Monday Motivation.

I joined #5amwritersclub this morning and I am feeling great. Starting my day off by focusing energy towards my passion = a fantastic start to the week. I hope you’re following your dreams too…even if you have to wake up extra early to do so before you head to your day job like me. ✨🌛

Customizing Camp NaNoWriMo

I’m here to tell you that there’s no better feeling than NaNoWriMo fueled months. I assume most of you probably know about the National Novel Writing Month challenge that takes place every November? The basic gist of it is, you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. But have you heard of Camp NaNoWriMo?

Camp NaNoWriMo takes place two months out of the year, once in April and once in July. The main difference between NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo is that it’s completely customizable. You can choose what kind of project you want to work on: a novel, poetry, a play, etc., and you can also choose between setting a word count goal, page goal, lines, hours, and so on.

Because I find myself in the midst of working on two projects, I’ve decided to set a word count goal with the intention of working on both projects as I have been the past two months. I’ve come up with a very clever title…

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…just kidding. I know “Progress” isn’t all that exciting, but it is the goal!

I’ve gone with a small word count goal of 10,000 words because I will be simultaneously running my second year of “A Dose of Poetry” during the month of April…

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…and I’ll also be working my full time job. I think if I manage to meet this goal I will be beyond thrilled.

Maybe you’re wondering why participating in this type of challenge would be helpful to your writing? If nothing else, the community that comes alive on social media during these times is simply wonderful. It’s a great way to get connected with #amwriting folks all the while making progress with your creative projects!

Okay, who’s with me? Only thirteen days until the fun begins. (Sign up here.) Stock up on coffee! Chat with me on Twitter @AWritersWay.

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Until next time,

Christine

 

 

“Write while the heat is in you.” -Thoreau

Happy New Year & Happy “Christine will write more than 9 blog posts this year.”

Before I begin, an old picture of fire brought to you by Valentine’s Day 2016:

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I tend to not give myself a lot of credit. Not just in conversation, but in my own head. Over my Christmas break I was suffering from a really nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection and I lost my voice. Forced to use a pen and paper (marker and legal pad to be exact) as a means to communication, I found myself uplifted despite the pile of tissues. In dialogue with my roommates, they noticed my positive spirit emerging.

In fact one of them asked, “Do you feel happy because you’re physically writing?”

Suddenly I realized that she was 100% right. Even though my head was pounding and my body was fighting off a fever, mentally, I was feeling better. The physical act of writing was restoring something inside of me. Then, the ever so obvious reminder popped into my head. What would happen if you gave a poem a shot?

Yes, folks, it’s been a few months of writer’s block for me. The ideas were there, but the fear was back. The fear to let what I truly want to write out of my being onto the page. So, in that moment I could see clear enough and allowed the words from my dear Frost Place Poetry Seminar Sister Tiana Clark (follow the link & read her chapbook) echo in my mind. “Let’s be brave together,” she said. In 2017 I will be brave. I will write what I want to write and I won’t let the opinion of others stop me.

The rest of that day was spent with my other roommate, discussing life, poetry, creativity and all inspiring things. She read 20 pages worth of conversation due to my absent voice and we wrote next to each other for hours. Since then I’ve churned out two poems and I’m happy to report that I am so excited about them. I’m excited about the plan for what I hope will be my first book of poems, and I’m finally feeling passionate again.

Now, back to the picture of the fire. While I was writing today I was reminded of this quote by Thoreau:

“Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.” ― Henry David Thoreau

That is something that I’ve definitely neglected over the past four months. I used to work in a library and I jotted down my ideas almost instantly upon them entering my brain. Even though I work at a desk job now, there’s no reason to not keep the same scraps of paper next to my desk that I used to carry in my pocket. I also stopped keeping those same scraps next to my bed. I’m happy to report they have taken their rightful place on my nightstand once again. I will write while the heat is in me.

In closing, Happy New Year to all of you creative folk out there. Good luck with whatever writing goals you have and feel free to tweet @AWritersWay if you want to chat with me about them.

Until next time,

Christine

 

Note To Self: Feed Your Creative Spirit

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Photo of Anne Sexton

 

You know those signs outside of churches with sayings on them? You must have driven past them a thousand times. They normally have a heart warming saying of some sort or a quote about Jesus not wanting all of us to text and drive. I usually have a minimal reaction to them, though some make me smile or laugh, but I’m mostly unimpressed. That is, until last week. I was driving home from work, and it was a long day, one that left me with little to no energy to do anything after work besides cook dinner and watch TV. That’s when I saw this quote:

“Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.”

Now, you should know, I’m not a very religious person anymore. It’s totally cool if you are, but events that took place over the past few years led me to find faith in other places besides a church. These days, I get more out of flipping through the pages of “The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman” than I do getting down on my knees and praying to whoever is up there in the sky. However, when I saw that quote I was reminded that we all have different definitions of what faith means to us, and that’s a wonderful thing.

I began thinking about creative folk like me, and all of the things that feed our “writing faith,” if you will. So, would the saying apply when it comes to our writing life self-doubt?

