cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “creativity”

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

NPM: #25–the Poe in poetry


Most of Poe is a favorite. I don’t care for the macabre aspect, the chop-him-up-cause-I-loved-him-so stuff. Makes me nervous walking across floorboards when he does that kind of writing. My students like Poe because they like the scary aspect of his writing, although they don’t always understand his diction, they get his intent of setting people offside with mixing real with horror. So, it is with surprise that I’ve come across a Poe poem that is actually upbeat. Which Poe are you most familiar with–the scary guy or the dreamer?

Dreams

Edgar Allan Poe, 18091849
Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
’Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be—that dream eternally
Continuing—as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood—should it thus be given,
’Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell’d when the sun was bright
I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light,
And loveliness,—have left my very heart
In climes of mine imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought—what more could I have seen?
’Twas once—and only once—and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass—some power
Or spell had bound me—’twas the chilly wind
Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit—or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly—or the stars—howe’er it was
That dream was as that night-wind—let it pass.
I have been happy, tho’ [but] in a dream.
I have been happy—and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love—and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.
Edgar Allan Poe

Eddie, do you need a hug?

image: Academy of American Poets

NPM: #22–bumbershoots and such


L’Avenir est Quelque Chose (The future is something)

by Dobby Gibson

 

All day for too long 
everything I’ve thought to say
has been about umbrellas…

the rest of the poem

I own a passel of umbrellas. Some I have adopted, since they get left in my classroom. A few I inherited from my mother-in-law who actually had an impressive collection of them, ranging from the impressive wooden-handled proper British brelly to the cheapy insurance company giveaways. I have bought my own umbrellas when the mood strikes. I carry an extra one or two in the car. Once, I stopped and gave one to a child shivering in the rain while she waited for her school bus. In fact, I toy with the idea of becoming an umbrella aficionado and giving them away as I see fit. I will wait for white hair and the Social Security checks for that to transpire. A crazy old lady is considered harmless–at least I hope my umbrellaling will be considered benign, if not quaintly amusing.

 

image: Morguefile/garbofromhungary

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