Happy Tuesday! So “Free Flow Friday” was pre-empted by “It’s a celebration!” We celebrated our baby girl Sydney’s 1st birthday on Saturday and this mommy was consumed with all things party last week. It wasn’t even a big party, but I tend to be anal with details and so I become an obsessive thinker and planner with 50 million lists. Anyway it was a great time with family and friends.
And do you know what else was a great time? The writing workshop with Jessica Anya Blau at the Creative Alliance. She was a great facilitator, engaging and humorous; I can imagine there aren’t many dull moments in her classes at Hopkins and Goucher. The other writers in the workshop were friendly and gracious, a very pleasant group. At different points during the 2 hour session we were encouraged to share what we’d written and I thought to myself more than once “wow he/she is good, I would read their book.” We stretched, walked backwards, drew portraits, acted, ate chocolate and of course WROTE. We must have done ten or more writing exercises and my creative synapses were firing away, it was so exciting. There were many good points made throughout the workshop but two that stuck out were; 1)Write from your heart, not for money, not for a particular person or audience. 2) One of our writing exercises could be the start of a great novel or short story if we would only take the time to develop and follow it through. If this workshop is any indication , I would highly recommend any writing class or workshop offered by Creative Alliance.
So for today’s writing prompt, I’m going to slightly modify one of the exercises from the workshop:
Choose a person near you or a picture of a person. Study their face, their expression, their posture, etc. Now write about that person’s sin or crime. (During the workshop we had 3 min for this exercise. I imagined that the woman I chose had witnessed a hate crime in the sixties and refused to report it due to her own prejudice)
She stood at her window, peeking through the slit in the curtains. Her living room lights turned off, as not to attract attention to the house. The street was quiet now but she had heard the old man scream, his cries for help echoing in her ears. She had reached the window just in time to see one of the boys land a punch to the old man’s head, knocking him to sidewalk. His screams ceased as the boys kicked his small feeble body, he only attempted to shield himself from the blows. When his crumpled bloody body became still one of the boys seemed alarmed, commanding the others to stop. With one final kick ,the boys scattered up the street into the night. She knew the boys by name, could easily give an account to the police but she continued to stand at the window. She thought the old man surely must have known he would be inviting trouble by coming to this neighborhood. She waited for someone else to call the police…
Just a last thought, I know the importance of punctuation but sometimes it seems when I write I just want to throw punctuation to the wind. Somehow it feels like my progress is impeded when I have to decide between comma or no comma. But someone pointed out that in this publishing environment a misplaced comma or run-on sentence can be the difference between a yes or no to your work. I really need to brush up on my punctuation do’s and don’ts.
Happy Friday!! Hope this new year is off to a great start. It’s back to routine this week, school is in and vacations are over. I’m pretty excited about the writing workshop tomorrow. Do you have your tickets? If not, go to the Creative Alliance. I believe walk-ins are welcome. Also pretty excited about some “me” time tomorrow. I looove my hubby & kids but I also love alone time; not the hermit, shut myself off from the world kind of alone but the no one calling my name or knocking on the door kind of alone. I think my parents would agree, I was always pretty content being by myself and loved living alone in my single lady days. I just love the solitude and add a good read or writing…perfection.
Today’s writing prompt:
Create a story, poem or any piece based on this metaphor “a chapter of loathing.”
Her mirror reflects a distorted truth
Skin too dark
Hair too coarse
Nose too big
Distortion born of comparisons
Fed by erroneous standards
Created by inferior minds
Her beautiful book of Life
Interrupted by a chapter of loathing
Yesterday’s writing exercise sparked a trip down memory lane. I began going through my files and came across some writing I’d totally forgotten about. One piece was an introduction letter I had to write to my ICL writing instructor during my almost microscopically brief enrollment. It was written almost two years ago but I think it’s a pretty good summary of me:
Hello from “Charm City” -Baltimore, MD. I’m a wife and a mommy, an Air Force brat with southern sensibilities, a bookworm, a blogger and an aspiring writer.