Don’t pretend you don’t have it. We all have it and that’s okay. However, what can we do? In a recent discussion with one of my most trusted advisors, I found myself complaining about how crummy I feel due to the lack of producing enough material for one complete poem. I ranted about how I feel like an intruder when I’m not writing enough. How can I call myself a poet if I’m not dedicating ample time to writing poetry? How can I call myself a poet if I only write down one or two lines and fall asleep on top of my journal?

She then posed the question: “what else feeds that part of you?” I quickly responded that I love reading. If I’m not writing poetry, I certainly should be reading it. Upon saying the words out loud, I almost instantly felt relief. The saying returned to my mind…

“Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.”

So that’s where I’m at. I have a lot of unfinished poems piling up, bits of paper taped into my journal with ideas that pop into my brain, but I’m incorporating some discipline back into my life when it comes to reading. So far, it feels good. So far, I don’t hear the demons of self doubt knocking at my door in the middle of the night.

Stay tuned.

-Christine

The Forecast Reads: Poetry With A Chance Of Poetry

I returned from my Frost Place Seminar adventure in New Hampshire about one week ago, and I still have a smile on my face. I suspect that it will stay that way for many months to come as the experience was just that life changing for me. I could have never predicted what an emotional and spiritual journey I would embark on during that week in the mountains, but I’m so thankful that it happened.

During my week long trip, I had the pleasure of staying at the Inn at Sunset Hill. A beautiful bed and breakfast with delicious food and two unforgettable innkeepers named Dick and Sally, who made me feel so at home. (I can’t forget Dudley, their sheepdog. He was pretty great too.)

Each morning I sat in front of a large window and ate breakfast while staring out at the mountains. Views like this were a daily occurrence…

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Then it was off to the White Mountain School for a 2 hour lecture, followed by lunch with the fellow participants, a 3 1/2 hour workshop with your selected group, a break, dinner, and a poetry reading at Robert Frost’s barn. While the schedule changed a bit every day, it was mostly the same which created an organized feel to the entire seminar. I liked knowing what I would be doing every day and I felt comfortable in knowing what each day’s schedule would be like.

Now, when I put it all into a paragraph like that, it seems pretty straight forward and simple, but it wasn’t. The lectures that I mentioned were held by each of the chosen faculty for 2016 and they were mind blowing. Topics had a wide range, from narrative predicaments to exploring classic forms and making them your own. I felt like a student back in school again as I took pages and pages of notes not wanting to forget a single word that was said.

The most beneficial part of the seminar for me was the workshop experience. I was lucky to be put into a group with six very talented individuals, all of which brought a different perspective to the table. My workshop leader was the incredibly inspiring Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon.

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Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon reading at Robert Frost’s Barn

I never thought I’d be so fortunate to spend so much time with someone as courageous and determined as she is. She helped me to learn how to explore my craft in a more efficient way and taught me things that I will carry with me every day as I continue writing poetry. I highly recommend grabbing her books. They’re fantastic.

While I seriously adored every member of my group, I also want to give special mention to Tiana Clark. Over the course of one week, Tiana taught me how to be brave with my poetry and encouraged me to write what my heart tells me to write no matter how scared I am. I’ll be forever grateful to her for that. With that said, go pre-order her chapbook here. It’s dynamite.

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Tiana Clark reading at Robert Frost’s Barn.

Each night spent at Robert Frost’s barn, and at his house in general was a dream come true for me. I’ve long admired the poet, mostly for the terrifying nature to his work that is rarely acknowledged. To spend so much time in the places where he walked filled my lungs with the air I had been craving for so long.

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I found what I was looking for during the Frost Place Poetry Seminar. Being away from my comfort zone, my friends, my boyfriend, it was difficult. However, it forced me to completely focus on my craft, my poetry, and with that I felt my mind expanding. This quote rang in my ears about halfway through the week…

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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That’s exactly how I feel about my experience. Thank you to everyone at the Frost Place Poetry Seminar for all of your support, encouragement, and for just being amazing people. I’ll never forget it. As for what lies ahead…the forecast reads: poetry with a chance of poetry.

Until next time,

Christine

The Fig Tree

 

Do you ever find yourself obsessed with a thought? A quote? Perhaps, a poem? Over the past few months, I’ve found myself constantly thinking of a quote by Sylvia Plath. Back in May, I read The Bell Jar for the first time. It was a book that I had wanted to read for years and years, but never got around to it. While I have many thoughts on the book, this isn’t a review, but a post to share this quote with you.

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Here it is…

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

It is a relatable picture, isn’t it? I mean we all have our own figs hanging off of a fig tree. I’m sure you know this already…life can be overwhelming, and while we dedicate a lot of energy and time to certain “figs,” others aren’t given enough attention. You’re probably thinking of something right now that you’d like to pay more attention to or dedicate more time to.

For me, that something is poetry. I’ve been working so much the past few months, I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to writing my poetry or even attending readings for that matter. Thankfully, the end of the month will bring me to my Frost Place Poetry Seminar Adventure. I’ll be gone for one whole week and will surely be fully immersed in poetry.

Thoughts on the quote? Tweet me @AWritersWay.

Until next time,

Christine