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

Imagining Opening Shots to Music

In Poemcrazy, Susan talks about seeing things and having them be ‘opening shots’, like in films where you have that first opening scene.  While I don’t pay attention always to opening scenes, I make up my own in my head when I hear music that I like. Recently the song used for the Behr paint has been stuck in my head.  The song, “Imagine Color” by Kasper Ramone makes think of New York in the 1940s and you see this panorama of buildings in greys panning to an artist swirling paint over canvas and you start sing the city come alive with different color.

I have been thinking a lot of opening scenes as I listen to music.  Or closing shots sometimes. Like that end of the movie where everything figures itself out okay?  There is a song by Jesse Malin, “Downliner”, and I feel like this is one of those songs where you see people getting out of a car on the sidewalk overlooking a bay on a bright, sunny, windy day, at the end when everyone is coming together and the story is done.

It’s funny how music always creates a story in my head.  “Lay, Lady, Lay” by Bob Dylan has a very 70s western vibe to me and I imagine scenes from Once Upon a Time in the West, or something risque from the 70s.  It fits with the Janet Dailey books I read; romance novels that are, as one person mentioned at my writing group, candy books.  You read candy novels for fun and nothing specific other than you enjoy a bit of fluff.  I figure you could get a toothache if you read too many of those.  (I’ve read enough and my PC Kindle is filled with a few too many.)

I create stories for most of the music I listen to, or I insert it into a story I’m writing, or the song itself is a story. I think I wrote about that years ago when I mentioned the song “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” I like a song that has a story behind it.  Probably why I like a lot of folk music. I can see the story.  It’s also the reason I like certain music videos that have a definite story in them, or something that seems to need to be written about.   Maybe this is why I like flash fiction.  It’s a little blip of a story in three and a half minutes; music videos, that is.

Does anyone else ever hear a song and it brings a scene to mind?  Or a story in a music video?  I’d love to know some of your favorites.

Kate

That’s Not Hay in My Hair – A Review

that's_not_hay_in_my_hair_bookThat’s Not Hay in My Hair by Juliette Turner takes you from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the wide open spaces of one of our largest states, Texas. Jules and her mom have made New York City their home, but that’s all about to change for 12-year-old Jules.  They are about to move back to her mom’s hometown and a 300-acre ranch in Texas. Complete with dogs, horses, and longhorns big enough to take out a small car.  From tiny apartments and busy streets, to open land as far as the eye can see, we travel from the bustle of the Big apple to the open skies of Texas, a big switch for a ‘city girl.’  But Jules learns to adapt with her mom at her side and her cats, dogs, and sweet horses at her side.  There is tragedy, but one learns the circle of life on a ranch and that sometimes friends/pets, don’t last forever, but it’s okay. That’s Not Hay in My Hair is a fun look at how your life can change in the country and is a sweet story for a young girl.

Juliette Turner and her mother, actress and author, Maggie Turner

Juliette Turner and her mother, actress and author, Maggie Turner

I was quite excited to read this book because it sounded hilarious in the description. I had also been expecting this book to be about high school, but instead, it is actually for middle grade and even a bit younger. Juliette Turner is a 17-year-old author, daughter of Maggie Turner, who is known for being an author herself and staring on Northern Exposure in the late 80s. While the book is sweet and great for a young girl, I found it to be filled with too many gasps, exclamations, dramatic pauses, and just a tad too much in the expressions. Something I might expect from a young author. 17 is a very young age to be authoring. (this is coming from someone who writes herself and has been writing since age 14. Dramatic moments pepper my earlier writings quite liberally)  So while I applaud any young author, I am a bit critical about the style of the work. I was a little lost as to whether this was a semi-autobiographical novel as the storyline seems a bit similar to Miss Turner’s life. I had been expecting total fiction, but when I read the bio for the author and most of it matches up with the book, I was left wondering if it was a glorified retelling of one’s life.  I think Miss Turner needs to wait a few more years and learn a bit more about life before her writing matures. She has the capacity to write good fiction, but needs to read a lot more and live a few more years learning about life to tone down the excitement of her writing. I do also have to say that I do believe the only reason this book was possibly published was because Miss Turner and her mother are relatively famous. It gave her an edge to have a published book at such a young age.

