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Spurt

WritersToday my haiku is from February 5th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Other Artists, one of a 7-book series. The haiku topic for today is “Spurt”:

a gush and a roar
ideas like lava plumes
spurt into the sky

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

If you’re interested in the story of how The Haiku Book of Days series came to be, check out my previous blog post here. You can purchase this book on Amazon here

The Power of Intentional Words

Nebula IllustrationTomorrow is the traditional date of Imbolc. Imbolc is an old European festival traditionally celebrated February 2nd. In Catholic tradition this date is known as Candlemas, and is sacred to Saint Brigid. In popular culture it has come down to us as Groundhog’s Day. This holiday marks the first stirring of the seeds, deep within the womb of earth. Nature is beginning to wake up. The days are visibly longer. There is a sense of freshness in the air, and a feeling of possibility. Imbolc is the traditional time to set new intentions and begin new projects for the coming year.

I celebrate Imbolc by setting my intention for the coming year. I actually write my intention on a little slip of paper, roll the paper into a ball, and plant it in a pot that I have decorated myself. I also plant a real seed in the pot too, and boy do I take care of that seed and make sure it grows and blooms.

This year my intention is to take a yearlong sabbatical from ghostwriting in order to write my “own stuff.” It feels very scary to write that and put it out there.

I’ve been a ghostwriter for 17 years now. It’s been a wild wonderful ride filled with the most amazing stories. I was privileged to hear them first and help get them out into the world.

I’ve blogged before about the joys of ghostwriting and how much it has given me. I’ve been fairly successful. I’ve been involved – mostly as a ghostwriter, sometimes as a content editor – in nearly 50 books in those 17 years. I finished the last one just last month.

But there are some downsides to ghostwriting. The biggest one is that I’ve been so busy writing other people’s stories that I’ve neglected my own. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t written my own books – I have. Over ten of them, in fact – fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Nearly all of them published before 2010.

But for the last five years or so, as my ghostwriting business has grown, my own work has languished in drawers or my laptop file folders. I had and have plenty of great ideas, and have worked on most of them sporadically, some more than others. Over time, this list of “almost finished” and “just starting” books has grown. Right now I have thirteen books in various stages of completion. Some are just notes and plans, others are halfway done, a few are mostly done, and one is completely done but is just sitting there in my files waiting for me to submit it for publication.

As the time has gone by, guess what else happened? I got older! I started to fear that if I didn’t get moving on my works-in-progress, I would die before those wonderful ideas could be born.

Battling with this fear of never getting around to my own work was the fear of stopping ghostwriting altogether. On the most practical level, what if I ran out of money or ideas, what if I never get another ghostwriting job? What if the “book biz” people I know stop referring potential clients to me? What if the reputation I worked so hard to build will go down the drain? Most importantly, I love ghostwriting! I don’t want to never ghostwrite again.

I was moaning about this battle of fears to a friend of mine, when she said something wise. “You don’t have to quit ghostwriting – why not take a sabbatical instead?”

Ah, the power of words. Sabbatical sounds so much less threatening than quitting. I could write my guts out this year on the thirteen book ideas, and perhaps I might finish one or two of them. Then I could make another decision. It’s not all or nothing!

So as 2015 was ending and I was finishing up my ghostwriting projects, I started refusing new ones. That was so hard! I am such a sucker for good stories. Have you ever noticed that when you make a bold declaration of intent, suddenly offers or situations arise that challenge that intent? Almost like the mysterious Universe is saying, “Oh yeah? Do you really mean it?”

Nevertheless, my plan for 2016 is this: I am taking a sabbatical from ghostwriting for one year. In the months to come I’ll let you know how it’s going, and perhaps even give glimpses into those thirteen wonderful ideas that are itching to be born.

I hope the Universe will wait until 2017 to tantalize me with new ghostwriting opportunities. Are you listening, Universe?

Skin

DisorganizedToday my haiku is from January 29th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for the Happily Disorganized and Others of Jumbled Mind, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Skin”:

get out of your head
pretend you can only touch
let your skin teach you

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

What is Worse, Sweat or Soap?

soapAlex Terrgi here. I go on a walk nearly every day, either with my human, my human’s granddaughter, or my dog-walker lady named Tammy. Sometimes we walk through the park, sometimes we walk on the sidewalks, and sometimes we walk on the nature trails. I like the nature trails the best because they smell like bears and raccoons and crows and even frogs sometimes. I wish humans would cover themselves with these smells because then it would be much more pleasant to be around them. Instead they smell like something they call “sweat” which is nasty water that leaks out of their skin. Dogs don’t sweat, thank goodness, and neither do bears or raccoons or crows or frogs.

But even worse than sweat is something called “soap” which is one of the worst smells in the whole world, and which humans use to wash off the sweat that we dogs thought was bad enough.

It’s a good thing dogs are patient and loving and kind, or else we’d have to bury all the humans underground in holes six feet deep to get rid of their smells of sweat or soap. But that would kill them, and like I said, we are patient and loving and kind. Besides, if we buried them, who would feed us?

