Dreaming Together

Happy Thursday Firefans,

If you’ve been with us for awhile, and especially after the last couple of weeks you have probably realized now that our group is…slightly erratic to say the least. Or rather, chock-full of ups and downs. Last week, Natalie basically made a proclamation for the universe to “bring it on.” In this Monday’s Moxie post, Lori let go of some pretty major emotional baggage. After a half-summer of soul searching, and deep in the throes of a nasty summer flu, I woke one morning and found myself nothing left to write. And in this one very extremely long, scorching mid-July week, we have all uttered the same words.

“I give up.”

We are tired for reasons that are very different, and yet oddly parallel. Like everyone else on earth, there are some days we just want to quit. Everything.

And yet…even at the lowest of low, even in the darkest of voids, there is magic. It lives amidst and among our group. It lingers behind each spoken word and floats between the lines of what we write.

It showed up this morning, in a private message conversation between Lori and I. She sent me a small section of a book she was reading, Emily of New Moon. It said:

It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside—but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—and heard a note of unearthly music.

That passage she sent was followed by her comment. “This is why we keep writing. This is what we must share.”

I told her I was glad she shared and asked if I could borrow the book. I needed a new one to take on an upcoming vacation. A very long vacation I wasn’t sure I wanted to take.

 And then in the conversation that followed, this incredibly magical, beautiful dream happened between us. We’re going to share it with you, let you just ever so slightly peek inside our heads to see the magic that keeps us going…as writers, as women, as close friends. As sisters.

Hope you enjoy,

~Cindy

****

Lori: When we get old, we’ll have a real vacation without children…in nature…away from everything except tea.

Cindy: and sea.

Lori: I know just the place. It’s on the outer banks, surrounded by water, shaded by trees.

Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cindy: Sounds perfect. Lets live there.

Lori: We can. It’s lovely. Old small towns on the edge of the United States, tall trees, sandy beaches and ancient stories.

Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cindy: Sounds like home to my soul.

We will bring old books and lavender tea. Lots of spiral notebooks and colored pens. A cat or two for comfort. Listen to classical music. And ride bicycles with baskets…

Lori: We’ll go barefoot and get up early to watch the dolphins swim just off the coast every morning.

One morning we’ll find a canoe sitting on the beach. We’ll fearlessly climb in and head out to the sunrise to see the dolphin up close. They’ll swim right beneath us. We’ll get an occasional splash from the young ones who leap out of the water to get a closer look at us.
Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Cindy: Dolphins. *sigh*

dolphinsCindy: We will wear big hats and own just a few long sundresses for summer, which we will hang out on a laundry line to dry in the fresh sea air. In the winter we will stoke fires and wear Irish sweaters and…EAT.

Homemade stew with every fresh vegetable imaginable. And fresh baked bread. And triple chocolate brownies.

Lori: We’ll learn how to make grits, cornbread and beans.

We’ll string fairy lights on every tree that will stand still and our neighbors will think we’re witches.

Cindy: Fairy lights. Yes. There will be so many fairy lights.

tree with fairy lightsCindy: And the very brave souls will come to our door and ask if we are…magic. And we will say yes and smile and send them away with warm soup and fresh bread and a brand new spiral notebook. Because only we can know that they are magic too.

Lori: Our grandchildren will come and visit. We’ll tell them stories about brave men and women so that they are prepared to face the world. But we’ll also tell stories of magic and light so that they know how to find it in their lives. We’ll cuddle, feed and educate and they will leave feeling fresh and renewed.

Our children will harbor within themselves a secret faith in magic that carries them through hard times. They’ll always know where they can come to renew their faith in all that is good…because we have been through tough times and found the light and are prepared to share it with them.

Moxie Monday (Taking Down a Wall)

Occasionally, there are crystal moments of clarity when I know who I am, when I feel the power of me churning just below the surface. I can see Who my power comes from and I feel as though I am gently clasped in God’s love. I recognize the purpose of my life is before me and that I will never be alone as I pursue it.

The walls are coming down

I’ve spent a lot of time building walls around my heart. I’ve been hurt; my heart has been trampled. I’ve been told I was worthless and that I wouldn’t succeed in anything I wanted. I was told that I didn’t have the skills I needed to accomplish my goals. I’ve been taught to fulfill other people’s needs. I was taught that my value is solely in what I can do for others.

It doesn’t help that in today’s society we are taught that women are only as good as their beauty. If they are thin, pretty and stylish, they have value. I am none of those things and so to some, I’m not of any worth.

Operating with those erroneous beliefs, I make poor decisions for myself. I’m not saying that I’m sorry that I have four children, or that I don’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom. I’m talking about things that are internal, and almost undefinable. My self-talk is extremely destructive.

And there are the things that people have told me.

                “You’re ugly. You’re like a cross between…”

                “You’re kind of fat…”

                “No husband wants a fat wife, Lori.”

