Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Creative Space

I have recently discovered a wonderful podcast series, Write Now, hosted by author Sarah Werner.   This morning I listened to her episode on creating a space for writing where she posed the question:  what is your writing space like and how is it reflected in your writing?

I am fairly agile when it comes to the physical act of writing. I made a creative corner in my bedroom consisting of a bookcase filled with writing, reference, poetry, and spiritual books. I have my laptop, assorted art supplies and writing implements, and several dozen notebooks and pads of art paper. Typically, I write here only in the oh-so-early-butt-crack o’dawn and only on morning pages or personal journaling.  For my other writing sessions, I pop around from place-to-place.

Sometimes I dictate onto a hand device while lounging on the living room sofa.  Sometimes I write at a proper desk on a computer before I start working at the day job.  Sometimes I hand write in coffee houses and libraries.   I have tried writing outside in the park or at the beach but that, for reasons that I need to explore someday, is not an optimal experience.

How does that affect my writing?  You only need to look at the posts on this blog to see:  just as I jump from place-to-place when I write, so too do my blog posts leap from subject-to-subject.   Even my writing style demonstrates some agility:   I tend to write quick, short pieces in a simple, active voice — most suitable for blog-writing.

I wonder how my writing would change if I had a whole room dedicated to writing filled with my entire library and decorated with art pieces and other dinkerdoodles?   Would it change?

Since that is not likely to happen anytime in the near future, I guess I better keep flexing my muscles to stay fit and mobile.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2018

To hear the podcast, go to Creating a Space for Writing


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Appeasing the Muse


I have said it before: this is not a food blog. I’m write mostly about the creative process. But since my writing has been a little static for a few days, I thought I would take a little break from that and be creative in the kitchen.

What do you do with a couple of ancient squash?  OK, they’re only two months old, but for produce that’s a long time.   I roasted them, gutted them, paired them with an equally ancient pair of apples, an onion, and various spices and other seasonings. After pouring it all into a casserole, I glued it all together with big fistfuls of fontina and mozzarella.

Many times when I get loose in the kitchen, the end result is a disaster. Not so this time. It turned out quite tasty.

Who knew that one could overcome writer’s block by appeasing the Muse with mounds of hot, gooey cheese?  She’s easy that way.

Ljgloyd 2018


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Undulation, Old Stoves, Lipstick and the New Moon


One of my favorite writers is Natalie Goldberg, and right now I am reading her memoir, Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America.   Just this morning I read and highlighted this line about her writing process:

“…If I had a topic to begin with, it was easier to get started. Almost any topic was okay, because once you began, you entered your own mind and your mind had its own paths to travel. You just needed to step out of the way, but a topic was a first footstep or twist of a doorknob into the entry of yourself.”

She goes on to state that the writer should start keeping a list of topics to draw upon as needed to jump start the writing process.   So I did just that.   The first topics on my list are my 1940’s era stove, the make-up I wear, and the tiny crescent moon sliding into its newness that I saw on this morning’s walk.

What does any of this have to do with this morning’s Daily Post prompt, undulate? Nothing directly.   The word “undulate” made me think of water, which made me think of moonlight, which reminded me of the almost-new moon I saw this morning, which made me ponder why so much is made out of the beauty and magic of a full moon when this little sliver of light is just has sparkling and magnificent.   I think I could create a haibun* from this.

See how this all works?

You take that first step and see where the journey takes you.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2018

*Haibun is a Japanese poetic form which starts with a narrative paragraph about a personal experience and ends with a traditional haiku verse.


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A Close Encounter with My Inner Critic

The first short story I ever posted for public consumption came about when I took a turn down a rabbit hole at the Soul Food Cafe.  The story was the response to a prompt about overcoming writing blocks.  In my story I have a close encounter with my vexing inner critic (long-since  banished) in a virtual and fantastical writer’s retreat called Riversleigh Manor. Here is a repost of that story.

——————– 

The Visitor

My room in Riversleigh Manor is comfortable. It has hardwood floors and a bright berber carpet, recessed bookshelves filled with all my favorite history and art books, fine literature, and religious and philosophical treatises of all sorts. A map of Riversleigh hangs on wall, and I am delighted to discover all the cozy places I could hole up and work. Though the room is furnished with only the most basic pieces—bed, writing table, reading chair, and chest of drawers—there is one item that seems out of place. On the wall over the chest of drawers, hangs a large silver framed mirror with inlaid amber around the glass. Its luxury contrasts the utility of the rest of the room.

