cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “creativity”

Word Nerd Confessions: September


I am smitten with a new-to-me word.

Let me first preface the unveiling of this word with a personal disclosure: if I were suddenly transformed into a flower it would be a sunflower. Their unique talent of keeping tuned in to the sun, turning their faces towards light, and following it throughout the day is something I understand.*

*sunflowers apparently follow the sun only when in the bud stage–once open they tend to face east, and this is attributed to protecting the seeds from the stronger rays of the south exposure (that is a smart flower!)

Here is a confession: I crave light. I revel in basking in sunlight. I have been accused of being a sun goddess (did not sound complimentary at the time), and I panic at the thought of being in a room without windows for a great length of time (my first year of teaching involved such a room). As long as I have daylight in some form I am content. Oh yay for my Happy Light.

I’m not keen on laying out in the sun for the sake of bronzing, yet I will do so, just to absorb the warmth, that therapeutic solar embrace. The tan is a by-product. I’m basically striving to store up remembrance of the sunlight for when winter hits my region. One student recently defined our winter as “except July and August”–slight exaggeration, but winters tend to be a solid six months around here.

Around October I wake up in darkness and finish the school day with the last rays setting. One teacher went to part-time because teaching in an interior room meant she never saw any light and it created havoc in her health. I have two windows in my present classroom and I am blessed and thankful.

Sunlight in winter. That’s a wonderful day. The snow can be up to the windows. The temperature can be dipping to stingy in warmth, yet if I can have the sun shine down and kiss my face before the cold requires covering, spring seems a reasonable distance I can bear.

So–

Apricity: the warmth of the sun in winter.

According to Merriam-Webster.com:

n. Apricity appears to have entered our language in 1623, when Henry Cockeram recorded (or possibly invented) it for his dictionary The English Dictionary; or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words. Despite the fact that it is a delightful word for a delightful thing it never quite caught on, and will not be found in any modern dictionary aside from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Another source defines it as:

the feeling of the sun on one’s skin in winter.”

Katie Williams,Tell the Machine Goodnight (2018)

And that is why this word from yesteryear needs a campaign to retrieve it out of the archaic word vaults and pin it up on the contemporary lines of expression.

Ah–Winter Sun

To feel the sun on my skin to offset the challenge of winter

Apricity: the bestowing of the sun’s restorative kisses, to bring warmth and sustenance to the gates of that bleak city called winter

An offering. A reprieve. A promise.

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Quora: a questionable hobby


I don’t know how I got involved in Quora. I’m not a fan of collecting social media apps. I do like looking up information, as well as answering questions. Must be that librarian/teacher thing I got going on.

This year I tussled with Quora. In the backlash of extra security measures they weren’t accepting that my nom de plume of Cricket Muse was acceptable. Right. Like I’m hiding something? Plotting something? After a terse exchange and proof that Cricket Muse was being used professionally (book reviews, and author signify in a Chicken Soup), they relented and I dusted off my time out and returned to avoiding obvious homework inquires: “What are the literary elements found in chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird?” and trying my best to answer uniquely interesting and entertaining questions: “What books are recommended for starting up a conversation?”

 

Your 2017 Highlights
202 1 27
ANSWERS QUESTION NEW FOLLOWERS

People enjoy your answers.
You ask insightful questions–(aw, thanks)
Your answers were helpful and earned:

138 upvotes
24.1k views
Additionally:
78 of the answers you wrote this year were featured in a Quora Digest

 

I admit I do not maintain my Quora profile, or do not even check my stats (I don’t check my WordPress stats much either. I just like writing). I do occasionally get time loss as I get involved in writing an answer. Sometimes a dialogue ensues and the same person keeps asking questions. Umm, then it seems weird and I retreat from Quora for awhile. So drop in to Quora sometime and ask me something. No, not about quantum physics, but I’m fairly adept at Shakespeare stuff and cows. No one asks about cows though. I don’t understand why.

Fore Warned in My Musings…


Or this could be named: “Cricket Takes a Holiday”

(this is actually my second attempt at posting since the resort wifi is a bit tricky)

I will admit May is tough on teachers. Sure we get our free lunches, cards, and goody sacks on Teacher Appreciation day, but the rest of the year could use some boost and cheer as well. We are all a bit weary and the finish line is closer, yet not quite close enough.