Not great fiction, but clean and decent. Since I have a rating system of 1 to 5 stars and I can’t really give it a half star on Amazon, I’ll stick with three, but I think it is a little less. Decent and clean enough for a young girl, and I might have liked it at 12, but not the greatest fiction in the world.

This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christiona Publishing, and BookLookBloggers for my honest review. I was in no way compensated for my opinion.

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

Everything Stopped poem & My 24 Hour Romance poem

A photo by Joanna Kosinska. unsplash.com/photos/B6yDtYs2IgYSo, thankfully Robert Brewer posts a Wednesday poetry prompt, because I was feeling a bit down at the end of PAD. While I might have been cutting down on my writing, I had gotten in the flow of writing poetry every day and I was in serious withdrawal.   So the first Wednesday prompt after the end of PAD was ‘when everything stops’ and this week’s was ‘running its course’.  The first prompt had me writing about when writing stops, but that didn’t go very far. So I ended up writing about one of my characters. So poetry for my heroine. Here it is first.

Everything Stops
Everything stopped when he walked up
to the bar and bought her a drink
that she declined, but smiled prettily
and her eyes invited him in, though
her words were cautious.
He was her night to her day
Opposites in a crashing world of
guitars and drums and pictures and
still motion.
And all around the noise was a roar
But they stood like long lost friends
afraid to touch but longing to
step over the line in the sand
separating one beating heart
even though they had only just
met.

 

I rather like how it turned out because I can see how my two characters meet, in this moment where they are kind of oblivious to their surroundings.

My second poem for ‘running its course flashed to me when I met a marvelous man three years ago, or was it two?… and I suddenly understood instant attraction and it was kind of wonderful, and I still flash back to that first kiss that was something to hold other kisses up to. Sadly, I pined for too long, but oh well, I have my weird moments.

My 24 Hour Romance

Our relationship ran its course in 24 hours
from beginning to end
though I pined for you for thirty days
or more, or less as I slowly forgot
or gave up, or moved on…… I don’t know
But I still taste that perfect first kiss
and I still shudder in longing
and I still hope you would come back
Even though I know you never will.
For twenty four hours I was yours
until you said I would make someone a
perfect wife.
Why couldn’t it be you?

I feel that that is a bit bitter sounding, and maybe it is. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of other people telling me I’ll make a great wife for someone. You never want to hear that from a guy you like.  Maybe I’m a bit morose right now. May gets to me sometimes. Probably because it’s my birth month and my life comes back to haunt me in its own way. I start doubting my life, or what I’m doing, or the lack of things happening the way I had planned. Most people do it at the start of the year, you know, New Year’s Day? I do it on my birthday.

Well, despite morose, in some ways, I hope you enjoy.

Kate

Misread Poetry Prompt – Hazardous

Hazardous Life

Hairdryers, air mattresses, Coca Cola,
heating pads, skill saws, coffee pots, all
hazardous to your health, say
all the warning labels.
May cause cancer, will electrocute,
don’t leave near children.
This will kill you!
Browned potatoes have
known to be toxic and cause cancer
but we don’t recommend not eating
browned potatoes.
Warning labels on mattresses and matches
warnings on soap, wine and tobacco.
Don’t, don’t , don’t, everything says.
I’m curious. How do I live if everything
is hazardous to my health?

Okay, it’s not brilliant, but seriously, everything has a warning label.

