Guest Posts Are Like Crocheting A Present

oliver-thomas-klein-207908Just this last week I wrote a guest post for Patti, who is writing the biography of my favorite author, Emilie Loring. You can read my guest post here. Guest Post: I Became a Writer Because of Emilie Loring.

I have only written two guest posts in my blogging life. It’s not that I don’t like writing guest posts, but I actually usually avoid them because they are like when I crochet a present for someone. How you ask?

Well, see when I write for my blog, I am not always grammatically correct and I throw in fragments and quirky writing. But when I am writing a guest post, I sit there and try to revert back to my high school English. Or at least to the best of my remembrance of the rules. Language was never my strong suit and I never really liked it. Ironic as I am a writer.

So I try to make a post as neat and tidy as possible. To which you are asking why this is like a crochet project.

When I am crocheting a something for someone, I am worried about every little stitch and have been known to take out entire rows because I missed one stitch that I could easily add in later, but to me it’s obvious. If it were something for myself, I might fudge it. But for a gift, it had better be pretty darn neat and tidy.

Same applies to guest posts. I like to be grammatically correct and sound like a writer. My writing gets messy and goes all over the place. Oh sure, I go back and clean things up for a lot of writing, but not always with a blog post. Sometimes I let a typo slip. Or I don’t worry if something rambles on. Now that I use Grammarly, it kind of warns me when I’m getting really messy, and sometimes I take its suggestion, but I still like to let my writing show me. I am a cluttered person and my thought process is very strange sometimes, but it is me.

That guest post is like standing on stage and straightening your skirt and making sure your hair is smoothed down. You want to like slightly presentable.

But I still enjoy doing a guest post here and there. Haha, my two! How do you feel about guest posting?  Or how do you feel about others guest posting for you? I’ve never asked someone to write a guest post. I always feel a little protective of my blog so I’ve been afraid to ask someone to guest post for me. Maybe I need to step out of my comfort zone.

Kate

Beginnings

Every week Les writes for about 30 minutes. That’s it. 30 minutes every Saturday in our writing group. She writes beginnings. She pulls a prompt and from there runs with it. She never finishes the story, leaving us in an agonizing hanging sort of way as we wonder what happens. But each week she pulls a new prompt and starts a new beginning. She says she is going to write a book of her beginnings. I rather like that idea. A book of starts. You could travel off with them yourself, or heck, as our writing group suggested, have them for a creative writing class in high school where the kids have to finish the stories.

I actually understand that feeling. Writing a beginning. Most of my ideas for novels came from a beginning from a dream mixed with a song lyric or song and some random thought. Nothing fancy, but suddenly a whole world has exploded out into this world of characters that are connected to other novel’s characters.  I know, books start with beginnings. It’s a duh moment. But what I mean is, I never plan to have a novel. I never sit down and go, “I’m going to write a novel.” I just have an idea so I start writing a ‘blurb’ of sorts, and then I’m planning houses and names and places they visit and who is in like with who (I say like because while love is the ultimate goal, it starts off as a like).

John Ireland in 1917, by Jane Emmet de Glehn

John Ireland in 1917, by Jane Emmet de Glehn

Today I woke up to the sounds of a piano boldly crashing as my alarm radio zinged on to NPR’s First Concert Saturday…. John Ireland’s Legend symphony was 3 minutes in and it hit me like a Rachmaninoff dirge. But I kind of liked it. In a “it woke me up jazzed and ready for my writing group” sort of inspiration.  So I wrote a beginnings because of it.

“She woke to the sounds of John Ireland’s ‘Legend’ symphony. Dramatic piano’s plundering the deep and depth of a gray and solemn day. Raw like Rachmaninoff. Depressing. Moody. The radio crackled with static as the pounding woke her up, her mind light-hearted and ready to start the day despite the dirge.”

