fantasy world children stay near their families so that they can always be together.  Her children say that she has not failed, that she has given them the tools to think, explore, and live beyond expectations.  But she knows they are wrong.  They should want to be near family.  They should want to have family gatherings and rely on each other.  She worries that when she dies, they will lose touch with each other, like she did with her older brother.  They kept in touch with the obligatory phone call now and then, but she never really liked talking on the phone.  They saw each other every few years, until the end.  She spent time with him before he died.  She does not want that for her children.  But she fears this will happen.

It must be her fault, she thinks.  But where did she go wrong?  She has committed herself to her family since the birth of her first daughter.  She has tried to make everything perfect, and do everything right.  But now she feels alone, and like a failure.  Perhaps she lost something important along the way.

The second piece of writing I’d like to share with you today comes from an old blog post called  Dots, Lines and Connections. I share this with you because the image of lines has obviously influenced my life in many ways. Here is a passage from that post (but feel free to visit the post itself for the whole thing):

As I’ve gotten older, I have tried to find and connect the dots in my life. Each dot represents a person or an experience. My own dot is in there too, near the center, but there is no true center to this complex image.  Sometimes the lines don’t connect smoothly, and twist around to reach other dots. As this complex web grows, sometimes dots never meet, never link, never connect. It is impossible to connect everything to each other, everyone to each other. But I am fascinated by the intersections and the connections that bring people in and out of my world.

In the living version, lines stretch into the distant past and sometimes break. But sometimes they reconnect with stronger cords.  There is some old saying that says something about friends being there at the right time in your life. Perhaps that is true, but once someone has become a part of my life, I’ve connected the dots between myself and that person. The line may stretch and fade, but they never truly disappear.

One other interesting note, “The Line Between” was also a working title of one of the fantasy fiction stories that I’ve started and stopped a million times.

Maybe the metaphor of lines will lead me somewhere. I just have to follow the dotted line.

The Magic is in the Details

Writing

Today I want to point out two magnificent posts from the past week that have made me realize something about my own writing, something that I am going to challenge myself to change. Both these writers captured me with the eloquence of their details–details which made the locations and people that they were writing about  come alive in my heart and  my brain.

Ed, over at Salt ‘n Peppah, wrote this stunning descriptive passage on a day when  New York took a positive step toward change by legalizing gay marriage:

“The Stonewall Inn was barely open this early afternoon. “The gays” typically don’t begin bar hopping until much later in the early evening, so the bar was deserted, except for a short little fire plug bartender named typically, Joe. He welcomed us in immediately as if desperate for company on this miserable Saturday afternoon. Folding our dripping umbrellas and leaving them by the front door, I looked around. You could smell the age and the mustiness of this dark and dingy place. A thick painted tin ceiling and dark poster filled walls hugged us as small tables were tossed about a small elevated “stage” hardly protected by a single red velvet rope. Black and white photos of the now famous “Stonewall Riots” were haphazardly placed around on the deep paneled walls of this establishment. Framed newspaper and magazine clippings of history were draped behind the bar. Somehow the light of day made this bar look like me when I wake up in the morning. Raw and exposed. Pale and puffy. Vulnerable yet somehow as cozy as the thick fleece robe I throw on to ward off the early morning chill.”

(Here’s the link to the rest of his post, called “Stonewall“.) Eds post was powerful because of its timeliness, but also because of  the details. He described a place in a way that showed an emotion and brought into focus the world around us. I wish I could do that. Yes, I know that I am good at ideas and issues, but I feel severely lacking in the details.

As usual  when I read Kathy’s post at Reinventing the Invent Horizon, my awe of people who can  write the details so they strengthen the message only grew.  Kathy is a master at  making details come to life to show the truth in the story she shares. Here’s an example from the post called “Close Encounters with Well-Wigged Old Women and other Adventures in Government-Subsidized Housing”:

“Bea, like Evelyn, had obviously, at one time, been a stunningly beautiful woman, a fact betrayed by facial features that shown through despite her age—high cheek bones and big, blue eyes that still twinkled when she smiled.

Bea was one of the few ladies in the group who didn’t wear a wig, and for a woman well into her 90s she had a head of gorgeous, light brown curls.  True her hair was largely gray, but she retained enough of the brown to surprise you, since otherwise she looked so old and borderline antique.

Bea was also one of the ladies who slept most afternoons, waking herself up every few minutes with her own overly-sized snores.

But then again, Bea never stayed more than 30 minutes at a time, as when nicotine called at least twice an hour, she struggled to her feet from the over-stuffed chair, shuffled her pink-slippered feet across the industrial blue carpet, and disappeared into her apartment several doors down, only to reemerge a few minutes later having snuck a cigarette or two, still insisting upon her return that she had had to use the rest room or make a phone call.  Never mind she smelled like smoke over the tic-tac she sucked and the Avon she had sprayed post-puff.”

The magic is in the details.

I am setting myself a writing challenge this week. I am going to focus on the details of whatever stories I write. I’m going to write stories that have details, not just the rants that I seem to be known for. But, I need your help, because as much as I want to do this, I’m also afraid. So here is how you can help, if you would like. Ask me specific questions. Some of you have read me enough to know that I have had a bizarre life, but for some reason I find it trouble to write about the details of that life. I avoid the specifics, and write more about the sweeping philosophies and lessons learned. Maybe, if you ask me specific questions, I’ll be able to focus more on the details.

I know that is my next step to grow as a writer. Can you help?

