At Summer’s End

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I can’t believe it’s already been two months since the school year ended! Where does the time go? While I’d give just about anything for another month of summer bliss, I’m also anxious to get back into the classroom.

At the start of this summer, I made a list of things I wanted to do with my time away from work, (see Summer Plans). I was successful on some things and a total failure on others. Still, it was a nice summer full of unexpected discoveries.

  1. Start trail running, again.

This did not happen. Record heat made this goal almost impossible. When its 110-115 degrees more often than not, the health benefits of trail running go right out the window. I’m hoping to revisit the trails after it cools down a bit. I’ll take 90 degrees at this point!

2. Start cooking, again.

When I set this goal, I thought about pulling out the crock pot or the wonderbag, but the heat once again came into play. Instead, I played around with fruit salads, crackers, and cheeses. Light, cool meals that included all the major food groups became my mission … and it was fun! Rather than rely on recipe cards, I created my own combinations of fresh foods.

3. Knit.

I finish one pair of socks, four washcloths, one dog blanket (using scrap yarn), and worked on a few nearly completed projects that are being difficult, (sometimes the finishing phase is the most tricky). Overall, the knitting needles got a great workout!

4. Write.

My haiku journal is nearly full! It seems my muse just can’t get enough of those tiny poems!

The goal to send out query packages, unfortunately, was not met due to a surprise project that dropped into my lap, (see Getting All Nostalgic and A Weird Writing Dilemma). I plan on jumping back into this process very soon. I have all the pieces in place (i.e. query, synopsis, and agent list), so I just have to construct the packages and hit send.

5. Read.

I set the goal of being five books ahead in my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge. In the next couple of days, I should reach that goal. I read like a lunatic this summer, happily devouring eight books in two months.

6. Learn something new.

I had no idea where this goal would lead and it ended up yielding the most surprises. When I came home from vacation with a new-to-me vintage Barbie doll, it triggered an entire summer of vintage Barbie madness, (see My Vintage Gals and Adding to the Vintage Crew).

Because my budget doesn’t allow for splurging on mint condition vintage Barbie and clothes, I instead purchased two vintage dolls and several fashions in need of repair. I had some basic knowledge of the restoration process, but not nearly enough to solve some of the problems plaguing the newest additions to my collection.

I learned how to:

  • clean deeply rooted stains on vinyl
  • reshape limbs
  • fix neck or torso splits
  • safely remove age stains and spots from vintage fabric
  • correctly identify vintage Barbie dolls (differentiating marks, face paint, and common issues that effect one doll, but not another).
  • correctly assess the value of a doll and fashions based on condition and availability

I’m still on a learning curve, but I’m loving the process as a whole. I’ve learned so much and I like knowing I’m able to do right by the dolls in my collection.

7. Binge on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

Done! I caught up on my Top Tier shows, (i.e. Grimm, The Blacklist, Bob’s Burgers, etc) and explored a few more including, Doctor Thorne (Amazon Prime). Then, I re-watched Daredevil Seasons 1 and 2, again. It’s sooooo good!!

8. Work.

As expected, I couldn’t stay away too long. By mid-July my dining room table was planning central for AP World History. I have the first two weeks planned and ready to go. In addition, I created a website for the class because I use a modified flipped classroom model.

9. Spend time with family, furkids, and friends.

Having so much free time was truly a gift. I was able to visit my dad and hang out more often with my mother and sister. However, being able to spend so much time with my remaining dog was the most precious part of my summer. He is elderly and does not have much time left – I made every day count as much as possible.

It was also a gift to spend time with friends I normally don’t see outside of work. I’m lucky to have co-workers I’ve come to count as close, personal friends. We said we’d hang out over the summer and we did. This was a big deal because we say that every year and never actually do it. I’m truly grateful to have such wonderful friends.

10. Clean out the house.

Done! The shed, closets, and hobby room all got purged of things no longer needed. A local charity and the dump received multiple visits. It’s a good feeling to clear out the clutter.

In the process I came across forgotten items that reminded me of the person I was before I lost so much. Its been a rough few years of grief and pain. Recently, I’ve felt the dark clouds lifting and this rediscovery is yet another piece that allows me to find my new normal.

My home and work spaces have been redefined and all feels new, yet I feel the old me resurfacing. The me that is overtly optimistic and isn’t afraid to be a little funky and push the rules a bit. I’ve missed that part of me and it’s nice to have it back.

All in all, it was a great summer!