                “Why don’t you be more supportive of your husband?” (While I was going to school, had a two month old baby and working from home.)

                “You’re a slob.”

                “You look like a man.”

                “What have you done all day? The house is a mess.”

                “Why would anyone want to hear you play?” (When I said I would play my flute for a function.)

                “You can’t be a writer/editor you don’t have your degree. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

                “You’d be a better person if you had graduated from BYU.”

And there are many, many others.

All of these things made me build up walls so that I wouldn’t get hurt. I remember when, as a child, I was told that I was not a pretty girl and that my head was too big. That person said it with such certainty that I couldn’t deny it. I felt myself lay another brick on the wall, mortar it in place, and harden myself. “Now I know,” I thought. “I won’t ever think I’m pretty again.” The bricks kept the tears from falling.

There was a time before the bricks, when things could touch me. Beauty would envelop my soul. Music was something that was potent to my senses. I loved it. I could feel it vibrating though my being. But as the wall grew, the bricks dulled the feeling. I was killing off a part of myself and I was being numbed to peace and beauty.

The pain of being constantly belittled was worse than I could bear and the wall got taller. I began to love the bricks, putting more and more in place. I believed that I could endure anything.

But there is a problem. Things still seep into my heart on occasion and because of the bricks, I can’t let them out. I have ignored it for the most part, but I am aware that the bricks are not totally effective.

There are other ways of dealing with it…

I rarely let anyone in to know the real me and I lie a lot about my life and how good it is. And when I do let someone in, I have horrible anxiety. I am certain that they’re not going to like me; I’m not worth liking. It’s safer to just move through life than to try to make and keep intimate friends. I keep real friends from loving me at the core of who I am.

I lead an empty life.

Until now…the walls are coming down.

I can’t keep going like this. This weekend, I had a day trip with the group. I had an experience in a graveyard that changed the way I view things. This weekend I also heard music that made me cry simply because of the beauty. I haven’t done that since I was in high school and it felt wonderful.

I walk through tall black gate and enter an old graveyard. Trouble haunts my mind. “What am I going to do? We’re not going to make it. My life is falling apart and I’m helpless against it.”

Sweet breezes stir the grasses growing between the headstones. Birds sing a repeating song high in the trees. An unseen gate creaks on its ancient hinges. I continue to walk up the stony path surrounded by the long since dead, secretly envying their peaceful rest.

Suddenly the breezes still. The bird’s song ends and a whisper rises from the ground.

“Part of your purpose is to enjoy these things, to listen to happiness in the song of birds, the feel of the grass swaying against your skirt, and smell the fragrant breeze. You were put here to take in these things to drink deeply of life, because those are the dreams of your final rest. Make friends, laugh, play, sing and dance. Troubles always end, but life, real life, all of the important things, love, beauty, fun and joy, all of these things will last if you pay attention and receive them.” Peace enters my soul as I realize the truthfulness in those words.

All is once again left to the birds and the swaying grasses. And I am left feeling grateful, aware of my beating heart.

Glenwood Cemetary

Reading the Fire

The importance of reading has been brought to my attention several times over the past week. As Cindy mentioned in her post, it is essential for those of us who write to be among people who read and it is a desirable quality in a spouse. But I believe that it is an important aspect for our culture as well as individuals.

There are two things that have stuck in my mind over the past week that underline the reasons we should read.

First, one of my children has been struggling with reading and just made a break through. It was like it finally all made sense to him, and he came to me one morning excited, “Mom! I read it!” He handed me a book which he has been trying to read on his own for a couple of months. “It’s about a cowboy…” He followed me around the house during morning chores and told me about what he had read, how he had felt, why he liked the cowboy and how excited he was to continue reading.

It was all I could do to keep the tears from flowing down my cheeks. This is how I felt about reading and my son had suddenly discovered the perfect contentment contained in a good book. He can now be taken to faraway lands while lying in his bed. He can discover the meaning of love before he even starts dating. He can be introduced to the beauty of the world through the eyes of authors who are aware of it. He can learn what it means to be a man of value. He can discover compassion within his heart for people who are different through the characters found in books.

This is what reading has done for me, my family, and my fellow group members. I couldn’t be happier and more excited to discuss books with him and hear his perspective.

The next thing happened in our writing class last week, our teacher said, “Illiteracy within a culture means that culture lacks imagination.” I find this to be true in the people around me whether it is actual illiteracy or willful illiteracy, where a person chooses to turn their back on the other worlds that books offer, the outcome is the same. Without imagination, we would not have innovation, invention, creativity, or exploration. Imagination drives our soul, the very thing that makes us human.

And so in the spirit of keeping imagination alive, I’ve started a list of books which have changed my life, changed the way I look at things, scared the h— out of me, given me great pleasure, distilled the beauty of life on my heart, or simply made me laugh.

Please comment! Add your books to the list! Let’s keep imagination alive!

