Mystery of Inspiration

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The_Snow_Fairy_by_thefantasim

Mystery of Inspiration

©Sue Batton Leonard

Magical mistress, help me finish my book.

My pen is burning, yearning to see it complete. On Nook.

 Writing the spirit befriends, transcends. Like a jigsaw,

filled with turning points, wonder and awe.

I’ve got another idea in mind, a different kind,

equally as fulfilling and revealing.

I must keep writing. Give into this urge, purge.

Magical mistress, keep me creating, articulating,

help me turn my actions into satisfactions.

Forevermore, I’ll be faithful and grateful.

 The photo is from www.deviantart.com. Visit their website and check out their other fantastic images!

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Generational Differences

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If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.”  ~ Tennessee Williams 

My creative writing class is almost over. This week I’ll turn in my portfolio. I accomplished what I set out to do. “I started with what I had and gave it all I’ve got.” Taking the course forced me to write about things I would not have taken the time to otherwise compose. The class opened up my eyes to additional ways of critiquing my own writing, the value and joy of writing poetry, and the importance of every single word and description in pulling together a satisfying piece of writing.  

Personal fulfillment came in unexpected ways, beyond the writing. Enrolling in a class filled with a range of ages of students was interesting. Each student brought their own perspectives, dialect, and experiences into their writing compositions. The generational differences in vocabulary used to communicate a point was astounding.  

last-child-in-natureOur final project was to write a composition of creative non-fiction using an incident from our life as the basis of the narrative. We were asked to remember and return in our minds to the neighborhood  where we grew up. For me, that was easy . I was astonished to find out from the remarks of some students, who grew up during the same era as my son, they had little, to no memory, of playing outside in a neighborhood. They voiced their recall of playing video games, watching TV and playing with toys that were “hot” on the market during their childhoods.  

The notion that kids don’t play the way they used to, outside in nature is, I believe, truthful. Could it be why our world has changed so dramatically? No wonder our relationships with people are suffering. Children interact with others through digital devices rather than face to face in today’s world. Time spent learning about working together, solving solutions as a group, negotiating between friends with different personalities and opinions has become more limited. 

My observances in the creative writing class inspired a resolution for me this coming year. I will spend less hours on digital devices that make working remotely so easy.  I will find a little more time  away from the company of my computer.

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Do Your Homework on Book Awards

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It is a good thing to learn caution from the misfortunes of others.” ~ Publilius Syrus

Today’s blog will be short and sweet.  I had one more item of vital importance to mention that came out of Saturday’s meeting at the Colorado Independent Publishers Association meeting on book awards. 

Several writers in the crowd on Saturday,mentioned they have learned some difficult but valuable lessons about entering book contests. There are hundreds of award contests run by colleges, universities, publishing associations and many run by independent organizations. But, as it was pointed out, not all are valid contests. 

With poetry, in particular, you have to be careful and research to make sure a contest is not a scam. Come-ons, such as a chance of winning a free i-pod, can be a tease to get hundreds of people to submit. Do your homework and make sure the contest follows a code of ethics to protect your authorship. 

Enough said, I think you get the gist.

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Sestina, Little Thumbelina

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Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” ~ Bernice Johnson Reagon 

 I can’t believe what I am about to say, but I guess stranger things have been known to happen.  The poetry I have been writing  has been more fun then I ever expected. Telling a story using elliptical language is a challenge and thought provoking trying to make all the elements fit together. 

Who would have ever thought I’d find prose and poetry enjoyable? It was my greatest fear in taking a creative writing course. However,  I have come to enjoy the stimulation of the mind and the creativity that it demands.   

Our teacher said, “You will be glad we started the course with poetry.” I didn’t believe it. I thought to myself, “Let’s just take the poison first, and get it done and over with.”  She said not a word about things like sestina, haiku or pantoum, probably fearing she’d scare the bejesus out of the entire class, before we even got started. 

This weekend’s assignment was to work on a sestina. I couldn’t have defined it until now. Here is the definition of this form of writing. “a lyrical fixed form consisting of six 6-line usually unrhymed stanzas in which the end words of the first stanza recur as end words of the following five stanzas in a successively rotating order and as the middle and end words of the three verses of the concluding tercet.” 

I can hear you now “Huh? I don’t get it. What is a tercet?” That’s your assignment. I’m too busy working on mine to explain it. 

 I’ll admit, when you know what you want to say but can’t put your fingers on just the right word to add engaging “sounds, color and flavor” to the composition, it’s frustrating. But I like dancing with words; it’s fulfilling to write when you get all jazzed up and arrange a piece you are satisfied with. I guess that is what poetry it is about; the art of putting a spin on words to make the reader do a ballet with the text.

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Obsessed and Over taken

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If you judge a poet, you have no time to write prose.”                                     ~Sue Batton Leonard

 Let’s start with something fresh today and talk about something different. It’s time to air my dirty laundry.

