Compost: First Paragraph

Blogging from the compost in my brain can be challenging. There are so many gyrating ideas coming and going, and all of them look pretty good at first glance. Right now I’m in the middle of writing a short story, and thoughts about that story keep intruding. Suddenly I thought, “I know, I’ll share the first paragraph of my as yet unfinished story, and ask my readers to tell me what they think.”

Would you keep reading this story? Or would you yawn and go feed the cat? The title of the story is Gabriel’s Bed. Here’s the first paragraph:

It was a fine spring morning, and one of Eva McMillan’s good days. The sunlight streamed in through the window and over the bed, dust motes dancing in the cool sweet air. The birds peeped in the trees outside, and Eva remembered who she was.

Because this story has not been edited or polished, and will certainly change, this feels scary. Oh well, here we go anyway.

Technorati Tags: blogging, idea, compost, brain, first, scary

Haiku Friday: Alone

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.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

Today’s topic is “alone.” Here is my haiku:

at nearly midnight
if you’re alone in your bed
make friends with the dark


Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, topic, alone, midnight, bed, friends, dark

This blog From the Compost given a “Superior Scribbler Award!”

I’m happy to say that Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett, co-authors of Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Stories (www.RosiesDaughters.com) have given me a Superior Scribbler Award for my blog. Thank you, Matilda and Kendra. Their blog is pretty darn good too – visit it at www.womensmemoirs.com.

Here’s what a Superior Scribbler award is and how it works:

One of the rules for Superior Scribbler Award recipients is that you pass the award on to five other noteworthy bloggers. Not that easy – I read a lot of blogs, and enjoy them all. (Because why would I read blogs I don’t enjoy?) However, because sometimes you must choose, here are five blogs which celebrate, entertain, and inform on the topics of writing, history, and storytelling:

Haiku Farm
www.haikufarm.blogspot.com. Aarene Storm’s blog will charm you with its eclectic mixture of storytelling, haiku, horses, goats, dogs, cats, chickens, and a slight tip-tilted attitude.

Straight From Hel
www.straightfromhel.blogspot.com: Ideas may be heaven-sent, but these words come straight from Hel. Writing advice, publishing news, book reviews and links from writer and freelance editor, Helen Ginger. I read this blog nearly every day, and every day I either laugh out loud or learn something – and most days, both.

 Passing It On
www.whenwordsmatter.typepad.com. Larry Lehmer’s wonderful blog shows you (shows, not tells!) how profound and meaningful one’s personal memories can be – and not just to you and your family, but to other inhabitants of our world. Larry is a professional personal historian who helps people preserve their family histories, and he’s heard a lot of great stories.

Wonders And Marvels
ww.wondersandmarvels.com
. Professor Holly Tucker’s amazing blog where historians, both professional and amateur, can share and revel in the strange stories of the past. It’s billed as “A community for Curious Minds who love History, Odd Stories, and Good Reads,” and it lives up to the billing. Here you will learn things that you won’t quite believe – but they are true!

The Heart and Craft of Life Writing
http://heartandcraft.blogspot.com/
Sharon Lippincott gives tips, guidelines, and observations that help ordinary people write extraordinary stories about their lives and experiences.

Congratulations Aarene, Helen, Holly, Larry, and Sharon. I love your blogs!

Here are the rules for Passing on the Superior Scribbler Award:

  1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received the Award.
  3. Each Superior Scribbler must display the Award on his/her blog, and link to this post, (http://scholastic-scribe.blogspot.com/2008/10/200-this-blings-for-you.html) which explains the Award.
  4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
  5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

 

Technorati Tags: compost, award, blog, writing, rules, recipients, author

Sharing History: A Thousand Years of Pigs

There is good reason to think that one of my ancestors is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Just in case some of you do not know what the Domesday book is, it was a census taken of the British Isles starting in 1086, right after the Norman Conquest. William of Normandy, from then on known as William I or William The Conqueror, thought it might be nice to know what he now owned. He was an acquisitive kind of guy. He sent his men all over England to each and every shire (yes, they really called them that – Tolkien did not make the word up) to find out what and how much each landholder had in land, livestock, and peasants. And women, of course. Then William could tax these assets and get even more rich and powerful.

Now my ancestor wasn’t William, or one of his nobles, or even one of his tax collector guys. Nothing quite so grand. My ancestor was a pig farmer living in the fens of eastern England, in a hamlet southeast of York. His name was Johnson and the line about him in the Domesday book tells how many acres he had to keep his pigs, how many pigs he had, how many wives (one), and how many sons. (Either he had no daughters or daughters weren’t important enough to mention.)

Today my third cousin-once removed, whose last name is Johnson, owns the same bit of land his (and my) ancestor owned and paid taxes on. It is still a pig farm. It’s been a pig farm for nearly one thousand years.

A thousand years of pigs, think of it. A thousand years of Johnsons. My name has never been Johnson, but my great-great-grandfather in my maternal line was named Johnson, and although he didn’t do the dirty pig-farming work himself, he owned the land and paid the men who mucked and slopped those pigs.

And if it hadn’t been for a greedy, too-powerful man named William, I would never know how far back my pig-farming heritage goes. So if my grandson becomes a pig farmer someday, we will know where it comes from, won’t we?

How far back can you trace your ancestors? If you’d care to share a story about this topic, please leave a comment here. At the end of each month I’ll gather up the Sharing History comments and pick one at random from a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing my e-book: your choice of a Making History Workbook.