Fiction:

  1. You Are Special by Max Lucado
  2. If Only I Had a Green Nose by Max Lucadomy library
  3. You Are Mine by Max Lucado
  4. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  5. Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling
  6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  7. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  8. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  10. Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
  11. The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour (I’m not a western type of girl, but I love Johannes Verne. “My name is Johannes Verne and I am not afraid.”)
  12. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  13. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede
  14. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  15. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  16. The Railway Children By Edith Nesbit
  17. The Fairy Books by Andrew Lang (Some purists don’t the like the fairy stories in these books but I love them! My favorite two are the Blue Fairy Book and the Yellow Fairy Book.)
  18. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  19. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  20. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
  21. Anything by Shel Silverstein especially The Giving Tree (great way to introduce your children to poetry)
  22. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (My favorite is The Last Battle)
  23. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  24. The Legend of
  25. Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  26. Holes by Louis Sachar
  27. The Great Brain by John Dennis Fitzgerald
  28. Little Britches by Ralph Moody
  29. The Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
  30. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  31. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  32. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  33. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  34. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  35. Sherlock Holmes Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  36. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  37. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienLord of the Rings
  38. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  39. Anything by Jane Austen (My favorites are Mansfield Park, Northanger Abby, and Pride and Prejudice.)
  40. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  41. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (When I read this book in high school it was about friendship, as an adult I think it’s a book about parenting. I love multi-faceted books like that!)
  42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  43. The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway (I don’t like Hemingway, but loved this book and the short story listed below.)
  44. The Writing Class by Jincy Willet (I love the protagonist in this novel! She reminds me of ME in parts.)
  45. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  48. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (You’ll be suspicious of everyone’s intentions for a while.)

My Favorite Shakespeare:

  1. The Merchant of Venice
  2. A Midsummer night’s Dream

Non-Fiction:

  1. The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
  2. Backyard Ballistics by William Gurstelle (My husband and son LOVE this book. I mean, who wouldn’t love building a tennis ball mortar out of Pringles cans?)
  3. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  4. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout (Will confirm everything you believe after reading Heart of Darkness)
  5. Emotional Vampires by Dr. Albert Bernstein
  6. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
  7. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
  8. The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
  9. Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner

Short stories:

  1. The Judges House by Brahms Stoker (Don’t read it in the dark.)
  2. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
  3. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
  4. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
  5. The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe
  6. Hills Like White Elephants by Earnest Hemingway (I hate The American, but I LOVE that this story can be interpreted many ways.)
  7. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Chilling.)

Poetry: (I enjoy poetry, but I’m not well versed in it. There are, however, a few that I adore.)

  1. The Oxford Book of American Light Verse is a good place to start.
  2. A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  3. If by Rudyard Kipling
  4. Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer
  5. The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes
  6. Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  7. I love Eugene Field and his poetry for my children.

Upcoming books that I’ll be reading in the next couple of months:

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  3. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
  4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  5. The Color of Water by James McBride

Okay, so there it is. What about you? What books have changed you? What stories do you LOVE?

Top Ten Finally

Top Ten Tuesday…er…Thursday.

Okay, Fate, you piece of $#!%, I’m going to post this one way or another!

(Ahem)

Top Ten Saturday.

The Top Ten Lies That Keep Us From Writing

(And yes, I see the exquisite hypocrisy in posting this specific post late.)

liesEvery writer knows that there is an anti-writing demon that possesses a part of their soul. From the moment you discover that your calling is to be a writer, something sinister awakens and attaches to your spirit. It begins to send messages to specifically interfere with your pursuit of writing. Some writers fail to realize the message they hear is a lie. I myself just barely escaped. Today we will explore the Top Ten ways we allow this anti-writing fiend to keep us from accomplishing our goals.

10. The Lie: You can do it all! – There are only 24 hours in a day, and they must be used wisely. There are many activities that we want to do, many that we should do, and many that we need to do.

The Solution – Where does writing fit for you? Is it something that you NEED to do so that you can find release and peace in your life? If so, schedule it as a need and don’t let less important things interrupt you.

(You’ll find that this is a theme running throughout this post. Make time for you to write every single day. Schedule it!)atlas3

9. The Lie: You need to “be there” for every person in your life – Most writers and artists are sensitive, kind, loving and generous; and that is wonderful. There comes a point in all the giving when you have to realize what people really need vs. what they think they need. Some people will drain you dry in every way possible. They will take up your time, your money and your compassion.

The Solution – If you have someone draining you in your life, set some boundaries! Decide now, before they ask, what you are willing to do for them and stick to the plan.

8. The Lie: You don’t have time to write because of your work (or school) responsibilities. – Yes, I know we all have responsibilities. And yes, I believe that you should have a job, and you should do that job to the best of your abilities. However, I know that some of us will use work or school as an excuse to NOT write. “If I didn’t have this paper to write, I’d be able to work on my book.” I think I have said those EXACT words. Or “I’m swamped at work. I don’t have time to write.”

