drafting and revision

19 Dec


I wrote this a while ago, but it’s information I constantly need to remind myself of: just write the damn thing already!!

Last week I helped run two two-day professional development programs at work. After a fairly frenzied week of lead up, the actual events were much more sedate. As in nearly dead. Perfect for me, my iPad, and wireless keyboard to spend some quality time together in between the random logistical questions and photocopying requests.

I’ve always been a holdout, preferring page to screen, but over the last couple of years that’s shifted. And now that the technology allows for a similar level of portability, for me, paper’s fate has been all but sealed (although my shoddy handwriting has been pushing things in this direction for a while now). In grade school and high school I was devoted to paper for the way that I could erase mistakes to get clean pages that could then be passed around, traded among friends who were also writing on the installment plan. If revision did come into play it was for spelling or punctuation errors because once you got your notebook back you would again be moving forward, unspooling the narrative with no time to retread ground.

And yet it was the pencil, fading away on scruffy, worn pages, that pushed me to start using something with more staying power. Enter the pen and my constant quest for a thick, dark line that wouldn’t smudge or bleed. Now mistakes would be struck through with a single line, an X in the margins would indicate paragraphs destined for deletion. Drafting became a messy, tactile matter of arrangement. Not bad for the short stories preferred in college creative writing classes but unwieldy for anything much longer.

But the screen – this feels like a return to that clean page where erasures are nothing but a momentary scuffing, albeit now of keys. Backstroke back to a more sure word. Onward into the next blank space.

Over the two days with iPad and keyboard I was able to move two story lines forward, getting down several new scenes of each, and it was fun. No stultifying hints of writer’s block while I stared at lines I’d just crossed out and no panic while I froze at the prospect of deciphering pages that looked like football plays, all arrows and Xs pushing around blocks of what passed for cursive. On the screen it was easy to pile up the words and cut down those that didn’t fit before I’d have the chance to overthink them. Rather than risk losing the story, I’d include whole sentences (in parens) to remind myself of what I wanted to say when I had the time to slow down. I followed the story along any absurd (or sublime) pathways that presented themselves knowing that yes, I’ll probably throw away most of it. But I’d have something to go back to. The ideas were there.

It sounds so obvious, but it’s something I’m only now circling back to. Somewhere along the line, I forgot the simple pleasure and a surprise of telling a story; that the cleverness I love in my favorite writers (and hope to have myself) is there in the service of the story, not the other way around. I’m sure I’ll forget this again, but my epiphany for now is that revision is a separate art. It’s only the constant drive forward that makes a first draft.

To get the story down, there is no looking back.

If Time and Money were free…

17 Jan


If time and money were free, what would i be doing right now? writing. singing. loving. laughing. hugging my son. hugging my husband. running on the beach. swimming in the warm pacific waters. reading a book as I absorb the heat and enlightening rays of sunshine.  giving thanks for all that is.  reverence.  smiling. expanding. telling a story.  whispering words of love in all the ears of the world. healing. freeing my self. fulfilling my destiny.

a ripple of golden solitude rolls beneath my feet.  i stand in an ocean of gold.  i hold your tiny hand.  you use to hold mine when i was little.  but i am grown.  not only in size, but in spirit.  it is my turn to lead.  to guide you.  i listen for your words, dear angel.  what is your name?

you send me a sound  i can not make out.  there are many.  and in a wave, i return.  as you said, sweet child of mine.  gold is everywhere.  gold blankets our being.  the rainbow we saw is forever imprinted on our lives.  the rainbow we chased.  we found.  the rainbow gave us a gift.  the gift is a pot of gold.  it’s a metaphor for our souls.  a multitude of dimension.  i look up and out and i see your presence in the swiftly moving clouds, edges capturing the setting sun.  shadow defines the light. we must integrate. become one. dark and light.

i saw a swirl of golden mist.  how can i explain.  layers and wisps of swirling golden light.  a galaxy, a universe hangs in front of me.  i stand in the hallway and turn toward it.  it is only there for a moment.  but i see.  i see because i should.  i can.  i need to.  this is yet another step in my quest.  my journey for clarity.  revelation. freedom. love.

most of my powers reveal in dream.  but now they integrate and i am awakening.  i watch the newly budding orchid in the shower.  i await it’s bloom.  when it opens.  i will be there.  it will be constant.  true.  reality.  at times,  i am so anxious.  so impatient.  i don’t mean to be.  curiosity and hope.  i have been a loyal servant.  i have stared within.  i have circled my experiences.  anger and loss have lifted.  not just in concept but in heart.  now i am grateful for the love.  the love they gave.  the love i gave to myself.  the love i will continue to give to all.

i am a beacon. i share this message.

because, today, time and money are free.