Kate

She Disappeared – Or, Now She’s Back

Hello dearies,

After Writer’s Digest’s Poem a Day (PAD) and sending in my five poems, I kind of crashed when it came to writing. I found it apropos that on the Wednesday following PAD, Robert Brewer posted the poem prompt, When Everything Stops. Literally, everything with writing kind of stopped, at least here.  I always find that I have that problem when I do a challenge that means writing every day. I get a little burned out and put everything on hold.

Now I didn’t actually stop everything. I was writing at my writing group, and I actually have a couple poems that came out of the last two Wednesday Prompts at Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides.  I dabbled in a bit of flash fiction and wrote a Hazardous poem because of my misinterpretation of the one PAD prompt of haphazard. It was pretty fun though.

Now the early summer is here and my mind is off on several directions. Especially now that I received  six gorgeous new notebooks for my birthday. Oh the things to put in them! And I also splurged on this new leather journal, a pocket one, because of this offer I saw online. It is Renaissance Art Innovative Journaling and the offer was for a free Primer journal to see how they are. I paid just the shipping, which was $9.95, but I love it. It is just right for your purse or pocket. I can’t afford the paper choices they offer, though I would love to get the refills, so I made my own. But check out the free journal offer here —> Free Journal

So now I have several things to write in and ideas and such.  I have a project with the Friends of the Library, my local chapter, where I am going to be hunting for poetry lines or famous lines about the seasons or the months or such for a calendar that the Friends are going to make supposedly with a local photographer. I mean, it’s quotes. And writer things. I can do that.

So I’m still writing, just not as prolifically as I was a month ago. But it’s okay, now I can focus on a story I started in winter and trying to finish it.

How is everyone else writing along?

Kate

“Release the Dragons” – Flash Fiction

Jack’s study is wallpapered in a  1940s paper that features a lot of Van Dyke brown and golden apples. It’s a bit fuzzy and feminine, but because of the browns, it retains enough masculinity that Jack can deal. Had the papering been in roses and pinks, he would have torn it off long ago.

There are bottles of scotch lined up on a shelf, specialty types and expensive, and they add to the ‘his study’ vibe, at it really is all Jack. The rest of his house might be feminine, considering it’s his wife’s domain, but thankfully the study is all his. Down to the strange decorations on his wall; African masks and Native American spears, cigar boxes tucked into the book shelves, stacked books, a messy desk, dim interior. The study is Jack. Jack and the study are one.

The scent of the room is warm. Not so much as musty, but dust has a warm smell, and the crammed interior leads to there being more dust than might be in the rest of the house. Jack’s wife gave up on trying to keep his study neat and tidy. A little dirt never hurt anyone.  The books are new smelling, with glue and fresh paper and ink, but there are also older books. Books with yellowed pages and spicy with age. Leather covers with the warm and sharply metallic scent from the leather. There is a leather chair, worn from years of Jack sitting in it to their dogs  claiming as their own. An open cigar box smells of the sharp resinous smell of Spanish cedar and the unburned smell of tobacco. There is a warmth and coziness to the room and it is homey feeling without the pretentious feeling that it needs to be homey.

It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon and Jack is enjoying a small glass of scotch while he reads the latest historical book  on the Second World War. He has a great love of that particular war and has too many books on the subject. His wife, Sadie, is baking cookies in the kitchen and there is the warm smell of vanilla and burned sugar when the back door buzzer goes off, startling Jack.  The damn thing sounds like a fire alarm buzzer, it’s about as dramatic as one, and his three grandsons get a huge delight ringing the thing.

Jack sighs as he hears the trampling feet and voices garbled into a cacophony of sound. There seems to be a barking dog in the midst as well.

“Release the dragons,” Jack mutters as the heard of grandsons, a new dog, and a friend from school all pile into the hallway outside his door. He hails them, downs the rest of his scotch and slowly gets up.

Saturdays are for his grandsons even if they are about as disciplined as a herd of dragons.