Technorati Tags: ancestors, domesday, Norman Conquest, Normandy, William the Conqueror, England, Britsh Isles, pig farmer, Johnson

Compost: What I Don’t Have

I don’t have the dedication of a clear uncluttered mind. Mine is full of hidden nooks and sheltered crannies that harbor the frantic fears of the hunted. I don’t have the slightest idea of the meaning of anything, it’s all pretense and clouds, garbled syllables mumbled by a clown wearing a bear suit.

I guess you can tell that I’m feeling slightly down today. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here, and why I try so hard. Where do I expect to go? What do I expect to get?

I haven’t the faintest idea. But I’ll get up tomorrow and begin again.

Technorati Tags: dedication, uncluttered, mind, nooks, crannies, clouds, garble, syllables, clown

Haiku Friday: Play

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.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the "Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

Today’s topic is “play.” Here is my haiku:

bend down, sniff the ground
stick your butt into the sky
get ready to play


Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, topic, play, bend, sniff, ground, butt, sky

Writing Tip: Voices in your Head, Part II

A few weeks ago I wrote about how to make your internal critics go away by writing about them, and told you that my critic was named Ed. But Ed is only one of them – like most of us, I have several internal critics, nearly all of them nasty. Here is a piece I wrote about Cousin Irene, the voice inside my head who is in charge of procrastination, laziness, and all the addictive distractions there are.

Cousin Irene lurches into the room, trailing leavings from her purse – a dried-up lipstick, a wallet with a broken zipper, a scarf that has gum wadded in it, and of course those old used Kleenexes. She doesn’t pick anything up, because that is my job. She plops down on the most comfortable chair in the room. Her bulk overflows the cushion and her dress rides up on her thighs; she is wearing nylon socks that only reach halfway up her meaty calves. She tells me it’s too hot to write today, and besides there is nothing interesting to write about, and even if there was something interesting, I would not be able to find it. She demands a glass of wine, even though it’s only two in the afternoon. She asks what’s in the refrigerator, and then says I should make her a plate of something, whatever is there. She turns on the TV; it is Judge Judy, which suits her fine, she likes to sneer at all those stupid people. She spills her wine on the front of her dress but doesn’t bother to wipe it off.

After I wrote this, I asked Cousin Irene to leave. She gave me a sly look out of her piggy little eyes and promised to visit me again tomorrow. Oh joy.

Do you have a Cousin Irene? If you do, write about her. Otherwise, she just might move in with you forever.

I sometimes share writing tips that have worked for me or my clients/students. Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share? If so, leave a comment here. You might win something! At the end of each month I’ll gather up the “Writing Tip” comments from the month and pick one at random from a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of How to WOW Your Readers or You Can Be An Author, Even If You’re Not a Writer.

Technorati Tags: conversation, critics, editors, voice, Writing Tips

Compost: The Muse Must Listen

More from my muse, Laura, telling you what will happen if you will only listen.

“Listen,” says Laura, looking straight at you while pointing with her spoon baton in turn at your sister, your neighbor, your enemy, your dearest love, your darkest stranger. “Listen,” she commands while she conducts a symphony of story foods, mixing her metaphors and your lives. Booming, trilling, popping, dripping, the sounds of singing and cooking fill the room. Words and phrases and sentences splatter and spray on the walls; Laura will lick them up later for dessert. Laura boils you and steams you and roasts you and bakes you. Your aromas soar into the air and your juicy pulp turns the ground to mud. “Listen,” she cries, her baton nodding to her, to him, to it; moving so fast that all you see is its shiny pattern on the air. “Listen,” shouts Laura, and gulps the symphony down. Laura will never starve.

excerpted from Eating Mythos Soup, ©2000 Kim Pearson

Technorati Tags: muse, Laura, writing, poemstories, Eating Mythos Soup, listen, spoon, symphony, baton, foods, metaphors, dessert

Haiku Friday: Saturday

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.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

 Today’s topic is “Saturday.” Here is my haiku:

don't look at the clock
it’s Saturday afternoon
the peaches are ripe


Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, topic, saturday, clock, afternoon, peaches, ripe

Sharing History: Remember the Moon Walk?

No, not Michael Jackson – the earlier moon walk. Anyone who was alive and past the age of five in the summer of 1969 remembers when Armstrong and Aldrin electrified the world by walking on the real moon. Here’s one of the stories shared in my “Making History” class about this event:

“Sarah” shared the personal meaning July 20, 1969 had for her. She had been invited to a party that evening, one that would include “college boys.” She was 14 and wild to go, but her parents had heard about the college boys too, and wouldn’t let her attend. But teenage-like, she sneaked out and went anyway. When she arrived at the party, everyone was clustered around the TV, watching Walter Cronkite report that “the Eagle had landed.” She had known, of course, about the planned moon landing, but it hadn’t mattered much to her, immersed in her own teenage concerns – until she saw the awe and pride lighting the faces of the college boys she had come to meet. One boy was even crying, unashamedly. She said later it was his tears that caused her to fall in love with him. They were married exactly ten years later, on July 20, 1979.

Do you have a story about the moon walk? Either the real one, or the iconic move by Michael Jackson? If you’d care to share a story about this topic, please leave a comment here. At the end of each month I’ll gather up the Sharing History comments and pick one at random from a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing my e-book: your choice of a Making History Workbook.

Technorati Tags: moon walk, Michael Jackson, 1969, Armstrong, Walter Cronkite, Eagle