Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Mentors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEveryone needs mentors to help them along with their vocations.  Creatives, especially writers, also need them.  Most of the time when we think of mentors we think of people in our lives who might read our drafts or act as our cheering sections.    Often, though, our mentors are people we have never met.  Often our mentors are writers we enjoy reading and whose writing  we want to emulate.   They can be writers we have known for years or some we are now encountering for the first time.

Since I was so involved with NaNoWrimo I did not have a chance to read anything for the entire month of November.   Therefore, for the last few days I have been reading little bits from several writers.    Last week on a show on the Travel Channel, I was introduced to the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. (Some of my writing buddies know which show….  :). )   I was so enamored by the poetry I heard read on the show that I went out and obtained a copy of his collected poetry from a used bookstore.    I am drawn to his ability to paint images in my mind with his words.  I decided I would study his poetry some more and see what I can learn from his style.  I am not a poet but I like to employ a poetic quality to my prose whenever possible.

Other writers and poets to whom I am drawn  include Robert Frost for his simple, straightforward elegance,   Edgar Allen Poe and J.R.R. Tolkien for their stunning imaginations, Nathaniel Hawthorne for his astute understanding of  the complexities of human nature,  and Barbara Kingsolver for weaving her social activism into her stories.   I also like a number of contemporary mystery and romance novelists who just seem to know how to spin a good tale,  — Susan Wittig Albert, Sharyn McCrumb, Nora Roberts, Diane Mott Davidson to name a few.

I have not met these individuals but I consider them all, to various extent, influential to my writing.

Who are your mentors?

ljgloyd 2012


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The Importance of Making Fields Notes

In Keri Smith’s book, How to be an Explorer of the World, she provides a list of how to observe your surroundings and make field notes of those observations.   I love her list.  The first item on the  list is the most practical:  “1. Always be looking (Notice the ground beneath your feet.)”  I have made “looking” so much of my daily routine that it has become second nature.   I drive my friends nuts by saying “didn’t you see such-and-such just now?”   (They usually don’t).

Yesterday, I was walking across the grounds of the place where I work on the way to another office.  I decided to take a more scenic route across the grounds and walked along an area next to an undeveloped patch of ground.   Looking down at the ground I noticed tracks.  Lots and lots of animal tracks of some sort.   Whatever made them had walked in the mud and then onto the pavement leaving muddy little footprints.  They were different sizes of the same type of track so I suspect this was a parent and several little ones.    I became intrigued, and since this is not something I see every day, I whipped out a camera and snapped a few pictures.  (A tip to you writers:  along with your writer’s journal, carry a camera at all times for moments like this).

When I got back to my office, I googled “animal tracks” and determined that the tracks belonged to Procyon lotor, or the Common North American Raccoon.  I was not surprised.  Procyon lotor have become quite common in my urban setting over the last few years.  They breed like crazy and have no predators to keep them in check.    Still, the raccoon is typically not part of my daily professional workplace experience.

I had no plans for the photographs other than to move them from my camera to my computer and to clean them up so the tracks could be more discernible.   In the process of doing this, I accidentally created these manipulated images.  I was delighted in what Photoshop did with the color of the pavement.  Roses, blues, greens, and yellows were not what my eye saw, but apparently it was what the camera saw.

 

My tip for the day is to always be looking and be ready to make “field notes” along the way. You never know how you can parlay those observation notes into something very cool.

To see the complete list of Kerri Smith’s tips on exploring the world, click HERE.

Text and images LJGloyd (Pelican1), (C) 2012.


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Writing and Resonance

I worked myself into a panic last night.  After I so cavalierly made the proclamation that I would make a blog post every day, I did  not imagine that after only one post I would be struggling to come up with another idea for the next post.  I figured I have a least three days before the well went dry.   As a result, I started going through my usual sources for writing prompts.

I came up with nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Every prompt that presented itself to me left me flat and uninspired.  Worse, I felt resentment about having to rely on prompts.   I just could not see myself writing about, for example,  what I like or dislike about some geographic location, or my most fearful moment, or what I have in my bedroom closet.  None of these prompts resonated for me.

Then I began to think about what things DO resonate for me, and equally important, what might resonate for my readers.   I use the term ‘resonate’ quite a bit.  If you blog and I have commented on your blog, I probably have used the word “resonate” once or twice if I really liked what you posted.   For me, the word resonate means this:   that idea which keeps vibrating and echoing in my mind and heart after I have experienced it, like the sound of a bell — not the sweet tingling of a little silver bell.  No, I mean the full, deep, sonorous rumble of a giant bronze temple bell that when it sounds, vibrates through your very soul.