Last week in my creative writing class we were given an assignment to make a list of all of our obsessions. “Choose one, ” the professor said “and write about it; either in poem or prose form.”

My teacher has not yet seen my poem, so it is making it’s debut on this site – rough draft, unpolished. As you read my composition, remember, this is only my third attempt at writing poetry, ever!  Yes, ever. It is not really my forte.

Obsessed and Overtaken 

Concept, idiom, jargon

Articulation

Penning, scrawling, sketching

Communication 

Nouns, Verbs, Tenses

Alliteration 

Overused, Unclear, Redundant

Elimination 

Capitalize, comma, period

Abbreviation 

Emotional, verbal, mental

Abstraction 

Drafting, Editing, Rewriting

Direction 

Creating, planning, posting

Position 

Video, polls, images

Suggestion 

Digital, social, visual

Connection 

 Come on back, if you can bare to. Perhaps better blog writing tomorrow.

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I Remember the Bad Moment

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 “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  ~ Mother Teresa 

Well, I am cheating a little bit but, I have come up with my own version of Mother Teresa’s adage, as it relates to the literary world. “If you judge a poet, you have no time to produce prose.” How’s that? Needs improvement, you say? Alright, I’ll work on it. 

If you have been following this blog, you’ll know that I started a creative writing course a week or so ago and my biggest fear was writing poetry. Wouldn’t you know it – that is where we have started. On the first day of class when the teacher announced it, I thought “what am I going to do now? Withdraw from this course?” 

“Oh, well,” I thought, “I may as well conquer those fears from the offset.” 

Guess, what, my teacher is a Mother Teresa – kind, not too harshly judgemental and very helpful. She said my stuff was not bad, for a beginner. I have never seriously written poetry before but I’ve learned a lot about the art of writing poetry in just a few classes . I am thinking about words and how to put them together in all new ways. My teacher said “Each word to a poet, counts in the overall effect of the composition.”

The first piece I wrote is called I Remember. I will share it with you in due course. Briefly, it is about moving to a place, sight unseen. 

I am currently working on my 2nd poem, using the writing prompt The Bad Moment. I hope it won’t come when  the teach tells me “She was just kidding, that she didn’t mean what she said. She made a mistake. My writing is not as good as she initially thought.” 

If that happens,  that’s ok, I am a student. I’m taking the class to learn from it. I’ll fulfill my duty, do something about it and learn to write better. Won’t I? 

Before I end this blog writing, I just wanted to tell you, the September/October of Poets and Writers Magazine is the MFA issue. If you are interested in pursuing a writing program, check out P&W, it is filled information on fulltime programs, low-residency programs and writer’s conferences. Here is the link   www.pw.org 

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Local Authors in the Limelight

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If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” ~ Edward Hopper

Saturday was a day of great fun for me as a person who works in the independent publishing industry. The literary community of Steamboat Springs, Colorado came  out from behind their computers and into the limelight at the Written Arts Festival. I am aware of the fact that we do, indeed, have a growing population of independent publishers in this community. Nearly thirty were gathered; some having just published their debut novels, while others have more than one book published.

Panel discussions added interest to the event. “How should history be portrayed in writing?” was a subject that drew differing opinions from the authors. In the opinions of some, there is an obligation to write stories true to history; while others contend that history can be written from different perspectives.

Other authors specialize in fiction writing. The panelists in this genre seemed to agree that authors draw, to a certain extent, from personal experience and background which often gives them the basis of the story. Then the storyline “is pushed in different directions,” sometimes ending in a total surprise, even for the author. One panelist mentioned how her deeply felt spiritual beliefs influences her writing and a prolific romance writer admitted that individuals she encounters inspires her characters.

Sites, smells and visual landscapes also influence writing. A third group of panelists discussed how stories are crafted from experience in travel as well as from their rootedness in community. Place plays great significance in our identity as people and as writers. Local issues are often brought into books of regional interest.

The event culminated with an interview of a very talented poet and the Home Ranch owner, Ann Anderson Stranahan. Words, when used with the right cadence and meter makes music, she said. When Stranahan was asked  if “her poetic images come to her in black and white or in color?”

“Vividly and suddenly, perhaps as in a photographic image, rather than an oil or watercolor,” was her answer.

The Bud Werner Memorial Library http://www.steamboatlibrary.org/ and the efforts of their staff made this inspiring event possible. Also, the support of the Steamboat Arts Council http://steamboatspringsarts.com/and Off the Beaten Path Bookstore’s  http://www.steamboatbooks.com/ handling of the bookselling allowed the authors to visit with potential book buyers and answer questions.

I would have liked to have mentioned each of the authors individually, in this blog writing, but there were too many. I did get around the room to talk to each of them briefly. Thanks to all who participated and coordinated the Written Arts Festival. It was encouraging for anyone who is contemplating writing and publishing a story.

This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.