I unpacked my sparse belongings—a change of clothes, a few special books, some toiletries, my writing and art supplies. I slid open the French doors and stepped out onto the balcony. I gazed at the valley below and saw the River ribbon its way towards the sea. In the distance I could see the mouth of the River, a vast delta spreading out like a large green lotus, spilling into the Bay.

As I leaned on the railing and tried to compose a poem in my head about the River, I heard a banging sound from my room. I rushed back in and saw the mirror over the chest rising and falling against the wall. As I grabbed the mirror to keep it from shattering, a glow emanated from it, filling the room with a orange-yellow light. I had been warned that Riversleigh was a place of unusual happenings so I wasn’t afraid or even surprised.

Holding the mirror firmly in place, I looked into it and saw it filling with a wall of fire. The flames writhed and shimmered but cast no heat. In the depths of the flames, I could see a dark speck grow larger and rush towards me. It grew into the figure of a woman. Just as the figure filled the entire mirror, a large pop sounded and I released the mirror and fell back on my bed, covering my eyes against a bright blast of light.

Silence enveloped the room and after a moment, I opened my eyes.  “Oh, no, not YOU!”

“Well, hey there, Sugar!”

“What are YOU doing here?”

“What? Can’t a friend drop by and say hello?”

“Yeah, right, like WE’RE friends,” I said as I pulled myself off the bed. Standing in front of the mirror was Arvilla. Tall, platinum blonde and gorgeous, she was dressed in a pin-striped business suit, pearls, and stiletto heels.

“That’s a different look. And what’s with the flaming entrance? That’s over-the-top, even for you!”

“What can I say, Sugar, it’s the twenty-first century and I’ve got to keep with the program.”

“Like I care. You didn’t answer my question—what are you doing here?”

“I heard you were taking a little vacation and I just wanted to stop by to see if I could be of some assistance.” Arvilla strolled across the room, grimacing at the furniture. She plopped herself on the chair and put her feet on my writing desk. She picked up my journal and began thumbing through it.

“I most certainly do NOT need anything from you.” I started picking up my clothes that had fallen to the floor.

“You only brought one set of clothes and no underwear—now that’s rustic, darlin’.”

She was right. How could I have forgotten underwear? “Um, I’ll pick some up at the Gypsy Camp. They have everything anyone would want.”

“Oh, yes, Gypsy underwear. How Bohemian of you. Dressing the part of a writer? You might as well, honey, because that’s as close to being a writer as you’ll ever be.”

“Just who do you think—!”

She opened my journal.  “Oh, looky here…..’I strive to transform reality through my words and images.’” Now, ain’t that a hoot and a holler.”

I rushed over to the table and grabbed the journal out of her hands. “Arvilla, get out! I came ten thousand miles to get away from you. You are NOT going to spoil this for me.”

There was a knock on the door. Glaring at Arvilla, I stomped to the door and yanked it open. Standing there was the Riversleigh Manor concierge backed by two beefy security officers, unsmiling in their black shades.

“Madam, I understand that you have a visitor. As you know, Inner Critics are not welcome on the premises.”

I’m not here a day and she’s gotten me in trouble already. “Yes, sir, you’re quite right, I understand. My ‘guest’ was just leaving.” I turned to Arvilla.

With a sigh, Arvilla dropped her feet to the floor and stood up. “Oh, alright! Don’t have a hissy fit. You’re just not much fun anymore, are ya, Sugar.”

I pointed toward the mirror. “Go!”

“I can’t get out that way. Where do you think we are? In a Harry Potter movie?”

The room began to vibrate and Arvilla spread her arms out to her sides. “Just wait until you have forty-three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing that you need me to edit.  You’ll come a-runnin’.”

The room filled with intense yellow light and I could see Arvilla’s arms morph into enormous bird’s wings. With a harpy’s shriek, Arvilla began flapping them. She bounded through the French doors and off the balcony. I rushed to the railing and saw Arvilla gliding up the river valley towards the mountains. Looking over her shoulder, she yelled “I’ll be baaaaack……”

“And I’ll be ready for you,” I muttered as I slammed the doors shut.