The real reason I didn’t want to write will be discussed in number 1.

The Solution – No excuses!

7. The Lie: I don’t have time to write because of my family. – I know that you’re surprised that “the fam” would be at number seven and not at number one. Listen, the family will continue to thrive if you take up the pen again. Moms, it’s okay if you step away to work on something for yourself for a few minutes a day. The same goes for you Dads.

The Solution – Defend your time to write. Unless someone is bleeding profusely, you are not to be disturbed.

6. The Lie: You must begin to write every story that pops into your head. – This one too-many-ideasmight seem counter intuitive. It happens like this: You start working on a story and, for whatever reason, you stop. It might be stopping to grab a sandwich. It might be that you stop for a few days to let the story solidify in your mind. Whatever it is, you let your mind take a break and new ideas start to tap on your shoulder and introduce themselves. “Hello. I know you’re busy but…” and they begin to explain themselves in excited tones. You, as a writer, LOVE new ideas, and so you, in turn, get excited and open a new document and begin to develop this new idea until you need a sandwich or for that story to solidify…and the process goes on and on and on.

The Solution – Jot down your new ideas, but keep plugging away at your current project.

5. The Lie: Your work is not as good as (insert name here.) – Comparing your work to comparingthat of your peers serves no one. Each of us are different with different skills mastered at different times in our writing career. Each of us has a different story to tell, in a different style, with different characters.

(This group is guilty of this. One day I said, “I feel like I’m the weakest link.” Then, Cindy, the wise one, said, “We all are…for different reasons. But we’re also the strongest links too.” Since then, we’ve moved beyond comparing, it doesn’t work and just makes us all feel bad.)

The Solution – Accept yourself and your work as it is now. If you want to improve, then do it! But don’t try to improve by comparing your writing to someone else.

4. The Lie: You must make your current project perfect before moving on. – This is one of my very, very WORST habits. I participated in NaNoWriMo one year and spent almost the whole month editing the first chapter of my book. I wanted it to be perfect. At one point (on November 29th) I realized that I had to move on or the rest of the story would never be told.

The Solution – Make sure to set aside time during your “writing time” to edit and leave the editing to ONLY that specific time.

3. The Lie: Something important is happening on Facebook/Twitter/Email. – This does not need any explanation. It’s so easy to fall into the web of…well…The Web.

The Solution – Take time to write before you open your browser. Set a timer and write for 30 minutes.

2. The Lie: Others know what you are capable of better than you do. – When I was young, someone told me that desiring to become a writer was a silly idea. He would rip into my work and criticize nearly every single word. (This is not an exaggeration.) It was a person who loved me and so I trusted that they had my best interest at heart. As an adult, I know that he was merely voicing fears about his own discarded dreams.

The Solution – Examine your beliefs about your dreams. If it is from anyone else, let it go. You do not need other people’s fears holding you back.

1. The Lie: You can’t do it! – This is the biggest lie of all. It is the most personal and the hardest lie to dispel. Thoughts begin to run through our mind, “You are wasting so much time.” “Why do you even do this?” “This is just crap. You’re writing crap.” “What makes you think anyone is going to want to read this?” “People are going to read this and laugh at it. It is so ridiculous.”

The Solution – The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to let go and do three extraordinarily frightening things:

1. Allow someone to read your work and ask for their feedback. Share it! It doesn’t matter if you think it’s ready; email it to someone you trust. Just attach it and hit the send button. You can explain it later. The important thing is to share it and ask for feedback.

2. Introduce yourself as a writer. For the first little while, you will flinch when you say it. You will berate yourself and internally call yourself a liar and a poser. That’s okay! The discomfort means growth. Pretty soon, it won’t feel like a lie. Something will change within your heart and you will realize that you already are that thing which you most want to be.

3. WRITE! Make time for yourself to hone your craft. Make it an important part of your life. We all have responsibilities and sitting behind a computer does not, from the outside, look like a productive use of time. But, if you don’t tell your stories, who will? You have ideas, dreams, visions, and thoughts to share through the written word. To do that effectively, you must make time to practice.purpose

I believe that each human being, has a rich purpose in this life. We all have something to share with the rest of our fellow persons. There is nothing as sad as witnessing someone who has a purpose and desire ignore it because they doubt their ability to do it.

Don’t be one of those people.

You be the kind of person that ignores all the lies and fulfills your purpose.

After all, what else is there?

Conversations With a Muse

Awakened…

It’s midnight, pitch black and humid inside my bedroom. I have finally found the solace of deep, dreamless sleep when I’m pulled into consciousness by a faint whispering. I stir.

“What are you doing up, baby,” I say, assuming it’s one of my girls. “Bad dream?” With my eyes still closed, I reach out my hand to pat a little blonde head.  There’s no one there, so I force my eyelids open. It’s dark, but I can see a tall, thin figure perched on the end of my bed. He’s wearing…a top hat?