That’s it. Nothing much, but a beginning non-the-less. I like the idea of a book of beginnings. Most of my writing group, other than the unholy writings of Sera who had too many novels plotted out, writes beginnings. Maybe it’s just our way of getting a start.

Kate

Writer’s Don’t Take Sick Days

czhuxiqjilg-alejandro-escamillaOkay, we do, but it’s different. While we might be tucked under the covers, a thermometer in our mouth, an ice bag on our heads, we are still writing in the midst of being sick. For me, it was random snippets of poetry that I actually forgot to write down so needless to say, promptly forgot. I have used being sick to be a whole plot point for one of my novels. This time around, my flu was so nasty I wasn’t up for much in regards to writing, having to actually cancel my writing group. I did sit down today and work on a piece of short fiction for my local library’s writing contest. It’s an annual thing and I enter off and on over the years. This year the theme

It’s an annual thing and I enter off and on over the years. This year the theme is “Snowed In” and I have actually dabbled in a story about being snowed in. Downside, it’s close to ten thousand words which exceed the 3-page limit with this contest. Not to mention it’s more romantic and adult to send off for just the heck of it. So I started working on a new story, that after reading the premise to my writing group two weeks ago, they said (or completed for me) was a Hallmark story. I had the image of this snowed in cabin and from there I got a three-page story.

Now, seriously, I find it hard to write a beginning, middle, and end three-page story. Just over 2 thousand words, I’m a little impressed this worked and I do actually have all three parts. It might be a bit choppy, but you can’t add much detail into a three-page story. (have I stated this is a three-page story? Just checking) I’ve kept it to just some dialogue, a bit of a back story, and even an epilogue of sorts. I’ll let it settle in and ‘bake’ for a bit before the submission date at the end of the month. I might make it better, I might see some areas that need correcting.  I wouldn’t mind making it longer and add in detail, but you know, sometimes the best stories are short and sweet.

But like I was getting at, at the beginning. Even while being sick, and being uninspired most of the time (it’s hard to be inspired while coughing, running a fever and not feeling like eating) I still find myself writing. Now if only I could remember the poetry I didn’t write down.

Kate

Writing Down Dat Dem Poetry

Ah PAD, not my strong suit this year. I thought I would have poetry flying out of my ears, but I seem to be a tad too emotional as of late for some of the topics to really come out in a good poem. Or one that is a decent poem right off the bat. Most of them are needing some serious reworking and editing.

I had started off rhyming in my head in a partial iambic pentameter, but then I would get stuck writing sonnets that weren’t going well. At all.  But it dawned on me the other day that I needed to stop trying to write sonnets. Just write. Write whatever comes to mind with the prompt, from spirit animal to wire (I liked wire), and just let it flow. Then if I want to take whatever I wrote and turn it into a sonnet with the ideas from the poetry just written, okay fine.  And it’s going better. If I don’t feel inclined to write a sonnet, I don’t have to. But if I want to dabble something out, I can. Which I have done.

It’s actually kind of helpful to have all of the poem written out with all of the ideas there, then to rework it into the sonnet. Now, I’m not saying the sonnets are good, and I only have one mostly done, but  it’s still there.

The fence is wired with rusty barbs and nails
And tangles tight to hold and grip the ties
The baling wire and hooks cling without fail
To posts that once held rails for trains that fly
~Katie Lyn Branson (Wired)

That is the start to the wired poem. Not great, but not bad. All about fence posts on the plains that are faded and held together with wire.

Who knew you could take such an ordinary thing and write a sonnet out of it. But I’m trying to get out of my head, which is harder to do than you think, and just let it come out. I think another part is I’m inspired by certain music I’m listening to, specifically the Strumbellas with their songs of  “Spirits” and “Wild Sun”, and the Lumineers “Stubborn Love”, which is a personal favorite song. I think the folksy aspect of it.

jackie-and-ryan-2014-movie-posterAnother inspiration is the film Jackie and Ryan, with Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes. I can’t explain how much this movie hit me (I was nearly crying at the end). But the music and the story line and the lyrical quality of it all. If you are a writer, or a musical lyricist, I recommend it. Best part, it is based on a true story of a man,  Nick Hans, who was playing at SXSW, if I remember the story correctly. So that is really cool.

