Ever wonder why we use this expression this way? I know, you’re asking “What way?”
I say, “Every way.”
Think about it. What is a “step back”? Something leaps onto the path we’re walking. We step back; from startlement, fright, consternation, you-name-it.
We make use of this step to re-evaluate, to make a split-second decision whether to fight or flee. We need to know what we’re facing before making a leap of our own. This may be our only chance consciously to decide.
This stepping-back behavior for decision making permeates nearly every corner of our lives. We may or may not realize it at the time. On some occasions we don’t have the leisure to recognize the process or the maneuver.
“Let’s take a step back and look at this situation.” How many business meetings have paused after a similar statement while those in charge review options, repercussions of those options, or the people, places, and procedures involved in those options?
I dare say that few meetings get to an end without some variant of these words, especially interdepartmental meetings. “Shall we table this and regroup after everyone’s had a chance to take a good long look at it?”
See what I mean?
The question of pausing to consider plays a role in individual lives as well. It can be as minor as “cantaloupe or honey dew” while in the produce aisle of the grocery store or as monumental as “chemo or radiation.” Each decision event has impact; large or small.
“Shall we make it illegal for citizens to grow some of their own food?”
This pause has happened–is happening in Washington–at least according to the media. I don’t bring this up as a political statement, but rather as a demonstration of how vast an impact such a question—such a pause for consideration—can make. One question can force an entire country’s population to reconsider many things impacting their lives.
You might ask why this is on my mind right now. That’s a valid question.
I’m in pause mode because I made a major shift in my mindset throughout this summer. What and how I write has shifted; not because I didn’t like what I was writing before, but because I like writing in this new way much better. My approach to both life and writing was in need of an evaluation.
With the shift in my writing, my attitude about life and how I was living also shifted. That change warranted a continued attitude adjustment in my writing. I got to that old “chicken and the egg” portion of life.
Priorities became more pronounced. Life paths suddenly had the full light of purpose shined upon them. How could I not stop to consider or ponder my direction?
The Step became necessary to fully appreciate where I’ve come from and where I’m going. More importantly, I discovered some of the why’s in my life, and those always necessitate a pause. Hence, I arrived at this doorstep.
I have no clue where I’ll travel on this new path. I’m only sure that the ride will be memorable. I’m looking forward to new discoveries.
With Two Voices, One Song I expand horizons and understandings. With my poetry I explore new audiences while enjoying those who’ve willingly been here all along. With my newly acquired thrill of flash fiction I can grow faster along channels of fantasy.
Claudsy’s Blog and Claudsy’s Calliope remain corner stones which anchor my new forays into the writing experience. I’m so grateful for all of those who’ve encouraged me to explore, whether through poetry and photos, flash fiction, or other genres. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to grow as a writer.
As far as I know, I’m not moving out of these digs here. I’m merely refining the edges, smoothing out the throw rugs, and adding the occasional knick-knack.
Until we meet here again in a few days, a bientot,
Today’s issue of Four and Twenty contains one of my poems, as well as poetry of several friends. Enjoy this lovely magazine and make it one of your favorites.
If you’re looking for a lunchtime break with a little fiction of a different type, head over to Two Voices, One Song. I’ve posted a new bit of Flash Fiction there this morning titled “Choices.”
Later today, I’ll have a new, regular post here with pics, but I thought I’d give you all a heads-up about a quick read. Hope you enjoy it. While you’re there, and if you have time, take a look around. There’s plenty to see.
Here’s the link.
See you all in a bit. Have a great afternoon, peeps.
I received a terrific and helpful link this morning to an article by Anne R. Allen. In the article she talks about the Slow Blog Manifesto and what it means, as well as what it can do for the writer in general. I’ve fallen in love. I admit it.
For the first time in three years, I’m getting the kind of advice that makes sense to me as a writer of something other than blogs. Anne enumerated the eight Slow Blog Manifesto rules for long-term success as follows:
1) A slow blog has a longer life-span.
2) You reach more people by commenting on other people’s blogs than by madly posting on a blog nobody reads.
3) Busy people are less likely to subscribe/follow a blog that’s going to clutter their email inbox/rss feed every day.
4) Everybody has bad days. When you have to think of something to say on the day you got that nasty/clueless review/rejection, your emotions are going to leak out.
5) Nobody can come up with that many interesting posts. When you slow blog, and you don’t have anything to say, you don’t have to say it.
6) Writing nonfiction—which is what you should be writing on your blog—uses a different part of your brain from fiction.
7) You write narrative–remember? The blog is supposed to be about getting your name out there as a creative writer. It’s an aid to your serious writing, not a substitute for it.
8) Trying to blog every day is impossible to keep up, so you’ll constantly feel guilty.
With these rules to go by, I no longer have to feel guilty for not having new material here each day, or on any other of my sites. I can take pride in having one good piece a week that readers can take away and think about and, perhaps, utilize in their own daily activities or thoughts. And readers don’t have be slammed with announcements, notifications, and guilt for not looking in on my blogs each day.