“It’s me,” the figure says. “But you can call me baby, sweetie.”

“Ahhh. Chris… I might have known. Hold on.” Careful not to wake my husband, I open my nightstand drawer and pull out a small notebook and a book light.

“Not Chris, Christopher,” he says, enunciating all the consonants. “Remember?”

“Right. Sorry. Christopher. Whadya got?”

“Saint Christopher, actually,” he says casually.

Saint?” I laugh. “Okay…you…your kind are beautiful creatures. And I guess it’s possible someone might mistake you for an angel, in the dark, having had something serious poured in her drink. But I’d hardly call you a saint. Anyway, do you even know who Saint Christopher is?”

“Of course dear,” he says, buffing his nails against his chest. “It’s me.”

“You know I think if you did a little research you’d find the irony…You know what, forget it. I’m not going to argue this at…” I glance at my digital clock on the nightstand “12:02 am. You can pretend you’re a saint if you want. But I am not calling you Saint Christopher.”

Finally my eyes adjust to the dim light and I see that Chris—er, Christopher is dressed in turn of the century equestrian clothes: tight, forest-green pants, a derby, leather riding boots that come to just above the knee. I raise an eyebrow. He smirks at me.

“You love it, right?” he says, lifting his hat from his head and grinning. I squint and shake my head.

“I don’t—“

“Mmm hmm,” he interrupts, pursing his lips. “Don’t think I don’t know about your love of horses. Not to mention your secret obsession for ridiculously tight boots. It’s just too bad it doesn’t work on them.”

“What? What doesn’t work?”

“Whispering,” he says, rolling his eyes. I shake my head at him in confusion. He sighs and clicks his tongue impatiently. “You can’t muse a horse.” He slides off the foot board and leans against it. I tilt my head and survey him. Somehow, even ridiculous in 18th century equestrian gear, Chris manages to look fashionable. “It works on dogs sometimes,” he says. “Cats yield varied and erratic results. But horses are like stubborn old men. They always think they know better.”

”You tried to…give a horse an idea?” I can’t stop the corner of my mouth from turning up into a half smile. I snicker.

“Listen, Miss Judgmental in ripped yoga pants and….my good Hell, is that your husband’s old t-shirt?” I glance down at my pajama selection and shrug. He cringes and goes on. “The point is, don’t judge me. I had a vision: A majestic black horse cantering  in the wind at night. A poem, or a story beginning, whatever…figuring that out is your forte. Anyway it sounded simply fabulous. So I wanted to try it out before I whispered it.”

“That does sound lovely,” I say, scrawling notes across an empty line in my notebook.

“Wait,” he says, moving next to the bed and pushing my notebook down. “Close your eyes.” He kneels in front of me in the dim light and for a small moment we look at one another. I see sparks of color erupting inside the sapphire blue rings of his eyes. Tiny torrents of light, gold, pink, and yellow and I wonder if this is what ideas look like. I wonder if he can feel them. I wonder what it means to be a Muse, and if that strange sadness I sense in him has anything to do with his career choice. Or if it was a choice at all…

“I said, close your eyes.”

“Sorry.” I lower my eyelids and I’m met with a rush of cool night air. The pounding of hooves on earth drowns out the beating of my own heart. I’m riding without a saddle, barefoot and clutching fistfuls of the creature’s jet-black mane, strands of which are whipping against my forearms. The horse slows to a canter and I slide off, stand beside him and run my hands along his muscular neck. His silken hair shines almost blue in the moonlight.

I’m drawn to the creature, Ilh_040Goliath can’t stop touching him. I’m beckoned by the diamonds sparkling in the velvet, black sky and the way the grass casts snakelike shadows onto my bare feet. I want to stay. I want to live here, fall into this world and never look back. But reality lies in waiting. I know it will call for me once it realizes I am gone. And eventually, I will call for it too. I open my eyes.

“Wow…that was—“

“Acceptable,” he sighs.  “Adequate. But it could have been brilliant. Sadly this getup was wasted on the likes of His Majesty in the manure pile out in the back field. Some creatures simply weren’t made to appreciate artistic inspiration.”

“I know why she goes riding,” I say quietly, picking up my notebook and pen.

“Oh? There’s a she?” Chris smiles knowingly and backs away from my bedside, leans against my desk.

“Yes, a young girl. She sneaks out of her house at night and rides because it’s the only way she can’t hear her heart pounding. She’s haunted by…something. I don’t know yet.”

“I’ll work on it for you,” he says.

“Thanks,” I say, and smile. He smiles back. We have a mutual, unspoken understanding. The magic of being mused doesn’t stop at one suggestion. It’s the merging of enchanting ideas with familiar emotion, the melding of imagination and truth. I close the notebook and lay it on the nightstand.