In the Dark of Night

28 Sep

In the safety of the night, masked in darkness, I reveal my innermost secrets.  I use no words.  In the arms of the night, masked in anonymity,  I am honest with myself.  Breathing the musky scent of the night, I am intoxicated and forget the day.  I am open.  I remember.  I know everything.  In the hold of the night, I explore the fragments of a frighten, exploited, coerced and ashamed girl.  Splintered moments become a vivid story in the blackness.  My eyes adjust to his void, I am a child and a woman in control.  Yet, I relinquish the need to be something I may not be. I will not conform to the identity that is me.  The deepest, most guilt ridden thoughts are free, in the night.  The night does not judge me.  The night accepts me, every layer, every version, as long as it is pure, as long as I am true, as long as it can lull me, watch me, unlock me.  I am. Vulnerable.  Awake.  Explorative.  Sensual.  Beautiful.  Now comes the Dawn.

Is this the Voice of Generations?

12 Sep

Okay. So the new season of The Voice, where singers audition for four famous singers and then battle until the end, just started this Monday.  It’s a three day event— yeehaw!  I am a fan.  And I’m not only a fan, I’m also a singer/songwriter that sent in a video audition submission.  I’ve got vested interest.  Now riddle me this, how is it that they can have a deadline of Sept. 17th when the show started to air on Sept. 10th?  I digress.

This year is still wonderful.  It’s better than the last…. or at least in most ways.  It’s fun to root on these folks with incredible stories of trials and tribulations in their lives that would all disappear if they get on the show, BUT I’m seeing a new trend.  Here’s the thing, I have only seen one contestant sing that was over 30 years old.  He’s a ridiculously, unique dude hailing from Scotland.  And he’s 35. The thing I really liked about the show was the fact that it wasn’t like American Idol or the others that have an age cut-off.  AI is twenty-eight.

I get it.  They want young talent, etc.  But, having sung in a band in my mid twenties into my thirties, I can honestly say that I only get better and better.  I have confidence and an understanding of my voice that I just would never ever had pre-thirties.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I WILL watch every episode of this season (Season 3) of The Voice.  Happily.  I just wish that a few more folks made it past the twenty-something gate keepers.  I think it gives the show an angle that other similar ones just don’t have and, who am I kidding, I just find it much more fun to watch. So let’s say “no” to ageism, people.  Cause it’s not just folks twenty-two and younger watching.  Grab the whole demographic.  I definitely make way more money and spend it equally as well now that I’m older.  Advertising dollars.  I’m just sayin’.

How Do I Kombucha?

21 Jun

Here’s what you’ll need.

What is Kombucha? Better yet, what in the heck is a SCOBY? Kombucha is a fermented drink. A SCOBY is the mother or baby “mushroom” that you use to make Kombucha. SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Well, I’m not going to really delve into the health benefits but suffice to say that Kombucha has been proven to increase the productivity of your liver function. Other claims are increased focus and energy. And some of us, just like the taste of it.

Things you’ll need to make your Kombucha:

  • Big pot (stainless steel) 8 quart
  • 4 Lipton or Tetley black tea bags
  • Large mason jar ~1.5 quart
  • less than 1/3 cup of white sugar (adjust to taste)
  • Elastic band
  • coffee filter
  • wooden spoon
  • Water
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Some left over Kombucha
  • small plate