——–

ljgloyd, originally published 2006

Lgloyd, “The Adversary, original digital montage, 2006


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Tools


When I look at the list of applications, web tools, and other technologies that we employed with our work at SFC, I am both amazed at how far that technology has come in the last twelve years, and how I have NOT kept up with those changes. Allow me to explain.

Twelve years ago, when I started blogging, WordPress was a cutting edge platform. Although blogs still abound and WordPress still holds a vibrant place in the blogosphere, more people opt to self-express on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and a host of others. Back in the day, I would post on WordPress, using search engines like Altavista and Netscape for my writing research, and then announce my post on a Yahoo group. Not much is changed in that regard, except I announce on Facebook now (even though FB is somewhat dated) and I use the mighty Google engine to do my research.

Not very progressive or innovative of me, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, I always say. Just give me a computer, a good blogging program, and a search engine, and I can be quite productive.

I can’t help but think that if I lived 100 years ago, my tools for writing would still be quite simple: a tablet of paper, a fountain pen, and access to a world-class museum to accommodate my research needs.

Or, two thousand years ago, I would have been lounging in the library at Alexandria with a roll af papyrus and… What kind of writing implements did they use back then? I guess I will need to Google that.

Ljgloyd 2017

Age


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A Stroll Down Memory Lane

If you have ever wondered when and how I got started blogging, it happened one April morning in 2006 when I was careening through the blogosphere looking for…. something…. I don’t remember what anymore.  In doing so, I stumbled across this amazing labyrinth of creative inspiration:   The Soul Food Cafe.

SFC has nothing to do with food for the body.   Rather, like the name states, it is about food for the creative spirit.  Created by Australian educator, Heather Blakey, this massive site is overflowing with prompts and articles for writers, artists, and other creatives designed to jump-start them to their own works.    Through this material, Heather led bands of creatives from all over the world through interactive projects.  Most often we would post our works on separate blogs.

There is no search engine on the SFC site which is a good thing as it compels the creative to start exploring the voluminous pages of the site.  Inspiration would always come most unexpectedly at the sudden turn to a new page.

I can’t adequately describe it to you.  All I can do is invite you to start exploring.   I suggest you start with the Box of Wonderment.

One other place you can check is The Rookery.   There you can meet the writers and artists that were working at SFC in the late 2000’s, me included.   My “raven” is the second one from the left on the ground under the tree.  If you click that bird, you will go to my page where I outline my entire history of writing at SFC.

So my contributions to the internet truly can be credited –or blamed 🙂 — on this magical site and its author.

ljg (c) 2017


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The Mysterious Package Company

When I came home from work last Friday night, this package, intriguingly marked with the words “Curios and Conundrums,” was waiting for me on my front porch.  I had an inkling as to what this package contained and who was responsible for sending it  🙂    However, I was not ready to deal with what I found inside the package:  (I opened it with a steak knife because that just seemed, well, the correct implement to use for some reason).

It was another box in the shape of a book.   Now, if I had not already known that this was from The Mysterious Package Company (and who sent it), I might have freaked out a little.  I learned that some recipients of such boxes have called the police because they were so upset.

The MPC is so mysterious that you cannot even access their website unless you apply for membership. I will use their own words to describe what this company does: “We specialize in remarkable deliveries which intrigue, befuddle, and delight…We tell stories you can touch.” In other words, they provide what I would call “immersive stories”, stories in which you must interact with physical objects in order to understand the story — if you can figure out the story at all.

Yes, it is mysterious. In fact, it took me four days of trawling the internet and asking questions on various social media groups and forums to learn…. absolutely nothing!   The participants seem to know that the fun of unraveling the puzzles presented in the package is doing it on your own and spoilers are absolutely forbidden.    The only hints I was given were to read everything, take notes, know that “Google is your friend,”  and be ready to be inspired.

Okay, then.  In keeping with this “mums-the-word” stratagem, I will only say (and not show)  that the box contained a Victorian era-styled gazette newspaper with an odd assortment of news stories, opinion pieces, period advertisements, puzzles, and what-not; various replica stickers from Victorian-era apothecary bottles;  two paper-craft items requiring assembly, one with a warning that the images in the completed assemblage might be disturbing; a magnetic replica of a phrenology head that you can write on with dry erase markers; a little cookbook of “gruel” recipes from around the world, a tiny enamel pin of a guy in straight-jacket with the word “Bedlam” written on it, and — the coolest thing — an little metal Egyptian-style obelisk with odd inscriptions and depictions.  All these items tie together to make some sort of story.