“What are you doing?” Chris says. “We aren’t done.”

“Listen, Chris. Christopher. I really appreciate all of this effort, but it’s after midnight. My kids are going to get me up early. And anyway I think I got the gist of what—“

“What…the horse in the field? That wasn’t it. What do you take me for, a dolt?”

“I don’t—“

“Get comfortable sweetie, I have the story idea of a lifetime for you.” He sinks to the floor and leans comfortably against the pillows I’ve tossed from my bed.

“I’m already writing the story idea of a lifetime, rememb—“

“It starts like this…He’s a man with a gypsy soul who trains horses, and he’s a ghost. But not in the usual way…

hand writing darkish

Hello Again…I’m back from my adventure!

Guess what! One of our founding members has returned to us! She has been living in another state for a year and has returned wiser, happier and excited to share our writing (and life) experiences. So without further delay, here is Ali!

 

They say you can never go home again…They lie!

By Ali White

I say that home is the best place to return to. And I am always right! Just ask my husband. I returned with a new appreciation for my home, the people, the places, and my mountains that I took for granted. I knew that I loved my family and friends, but I didn’t realize how much until my return home. I left feeling that I was finally breaking free and coming into my own. I realize now that you can’t truly be yourself unless you are grateful for your past and the people that made you who you are. It is possible to find a new connection with yourself in a new place and I recommend taking ”me time” to everyone. But always, always go home at some point to see the vast difference between who you are and who you were. Me, I am content to stay home and experience the blending of my new life and my old life. So here is Ali’s list of crap that you should know that she learned while having an adventure!

  1. NEVER forget the sunscreen!
  2. Always have an exit strategy
  3. You should always be willing to sacrifice something for those you love
  4. Patience is not given it is learned
  5. Laughter is the best way to cope
  6. McDonald’s is McDonald’s everywhere you go so be careful
  7. You can never have too many rolls of toilet paper

Now having been home from my journey for a month I am settling in and getting comfy. My new family loves it here and my muse has returned with a vengeance. I am writing again and I am so happy to be rejoining my awesome compatriots in the guild. I look forward to sharing new paths and new ideas with everyone. So until next time Peace Out Homies!

A Month of Poetry….Why?

It was the first day in May, and the morning air felt static with promise. I was up early. Still sleepy and warm from the shower, I stood at the top of my stairway and watched the first rays of sun break over the peak of the mountains to the Trust in Joyeast. The sunlight was falling between peaks in veil-like beams. I grabbed my phone from the nightstand and snapped a picture.

Not wanting to wake my girls, I crept downstairs to begin my morning ritual in the usual way, seeking a fresh cup of coffee. I opened the fridge to get creamer, and as I closed it I found remnants of my daughter’s poem she’d made with my magnetic poetry set the night before. It said:

Her smile was a river in the music of her voice.

 I paused and read it again, and again, letting the words swirl around inside my head.  My eight-year-old did this. She created this and simply left it there. Not worried if it made sense to anyone but her. Not wondering if anyone would accept it as art, or as truth.  I remembered feeling that way…a very long time ago.

I poured my coffee and fingered at the small rectangles of words left inside the magnetic poetry box. Not looking at the words, I placed the first two squares I picked up on the fridge. Morning, and joy. I stared for a few minutes at the light shining in through a high window, and then I found the rest of the words I was seeking, or rather, they found me.

This morning broke like trust in Joy.

Pure, effortless, and serendipitously meant for no-one else but me in that exact second of my life. Poetry.

I felt inspired, empowered. It was a gift, to be able to start the day this way. I remembered all the times in my life when and why I’d written poetry: For heartbreak, for love, for inspiration, to remember, and to forget. Poetry was a part of me even when I had chosen to stop writing it.

In that second, some strange, sure voice from within me made a promise.  I would create a new poem every day in May. There would be no rules, except to write without rules, and that it had to be something new—not something I’d ever written before.

In the next second I remembered a discussion Lori and I had about the boundless power behind being vulnerable, and so I decided I was going to share my poems publicly. I’d post them on my Facebook timeline. As I quietly readied myself for the day, there were voices in my head telling me why I couldn’t, shouldn’t do it. But there was one soft, sure voice telling me why I had to. It took me a few days to truly hear her reasons. But eventually, I did:

The first—

My writing tends to be overrun by emotion. Sometimes, it’s a good thing, but usually it’s problematic, because simple things tend to get overstated. For so many years, for so many reasons I smothered my desire and ability to write. Shut down by censorship and self-doubt, the emotion built up and bottlenecked, and when I finally led myself back to writing, it came gushing out like a volcano.  Poetry is emotion, and writing it every day, without limitation was a way to release the raw veins of it that remained.

The second—

It was time. I needed to show myself that I truly wasn’t afraid to be what I was. I wasn’t afraid to be judged or criticized or talked about behind closed doors, or even out in the open. I live in a place where the culture tends to oppress people into sameness. And as much as I told myself I wasn’t affected by it, of course there were parts of me that were.