Suddenly numbers of hits makes more sense to me. If I begin living my blogging life by these eight rules, I have more time to work on large projects, give more quality content to my readers, and still feel as if I’ve accomplished something during the week. That’s a big deal around here.
So, for those of my readers who feel pressured to read here each day or even every other day, rest assured that as the month progresses, your labor here is be lessened and, hopefully, you’ll have some terrific things to take away when you do come by. Perhaps you’ll see an interview with an editor you’ve yet to know, or an indie publisher that you might need in future.
And if you’d really like to look at the original Slow Blog Manifesto, you’ll learn all of the reasoning and the projected benefits to such a course of action.
I’ll see you all in a couple of days. I can’t let go quite that fast. I still have things to do this month.
Until your next visit, a bientot,
- How often to blog (or not)? A new blogger/writer’s perspective (katenewburg.wordpress.com)
- Who Authenticates the Blogged Word? The Publishers or the Readers? (Feature) (popmatters.com)
- How To Choose A Niche For Your New Blog (dailymorningcoffee.com)
Today, I want to show you how many writersgo about clustering ideas for
The process is simple. Daydreams draw on it all the time. Draw a circle, square, whatever you like in the center of a piece of paper. Go ahead, draw it. Inside that shape, put a word or group of words designating a specific something; desire, idea, plan, objective, goal, or whatever.
For our purposes here, I’ve put “Main Character—Isabel” in my circle. Now, all I’m going to do is let my mind provide everything it can think of that could be related to this character named “Isabel” and draw a line radiating from the circle to the new word. “short” “dark hair” “tanned skin” “Speaks with an accent” “watery eyes” “clubbed foot” “Orphaned” “City dweller” Hates mice” “Can’t read” “generous nature” “hears voices” “Knows the king” and on and on until I fill the page.
I do this exercise quickly. (Most of the time I do this on the computer with my eyes closed.) I don’t stop to ponder any of my associations or to question where any came from. I only write whatever word comes to mind as quickly as possible to make way for the next word.
When I look back at what I’ve written, I will find anomalies. In the example above, some items are capitalized and some aren’t. Why? What is it about the ones with caps that make them important enough to warrant a capital?
Isabel speaks with an accent. Where does she come from if that is true within this story?
Isabel is an orphaned city dweller who can’t read. Why is it critical that I know this about this character?
Isabel knows the king. How does she know the king? Now that’s helpful and important. So, why are the other pieces important, too?
Without answering these questions, I’ll move on to the plot cluster to see if I can find answers there.
Plot Idea Cluster center–(Isabel’s story) “Taken from the king’s household during infancy” “Related to the king” “lives in the weaver’s quarter” “indentured to Master Weaver Challen” “Doesn’t go out in the daytime” “King has ordered a celebration for his son’s birthday” “City faces a dread disease”
Lots of capitals here. Let’s see what I have now. Isabel, disabled with a clubbed foot, lives in the capital city where the king has just ordered the celebration of his son’s birthday and at a time when the metropolis faces a dread disease. An indentured person to Master Weaver Challen, Isabel lives in the weaver’s quarter and doesn’t venture out during the day. How she was stolen from the king’s household during infancy is unclear as yet or what blood relationship she has to the king remains a mystery. Why she was stolen may be a much more important question to answer.
As you can see, clustering works well to find interesting characters and plots. What is done with these ideas determines the final story. More clustering will come, I’m sure. There’re still items to explore like setting, environment (social and physical,) other characters, etc.
Each writer has a unique way to play with ideas. Each has a different perspective on clustering and how it’s used. And each decides for her/himself how deep into it to go. The plot cluster above can be an effective part of a story synopsis, which is critical for the writer. That’s why I’ve come to enjoy them.
There you have it. One technique that’s pliable, friendly, and recyclable. Give it a spin if you don’t use clustering on a regular basis. See if it can work for you.
Tell me your take on this technique and about your experience with it.
Until later, a bientot,
- Morgan Locklear…Wordslinger (June) (bookishtemptations.com)
- Guest Post: Writing Characters With Character by S. A. Garcia (elliscarrington.wordpress.com)
- Loading Words with Lightning (Bugs) (chauncestanton.wordpress.com)
Have you ever begun a project only to find yourself on a journey to a place where you discover as much about yourself as you do about the place where you stopped?
If you don’t remember, were you paying attention? This isn’t an idle question: truly. I’ve just found more of myself because of a place where I stopped.
The new site where Meena Rose and I have taken up part-time residence is stretching me in ways I never anticipated. I had my expectations of what would be required of me, and I had dreams of what I could contribute. I think that’s true anytime one launches a new project that will be shared with others.
During the past couple of days, I did necessary research in order to put together a post for this morning in the “Two Voices, One Song” Garden. Research is a normal part of writing. Ask any good writer. What surprised me was not my distraction quotient, but rather the depth of the distraction.