Okay. It’s really easier than it already sounds. Here’s my process. Fill up the big pot a little more than half way with water. Boil for 15 minutes. Steep tea bags for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags with wooden spoon (you can dip the spoon in the boiling water to sterilize). Add sugar. Stir until dissolves. Clean small plate with some of the hot tea water. Open large mason jar with last batch of Kombucha. Grab new small mason jars, sterilize with a little of the hot tea water (or use vinegar), pour fermented Kombucha liquid into jars and put them in fridge. Leave about 1 cup (including dregs) and SCOBY in large mason jar then poor some of the vinegar over your hands and retrieve the SCOBY, put it on the small plate and cover with coffee filter (keep any insects away). Fill the large mason jar up with new hot tea and let it sit and cool down. Once cool. Drop in your SCOBY and add a cup or two of the fremented Kombucha (last batch) into the mixture. Put the coffee filter on top of the large mason jar and adhere with an elastic band. Now put in DARK, HOT place and leave for 7-14 days. Check it at 7 days if it’s summer time and longer if it’s colder out. Poor a small amount into a glass and taste. If it’s to your liking, repeat. The longer it sits the more acidic it gets (ie: tastes like vinegar).

Once you start this process, I must admit, it is hard to stop the perpetual production. I like the taste of Kombucha. My husband, on the other hand, thinks it’s disgusting. That doesn’t stop me from asking him over and over again if he would like to try my new batch. But don’t rely on our taste buds. You decide. Give the recipe a try. Oh yeah, where do you get a SCOBY? Well, you can buy them online. Or if you’ve got something to barter with (homemade wine, beer, cookies, or a great miso soup recipe), I might just give you one.

Getting ready to store my new batch of Kombucha.


Flash Fiction Friday: Add your own in the comments!

4 May

If you are reading this, return the favor: let us read you! Or don’t. We don’t want to be pushy. But if you are so inclined, we want to start up Flash Fiction Fridays and it’ll be so much more fun with more people playing along.

Flash fiction goes by many different names and has about as many definitions. For our purposes, though, it’s gonna be anything under 500 words. So, air any ideas, characters, or situations that you just can’t shake. Make shit up or tell us the truth, it’s all the same in fiction. After all, if fiction is “the lie that tells a truth”(via John Dufresne), it stands to reason that it is also the truth told as a lie.

Here’s mine:

The place is empty on a Friday, which works well for him. He retrieves the blanket from his bottom drawer and unfurls his yoga mat in the copy room (where it is warmest). It never gets completely dark – the exit signs glow even in the daylight and at night they light up whole sections of the office like an unholy waiting room, where you sit can for years before one of Satan’s bureaucratic minions calls you to the window. It is a lot like that in the daylight too. And even he is a lot like his daytime self. He is supine, not seated, but his mind cranks around things that are not real to him and he wonders what everyone does with their lives if they don’t do this.

To Doomsday or to Not Doomsday

4 May

I have been told the end of the world is coming…  And to that, I know what my grandmother would say, “They said the end of the world was coming my entire life and it never did.”  My grandmother has since passed away at eighty-seven years young.  And her words are what I have held on to for most of my adult life when “the shit’s about to hit the fan”.  A phrase that all doomsdayers seem to quote as the raison d’etre.

As a teen, the threat of nuclear war loomed.  My dreams were riddled with sirens and obliteration.  Then there was the Y2K bug which I must admit, I stashed a fair amount of non-parishables and water, just in case.  I found myself later eating through cases of cans of Dinty Moore stew and Little Debbie sweets.  More recently, there’s been the Middle East “conflict”, 911, major floods, tornadoes, earthquakes.  The tsunami in Japan.  All “signs” of our imminent demise, right?  I’m not convinced.  Well, if you are also not convinced, then you must not be online, reading the paper or listening to the fear on the streets.  December 21st, 2012 is the end of the world as we know it.  The Mayans knew it.  And now we will have to live through it.

Now most of us know that the Mayan calendar merely starts all over again and is cyclical so the end of days is really just the transition to the beginning of the calendar again or as some like to call it, “the Galatic New Year”. Some like to, including myself, believe that this “new age” signified by December 21st will bring harmony, community, and love to our much deficient present version of the world.  A return to the feminine.  A new era of hope.  But being a Librian, the lady with scales measuring each side with equal intent, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that December 20th I will be devising an escape route and meeting destination with my family.  Just in case.