Moving Day

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Here’s a photo of some loose hibiscus tea brewing in the window to celebrate moving day. Any Given Sundry is morphing into Any Given Sundry Too because I used up all the free space.

I’d appreciate very very much it if you could go there when you see a post.  That’s how it will get mapped and be searchable online. You can follow via WordPress, or sign up for email notification or click through when you see a post on Facebook, and you would be doing me a nice favor!

It’ll be my online home until I figure out the next step, if there is one. Knowing I was running out of space put a real crimp in my posting.

I’m going to try to post every day for the rest of June at least, to return to my old habit of a photo a day, which was a rich one. I’m going to Indiana for a couple of weeks so the posts will be 95% green. You will like it. Really, you will.

Thanks so much to my regular commenters, likers and readers!  You make this fun and un-lonely!

 

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AWP is People!

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Sam, at the Call Me Ishmael booth.

This was my first time at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference.  I’ve heard about it for years, but in not enough detail to realize what an amazing experience it would be. I only went for the final day and I spent it walking around in a state of bliss. Like everyone else, I could walk into any of almost 30 panels or readings being held each hour and a half from 9:00 a.m.-5:45 p. or cruise the Bookfair floor meeting book and magazine publishers, creative writing program representatives, etc.

The people at AWP were amazing. I arrived very early and sat and talked with an undergrad named Agnes who had only decided to attend the day before when her professor encouraged her to go. While we waited for things to get going, I also met a woman who has been an English teacher all her life and was there doing some life research: looking for a place to retire based on the literary community in her new city. It was so easy to start up conversations with people…we had the essentials in common.

One of the most surprising things I encountered was the Call Me Ishmael booth, which was manned by the welcoming Sam, pictured above. I listened to a heartfelt message about a book I’d never heard of.  Check out their site where you can listen to messages, and leave one yourself.

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Thanks for the photo, and for organizing this reunion, Noel!

One of the highlights was meeting up off site for breakfast with these fabulous humans. As Noel so aptly said, “In 1998, we met as ‘Emerging Voices’ at PEN Center USA West. We haven’t met as a group in 18 years.” It was great catching up with Noel, Jenoyne and Ellery.

I went to panels on creating a workshop for women veterans, writing as a “woman of a certain age,” creating storytelling projects, and making your passion project come to life. I wandered the aisles of the book fair and made a point to visit some booths I have a connection to, like PEN USA/West, Hedgebrook, Counterpoint Press, and The Sun, where I met Derek, Caroline and Sy!  Pretty thrilling.

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At the end of the day, I was reluctant to leave, so I sat in the lobby and took pictures of people walking out. I asked the lovely Geeta from Washington, DC, about her experience. She’d been there all three days and seemed to feel the same way I did.  That it’s a very heady experience to be around so many writers, so many people who share this desire to create and communicate. Our tribe had gathered and it was good!

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Yes, I bought some books! This is my haul, minus the one I found for Hydra.  It was the only one I saw with an airplane on it. This pile is a fun mix of literary journals, fiction and non-fiction.  So exciting to have all this ahead of me.

My friend Antipasta went on Thursday and talking to her on Friday was great, from the practical to the philosophical. I took a rolling computer bag to avoid a back ache…best decision ever. She said that there was a good mix of ages and that the younger writers weren’t dismissive–which, you know, isn’t always the case in the general population–and she was right. I talked to people from 18 to 80 and felt happily connected and mutually respected.

We Emerging Voices fellows from 1998 talked a little about aging. Being the most aged, I was able to honestly say that once you get past a certain age that’s buried in your particular psyche, it gets easier. At least, that’s been true for me.  At 55, like the women on the panel, I just don’t care as much about what other people think of me as I used to (or I can talk myself out of caring more quickly!)  It’s not that I’m more easily pleased, but I have a much better idea of what’s satisfying to me.

The women-writing-over-fifty themed panel was the most empowering for me.  I love Laura Orem’s (Women’s Voices Mentorship) message that our writing lives do not have an expiration date or a specific time frame. Some writers take a decade between books. We aren’t athletes or models. We can write our whole lives long.

The writers of AWP gave me a much appreciated boost.  I’m still floating!

 

 

The SUNny Day!

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Yeah, I was pretty excited when my contributor’s copies of The SUN magazine arrived in the mail!  My poem, “Birthday,” appears in the current issue.

It feels wonderful to have my work out there again, and especially in this magazine which I have admired and enjoyed for decades. This was my fantasy first choice place for this poem to land.  The SUN is generous and supportive of its writers. Even had a note from the editor, Sy Safransky. Swoon!

Because I like it when my writer friends tell me how to find their work in print, here’s the scoop.  The issue is March 2016, #483 and should be available now in the bookstores that carry it, including Vroman’s in Pasadena and some Barnes & Nobles around the country.  The SUN provides a link to stores that carry it here.  It will be available as a back issue before too long at this link.

 

 

Creative Check-in

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Back to my spooky writing habit.  Writing by candle light early in the morning. Actually, I’ve been back at this fairly steadily for a few months, but thanks to a lot of converging circumstances, I feel I’ve recovered my writing mojo.  It’s that feeling of lift-off when writing that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Hydra gave me the brass Ganesh statuette that glows in the lower right corner of this shot for Christmas.  Ganesh is a hindu diety who is said to oversee wisdom and learning. He is known as the remover (and sometimes placer!) of obstacles. I have been interested in Ganesh for a while, and this sleek modern version is just wonderful to hold in my hands while I think about perceived obstacles to my forward motion.

I have a lot of taper candles from Trader Joe’s waiting in the pantry. My sister, Pegerty, sent me some lovely tinted tapers for my birthday and I decided to use one at a time to remind me that she’s always supportive of my creative life.