In order to help me do this, I decided to create an award that I am giving to Ed and Kathy. I’m not very good at creating graphics, so forgive my lame attempt (and if someone is better at it and wants to improve the details of my design please let me know). But here is the first official The Magic is in the Details Award. Congratulations to Ed and Kathy–ignore this as you will.

 

All Stories Have Value

I spent yesterday in a car, driving Nathan up to Okoboji, IA for the summer. Well, he did all the actual driving, I just watched the scenery go by along with the intimidating clouds and lightning strikes. It took us about 9 1/2 hours, including stops to walk the dogs and a quick trip to Trader Joe’s in Omaha.

On the way we listened to downloaded NPR shows including “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” and “This American Life,” and “The Moth.”

I heard stories. Stories big and stories small. Stories that affect the world, and stories that affected only individuals. And I realized, all stories have value. My story has value.

I want to be a storyteller, because through stories life gains value.

The trip hasn’t been without a little angst. I bring Nathan to a place that wants him, values him, but doesn’t really want or value me. I don’t really belong here, despite the fact that I have a lot to offer this place.

Last summer in Okoboji

But, I now realize that is part of my story. My story involves me learning to let go of jealousy, resentment, frustration. My story involves learning from the journey and learning from others.

My story is all that I have to offer you. In exchange, I hope you will share your story with me. Together our stories have power, beauty, and life.

The Spark of Creativity

Yesterday Sparks In Shadow asked some difficult question in response to my questions about my blog. She said:

As to the topics I find most interesting to read about here — for me it would be anything to do with the writing or artistic process, because I like hearing how other artists tackle the issues I’m also dealing with. (I’ve really got to get back to your previous post about the play writing class/workshop. I need to get back to it when I can immerse myself without distraction.) How do we tend to shape our stories or art? How much do we consider the way our art is experienced by others? Is our goal to make things only with ourselves in mind, or do we want to grow into wider acceptance by incorporating aspects of feedback and certain kinds of structure? How does that feel? How do we handle re-writes or other changes? How much and how do we want to be different, in terms of pushing the limits or heading into abstraction, or do we want to excel at more accepted norms? What does that even mean?”

Ah that Sparks, she likes to ask the difficult questions. 😉

This morning as I lay in bed trying to ignore the insistent whining of Lizzy that I get up and feed her, I thought about the mystery of creativity. 

Two nights ago I crawled into bed to read a little after declaring my intent to write because I want to. I’m reading a book called Literary Women:The Great Writers by Ellen Moers. This somewhat dated book takes a feminist look at the women writers who had influence on writing today, although they may not have had as much recognition as the men. I say it is dated because it was written in 1976 and I think that more women have made impact on the writing world since that time, and received more recognition for that impact. But, I bought this book at a library sale, hoping to find more ideas about women who have been swallowed up into history as written by men.

I’ve been finding lots of interesting things. But as I read two nights ago something sparked in me. A simple phrase formed itself in my mind, “She was not allowed words.” The phrase kept repeating itself in my head, and then grew in urgency. A voice called to me, “You must write this down now or you will regret it!” and the phrase repeated itself again. I jumped out of bed, having moved my dream journal a few days ago when I used it for something else and forgotten to return it, and scrambled around for something to write on. I found two  large index cards and then searched for a pen.

Then I wrote. “She was not allowed words. No woman was.” And a story started pouring out, or at least the beginnings of one. I’m not ready to share more of it yet, but maybe one of these days.

I wrote, filling three sides of the index cards. Then I put them aside until yesterday morning.

Yesterday I woke up thinking about those cards and that story. I’ve heard that story before, I thought to myself. Where have I heard that story? Then I remembered. Several years back I took an advanced course in writing books for young people through The Institute of Children’s Literature. The end result of that course was Giving up the Ghosts the book that still hasn’t found a home. In the beginning of the course, I had to write several book proposals so that my instructor could help me choose the best one to work on. Sadly, I seem to have deleted some of that work accidentally, but I still have hard copies of most of it. At first I proposed ideas for two fiction books and two non-fiction (both having something to do with the arts and theater, one I think about perfectionism). My instructor, after reading my lengthy letter describing my life, nixed the non-fiction saying that it sounded like I needed a break from that stress and pressure. She had me write proposals for four fantasy fiction books that I might be interested in writing. One of them was called Judith of Lexiconia, and told the story of a girl who had the power of words even though girls were not allowed to read them. She discovered that her power extended to being able to write about something, and have that thing come true. [No offense, but I would like to remind you about copyright for a moment. ;)]

My story started years ago, and now it wants to be told. I’m not sure yet if it will take the same form, or where it is going, but somehow the words spoke through me urging me to listen.

Where do those ideas come from? What sparked that moment and made me get up and actually follow that urge? I’ve had plenty of ideas pop into my head during the night, but often (much to my own regret) I am simply too tired or too annoyed to actually write them down. But this time the call could not be ignored.

I remember reading long ago in The Artist’s Way the idea that creative energy surrounds us, with all the ideas floating around waiting to be plucked from the energetic mix. I’m obviously paraphrasing from a long ago memory here; I would quote the book directly, but I don’t know where my copy is at the moment. 😦 I believe that we are all connected by that creative energy and that some people have more easy access than others.

I don’t always have access, but once in a while the spark ignites and takes me on a journey that is both terrifying and joyful. This time, however, I think I am truly excited for this journey and ready for it, because of the warm support system I have found in the blogging world.

Where does the spark come from? What are some of your answers to Sparks In Shadows questions?


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