Writing

The Laughing Giraffe Draft

How a driftwood giraffe is teaching me to trust my writing process. For years I’ve envisioned a life-size giraffe built from found pieces of metal or driftwood, a stately, elegant creature reaching for the leafy tree tops outside my PNW windows. When I hear “spirit animal” I think of the whimsical neck and winsome body of the giraffe. The idea that I might build my own giraffe, with some help from the hub, came to me after seeing large animal sculptures in Bend, Oregon, our previous home before moving further northwest. These sculptures, constructed from lost and found pieces of metal, fueled my imagination, causing me to collect rusty objects. http://gregcongleton.com/ After seeing the life-size horse sculptures near PDX a few years ago I became inspired to try building my own. It turns out that the horses near PDX are actually cast in bronze, although the originals were crafted from…

The Embossed Journal

In the mail today a gift arrived, wrapped and tied up with a silky ribbon, a leather-bound journal with a name on it—Lore. It differs from my given name by only one letter, but somehow this e in place of the i makes all the difference— Lore embossed in gold on soft, sumptuous leather so beautiful I’m afraid to write in it. A sea of fears swims beneath the act of writing. I explore these fears, along with their attendants– procrastination and overwhelm– in my journals. How and why they persist this far into the journey makes for messy writing, but I’m making progress. However, I don’t want to make a mess of this beautiful new journal. Generally, I buy spiral-bound notebooks on clearance and cover their bright college-rule colors and info with bits of collage. Or I find cut-rate journals at stores like Home Goods and Ross so that…

The Year-End Letter

Dear Friends & Family,We end this year with gratitude and send our heartfelt greetings, especially to those who’ve lost jobs, co-workers, friends, or loved ones. Whatever challenges you’re facing, we hope and pray love wins… During this year of going nowhere, instead of traveling to far off places, we’ve escaped into the local forests around us and sought to bring the outdoors inside… While John was off work for 4 months (Cargo w/ Alaska Air) he learned to epoxy thick slabs of Juniper we brought from Bend to make a desk, coffee table, and bathroom counter (left pic). We also stained, painted, and modernized the staircase with textured carpet & metal accents (on right). And John used his welding skills to build an artistic gate to hide our kayaks on the side of the house. Essentially grounded this year, we completed projects that make home more enticing. And haven’t we…

How is NaNo Serving You?

At the end of a very interesting first week of NaNo, how are you feeling about your writing? It has been an up-and-down week for me, but it’s ending on a high note. I hope you feel the same. Here are some of the ways I’ve gotten myself back on track when enthusiasm or motivation lagged. First, I looked at my thoughts- what was I telling myself about the writing (and the life going on all around me)? Awareness of my own thoughts, along with knowing that I choose my thoughts has enabled me to 1) accept myself and my thoughts, and 2) choose thoughts that serve me. So, for example, this week when I thought writing was drudgery and the world around me felt like a mess of uncertainty and upheaval, I acknowledged that sometimes life just feels that way. Actually, we have negative thoughts about 50% of the…

Make Nanowrimo Work for You

NaNoWriMo has been part of our family vocabulary since 2009 when two of our sons, ages 12 and 15, each wrote 50K+ novels while schooling from home. I was finishing an M.A. in Lit./Writing at the time, with no spare moments to craft a novel, which made me envious. Since then I’ve done NaNo off and on with limited success (and created a version for memoir- MaMoMeMo- May is Motherhood Memoir Month… http://mamomemo.com/2018/04/welcome/, a place where you set your own goals…). None of the novel messes I’ve generated during NaNo have become what I’d call a finished novel; think of a ball of yarn, 50K yards of it, in need of serious untangling. It’s easier to start fresh with new material. When I’m a slave to word count, I churn out an ugly mess, though I do make some interesting discoveries. And I hone the habit of putting words on…

May is Almost Here-mamomemo time!

So what are we doing for Motherhood Memoir Month during the coronavirus sequester? Writing of course. Not a mother? No worries. Everyone has a motherhood story to tell, because obviously… where did you come from? Was your mother missing in some or many ways? Absence is a strong theme in many motherhood tales. But wait- I’m not writing memoir at the moment. Perfect- me either. I spent so much time writing about my mother and our manic relationship over the past year-and-a-half since she died that I have put that away. So what am I doing? I’m writing a novel. And the mother-daughter theme, or conundrum, drive a lot of the story. So the prompts this time will be for fiction as well as memoir and journal writing- because if you have a mother, you need a journal- a place to download all those thoughts- the good, the bad, the…

Between Birth and Death, a 40th Anniversary

Only our 1st anniversary was ours alone. By our 2nd anniversary, our first baby was due–the next day, and anniversaries transformed into multi-tasking events. Now, our 40th becomes an occasion to fly up to Canada and get ice skates for our youngest daughter. November has long been my favorite month, beginning with All Saint’s Day- my birthday, also called Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The middle of the month, Nov. 17, is our anniversary, 40 years today. It falls exactly between my parent’ anniversary on Nov. 7, and my husband’s parent’s anniversary, Nov. 27, a line-up of marriages that lasted over 50 and 60 years, such as they were. My father-in-law died the day after their 60th anniversary, on Nov. 28, Thanksgiving, 2002. As if he’d made it to the finish line, he ate his last piece of pumpkin pie, the only thing he ate that…

In-laws, Steps, & Halfs

We need some new terms for family relationships… I accidentally referred to my half-brother as my step-brother in a post, and he was quick to text me about it. I was writing about my stepfather who begat my half-brother, so you might understand the confusion. The slip-up highlights the problem with these terms– these are my real family. My “step”-father was a step up from my real, or biological, father; my “half-brother” is more whole to me than my real, DNA-equal brothers. And I once had a son-in-law that felt every bit like a soul son. Putting an X in front of that term didn’t cross out any of my familial feelings when he and our daughter divorced. I have a sister-in-law who is more of a sister to me, and more of an aunt to my daughter than my real sister, and that’s okay. I’m okay with all of…

Mother’s Only Brother

A Memorial Day reflection on the trickle down effects of war deaths He went off to the Korean War and never came back My mother was a high school girl when her older brother went off to the Korean War. Not until her recent death have I thought deeply on how this event affected her young life. She only talked about her brother in brief outbursts, then tears overtook her, as if she were experiencing his death all over again. This mystified me. It was so long ago, why wasn’t she over it already? As a child of 10, I remember awakening one night to the cacophony of her playing both the piano and the organ at the same time. They sat at right angles to each other in our open dining room. I peeked out from the sliding pocket door that separated the hallway to my bedroom from the…

The Baby I had at 47 1/2

My youngest daughter is 12 today. I am 59 1/2 exactly. I know this because today is May 1, exactly 6 months until my next birthday, November 1, when I will turn 60. It still does not fail to amaze me that I have a 12 year-old, but especially this 12 year-old, this child I was sure I didn’t want. At the time I found out I was pregnant I was applying to grad school, literally filling out applications in the physician’s office, just getting a yearly check-up, but feeling a bit tired. We already had five kids. The oldest daughter was 25, trying to get pregnant. The oldest son was in college. One son was high school age, and another junior high. Our youngest daughter, a surprise when I was almost 40, was a third grader. It was finally my time to go back and get the graduate degree…

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