I was born in South Carolina where my parents’ families are rooted. My dad enlisted when I was nine months old and the adventures of military life began. Aside from a three year tour in England, my parents, younger brother and I were mostly stationed in the south; Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. I have so many fond memories of being a military kid. My favorite and most vivid memories are from the ages of about ten to fifteen when we were stationed in Charleston, SC and Upper Heyford, England. These memories include Girl Scouts, summers with my grandparents, riding the tube in London, and my first kiss. One of my favorite gifts as a child was the Little House on the Prairie book set. Judy Blume was one of my favorite authors; I loved the character Ramona and read the book Are You There God? It’s Me, Maragaret at least four times. I was bitten by the writing bug after receiving an essay award in the fifth grade and began filling notebooks with short stories and poems. One of my first stories was titled “The Junk Food Junkie” a cautionary tale of what happened to a boy who ate too much junk food.
Back then I aspired to be a teacher or a librarian so I could read to children all day. We returned from England to be stationed in Goldsboro, North Carolina where my parents eventually settled. It was in Goldsboro that I graduated from high school and went on to East Carolina University to graduate with a bachelors in Accounting. After seven years in NC (the longest I’d ever been in one place up until that point) I was eager for new surroundings, so upon graduation I accepted an auditing position with the Dept. of Defense in Springfield, VA in the DC metro area. This is when, as my husband likes to say, the country mouse became a city mouse. I fell in love with the hustle and bustle, the culture and feel of the city. I had a few adventures as a single transplant learning the ways of the big city (including meeting my future husband online). I encountered what I would describe as a “quarter life” crisis about four years into my career. I realized I could not fathom the thought of even five more years of the same routine. I decided to take advantage of my relatively carefree young adulthood and enroll in graduate school full time. I moved to Baltimore to study Human Resource Development at Towson University and graduated with a masters in May 2005. Within six months of graduation I started a new job, married my best friend of five years, and discovered we were expecting. As an expectant mom I experienced a seismic shift in my perspective and priorities, making the decision to quit my job and stay at home with our son. It was during this time that my childhood passion of writing resurfaced. Until that time I had journaled sporadically but, preoccupied with other pursuits, I’d pretty much given up creative writing. So as a new mom I continued to journal and ventured into blogging about my experiences as well as my opinions on current events. I also began writing stories and rhymes for my son. During this time I submitted a short story to Highlights for Children that did not meet their need at the time. I also submitted two short stories for a Writer’s Digest competition which I had no delusions of winning but appreciated the practice. Economic and family realities ushered my return to work shortly after my son’s second birthday but I was determined not to give up writing again.
So these days life revolves around my husband Ronaldo and my soon to be four year old son Judah. We enjoy just being together, whether it’s swimming at the Y, a movie night at home, a festival in the city or our nightly reading and bedtime prayer. We’re very involved with our church. I volunteer one Sunday a month with the preschoolers, assist with community outreach projects, and participate in small group studies. As a Health Insurance Analyst for almost two years, I review health insurance forms and contracts to ensure they comply with state law as well as ensure they provide a clear and accurate explanation of the insured’s benefits. I guess you can say I write letters for a living as I note any deficiencies in an objection letter to the insurance company and recommend revisions. While I’m not doing cartwheels out of my door each morning, I do enjoy the work and like to think that because of what I do some individual or family will be a bit more informed about their health benefits. I’m an avid reader. I feel an euphoric rush whenever I walk into a library or book store. My two favorite genres are Christian/inspirational fiction and memoirs. I like stories of redemption and forgiveness, as well as stories that deal with the dynamics of family and race relations. I also love humor. When I finish a book or story I like to feel as if I’ve been enlightened, challenged or inspired in some way. I’ve become a huge fan of blogging as I now have three blogs. The first is a personal family blog where we share pictures, stories and our little family happenings as a way to keep in touch with our expansive family. The second blog “Barnabas Blessings: Thoughts for Encouragement” is my platform to share personal thoughts and scripture. The last blog, “The Published Journey” is fairly new, and chronicles my thoughts and experiences as an aspiring writer.
My goal and interest in this course is to develop my skill for writing short stories and articles for children. I write for adults as well and believe the foundational guidance will help me to sharpen basic skills and develop my potential. One day I hope to be able to make a modest living doing something I love. I look forward to working and corresponding with you.