So, is anyone else hard at work on PAD? I’d love to know.

Kate

November Starts With Writing

Today is the start of PAD (poem a day) through Writer’s Digest. This is the Chapbook challenge.  I did it last year, writing as many sonnets as I could. This year I’m starting off the same way, writing a sonnet. Granted, I’m only one stanza in, but I have the vibe going. I guess playing around with iambic pentameter for some blank verse I did for an open reading my writing group did, has put me in the same mood to play with that form. I can think in that form easier than I did last year, and I hope that I will be able to write some sonnets.

However, I don’t have plans to stick with just that form. Thirty days of sonnets gets to be a bit much, so I hope to be able to share open verse or free verse or whatever as the month proceeds. I have two people in my writing group that have just now decided to do NaNoWriMo, to which I say, wow, late start… Sorry Dona and CP, I just don’t see how you are going  do that, but I applaud anyone who attempts such a feat. I have never really had the desire to do so, though I suppose there is a tiny part of me that would like to actually be able to write a novel that fast.

But I’m actually quite happy with my poetry. Honestly, I never thought I would be writing more poetry than fiction. I have been reading Ada Limon‘s “Bright Dead Things” and Billy Collins‘s “The Rain in Portugal”  and I am inspired to send out poetry to magazines, things I have never done.  A part of me wonders if I could send off something to The Sun magazine, which would be cool. Or others. I have great hope to be published with something. And if I start with poetry, that’s cool. So, I need to start sending it out!

Does anyone have some places they would recommend sending to first?

So, November is starting off with all kinds of things going on. And what a gorgeous day it was here in the mountains. Such a perfect fall day that I mean, you could just revel in it. The trees are still covered in gorgeous color. I love it.

And now to finish the Cubs game… Come on Cubs!

Where’s The Writer Been?

I realized that I’ve been a little unfocused when it comes to blogging when I got a notice from the book review site that my account had been deactivated. Just as I was working on a new review! Crazy summer. I’ll blame that. And that I have been spending more time writing within my actual writing instead of blogging. You have to give up a lot of stuff to be a writer. Even your sanity at times.

That being said, I have some posts in the works, and a couple of reviews coming down the pipeline. Along with that, in just 10 days I will be doing another Write 31 Days. This year’s theme will be 31 Days of Autumn Photography, or something titled like that. Then come November I will be participating in Writer’s Digest PAD challenge again. So things are coming. So sorry to be behind the times. And gosh, I hope I get my Gold status back again on the BookLookBloggers.

Kate

It’s A Rabbit Hole of Wonderland Writing Prompts

Rabbit Hole

Now that is a mouthful of a title, but after someone in my writing group said she got writing prompts off of Pinterest, and another in the group telling me the same, I decided to check it out.

Down the rabbit hole was the mental hashtag that came from looking at Pinterest.


Oh my gosh! I just typed in ‘writing prompts’ into the search and hours later I think I had collected several. Way more than I would would ever need. But not enough.  And that was just with a simple search. (by hours later, I mean, I collected them over several hours, not necessarily sitting there for hours. That would have been silly…… plausible, but silly)

So clearly I never knew of this world of really, really cool prompts. I mean, I am forever writing things regularly and I have way too many things started, so why I would ever need a prompt, is beside me.  That being said, I NEED these prompts because somebody needs to write about them. Right? I mean, they are too cool to give up. Someone has to do the dirty work of writing a story on these. And if that dirty work falls to me, well then a writer’s just got to do what a writer’s got to do…..