What are some of those things that echo in my being and inspire me toward creative expression?  Some of them include:  dynamic dead people,  poetry about nature, spiritual stuff, spooky stuff, cooking, cats, tomatoes from my backyard, herbs, oils, saints and sinners, Baja, UFO’s, old western ghost towns, little burros that roam old western ghost towns, earthquakes, odd weather, the moon and stars,  archaeology (especially archaeology that involves guys with bullwhips and fedoras), watercolor crayons, Joseph Campbell, hobbits and elves, Captain Picard, art museums, Jungian Depth Psychology, street fairs, my town, the demise of the Twinkie, writing about writing, and Korean Friendship Bells.

What resonates for you? I’d like to know.

LJGloyd (Pelican1) 2012

Photo by me of the Korean Friendship Bell, Angel Gate Park, San Pedro.


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The Detritus of My Mind

At the urging of one of my online writing buddies, I am going to try blogging about something every day.  I am usually writing something every day anyway — either at some social networking forum, or at work (writing is writing no matter where or about what you are writing), or in my journal.  So what’s so hard about putting something on my blog?  Right?

Well, here’s the thing about that:  I’ve never really felt like I could properly blog every day.  When I blog, I feel like it has to be a little more “perfected”, carefully crafted and suitable for an audience, some topic or idea of profound interest to the world.   Blogging for me is like submitting a paper to a teacher in school and that blog post will be surveyed by every reader with a more critical eye.  So what if I went out on a limb and just posted the detritus of my mind without concern of what anybody thought.  Would you guys be okay with that?

As I make my daily posts, I don’t want to be making announcements everyday on FaceBook or the yahoo group of writers I belong about each daily post.  Therefore, if you are interested in following what I say, maybe you can subscribe to this blog.  (If you have never tried out Google Reader as a way to follow your favorite blogs, I urge you to try it out. It is useful tool for that.)

So with all this being said, thus ends my first daily post.

 

Pelican1 (c) 2012


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The Importance of Writing Daily(?) and Going on Artist’s Dates

You may have noticed (or not), that I have not posted for nearly a month. This is because at the last moment  on Halloween Night, I decided to participate in the 2012 NaNoWriMo.   November is National Novel Writing Month, and I and a quarter of a million other people committed to writing 50,000 words of an original novel in thirty days.  I had a spurt of writing over the last five days,  and I was able to get mine done in twenty-five days (50,881 words to be exact).  I was able to finish early mostly because I had this long holiday break;  also  I had become  sick and tired of getting up at 4:30 in the morning to write before work, writing during my lunch hour at work, and writing for a couple of hours after work.   Before I started, I debated on whether I was crazy to try this at such a busy time of year.   I have determined that yes,  I was crazy.   As you might expect, writing this amount of words in that short a period  did produce a novel of amazing crapitude.

And in case you are wondering, my story is about a couple of kids with extraordinary paranormal abilities who solve a mystery.  (Did I say “crapitude?”  I meant it.)

But what I want to focus on today is the importance of writing on a regular basis and to engage in regular activities that will fuel the imagination.

When I decided to engage in this project at literally the last minute on October 31, I was able to do so because I had an idea for a story.    That idea had taken hold four days earlier.   First, I was sitting in a bagel shop in the South Bay doing a bit of writing.  I had taken a writing prompt pulled from one of the half dozen “jump-start your creativity” books I have.  (I think many of you have these same books).    The prompt was “pick five words at random and use them in a 20 minute timed writing.”   I used an online random word generator and was given these words:  tune-up, tetra, verdant, wizard, and vivid.   Twenty minutes later I had a few paragraphs.

Second, the reason I was in the bagel shop in the first place was that I was on my way to my Artist’s Date and I stopped for breakfast.  I was on my way to a museum to hear a lecture on Victorian mourning practices (see the previous post).

That timed writing in the bagel shop plus the lecture and tour of the Victorian mansion provided the idea for a whole novel.   For the next several days, that idea kept rolling around in my mind until I received an e-mail from the NaNoWriMo folks and I decided to let the idea loose to the universe.

The next time I don’t feel like writing in my journal or taking myself out to do something interesting and unusual, I will remind myself that if I want to be a writer, I need to engage in this discipline.   Regularly letting ourselves go in the playgrounds of our writing journals and the seemingly self-indulgence of treating ourselves to an artist’s date are disciplines vital to our writing spirits.

So, I encourage you to delve into your stash of writing prompts and get writing.  I urge you to schedule something fun to do this weekend.   If you are already doing that, then go trolling through your notebooks and through your photographs for story ideas.   I guarantee you that there is at least one screaming to be let loose.

Pelican1 (c) 2012