On the fourth day I wrote about a time in my life when I felt suffocated by this very phenomenon. It was a night that I remembered well, lying sleepless in my bed, overcome with anxiety. I finally could take no more and went running barefoot into the night, not sure  whether I was trying to run to…or escape from.

Saturday May 4th

Inside my house
its tight and warm
Inside my heart
a brewing storm

 I rush for the door;
a war to end war
unable to breathe
for one second more

Raging through nightIMG_1042
 Bare feet
on concrete
a pulse-like beat

Afraid and closed in
 I run
for the fear
I might disappear.

I wrote this poem, and it was the first time I realized exactly why I was running. In fact, I learned something new every time I wrote. I learned that I could create amidst the most chaotic days. I learned that sometimes, the creative part of me just needed to sink into the narrows of my mind and hide, and that it was useless to try to force it out. I learned that I could accept criticism as mere publicity, instead of shrink away from it like a wilting flower. I learned that as a writer, my abilities can reach far beyond the recesses of my own experience, channeling others’ emotions and stories into my poems.

Often, it was free verse that came out, but sometimes a rhyme seemed to find its way into the story. Other times it was just one line, serving only one purpose. At one point, a friend who has also long denied herself of her love of writing became compelled to do a week of poetry for herself. I told myself that if nothing else came of my experiment, at least I had reached out to one other doubtful soul.

Sometimes I wrote a poem, shook my head and laughed. Sometimes I wrote something and then closed myself in a room and cried. And a few times I wondered if I was reading someone else’s mind. But I think the most powerful idea that became of my month of poetry hit me as I wrote this poem:

I searched for light

In the darkest of spaces

Finding my Purpose

in all the wrong places:

My parents quiet choices
my teachers’ silk words.
In the arms of lovers
The untamed flight of birds.

 

I found vines of it

elusive and wild
in the blue of the eyes

of my youngest child.

 

My yearning for Purpose

Long held captive by fear.

What I thought I had lost

Became suddenly clear:

 

For all that will be

And for all that had been

What I was without…

Was always within.

I finished the last verse and posted it on my page with my heart pounding. It was uncensored truth, served up in a verse, that I created both by looking both inward and outward at myself. I had rediscovered what I had once known. Poetry was always within. It is the firm, quiet hope that moves me forward into my writing and into my life.

Why did I write and share a poem every day in May? It was my purpose.

Thanks for reading.

~C

A Little Bit of Nothing

The post we received from our guest blogger, Margo Loftus, started a conversation in the group about the things that mean a lot to us even though they are small and seemingly insignificant.

I thought that, in the spirit of “Nothing” I would share a small experience I had…

My sister came home. She’s been living in another state for over a year, and has just moved back, she brought with her two beautiful, enchanting girls and one handsome and loving husband.

Her husband and his girls immediately fit into our, somewhat unbalanced family. He was funny, engaging, forgiving and kind and the girls are a reflection of those values.

One day last week, my sister and her family stopped by my house after spending much of their day unpacking. My children played with her children, and chaos reigned (as it usually does at these family get-togethers.)

Maybe not exactly like this.

Maybe not exactly like this.

My readers must understand that I have four children, my home is lived in and comfortable, at no time would Better Homes and Gardens come to ask organization advise from me or take photographs of my home. (Read…her house looks like a landfill.) To add to the mess, my 3 year old has some large flash cards which she loves to play with. To her they are not flash cards, they are confetti, paper airplanes, skis, stepping stones and anything else that involves throwing them all over the floor.

My new Brother – in – Law, after visiting for a few moments assisted my 3 year old in flash cardscollecting her flash cards and putting them back on the book shelf. This is a task I do multiple times a day, and having him take on that small task, was such a relief. It seems like such a simple thing to pick up flash cards, but to a busy mom who does it several times a day, it was a blessing.

So thank you New Brother – in – Law!

Please stay tuned for the rest of the month, we will be discussing our goals and Beltane, but I will try to keep you posted on the great “Nothings” that happen in my life.

Oh it’s NOTHING!

guest-posting

My Auntie M (as children we thought we were pretty special to have our own Auntie M–Like Dorothy) shared some of her writing with us this month and– ass that I am, I forgot to post it last night… chalk it up to all the changes I’m supposed to be going through.

Anyhow, it is a beautiful idea that she had and I am honored to share it with you today.

“Oh it’s NOTHING.”

 Have you ever done something for someone that you think is small and they tell you Thank you, And you reply – “Oh, Its Nothing.”?

Something like, taking the newspaper in when you walk in your grandma’s house.

Or giving a child a drink when her mother is especially busy?Pint girl

Maybe you just handed someone a napkin when they were too far away from the dispenser, or said; “Hello”, to someone who was all alone?

