Jan 22, 2015

Flash Fiction & Nonfiction Writing Opportunities

No, not that kind of flasher, silly! Flash writing--as in, 250-750 word stories and memories.

I have 6 open spaces in my February offering of Weekly Flashes for fiction or nonfiction writing. Nurture you creative desires with a perfect balance of inspiration, challenge, and coaching by receiving a weekly prompt, reading sample, and critique of your work. We're all human--it's natural to need a little nudge, deadline, or reminder. We're also all busy--and it's easy to cast aside personal goals or professional development in light of pressing priorities. Certainly, kids still need to be fed and bodies still need to be exercised; bills paid and books balanced. But what's an hour a week? Two hours? Consider this an opportunity to generate new work and tap into the quiet reserves of wintertime creativity with help from a pro while you're at it. 

The cost of the program is $120. If you sign up and mention that you read about Weekly Flashes on The Writing Life blog, I'll offer a 10% discount for a total of $108. For further details about the program, click here. For other offers, click here. Hope to see you in the flash world!

Jan 19, 2015

Poems in Winter

What is it about winter that sends me rushing for a piece of paper and pen, breathless with the start of a new poem? During this season, I feel in tune with the sun and stars, enlivened by the air. Space becomes three dimensional, rather than simply what resides within my field of vision. Air can crackle. Water can expand and snap, fall and float--an array of acrobatics! Yesterday, I heard droplets of melting frost trickling down the insides of thick, hollow, bear grass stems. Inside! It reminded me of passing through a field of wildflowers, startling colony after colony of grasshoppers. But here the drip-drop sounds echoed through the cool air, rather than plunking back down to the ground. I leaned in. Listened some more. Indeed--I could hear the water inside--water that had been nothing, merely air, just hours before. Then frost. Then droplets. Now sound. Miraculous!

I cherish these quiet, inward months. The way light bends through the deciduous forest--always a marvel to this Pacific Northwest native. The way the deer grow bold, stretching the minutes of dawn and dusk to get their fill of stems, buds, what more the quiet earth gives. Even the way the roads freeze, creeks icing their way across the ruts; a reminder that there's always more they can take. That even after all the pavement and culverts and flood insurance, humanity is still quite permeable and impermanent. Still quite brittle. Still just as likely to snap off, to tumble down, to rest eternally in nature's bed.

All that being said, maybe I love the cold so much because it gives me an excuse for this...

Jan 15, 2015

Back into Balance

There are practices we always return to as artists--our "home bases," if you will. The Four-Fifteen has been one such ritual for me. Waking early and keeping the first 2-4 hours of morning in silence is also powerful. During the quiet, I'm filling my well--through meditation, reading, journaling, or writing. Sometimes, I simply walk around the house and look out the windows, or contemplate photographs and notes on my bulletin boards near my writing desk.

Evening is equally important. While I have to fight myself each day to "not go back to work after dinner" (which isn't always possible), it's absolutely worth it each time I let myself do what's best for balance. This often means more reading, more journaling (usually with a glass of wine or spot of bourbon), or letting my mind explore hobbies other than writing. Lately, that's taken the form of reading books about running and proper training for endurance athletes, as well as keeping a logbook of my own training. It's refreshing to let my mind explore other things--not in direct service to my writing, but definitely indirectly essential. 

Here's a shot of my "brainstorming" desk. I try my best not to do "paid work" here. Only spiritual reading, journaling, working on the novel, or anything handwritten. My logbook shows months of training and works not only as a record, but a motivator as I track my progress. The Buddhist slogan card reads, "Whichever of the two occurs, be patient." I change these cards out every few days, enjoying the ponderings. What's not shown are any number of coffee table photo books that I like to flip through in the evenings, to relax my mind and eyes.

It's easy to underestimate the strain that starting at a screen in the same position causes on the body. Sometimes I'll take the photo book into the living room and lounge on the couch, aiming for any posture different than the one I keep at my desk. Thumbing through the pages, my eyes can wonder across the colors. These simple movements, because they're different, invite different thoughts--new ideas, and sometimes even new stories.

Jan 12, 2015

Jogging Writer: Reality of Registration

Thirteen miles. It's not a distance I ever thought I'd run. Yesterday, my training took me up to 12 miles and I'd be lying if I didn't say it was hard. Ten miles the week before felt great--I had enough "kick," as they call it, to run hard the last mile and I completed the run with an average of 10min30sec miles. But 12 miles--with my last 1.5 miles being slight, steady uphill, and I wanted to barf for the last 20 minutes. Why? I started too fast, then petered out, resulting in no kick at the end of my run, sorer muscles all around, and an icky feeling all over my body. I started out running my miles in under 10 minutes (not smart), but by the end I could barely keep my miles to 12 minutes. Lesson learned.

I knew I needed to pace myself to approximately 11-minute miles, but starting off downhill with a bundle of nerves didn't do me any favors. I didn't apply patience, even though I knew what I needed to do. Patience takes energy, and when you're pushing yourself physically, sometimes even mental energy feels like it costs you too much. I guess that's why they call it "training." 

And now it's official. I've registered for my first Half Marathon, to take place March 28th in Cullowhee, NC at Western Carolina University. It's called the Valley of the Lilies Half Marathon, a name I'm sure is well-intended, but knowing these mountains that time of year there's a good chance it could be 38 degrees and icy. To be fair, perhaps there's equal chance it will be in the upper forties and sunny. In either case, it won't be hot, and that makes me happy.

I've know for a few months that this would probably be the race for me. Due to travel before and after, and cross-referencing those dates with my training schedule, the window of opportunity was fairly narrow. I'm grateful this race is only 2 hours from Celo (albeit it 3 1/2 hours, or so, from Mercy Me). I'll likely spend the night before in a cheap hotel, to avoid having to wake up and drive extra early. Who needs to be folded in half in a car for two hours before trying to run 13 miles? Not me.

I now believe that I can run and finish a 13-mile race. What remains to be seen is if I can run it in a way that makes me feel proud--with an overall healthy pace and enough kick at the end to cross the finish line with dignity.