Friday, October 27, 2017

October 27: A Long Journey Ends

A long journey ends:
African violets bloom
a purple welcome.

Outside fall leaves shift
red and gold to barren trees.
And now, winter comes.

But I remember
the way the sea and the sky
hold the world as one. 

Today’s poetry prompt from Tamara Woods, OctPoWriMo, suggests remembering flowers and then writing a poem following that classic form of a Haiku – that is a poem with 3 lines, with the first line having 3 syllables, the second line, 7 syllables; and the last line again having 5 syllables.

When I think of flowers, I most remember the African violets that grow in my office. They give me comfort and help me balance a sense of beauty with a constant use of technology. This last trip, 14 days down the coast of Mexico, reintroduced me to the limitless sea. Now home, I'm still adjusting to that time change!

Why not read what others have written at OctPoWriMo in this month-long poetry challenge.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October 26: Coming Home

After weeks away, I come home,
opening doors and seeing anew
unfinished projects, beloved books, beloved you.

We’ve traveled far, you and I,
suitcases emptied once again,
after weeks away, I come home

To water the plants and gather the mail.
I stand for a moment beside the patio,
opening doors and seeing anew

The leaves outside so quickly changed to red.
I pick up the threads and find the words for
unfinished projects, beloved books, beloved you.

Manito Park (Fall 2017)
Today’s prompt for OctPoWriMo comes from Morgan Dragonwillow. The form of this poem, Cascade, is new to me. The underlying theme is ‘receptiveness.’ As we’ve just returned from two weeks away, these images seemed very dear. 

Learn more about this poetry form HERE or stop by to read what others have written HERE

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October 25: Desayuno

A guilty pleasure:
Hot, dark coffee, half milk,
little croissants, 
fresh fruits cut small, pineapple, 
mango, banana, melon.
No daily newspaper to distract me.
No internet.
Nothing but the wide blue sea,
calm from horizon to horizon
as I sit quiet in the early morning, isolated.
After a week of cruising down the west coast of Mexico,
the ship turns north into the Caribbean;
we’ll skirt Cuba, come home to New Orleans.
This temporary bubble will pop.

Breakfast on the Norwegian Pearl

What I went through to get that breakfast!
My morning table on a good day (before the crowds)
Today's prompt from Amy McGrath for OctPoWriMo asks us to write about the taste of satisfaction. My first (and mixed) reaction was recalling last week's lovely early morning breakfasts on board the ship. 

Why haven't I made such special breakfasts at home? Maybe because I worked beyond full time. Breakfast was always hurriedly assembled and eaten. Would it be so difficult in these low-fat days, perhaps once a week to plan a breakfast with those lovely, not quite as good as 'real' croissants, but still, coffee, croissants, and fruit?

Yes, we're home, struggling a bit with time change (I'm still getting up at 3 am), but underneath this poem is that sense of how living on a cruise ship, even for 14 days, is isolating. Perhaps that's the point of going, but a part of me is uncomfortable being surrounded by people eager to be entertained  and served, with no respite. I did enjoy the sea, as did my DH. The ship did have a library, and the staff was made up of young people from all over the world. But it's good to be home, catching up with those I love -- and those projects!

Let's go see what other OctPoWriMo poets have written this morning!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

October 5: Letting Go

Perhaps I do understand what I didn’t know yesterday
as the suitcase fills up, the airline tickets
print, the alarm set for 4:00 am.
Everything that I know and love
will remain here for now;
for the next weeks,
we sleep aboard
a ship,

Today’s OctPoWriMo prompt is to brainstorm a list of the things you now understand that maybe you didn’t quite comprehend before. Distracted by preparations for our coming trip that leaves this Saturday at 4 am, I couldn’t see a way to respond to the prompt . . . until I found Robert Lee Brewer’s list of poetic forms online on The Writer’s Digest website

The Nonet, a nine line poem that starts with a 9-word line, with each following line one word less, intrigued me because Brewer says this poetic form is a sort of ‘count down’ poem. We are certainly counting the hours down just now before this trip begins.

Tomorrow’s poem will be my last posted poem until August 26th, for we will be traveling down the coast of Mexico without any access to internet. 

Meanwhile, here's the link to OctPoWriMo poets. May you find poetry every day and everywhere!

Pigeons of San Miguel de Allende (Camp)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

October IWSG: Have I Slipped?

I typically spend about three years in writing my historical fiction stories, all set mid-19th Century in times of great upheaval. My characters struggle, and I love to write about them as they fight their way out of despair to a new life they’ve crafted.

In Standing Stones, Mac McDonnell protests evictions by the new landowner of a tiny island in northern Scotland. As Book 1 ends, Mac is jailed, sent to a prison ship in London, and then shipped to a penal colony in Australia. 

Years of Stone, Book 2, follows Mac as he struggles to survive a seven-year sentence in Van Diemen’s Land. Mac doesn’t know that Deidre, his sweetheart, has followed him. Do they get that ‘happy-ever-after’ ending?