To you it may be nothing. But have you ever thought about what “Nothing does?

Today I was filling out a form for a woman.  It was so that she could receive an award, a token of the boss’s appreciation for a job well done.

As I typed in the amount of the bonus I was supposed to input $100.00 but accidentally put in $1000.00! When I proof read the form and realized the mistake, it was amazing to me how much one NOTHING can do.

It made me think of the many times I have said or heard; “Oh, It’s nothing.”

I just imagined what would have happened if I had left the form like that…

The awards were going to go clear up to the big boss’s desk and just suppose that she had missed that amount as well.

(I had actually shown it to the individual’s manager and he didn’t notice my mistake.)

Think with me for a moment, if you will.  What would have happened – say – If it would have gone all the way through the pipe line?  WOW what a bonus for a few hours work!

What if I had left off one of the nothings – $10.00?  WOW what a slap in the face for all that work!  Or Lets say I had not put in another nothing?  $1 – for all the work this employee had done over a month’s time that had helped the company greatly.

If we were to take out all of the nothings in the amount it would be just 1 cent.  That would have been quite a kick in the teeth! Let’s go back and imagine for just a second if I had added ANOTHER “NOTHING” to that award form? $10,000.00 Wouldn’t you have wanted to be the recipient of that?  I know I would.  Shoot – today I would take the $10.00!

This made me think, What if we do a bunch of ‘NOTHINGS” in each day – what a difference we can make, in our lives – because after all “IT IS NOTHING”.  Yet how do you feel when you do a “NOTHING” for someone?  You would feel pretty good most of the time if you knew you were doing little things for others that to you may be “NOTHING” but that they may be struggling to get to or just can’t do.

helping handsImagine – what the world would be like at work – people doing little random acts of “NOTHING” for each other? WOW – we might just want to be at work. Or our days would be so fun!

How about at home?  You and your husband just doing the little “NOTHINGS” that mean so much to each other or your children doing all the little “NOTHINGS” that would help SO much.

Have you done nothing all day?  You should feel pretty good about yourself about now.

Well, this is a whole lot of “NOTHING” for me to write a whole page about –

But it made me think.  “NOTHING” CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE EVERYDAY!

Margo Loftus

It’s Music Week!

Hey Firefans!

We are so excited to share a special treat with our loyal followers this week. And…if you’re new to Writing the Fire, you picked a great time to join us. We’ve had an epiphany.

Last week when I wrote the 3 Ways to Keep Writing… or How Not to Lose Your Writing Mojo post, I was chatting via Facebook with Lori and asked her to give me a few ideas about what inspired her to write. She said:

“Music is huge, particularly when I am writing something spiritual. Music speaks to the soul in ways that nothing else can. In fact, I believe that when we pass on, we’ll communicate through music…somehow. It’s a more complete form of communication.”

Eureka! An idea came into my peripheral vision: We need a tribute to music on Writing the Fire!

Why? Because for each of us, when nothing else moves us, when the Muse is MIA and we’re certain we can’t write another word, music gives us fire.

Do something for me: Think of one of your favorite songs- from any genre or phase of your life, by any artist or group. A song that you can listen to a thousand times and not get sick of. Now… go pull it up on YouTube and have a listen.

What images start to come into focus in your i-love-musicmind…Inside your heart?  What emotions rise up from within, what memories does it bring back into your conscious realm?

Whether you felt ecstatic or sentimental or sad or angry, isn’t that a beautiful phenomenon? What a wonderful thing, that some notes strung together with the right voice and some instrumentation can produce that kind of raw feeling in a human being?

Part of the reason the three of us became so attached from the get-go because we all quickly realized we have one sort of odd phenomenon in common. We write to music. We all figured out we were alike in this way during Camp NaNoWriMo last August, and we all kinda geeked out about it together. Our group Facebook page became a virtual corkboard where we shared all our favorite songs and the scenes we’d written to go with them.

So this week we’re going to let you inmy_favorite_song-3892 too! We’ll share some of the music that plays a part in our writing, along with the story that appeared in our heads as we listened. I also convinced a local performer, our Indie Ogden friend Jenny Shaw to share some of her music here, for a look at the other side of things. We’ll answer the question: What music summons stories from the minds of writers, and what stories propel a musician into making music?

Consequently, this morning at our monthly business meeting I asked Natalie to give me some song ideas to go with this post. I wanted something that anyone could listen to and see the vision that we see: Music is a pathway to the soul. She came up with this one:

It really is perfect for this post, but it’s funny…  I think if someone was ever to write a story of our group, this would definitely be our theme song.

Anyway, get ready to read some of our deep-from-the-murky-depths writing this week, and hear the music that inspired it. And- we’d love to hear your favorite songs and how they inspire you too. So don’t hesitate to give us a shout out if you want to sing along. ; )

So. Much. Fun. You do not want to miss this. Stay tuned!  🙂

Cindy