Surprise came with the reviewing portion of my research. I admit it; I got lost inside all of those videos. I watched the woman speak to a workshop group, not once, but several times on several videos. I listened and recalled what it was I’d put aside when my copy of “The Artist’s Way” was relegated to the bookcase.
My morning pages had become a thing of the past, no longer creating an advantage to my work and personal understanding. I’d given up that portion of my intent when I got too busy with daily tasks to remember that my inner self was more important than my public one.
When I finished commiserating with Muse concerning this lack in my daily routine, I went on to enjoy watching several videos of Dr. Wayne Dyer as he presented the Tao Te Ching and its use today. I’ve seen Dr. Dyer before and thoroughly enjoy his presentations. Beyond that enjoyment, I absorb the teachings and what they have to offer me and my life.
This stolen opportunity to take time for my inner self screamed out for more regular visits to a place of personal learning and expansion. I’ve been neglecting it for well over a year. I know, in my heart of hearts, I need to go back and pick it all up again.
Not only will backtracking help me personally, it will help my writing and my journey forward on this path I’ve chosen. This new/old exploration will solidify both my philosophy of life and my attention to living it. I believe that to be the most important use of my time when I’m not pounding a keyboard or nubbing a pencil.
Some celebrate new beginnings with parties, giveaways, and additional hoopla. I’m one of those who makes more time for thinking, studying, and exploration. Please join me in new wanderings both here and at “Two Voices, One Song.” I don’t know where this is taking me, but I’m sure going to enjoy the ride.
Until later, a bietot,
Taking a day away from usual activities helps to restore a semblance of order to one’s life. Perspective is gained. Appreciation is elevated. New knowledge filters through the mind to lodge in memories.
Yesterday was a day of exploration into places unknown and challenging facts known. For me, it was also a time to take away snippets of useful information; the kind used in a twisted kind of way for story elements and character development. Those are the kind of relaxed and fun days that begin with one purpose and turn out as gold mines. Also, the experience felt much like going home to my dad’s family for the day.
We met up with friends, Sister’s distant cousins, in a small-town restaurant about an hour south of our locale. We had a nice lunch before heading south again to their home in an even smaller town. Our entire purpose for going on this jaunt was so that Sister could shoot the eclipse in an area where she could get good water-reflection shots.
During our scouting adventure, I was taken to places I’d never seen before; places that had escaped my notice when I’d lived in the area twenty years ago. As well, the cousins constantly pointed out places that related to their family histories.
“So and so built that ranch. Who is the latest owner, honey?” Cousin #2 asked as she pointed to the left to a grouping of buildings amid lush pastures. “The original barn’s gone now, of course.”
Gravel roads, dust flying from under the wheels of passing ranch trucks and cars, we made our way from reservoir to reservoir; each with points of interest. On the first we found swans that had been introduced to the waterways. The second, though smaller, was far more serene, more relaxing. Native ducks, muskrats, gulls, all played in the placid water. Further into the hills, we found rock chucks guarding their homes and new calves cavorting among adults.
At last we wound through forested hills up to MacDonald Lake, nestled in the Mission Range; a smaller lake than it used to be, only because it isn’t allowed to fill up the way it used to years ago. The deep teal, crystalline waters, surrounded by pine-covered slopes, beckoned to us. Trails radiated from its sides for the explorer who would challenge grizzlies in the area for prime fishing spots.
From the south-end approach I could only envision one scenario. I saw a scene straight out of Lord of the Rings; the one where the intrepid questers canoed toward their mountain peak destination, along the length of a deep lake with darkly-treed slopes on either side. Magic sparkled before my eyes. I was, in that short moment, transported into a movie about a magical place occupied by hobbits and elves and all things mythical.
When we finally came back to the valley floor, our hosts took us to see the old family homestead.
“Let’s see if they’ve moved the herd out into the front grazing, honey?” our tour guide says as we moved down a gravel road. “When I was by yesterday, the pasture was high and needed to be grazed already.”
And so our indoctrination into family history continued. Ours was a calm adventure made up of laughing memories, local scenery, and points of family interest. All of which came under clouded skies that would never allow for shots of the eclipse, regardless of the camera equipment brought to bear.
A late supper and long drive home left us drained. Bedtime hadn’t looked that far away since our last distant drive at night. Rain followed us as we snaked our way along Highway 93 north along the west shore of Flathead Lake.
I came away with so many impressions to sprinkle here and there amid stories. There were subjects to research later for short essays. And along the way, I captured bits and pieces of personal revelation that will color my days for months. Because their personal histories have been shared so freely, they’ve allowed me to be included in their future histories. That has potential as a special privilege.
I wish everyone could have such a day as mine yesterday. When you have one, take away all that you can from it. Enjoy the uniqueness of it and make it your own. Have a great week all.
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