If you are traisping over from my last post you understand I May *grin* be suffering from burnout. This is why I am on holiday. I took two of my hoarded personal holidays (we get three during the school year) and signed myself out for a four day weekend. Never mind it takes about three days to set up two days worth of lesson plans and I hope a sub can be found. I needed to get awaaaay. Yes, that is the sound of a teacher jubilating a happy sound as she pulls out from the parking lot Friday afternoon. And yes, there is a knapsack of ungraded papers I must deal with before I return to work on Wednesday.

The first two days of my retreat–wait, I need to digress…

Why call it a retreat, indicating I am running away from something when I am actually running toward what I embrace willingly without shame? There is honor is working in the trenches classroom. And maybe I am suffering from PTFSD (positively tired from student disconduct). 

Back…

The first two days were spent soaking up time with the hubs, who forbade any talk about school (good man), and soaking up the view, reading, sunning, and watching the swallows.

Our condo faces the fairway (have I got a story about nearly getting hit by a golfball–and I did have a forewarning, but not the yelled out kind) and is the flight path of the resident swallows. In fact, we share the roofline and they often sit near the rail, twittering and preening like tuxeodoed Woolworth parakeets. I love ’em. I left the robins home in the backyard. This is swallow country.

 

The third day finds me all by my lonesome. The hubs has returned home and I am told to “WRITE.” I have not been writing at home, being too (am)bushed from grading essays and creating lesson plans. This long weekend is meant to rejuvenate me enough to finish out the year and to get Something accomplished.

I have pulled up my Hamlet Choose Your Own Adventure manuscript. Not too much dust resting on it. I diligently worked on it all morning. I now have hit the wall. When that clock reads “1 PM” I have hit my creative capacity. I am not much good after sitting down four or five hours. I’m hungering for a walk. Either that or some chocolate. I better put on my shoes.

*update: I did both by stopping at the front desk to buy M&Ms to eat while I walked. Multitasking at its best.

 

 

POM: April 13


There are natural and learned talents I secretly long to master. Juggling–well, I’m still working on that one. Playing the harmonica–got my harp and my CD ready to go (for the last six years), and hand shadows. Nothing much needed beyond a light and the flexing of one’s hands.

Today’s poem by Mary Cornish harkens to the magic and craft of hand shadows. And it goes well with one of my favorite vids.

POM: a bit of hope


January is a paradox for me. It’s both the longest month and shortest month. It seems long due to the dark and dreary everlasting winter days, yet short because of looming finals, grading papers, and preparing lessons for second semester. This is why I’m a fan of February. I could say it’s because February is the shortest month which means I’m that much closer to June and summer break. It could be because it’s the month of Valentine’s Day, and who doesn’t appreciate a holiday filled with love and chocolate?

I actually favor February because it’s a month that is filled with hope. Days are getting longer, snow is giving away to grassy patches, there is the sense of completing another school year as graduation day is nearer on the horizon. There is also the moment of pause to think, “This year will be even better than last year.”

To celebrate this feeling of hope, the Poem of the Month is “To Hope” by  Charlotte Smith

 Oh, Hope! thou soother sweet of human woes!

How shall I lure thee to my haunts forlorn!

For me wilt thou renew the wither’d rose,

And clear my painful path of pointed thorn?

Ah come, sweet nymph! in smiles and softness drest,

Like the young hours that lead the tender year,

Enchantress! come, and charm my cares to rest:—

Alas! the flatterer flies, and will not hear!

A prey to fear, anxiety, and pain,

Must I a sad existence still deplore?

Lo!—the flowers fade, but all the thorns remain, 

“For me the vernal garland blooms no more.”

Come then, “pale Misery’s love!” be thou my cure,

And I will bless thee, who, tho’ slow, art sure.

image: morguefile/lisasolonynko

POM: NOVEMBER


Ah, tis November. As much as I like that this month gets me a wee bit closer to the end of the year, which gets me that much closer to the end of first semester, which ushers in second semester, which provides a not-as-distant glimpse of June and summer release, I do like October and I am reluctant to let it totally fade away.

I like its blend of summery days of warmth and crisp evening. I appreciate the last hurrah of garden color mixed with swirling leaves. And I favor the bounteous moons that hover like bloated Chinese lanterns on the night’s horizon.

So, here is an October poem for November. How could I resist “spicy woods”? Yet, Amy Lowell does set the tone well for the Thanksgiving month with her “Hoar-Frost” offering:

In the cloud-grey mornings

I heard the herons flying;

And when I came into my garden,

My silken outer-garment

Trailed over withered leaves.

A dried leaf crumbles at a touch,

But I have seen many Autumns

With herons blowing like smoke

Across the sky.