In my research just to understand what I received,  I learned something vital about myself as a writer:  I have become quite ordinary in my story-telling.  That is, I write the words in an order that I choose with the intent of conveying a singular narrative to the reader.  My readers stand on the outside while I feed them the narrative.  I don’t allow my readers to interact with the story except to a specific end that I dictate.

Not so with this MPC Curios and Conundrum box.   I, the reader, am invited in to create the story through the provided objects and texts.

It took me four whole days to figure that out.

Let the writing commence.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2017
Gremlins

 

 


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Bench-pressing with Words

My goal is to write at least five minutes every day. Sometimes it is by blogging, or through social media postings, or even at times by crafting the content of a significant e-mail at work. My purpose in writing every day is simply to get better at it.

I need to particularly practice writing with intent. I need to practice since my writing intentions don’t always play out in the finished piece. For example, my writing is sometimes droll or witty, but if my intention is to purposefully write in that manner, it oftentimes falls flat. Similarly, that carefully crafted email mentioned above most likely needs to be precise, clear, and authoritative. However, I often muddy the waters when I overthink that intention.

I find that it is best to briefly set the intention, let it go, and then just write. I don’t think about it. I just write and tell myself that I can clean it all up in the editing process. In other words, I tell my inner critic to zip it while my inner muse creates. She can chime in later.

I need to regularly practice this intentional “free flow”. This is the reason I come back to this blog several times a week. Each time I pull myself back to a singular, pure output of creative thought. I need this regular practice to get stronger and more adept.

It’s like working out in a gym.

ljg 2017


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Back to Basics Across the Disciplines

Once or twice a month I gather with others at a local drum circle. This particular circle has a lot of djembe and conga players and most of them are experienced and talented percussionists. I am learning a lot from them.

However, I am an amateur darbuka player, and my initial study of drumming was with middle-eastern rhythms– which are enormously different from the Afro-Latin beats of the drum circle players. Furthermore, once a week I practice with a band (guitarists and vocalists) who play contemporary pop/folk. So you can see that I am exposed to an ecclectic variety of musical sounds. Unfortunately, this is resulting in me developing, in my opinion, a rather eccentric drumming style where I am not particulary good at any one of them.

To mitigate this, I have assigned to myself the task of going back to the fundamentals of middle-eastern drum patterns and practicing them until I am competent in them.

I think this return to the fundamentals is important in all creative disciplines. If you crochet, perfect that single chain stitch. If you cook, be a master at hard boiling eggs or making that bechemel sauce. If you write, dust off your dog-earred copy of Strunk and White and review the elements of style.

Before Picasso started painting like this,

he learned to paint like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ljg (c) 2017

In case you are interested, I am working on perfecting a maqsoum pattern:

 


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Okay, So About Today’s Post….

This post has nothing to do with today’s Daily Post prompt, ghoulish, but I wanted to end my month-long self-challenge to blog every day with a link to the Daily Post since so many of you who commented and liked my posts came through this portal.

What did I learn from engaging this self-challenge?

First, it was an exercise in finding connections.  I was able to find some kind of relationship between the daily prompts and my imagination, even though at times that connection was tenuous and convoluted.   Usually I wrote these posts sometime between 6 am and the time I started the day job.  At the very least,  I proved to myself that the synapses can still fire even that early in the morning.

Secondly, I learned to expect the unexpected with regard to the responses. For example, yesterday’s post about “Fluff” was a piece of drivel in my opinion, yet it got more likes than any other of my blog posts in the last month. Then there were other posts that I thought were pretty darn good — which hardly got a look.  I think my Inner Critic has gone on a bender because my writing instincts have become a bit skewed.

Third, I reinforced my commitment to write every day.  The writing has become every bit as much a morning spiritual practice as has my yoga, meditation, and reading.

What’s next? I am still  going to be writing every day but not necessarily through blogging. I have some personal writing that has gone long unattended, and I also want to work on my drumming and photography.

Oh, who am I kidding?  If a prompt floats my boat, I’ll still be posting!

Thanks again.  And Happy Halloween!!!!

Miss Pelican.