Currently I have various things floating around in my head, and I have been writing at all kinds of things that I haven’t shared here, probably won’t share here, and even some things I won’t share with anyone.  But sometimes it’s fun to break out a mode of writing and do something totally different, and that’s where these prompts are fun. So you only write a short story to nothing. So it is something you dabble in just for fun. Such is life. Why do we color in coloring books? It doesn’t get us anywhere. It doesn’t do anything but relax us. For me, silly nothing stories relax me. Heck, running a pen full of in over the pristine page of a new piece of paper is relaxing. I want to mark it up!

The woman in the writing group who said she used Pinterest, well this last week she wrote something totally amazing, using one prompt from there, and a couple prompts I bring to the group every week. I have my ‘grab bag’ of prompts I’ve made. Words, feelings, colors, dates, numbers.  Things that could get the ideas flowing. Not so much an actual  ‘A boy walks into a bookstore, sees a girl he likes, sidles up to her and says, ‘Quick, they’re coming to get us. We gotta run.” Now how would you finish this idea?’ That is a Pinterest prompt. (one I made up, so feel free to use it anyone. I don’t care because I personally think this is a crappy idea, but hey, whatever floats your boat.) No my prompts are much more ordinary. I’ve gotten some amazing stuff from them, and so have several of the other writers from the group, but on the whole, rather boring compared to what I have just seen.

Point being, after that longish ramble there, but the woman, gosh let’s call her Sandra Dee, well I’m not sure her story is ever part of her books or anything, so I’d call it relaxing writing. Candy writing. Fluff.  But so much fun.  Some of my fluff writing has gone on to actually be something.

So prompts. I find them terribly helpful and fun and a way to break out of your mind. The backlog of stuff crowding you up and making it so you might not be able to write. People talk about writer’s block all the time.  It’s writer’s block from what you are currently writing, not necessarily writer’s block. I have writer’s block all the time, but it’s only on something I ‘Need’ to be writing. Not so much as writing goes. I can plop down anywhere and start writing just about anything. So Prompts are kind of that slap in the face inspiration, oh, well let’s write about this. And sometimes they can take you places you would never imagine.

Three months ago I pulled ‘pink flamingo’, ‘traveling trailer’, and the word Crowder from an author of a book.  I now have 8 short stories about a fictional town in Texas called Crowder.  It has serious potential to become a book of stories from this town. All humorous in some way or another.  All because I pulled three word prompts. I mean, think what you could get if you used an actual plot prompt?  Who knows. You might write the next Hunger Games or something.

So curious. How do you feel about prompts? Do you use them or mock them? What are some great places you get prompts from?  I just found this great WordPress blog for them; Promptuarium.  Check it out. A lot of them have been reposted on Pinterest, but hey, you might get some great ideas.
Enjoy the prompts I’m posting here. If you get something great and want to share on your blog, link back to me so I can read it.  And also, check out the prompts on my Pinterest board. Maybe they will inspire you to create great things.

Kate

Writing in the Car

innovative journal writing

 

I rarely write in the car due to motion-sickness. Ah the joy of looking down at print then suddenly you are swimming and ready to half pass out. Bleh. It happens more often than not, so I’ve grown quite used to just riding in the car and making sure I am staring straight out the window.

However, one thing that I’ve wanted to try for a while is jotting down the things I see as I am in the car and create a poem from it. Susan Wooldridge wrote a whole poem on it when she visited us up north from Chico. She wrote down our street names and what she saw along the road. I knew where she was because of what she had written up. In another poem from her Bathing With Ants, you know she is writing down things as she is driving a car full of vegetables somewhere, as the signs and places and feelings are there.

On a recent trip to Klamath Falls, I was fortunate enough to have my new pocket journal I splurged on for my birthday. It’s this gorgeous little leather cover with snazzy, expensive paper inside (I hacked it and made my own insert-able booklet so as not to go crazy spendy on paper) The picture above is me in the car, writing as I go.  Phrases to the poem that I’m writing, which I’ve yet to finish yet, are “Throw out the buttercups, there are cornflowers along the road, and the wallflower pops up its orange head, the milkweed’s about to burst……
Grass lake and falling snows and geese standing in dismay, a Phantom driving slowly…..