Roasted

DisorganizedToday my haiku is from January 22nd of my book A Haiku Book of Days for the Happily Disorganized and Others of Jumbled Mind, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Roasted”:

roasted red peppers
riding on warm sourdough bread
melting mayonnaise

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Frustration Can Be a Good Thing

Ten Reasons to be a GhostwriterOne frustration of ghostwriting is that your hard work does not belong to you. You can put your talent and experience and heart into a piece of writing that sings and enthralls, but no one knows about your good work. Maybe your client’s book gets an offer from a bigwig publisher, and then gets glowing reviews by respected reviewers, or maybe your client self-publishes and makes thousands of dollars in sales along with gathering hundreds of good reviews on Amazon. And you wish you could say “I wrote that!” at least to your friends and family, but you can’t. That writing no longer belongs to you. Actually it never did belong to you, because the ideas and the story were never yours, only the way those ideas and stories were expressed. But still.

At other times this frustration has a different flavor. Like when you proudly send the final manuscript to your client, and then he/she publishes it, and you go to read it and find out that he/she has removed sections and replaced them with off-topic new ones, or inserted sentences that have little or nothing to do with the chapter or topic, or added redundancies or unnecessary adjectives in the mistaken belief that repeating something over and over or modifying words with adjectives like “very” would somehow increase emphasis, or moved something in chapter 2 to chapter 5 for no discernible reason, or … well, you get the idea. The flow of your beautifully crafted work has been ruined and replaced with confusion, or the pace has been slowed so much your eyes cross with boredom. Or whatever. If you’re like me, you probably throw a little snit fit and mourn your beautiful well-crafted sentences and structure, but then you realize again that this book belongs to the author. Who is Not You. Phew.

In essence, this frustration teaches ghostwriters how to control their egos, instead of the other way around. And this is a Good Thing.

Jello

DisorganizedToday my haiku is from January 15th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for the Happily Disorganized and Others of Jumbled Mind, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Jello”:

if your mother made
lime jello with anchovies
you must forgive her

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

No Mothering For Alex

Jackie (Jan 2016)Alex Terrgi here. I have a new best friend. Her name is Jackie and she is almost 6 months old. She lives at my human’s granddaughter’s house but we get to visit with each other a couple of times a week. Jackie thinks I am cool because I am older and wiser and bigger than her. I know all the tricks of neck-biting and all the hiding places for bones and all the good digging holes and how to chase squirrels and how not to bite the leash while we’re on a walk. Jackie is just learning this stuff so she isn’t very good at it, but what she lacks in experience she makes up for in enthusiasm.

One of the things Jackie doesn’t really get is the concept of “holding it.” She knows enough to let the humans know when she has to pee, but she has not yet learned that humans are slow and sometimes they don’t get up and let her outside within 30 seconds of when she tells them (by standing by the door) that she has to pee or poop. If they don’t let her out within those 30 seconds she just pees or poops where she is standing, which makes the humans angry, and then Jackie gets this perplexed look on her face when they yell. I have tried to tell her that humans are kinda stupid, but she is still young enough to see them as all-powerful gods, so no wonder she is confused.

I love Jackie and am always happy to see her, either at my house or at hers, but I have to admit that I’m always really tired by the time we part. Puppies are exhausting. I’m glad I’m a boy dog so I didn’t have to be a mother dog. I don’t know how they do it.

Shadows

DisorganizedToday my haiku is from January 8th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for the Happily Disorganized and Others of Jumbled Mind, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Shadows”:

hide in the shadows
pretend no one can see you
forget why you’re here

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

 

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

On The Other Side of the Generation Gap

Bob DylanSometimes you just feel old, you know? Even if you aren’t.

Recently I had to have some medical tests. The first test was conducted by a tech named Alec, a man who looked to be in his late twenties. Before the test he asked me if I’d like to listen to some music while the machines did their work. I said that would be great. “So who do you like?” he asked. “I like Jakob Dylan,” I said. “Okay,” said Alec, “I like him too. I’m into a lot of music.”

“He’s Bob Dylan’s son, you know,” I said, making conversation to take my mind off the test.

“Who’s that? I’ve never heard of him.” said Alec.

WTF?? Who’s BOB DYLAN??? My mouth hung open in shock. Alec says he’s into music but he doesn’t know who Bob Dylan is? How is that even possible?

Oh well, I guess it takes all kinds. So later at the second test, this time with a tech named Kevin, another late-twenties guy, I tried again. Surely it wouldn’t happen twice.

“I have a music question for you,” I said to Kevin. He looked a little surprised, but he is probably used to off-the-wall questions from patients having to undergo uncomfortable tests, so he said, “Okay.”

“Do you know who Bob Dylan is?”

“Uh …” he said, looking puzzled. “I guess it sounds kinda familiar …” He clearly had no idea.

OMG.

BTW, I passed the medical tests with flying colors. The techs, however, failed their musical tests badly.