That leads me to Rivers of Stone, Book 3 of the McDonnell clan. 

I loved researching and planning the story of what second brother Dougal McDonnell did as he left his island home. But Rivers of Stone is really about Catriona’s journey. She disguises herself as a boy and, with Dougal, is hired by the Hudson’s Bay Company (based on a true story). Once they land at York Factory in Upper Manitoba, Cat and Dougal are separated. 

Catriona’s inventiveness, and chance meeting with Canadian artist Paul Kane, take her all the way to Fort Vancouver in the Oregon Territory, a wonderful story that essentially asks: Will Cat and Dougal get that ‘happily-ever-after’ ending.

In the earliest drafts of Rivers of Stone, I struggled for months over how to stage that ‘happily-ever-after’ ending, for essentially Dougal abandoned Catriona at the first opportunity. How could she forgive him? After the first draft was complete, I realized (with the help of beta readers) that I had profiled an abused wife. This was not the story I wanted to tell.

I do write intuitively and then work as logically as I can. With Rivers of Stone, for some reason, my characters played out the drama of my childhood. I didn’t realize how toxic and how long lasting these underlying issues were. Despite many years of a solid marriage, I still painted the picture of a woman who was mistreated, undervalued, and abandoned. 

Deep revision followed, and I am happy to report that Catriona displays the strength and personal growth of a true heroine.

This month’s IWSG question is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose? 

My answer is yes, but, thank goodness for editing and perseverance! Working on the emotional bedrock of a story, its subliminal message, is not easy. But maybe that’s just what readers take away after they finish reading that last page.

Thank you to IWSG October co-hosts Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan! Read what others have posted for the Insecure Writers' Study Group HERE.

Have a great month reading and writing. Remember that NaNoWriMo is just a few weeks away.

October 4: Where Does Poetry Hide?

I’d like to think that poetry
hides under my bed,
inspiring dreams. Early in the morning,
just before I wake, words dance 
along my eyelids, 
bringing me to that half-life
of awareness.

I can’t quite remember anything
after I’m awake,
other than the shape of the words
laid out on a page,
staggering toward some meaning,
rather like a paint by number,
the colors not filled in,
and my brush strays outside the line.

Street Art in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Camp 2009)

Today’s OctPoWriMo prompt invites us to explore where poetry hides in our life. Thank you, Amy McGrath, for your lovely photos and invitation to write. 

Most of the year, I do wake with words and images for the morning writing session, but, for me, poetry hides throughout the year, except for October and maybe April. The rest of the year, I'm writing and editing stories!

Click HERE to read what others have written -- and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

October 3: Untitled Cherita

after packing my suitcase one more time

Tucking your postcard
into my daybook

A packet of letters on thin paper
comes unbundled,
little cherished histories

Cherita is the Malay word for story. This stylized poem is presented without a title. Its three stanzas are centered and have one 1 line, 2 lines, and end with 3 lines. I hope my little poem gives the sense of a story in this tradition. 

Today’s OctPoWriMo challenge was to write a cherita, perhaps around the theme of metal. Click HERE to read what others have written -- and enjoy!

The photo is by Liz West on Flickr of a packet of letters she bought at an auction. They were written in the 1860's.

Monday, October 02, 2017

October 2: Maybe the First Time

Maybe the first time,
some rhythm of song
resonated to your bones,
and you noticed you were different.
Or was it the shock
of a blow
that led to stars,
white stars that circled as spirals
into words only you could hear.
You became an observer,
watching, not dispassionate,
but once removed,
recording for some unseen audience
you knew would listen
to these words
that finally spilled out on the page,
well before laptops or i-pads or texts,
words that the heart knows. Sometimes
we write because we must.

I'm posting a little late with today's poem (and picture taken earlier this summer in Manito Park), for it's after 11 pm here on the west coast. A busy day, but OctPoWriMo's prompt for today was to free write for ten minutes stating, "We write because we must."  Click HERE to read what others have written -- and enjoy!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Oct 1: How Did I Get to This Place?

Manito Park, Spokane (Early Fall 2017)

How did I get to this place?
Every day edges closer to the end of my days,
from west coast to east, across oceans,
north and south, other languages tumble
in the wind of this journey. I remain
always grateful for each year with you.
Seasons wind round again and again,
while I, fueled by the blood of Vikings,
fight down night terrors to make
our home, a respite.

Today’s prompt from OctPoWriMo included these jumping-off words: family tree, DNA, roots and branches, origin story, ancestry, heritage, and the question: “How did I get here?” Click HERE to read what others have written. 

This year, we'll be traveling once again -- far from internet! So while I can only post these poems written for OctPoWriMo through Friday, October 6, I'm taking a journal with me and will post on our return -- after October 25.

I took this picture of the Japanese Garden in Manito Park in early fall. Why do I love participating in OctPoWriMo? Because it's a nice break from writing historical fiction. Because I enjoy that nonlinear connection with images and ideas that seem very different every day. I hope you join the challenge!