 

I love the Phantom line because we were following behind a semi truck with the name Phantom on it.  And fortunately I wasn’t driving. I could not have written anything had I been driving. That’s just too dangerous.  Anyways, I liked how I could capture what I was seeing, though as you drive 60+ mph, it’s hard to capture it all. I had to start just writing down snippets and hope for the best, all while watching amazing bird life and mountain snows fall, and strawberry fields all planted, and rain and rivers and lakes and pelicans flying by…. yes, pelicans, and I swear I saw cormorants as well…. Klamath Falls is stopping and breeding point for some ‘exotic’ birds.  I think it’s cool.

And Mrs. B was wondering why I was writing in the car, but I can’t turn off my brain. I haven’t been able to turn it off since April when I was writing every day, multiple poems and thinking about things differently.  No, I haven’t posted much here since april, but I have been crazy thinking and writing things down in other places. I have so much I’ve written that it’s crazy. And half the things I write, I don’t know what to do with them!

But I must ask, have you ever written in the car? While driving? At a stop sign? As the passenger?  Do you note things you see and write them down later?  I try and make this giant moving picture in my head, a film of sorts, but I can’t keep it all. I try to remember every detail but there is so much to see.

Kate

I’m A Little Bit Lost and Feeling Contained

Grow_DammitI need to write. I have so much inside of me right now that it’s threatening to explode.  Apropos since one of the prompts I got in my email today was “finding a bigger container,” which included this marvelous picture.

Is my life feeling uprooted? Do I feel like I’m in a container too small?  Maybe.  I spend a weekend feeling out of sorts due to a new infatuation with someone totally inappropriate but those feelings are still there.  I found the answer to a years and years old question of what bird I was hearing at night.  I have written an essay on it, and that needs to be typed up, edited, read by someone other than me, and hopefully it can be used to send off to a magazine.  I’m actually quite proud of the piece, even though it’s only in ‘shambles’ right now.  It’s actually not that bad.  I was relaying the story off to my writing group this last Saturday and one of the ladies told me that maybe I need to ask the question of why has this bird become a part of my life. Why has it just now revealed itself to me?  kind of like a spirit animal or guide.

Now personally I don’t believe in spirit guides and all due to my Christian faith, but at the same time, I did start thinking about it.  While the answer I came to might not be anything other than what I came up with in my own head, at the same time, I felt a bit of comfort in the result.

It has taken me years to discover this bird and it has driven me nuts year in and year out; but I have kept plugging away, trying to figure it out, not giving up hope that someday I might, just might find out what it is. The only thing I can connect it to is waiting for the right man to come along and just keep plugging away and waiting for the right person.  And also keep plugging away at my writing and someday I might be published.  Keep focused, maybe not to the point of insanity, but seriously taking moments to write furiously.  I’m not going to date furiously; I do have my standards…… Though one can sometimes dream.  (I have not been blessed with the cream of the crop around here….as I was talking to one of the ladies at the library in regards to books, I seem to have more crap of the crop around here.)

I am dabbling in poetry, at random points.  I have four poems that have started all on the same subject….. See above in unhealthy desires….. and then again on this and that. I have a post I want to write about letting words flow, but that will be when my brain is more focused.  Even now as I write, I have gotten distracted by election returns, a news story, looking out the window, my dog, my family.  I can’t stay focused.

-Paris-is-always-a-good-idea.--JournalI’m venting here.  I’ll blame Dona on this.  It’s her prompt that has me writing. I’m dreaming of Paris.  I’m dreaming of a man who love’s Paris but is taken….. so I can only indulge myself in anything French… My family indulged me with necklaces of the Eiffel Tower and a pair of earrings and I’m so Frenched/Eiffel Towered out but I love it.  “Paris is always a good idea” says Audrey Hepburn.  It is so true.  Said taken man spoke something in French to me all because he noticed my Eiffel Tower necklace.  It’s. So. Not. Fair.