Have a great day,
Here’s another take on the 12 days of Christmas. Writer’s Digest offers a 12 day writing plan to keep your creative juices flowing this holiday season. I think I will definitely try this one. And just to give myself a little pat on the back, for the past week I have been making time to write everyday. It hasn’t been a huge chunk of time maybe fifteen minutes here and there in between baby time, errands, chores and whatever else needs my attention. I did finally submit my devotional assignments for our church devotional, Join the Journey. They were due last Wednesday and I finally submitted them this morning. Next year’s devotional will focus on the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John). My scripture passages were pretty familiar, stories I’ve heard since I was a kid in Sunday school but for some reason I had writer’s block. I’d start, then stop, then go in a different direction. It makes me wonder, when the time comes, how I will handle writing with deadlines versus just whenever the mood strikes but it also reminds that I must always dedicate my writing to the One who gave me the passion and the gift. Prayer really does change things! And on another last subject but in the same spirit of prayer, my little kindergartener goes on his first field trip today. The permission slip specifically stated no additional chaperones were needed but I’m a mom, a sometimes anxious mom, a now stay at home mom and I figured why shouldn’t I go. Well I tried, emailed the trip coordinator, even found where the school purchased the tickets (it’s a musical being performed by a theatre company solely focused on schools), but to no avail. So as I write this my big boy is preparing to board a bus to travel across town to see what I think will be a pretty cool show. So I pray, know that he will be okay and of course I know, I know, I have to learn to let go!
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and survived Black Friday! There were some insane stories out there–is a 42in flat screen really worth criminal assault charges-wow! Well with school out of session I spent the last four days with a five year old too smart for his own good. My son and I have been bumping heads for the past month or so and it’s been the most exasperating thing ever! Trying to match wits with a five year old is not cool. So in light of the holiday and in keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, Free Flow Friday is being brought to you a few days late as Free Flow Thanks. And for what am I thankful? I’m giving thanks for my spirited little boy…
When his chatter is excessive and he’s asked more than twenty questions, I’m thankful for his ability to speak, his mastery of vocabulary and a curious mind.
When he quickly jumps at Daddy’s request but seems almost deaf to mine, I’m thankful for his ability to hear (as selective as it may be) and the presence of a husband and father worthy of respect.
When his attitude far outweighs his five years, I’m thankful for God’s sufficient grace and that this too shall pass.
I’m impressed and inspired by the work of many authors. I’ve listed a few to the left of my posts but that list could go on indefinitely. I recently began following the blog and FB page of one of those authors Mary DeMuth. I was first introduced to her through her novel Daisy Chain. I was gripped by the raw emotion of the characters and the richness of the plot. I’ve since read a number of her books but I’ve yet to lay eyes on her latest offering The Muir House. I can’t wait to read it but in the meantime I have subscribed to a blog tour she is doing for the book. Every day a different blogger shares their thoughts and reactions to the book. This is such a great idea and what a cool way to build buzz. Somewhere along the journey it seems every writer must put on their marketing hat.
Get to know Mary at http://www.marydemuth.com/
and a few hours since my last post and well, a lot has happened. Let’s see… I rekindled a love for poetry, penned a few pieces and gave a few as gifts -to see and hear someone moved by the words I’ve written is amazing. I now have a “sister in writing,” a friend who shares the same passion for the written word. One thing I’ve learned so far on this journey is that the solitary work of a writer has to be balanced with the critique, motivation, encouragement ie. the reality check of another person. It’s such a hard thing to expose the inner workings of our brains, to subject our written musings to the logic of another but it’s necessary for growth and sometimes sanity;-) I’m thankful for my sister writer as we hold each other accountable for our writing dreams and goals. Lastly I resigned from my job!! Resigned to be a full time writer you ask? Not really, more of a God is trying to tell you something, my family needs me leap of faith (see my Barnabas Blessings post about Letting Go). Soooo it’s been three weeks and five days since I gave up my desk with a cityscape view and it has been….exciting, tiring, frustrating, peaceful, stressful, prayerful, surprising and probably a few other descriptors I can’t think of right now. I looove my children and I stayed at home with my son his first two years so I’m no stranger to the stay at home mom (SAHM) thing but coming back to it after three years has been something. So as I continue to blog about my journey as a writer, my journey as a SAHM the second time around will be inevitably intertwined. Let’s just say Barnabas Blessings posts will continue to be those nuggets of encouragement I receive during my devotional time and Published Journey will be the sometimes not so encouraging real deal details of the day to day i.e.. my venting:-)