October

Helen Hunt Jackson
Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance.

Writerly Wisdom: Quotes on Setting


One reason I read books is because I dread ever so much to travel. I do like the “here I am” of arriving. It’s all that packing, squishing into miniscule airline seats, fretting about schedules, realizing I brought the entirely wrong things to wear, that make traveling drearisome. I do like the exploring, discovering, reveling that is part of going somewhere new. This is a big reason why I read novels. Reading, especially fiction, takes me places that doesn’t involve packing a bag. This month’s Writerly Wisdom set of quotes focuses on that aspect of writing involving place: setting. How does a writer put me in the “there” of their writing?

“The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.”
Neil Gaiman, American Gods

“An author knows his landscape best; he can stand around, smell the wind, get a feel for his place.”
Tony Hillerman

Eudora Welty said, “Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else… Fiction depends for its life on place. Place is the crossroads of circumstance, the proving ground of, What happened? Who’s here? Who’s coming?…”

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” –Anton Chekov

How important is setting for you when reading? Is it more important than visualizing the character? What memorable settings have you discovered in reading–which authors are able to transport you to that place in the writing?

A Bit About (perceived) Failure


 I sometimes get frustrated about the process of becoming published. Or more to the point the lack of actual progress.

I thought when I got my first story published by Highlights, which earned me their Author of the Month award, and having same story selected as the title-lead for a Boyds Mill Press anthology, I was well on the way. Twenty-five years later I am still waiting for that stand-alone published book, that sought after accomplishment to become a reality. 

When I get yet another rejection notice or (worse) no notice at all, I wonder if that  indelible moment of “Kirkus reviewed it, Amazon carries it, found it at Barnes and Nobles moment” will actually happen. It’s not fame so much as leaving a noticable contribution. *sigh* It’s taking ever so long, and I might be collecting social security before I ever start collecting any royalty checks.

I take solace in the fact that Laura Wilder didn’t start publishing until she was past fifty. That helps. Coming across this poem that deals with failure, helps even more:

August in Waterton, Alberta
by Bill Holm

Above me, wind does its best

to blow leaves off

the aspen tree a month too soon.

No use wind. All you succeed

in doing is making music, the noise

of failure growing beautiful.

 

a typewriter at the Smithsonian. American History. Museum–it reminds to look and think about the writing process

 
So–failure, the winds of defeat, no longer  blow as noisily, the rattling of branches mocking my defeat, nay instead the sound is merely the tapping  of the conductor’s baton warming the orchestra’s performance.

It’s Howdy Doodle Time


I finally possess a Mike Allegra doodle. It’s a dandy doodle. I’ve been working on a cow joke book (for heifer and heifer, it seems), and figured the best way to get it published is to have it illustrated. I almost had a publisher, but part of the package was providing an illustrator. Well, that opportunity evaporated, so I am still trying to market my herd of cow jokes. Possibilities are looking better since I now have a sample doodle and a willing illustrator–now I need to find a willing publisher.

Kids love jokes and riddles. I know. I have an eight year grand kiddo who loves telling me the same knock knock banana/orange jokes (you know the one). If banana jokes are funny, cow jokes are dairy funny, it’s finding an editor or agent who thinks so as well. Now that I am equipped with my doodle I feel more confident venturing forth in my quest for publication, and feel it won’t be udder folly this next go round.

I claim the joke. Mike Allegra claims the artwork. You decide who is the more talented.

What do you call a cow who is a thief?
A Hamburglar!

Okay, maybe the doodle is better than the joke. Now that I have Mike’s doodle to accompany my submission I am feeling this book will become a published winner–it might just become outstanding in its field.

Yes, you too, can gain this confidence with your very own Allegra Doodle. I suggest you secure one sooner than later. Since I have yet to win one through his ever popular doodle contests, I have sought other avenues, and if you are unable to get your entry slip drawn, and need an Allegra doodle in your life, then I suggest you contact him.  And, yes, his talent goes beyond cows.

BONUS: there is dairy funny pun-off happening between Sarah W and I. Mike wants to know who the winner will be. It would behoove you to take a look at our witticisms–look in the comments section.

NPM: #29–morning has broken


I am a definite morning person. This trait, along with being a “tidee” versus being a “messee”, did not follow genetic pathways to my kinder. No one in my family can understand my bounciness in the early a.m. When “Morning” by Mary Oliver dropped into my mailbox, I read it, related to it, and couldn’t wait to share it. It reminded me ever so much of the Cat Stevens song as well.

Morning by Mary Oliver

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