What is this post but nothing more than frustration creeping out of me.  I need to run (it’s been almost a week since my last run) and I need to escape the ties that bind. Whatever those ties are. I think I need to write more and think less.  Now if only I could turn off my brain and let the free thought explode out.

I should stop.  The chickens are calling.  ‘Wheat, wheat,” they say.  I need to clean the coop and water and feed the feathered creatures.  Side note, wet chickens smell horrible.  I say that because it rained today and I had to scoop up my pal of a rooster, Mr. Blue, and put him away. He was wet.  P-U!

Restless and contained.
Kate

I Don’t Have A Writer’s Ritual

I do not have any daily writing rituals, though I do find that after lunch I will grab my pen, and whatever notebook that has struck my fancy for the time being, and go off to do whatever needs to be done in the hopes that inspiration will strike. It rarely does as I hang laundry, water something, do dreaded vacuuming, or hand washing my delicates. It’s most predictably the afternoon that I have my notebook and I’m lost or feeling lost if I don’t have the opportunity to jot something down. Rarely does anything ever go in the notebook du jour, but I feel more opportunistic if it is there.

My one writing habit that has become and is predictable for almost five months now is writing every Saturday morning with a group of ladies, or just one, depending on who shows up at the library. I only write for about a  half an hour, but I feel most productive with that short period of time. I know it will be completely uninterrupted and I can scribble as fast as I want and not have to worry about anyone calling for me. The ideas that get churned out in those brief thirty minutes leave me amazed, though I rarely write something that connects to anything else. In the five months I have started a lot of story ideas, and some have gone on to occupy two or three Saturdays, but then they get set by the wayside or forgotten.

I’m reading this book from the library about artists and their lives and what kind of made them create. Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, takes a look at artists of all walks; sculptors, composers, painters, filmographers, and yes, writers.  From Mozart to P.G. Wodehouse. These artists have interesting and unique rituals that helped them through the day.  And the recurring theme seems to be plenty of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and even amphetamines for several.  Lack of sleep, plenty of walks, and yes, someone else to do the laundry. (I seriously want someone else to do the laundry and cleaning and cooking. How can I create when I have life to do that takes up more time than it should?  Where is Sven!????

Normal 'ship' Terri MainThat being said, the book is insightful.  Clearly I’m not as crazy as I thought I was, because some of these people are.  Granted, normal is all relative, but there is weird, then there is just stark raving mad.  I jest, some, because I actually can understand the plight of some of these writers and artists.  I like to write late at night when the world is asleep.  I carry notebooks with me wherever I go. I jot down things on random scraps of paper that clutter up my space and I’m so organized that right at this moment, I’ve lost one of my favorite fountain pens and I don’t even know where to start.  Clutter and mayhem are somewhat a prerequisite for being artistic…. depending of course on whether or not you have OCD or not. I have my moments, but they tend to range from making sure the copper pots are shiny (who cares if there is a pile of dishes) to getting that one spot off of the wall.  Don’t ask, I don’t get it.

Rituals can either make or break a writer I think.  I think it all depends on the person in question.  I don’t thrive on rituals, other than maybe having at least 2 cups of coffee in the morning. But I have to be flexible.  I have learned to take the moments I can get them…. like right now on a Sunday I’m writing in  a very weird place but it’s quiet and I cannot be bothered.  I won’t tell you where it is.

But I’m learning my rituals are to take time when I can.  Maybe if I ever make it as a writer I can create my own weird ritual, but for now I’ll leave it to the pros.

I do recommend Daily Rituals by Mason Currey.  The book is fascinating and you can read little blips here and there. Like short stories.  Check it out. As an artist, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

 

Kate