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c.b.w. 2016

 

Kinda Sorta Goals For 2016

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I’m trying something a little different this year when it comes to setting goals. I’ve been very specific in the past and that has served me well as a planner, but my muse has been less than cooperative. For example, one of my 2015 goals was to start writing the sequel to The Muse. My muse disagreed with that goal and remained stubbornly silent on that project. We’re still not on speaking terms when it comes to this sticky subject.

I’m as driven as ever to get my novel published (somehow, some way). I have a million ideas for the The Muse’s sequel and truly do want to start writing the continuing saga of Amanda and Ian. As far as poetry goes, I’m writing haiku for multiple competitions and forums. There’s also this blog and a shelf full of craft projects!

Clearly, I have a lot of projects burning a hole in my muse pocket.

Instead of setting incredibly specific goals my muse ignores anyway, perhaps big picture goals are the way to go.

Kinda Sorta Goals:

Write, write, and write some more.

At the core of everything is my fierce desire to write. Whether it’s poetry, novels, or funky articles about knitting, my central goal will always be writing in any form.

My muse takes me a in all different directions and frequently changes her mind! I’m just going to go with the flow and keep my pen moving.

Stay optimistic and keep trying.

My go with flow mentality doesn’t mean I’m losing my determined edge! The Muse is a still a huge priority and I’ll be doing everything I can to get it published. Whether its through the traditional channels or self-publishing, it’s about time this thing saw the light of day!

The same goes for poetry. I’m going to grab onto any opportunity I can to submit to competitions, journals, etc.

Join the community.

My participation in the Poetic Asides community has inspired me to seek out other groups of writers. I’ve joined a few new groups, but have yet to fully participate (sometimes I just like to sit under the radar and get a sense of how the community functions). As 2016 unfolds, I’m hoping to find my groove in new poetry communities, but also among Young Adult writers.

This might mean searching for communities in the blogosphere and/or social media. Either way, I’m looking to connect with more people who like to write what I like to write. Maybe they can offer some advice on publication or some good old fashioned encouragement? We’ll see!

Experiment.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Writing the same thing in the same way all the time. I want to see my writing continue to grow into something fresh and engaging. That means playing with fictional techniques and haiku formats. In addition, I want to see myself write something totally different.  The possibilities are endless if I consider a different genre or poetic form.

This same sense of experimentation also applies to my craft table. I want to try new crafts (like painting and beading) and expand my knitting and photography skills.

Trust the muse.

My muse always knows best. I have to remember to get out her way and let her speak.

Word of the Year: Enthusiasm

Weird goals aside, I want this year to be about hopeless enthusiasm that can’t be cured. No matter where this crazy journey takes me, I’m jumping in with everything I’ve got.

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What are your kinda sorta goals for 2016?

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c.b.w. 2016

2015 Goals: October & November Status Report

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Somehow October got away from me, so it’s going to hang out with November for this round of goal assessment. It’s been two months of ups and downs, but for the most part my muse is on a roll.

1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

It’s been a rough couple of months on this front! I sent out four query packages (just shy of my goal of five) in October. Out of those four, I received one written rejection and three assumed rejections. The assumed rejections are due to the fact that I got the silent treatment. Oooo, that’s painful! All part of process, I suppose!

During November, I put all my focus on the Poem A Day Challenge on Poetic Asides (see #3 below), so I didn’t send out any additional query packages.

I intend on starting a new round of queries after the holiday craziness calms down a bit.🙂

2. Start writing Lineage.

One the shelf for the time being thanks to poetry pursuits.

3. Submit poetry.

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest for Wednesday prompts and the 2015 November Poem A Day Challenge.

For the challenge I wrote between three and four haikus per day. The end goal of the challenge is to construct a chapbook of poems from the challenge and submit the manuscript. The winning chapbook is published!

I’m in the process of experimenting with a possible concept for my chapbook. There was a reason why I wrote a minimum of three haiku for each prompt. Now it’s time to see if my idea is going to work. Stay tuned!

Results for the 2015 April Poem A Day Challenge (via Poetic Asides onWriter’s Digest) were finally updated again. I am excited to announce that I’ve scored another Top 10 finish!! You’ll see me listed just below the halfway point. YAY!

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National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page offered up some interesting prompts. I completed both October and November prompts.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

After the epic failure of October’s query packages, it was tough to stay focused. However, the PAD Challenge helped keep me grounded and motivated me to stay in the game. I’m still going strong and I’m not about to give up!

5. Be flexible.

See #3.

My experiment for my PAD Chapbook entry is definitely challenging me to look at haiku from a different perspective. The concept didn’t occur to me until a week into the challenge, so I’m going to have to go back and reconfigure a few things. I have no idea if my idea is going to work, but I’m excited to give it a try. Details will be forthcoming!