 

I was complimented on how I describe a room and write it out recently. I think I have to give that credit to Zane Grey and Emilie Loring, whose work has inspired interiors and exteriors enough that I like writing about spaces. I want to have you, the reader, picture it in your head like I describe, but I realize each of us is different. Ah, one can dream.

So, for now, enjoy this snippet of flash fiction.

Kate

PAD Day 30 – Dead End – Dead Ends and Roads, and Endings?

Well, it’s here.  Yesterday was the last day of the Writer’s Digest Poem a Day challenge.  How will I ever survive without a poetry prompt every day? I am actually a lot a bit sad about it being the end, just because it brought focus to me, albeit, I felt a bit neurotic writing poetry, and so much of it, ever day.  But now to scale down the close to forty poems to five to send in to Robert for the challenge part.  Who knows, a couple might be picked.

Doesn’t matter so much as it turned out writing so many poems was good for me. It allowed me to express myself even more than I have been able to, unlocking some doors that I had slammed shut last year. While opening the doors is like opening a wound, it’s not a bad thing. It just lets me reevaluate life and realize that while outwardly I say I’m okay, a part of me is not. Emotions and such.

And while I probably won’t be able to submit any of these poems to a literary magazine, because a lot of places consider a blog as being published, I’m okay with that. But it makes me want to settle down to writing more poetry that is more expressive like it has been this month. There were areas I never thought could come out so emotional. Who would think a prompt of footwear would make me cry? Or tackling stars, or Important things, or  even silly and serious things? All of the prompts made me really think. And most of the time it took me all day to ‘brew’, as the term flew around the writing group today, and finally perk some poems by evening. It usually took me most of the day to let the idea gel. But it was good.

Русский: Грунтовая дорога в Гремячьем Колодезе

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, the last prompt was dead end.  A lot of people would probably think of dead end as a negative thing, but for me, while one of my poems comes out emotional, and one a little neurotically personal, dead ends also make me think of living in the country where a dead end road isn’t really ended, but just the pavement stops and then it’s open fields, or a dirt road, or a bike path, or a path to a creek, or a deer trail, or something utterly magical, or utterly ordinary, depending. I kind of like dead end things.

So here are my dead ends.

He’s A Dead End Road of Longing
Don’t go down that road of longing
it’s a dead end street of hope;
Not even a possibility of a country lane,
but a brick wall, ten stories high.
Try all you want, but you can’t break
through all the barriers he built up
to keep you at bay.
He’s piled obstacle upon obstacle
in his wake, and as you sift through the debris
and ever locked door
there is more in front of you.
He’s an expert of disguise, hiding himself
and all your suppositions are just that.
Just hopes you’ve made up in your mind,
hoping for the impossible to escape his mouth
and tell you all the things you want to hear.

 

I Like Dead End Roads
I like dead end roads of asphalt
that escape into the wild.
A deer trail, a dirt road, two tire tracks
that lead through tall grasses waving.
A sea of waving grass and ships of
wild flowers floating on the sea of green.
Where you wander down a buzzing of
unknown insects, the white noise
to the whisper of a breeze.
Down, down, down the track to
What? An abandoned barn?
To a rippling stream?
To nothing at all, but a path that
just keeps going on beyond
the dead end road.

 

Dead End Dreams
Dead end dreams, I’ve had a lot of those.
The kind you make at 5, 10, 18, 25, etc.
The dreams you think will become amazing.
Like becoming a ballerina though you are a klutz.
Or you will have four kids named:
Sadie, Phillip, Sofie, and Paul.
But then, you are not married at 25
like you had planned for the past fifteen years,
and you never became a nurse because
you nearly passed out watching your sister
get an IV at ten, turning green and dizzy and loopy.
And all your inner dreams died long ago
except for maybe one or two you water
and feed, trying to keep alive and so far
they are far from dead end….yet.
Just more of a detour on the tale ends
of a dream of a dream
where hopefully they become a car
on the highway of life where no road
ever really ends.

Kate