I worked through The Artist’s Way with my friend JayP at the close of 2015 and we’re continuing with Finding Water this year. The Artist’s Way launched me on a positive creative journey a long time ago, and it’s working again.  It’s a very different, and rewarding experience to do it with a friend, and especially interesting to do it with a person who is primarily an artist rather than a writer.

Have to count myself incredibly lucky to have such talented writers, artists and musicians in my life.  My writing group, The Harmonistas, Songmakers, etc. keep me going.  I guess I believe in community!

I hope your creative lives are rich!  If you’re feeling a lack, reach out to someone who’s doing what you want to do. People are amazingly helpful when they have a chance.

 

How Lent Went

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I made a vow on Facebook not to log onto the Internet before I start work on weekdays. I said I’d do it for a week.

Then a friend said “Why not do it for lent?” because it happened to be the day before it was supposed to start.

I’ve never observed lent before, but it sounded like a good challenge. The time frame seemed long enough to form a habit.

It was an amazingly successful experiment!

Since I started working from home full time last year, I almost always checked my work email first thing in the morning to get a feel for how busy the day ahead would be. Too often, I decided to start work early and my writing time slipped away.

It was a little hard the first few days, but my mindset shifted pretty rapidly to being excited to get up and write again. I usually wake at 6 a.m., but I don’t start work until 8 o’clock.

I even began to feel a sense of anticipation about finally getting to check my work email. EH?

Structure is important to my creative life, I guess. Some mornings I used the time to draw, and occasionally to critique my sister’s novel-in-progress. (We exchange writing. She’s a wonderful critiquer.) I did get online briefly to use a thesaurus once, but that seems like fair use. No dawdling or goofing around, though!

I think this habit is going to stick!

Incendiary Writing

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Matches and writing prompts.

I recently returned to my habit of writing by candlelight before dawn.

I started this years ago when I was writing a the diary of a fictional character who lived in the early 19th century. I figured it would better connect me to her. I like it, no matter what I’m writing about. My first drafts are almost always written by hand, with a fountain pen.

Candlelight creates a puddle of illumination that helps to blur all those distractions out there. Maybe it’s also a beacon for the muse.

For my birthday, I asked my writing group to give me 5 or more writing prompts. Treacy Colbert gave me these, inscribed in her lovely strong cursive on scraps of recycled paper. Check out her always thought-provoking blog, Life on the Green Side of the Grass.

Milestoned – 3000th Post!

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This all started back in fall of 2005. My first post didn’t have a photograph. But the second one, on September 21, began a year-long commitment to take a photo a day.

I took on that challenge because I wanted to buy a nice, pricy Nikon. I didn’t want to just buy it and have it sit there staring at me like a cyclops regarding a dilettante.  I figured if I could take a photo a day for a year with my 3 megapixel Kodak, I’d figure out whether a) I’d really use a good camera, b)  I was any good at it, or c) I’d simply derive enough pleasure from it to warrent the expense.

I did it for a year, bought the camera, and continued my photo-a-day habit for another two full years.

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Me in the Kern River, photo by Hydra – cheap waterproof camera.

A lot of metaphors have passed under the bridge in the past 9 1/2 years.

A lot has changed in the writing world. It felt so good to just build a site and run with it. Putting my words and images out there without having to ask anyone’s permission felt very liberating. I started on Blogspot, but switched to WordPress in 2009.  None of the pictures from 2005 seem to be available to the blog anymore. I probably should have been backing this up somewhere, huh?

I wonder about blogging in general. All of us throwing all this material out there for free has devalued the work. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut and my pictures to myself unless I could convince someone else to publish them. Maybe I would have had more energy to put into marketing my work if I weren’t goofing around on my blog. But then again, maybe no one would have bitten. As it is I’ve learned a lot. I think my prose style has improved, and my photographic skills, too.

I never figured out monetizing my blog. (Those Google ads you see? I get nothing from those, but I suppose they fund this amazing free adventure called WordPress.)

Focusing on one thing would have helped, but I have the curse of the generalist, I guess. I love it all! I don’t want to be held to one topic. Any Given Sundry, my own lovely little curse.

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My most popular post by far was “Ultimate Regifting – Artist’s Notebook,” in which I shared the sketchbook my mother, aka Kitty/Joan, returned to me. I gave it to her empty. She regifted it back to me years later, full of drawings like this one.  According to WordPress stats, more than 6,500 people have seen this post!

“Way Too Many Pictures of a Truck,” is popular, too, probably because I thought it looked like the truck from Duel. But it wasn’t. Which I admit in the post.

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One of the biggest surprises has been the response to this snapshot I took while sitting in traffic. It’s of the old Pacific Airmotive plant. There wasn’t much online about it, but between this site and it’s mirror on Blogspot, the post itself has become a place where people who worked there comment on what a great place it was.

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Stumbled onto this from 2006. I took that? I remember now.
It’s from “The other truth about Santa Monica.”

I was thinking about shutting down the blog earlier this year, but a few people talked me out of it. I still don’t know what I’m doing here, but I’m enjoying it.

I’ve started a few themed series. Now what do I do with them?

Taking a photo a day and sharing it, I have to admit, changed the way I look at the whole world.  When I’m out and about, I’m sometimes thinking of you, the folks who keep coming back or who pause here and say something nice. I think you might like to see this beautiful, or sad or interesting thing I found.

I also learned that the days when nothing particularly amazing is happening are often the days I find the best photos, which is why I just walked around the house and settled on the orchid for my 3000th post.

It’s been a good journey so far.

What’s next!?