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

A Year of Haiku

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It all started with a journal and a goal. The journal had been sitting on my shelf for quite some time – I was saving it for something special as it had a gorgeous suede cover embossed with maple leaves. The goal came from a newfound love of haiku that started with haikubes and grew to an all out obsession after participating in a poem-a-day challenge.

When I realized writing haiku was a full-blown passion, I decided to fully immerse myself in the practice. That meant writing at least one haiku every single day. Suddenly my beautiful suede journal had a purpose!

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A beautiful journal for a haiku challenge!

While it sounds easy enough to write three lines (or less) of poetry each day, the comes with its fair share of challenges. In September 2014, I started the process by using haikubes, but quickly found it was very time consuming and didn’t always lend itself to what I wanted to express.

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My first attempts were quite overwritten with metaphors and superfluous language. Haiku should instead be clean and simple.

So, I started looking out my window, where I found loads of inspiration from the birds, changing sunlight, and weather. From there, I simply focused my lens of observation anywhere I happened to be.  I have haikus scribbled on napkins, typed on my cell phone, and written on the back of receipts. There are little moments happening all the time and the practice of haiku has helped me open my eyes to see them.

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The last page of my journal puts the first page in perspective. These last entries are little closer to the true spirit of haiku.

Hungry for more, I sought more inspiration and found it on National Haiku Writing Month’s Facebook page. While February is technically the official Haiku Writing Month, the organization offers daily prompts during every month. While challenging, the prompts allowed me to dig even deeper into my haiku writing practice. So deep in fact, I started writing well outside the traditional 5-7-5 format.

The jump from 5-7-5 to contemporary haiku was a big one, but I don’t regret it. While the rules are a bit more relaxed, the challenge remains in place. Instead of 17 total syllables, I aim to keep my haiku at 12 syllables or less. This decision in itself made me realize how far my evolution has gone – instead of adhering to strict guidelines, I am finding my own voice and rules within the established form. I’m not afraid to be myself and experiment.

My most recent shift in haiku occurred recently. Reading contemporary English-language haiku opened up a new format called monoku or single line haiku. One line captures all the essential elements of haiku and is usually under 10 syllables. While simple, it is also incredibly difficult. That said, I am fascinated by this form and will continue to play with it.

On October 9, 2015, my haiku journal project was completed. I filled every page (front and back) with haikus I felt were the best I could make them (so many more remain in draft form in my “brainstorming” journals). All told, my journal holds 880 haikus. Upon reflection it is quite astounding to see where I started and where I ended up in terms of form, style, and technique.

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Page after page of haiku!

Even after 880 haikus, I feel like I’m just getting started. Hence, the start of a new project – another journal is prepped and ready to go. Between the personal satisfaction and inklings of publication (local and online journals) my haiku practice has brought me, all I want to do is write more. Whether it’s the traditional  5-7-5 or ultra-modern monoku, I am anxious to see what another year of haiku will bring.

 

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c.b.w. 2015

2015 Goals: July Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

I finished drafting the new beginning and it’s looking good! However, during the read-through (to check for consistency with the new beginning) I hit a snag in the epilogue. Grrrr!

The snag is not a new thing. My editor saw the same snag and I though I had worked it out, but during the re-read, I realized there was still a giant pothole right at the end of the book.

The good news is I figured it out. Thanks to progress made on mapping out ideas for Lineage, the solution was right under my nose. I’m now in the process of filling in the pothole with a small rewrite.

2. Start writing Lineage.

This is probably where the most exciting things happened this month. Re-reading The Muse got my characters talking – I think they’re getting anxious for their story to continue!!

For the first time I got a very clear visual of how the opening scene is going to play out. I could hear my characters speaking to one another and I got a nice start for dialogue going in my notes.

Filling the epilogue pothole got me thinking about a new character which will be introduced in Lineage. His backstory is starting to come come together and so is a little plot twist that took me by surprise. Writing this guy is going to be fun!

3. Submit poetry.

Once again, I participated in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. As always, I find the prompts challenging and the community inspiring.

I also completed another month of National Haiku Writing Month’s daily prompts via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. July prompts all started with the letter S and were very diverse. I fell behind a bit while on vacation, but I still managed to compete the   month with at least one haiku a day.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

I took a little breather this month and I’m not sorry! While on vacation, I focused on gathering inspiration rather than acting on it. I took pictures, breathed in experiences, and choose to be in the moment. When I came home, everything started coming into focus for Lineage – it’s very exciting!

5. Be flexible.

Oregon and Indiana had much to offer on the inspiration front. I’m busy sorting through photographs of everything from nature scenes to cityscapes. Can’t wait to see the words they inspire.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015