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Try a Little Kindness @ Tuesday Tryouts

7:36 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Chapel of Love by the Dixie Cups

Hi, all. The problem with not taking a computer on holiday is the surprising amount one can fall behind, in five days. To the group who wonders whether I again fell off the planet: later today, as soon as I get through the college essays I’m editing, I’ll be around to respond to comments. NaNoWriMers, almost done! Congratulations for still being in the game.

I am shifting today’s focus, as I signed up for Fiona Robyn’s blogsplash to celebrate the one year anniversary of the publication of her novel Small Kindnesses. We’ll have art next week.

I knew about the blogsplash some time ago and had signed up tentatively right up to the moment a few days ago when Fiona wrote to see if I wanted my blog on the list. I still didn’t know, because the topic seemed overwhelming: pick a [as in one] small kindness done to you and relate it. Choose one? Just one? Fiona wrote back and said she would put my blog on the list anyway, whether or no I joined in. And, there, ladies and gentlemen, is my small kindness.

I have known Fiona since the inception of the community Writing Our Way Home. Throughout the past two years, Fiona has shown other small kindnesses to me, like checking to make sure I have not fallen off the planet. An act of kindness is one that does not have to be done, but is anyway, with thought only for the recipient. My husband is a man whose core is kindness and I watch as he performs small kindnesses every day, both to me and to strangers.

Watching a kindness done is an easy thing for the mind to absorb. I know that when I see a small kindness done, I carry it with me for a while. When the kindness is done to me, I feel cherished and acknowledged.

I looked the word up, as I am always curious about word origins. I found a fascinating essay on the word kind. I enjoyed it so much, I am giving you the link, should you care to investigate.

Fiona’s small kindness for all of us, is to make available for free, for one day, her novel. Head on over to her post on Writing Our Way Home and check it out.

What’s that? Yes, I am including a writing prompt, a true prompt rather than an exercise. Would you like to guess the theme? Too obvious? Go on. List as many small kindnesses as you remember witnessing. That will get the brain focused on the topic. Then list as many small kindnesses as you can remember being done to you.

You can go in a number of directions. A list poem might work. Or, you might want to pull together like kindnesses. Or, you might want to focus on one. It depends on what you want the poem to do. If you want the poem to say something about kindness that goes beyond a list, you might have to tweak details. That’s okay.

I shall see you Friday for the week’s roundup; and next Tuesday for the image prompt.

Enjoy your day. Happy writing, everyone.

 
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Posted by on 27/11/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: Small Stone Blogsplash — Everyone’s Invited

8:00 p.m. — Atlanta

Kaspa & Fiona have taken over my blog for today, because they need our help. I have introduced them before as the founders of the writing network Writing Our Way Home, as well as the sponsors of “a river of stones” in January and July, when everyone is invited to pay a little closer attention to the world around them and write about it every day for the month, posting the stones to share with others. And that brings us to:

They are both on a mission to help the world connect with the world through writing. They are also getting married on Saturday the 18th of June.

For their fantasy wedding present, they are asking people across the world to write them a ‘small stone’ and post it on their blogs, or on Facebook, or Twitter.

A small stone is a short piece of observational writing – simply pay attention to something properly and then write it down. Find out more about small stones here.

If you’re willing to help, we’d love you to do things:

1) Re-post this blog on your own blog any time before June the 18th and give your readers a chance to hear about what we’re doing. You can simply copy and paste the text, or you can find the html here.

2) Write us a small stone on our wedding day whilst we’re saying our vows and eating cake, post it on your blog, and send it to us.

You can find out more about our project at our website, Wedding Small Stones, and you can also read our blog at A River of Stones.

We also have a July challenge coming soon, when we’ll be challenging you to notice one thing every day during July and write it down.

Thank you for listening, and we hope we’ll be returning from our honeymoon to an inbox crammed with small stones, including yours.

Kaspa & Fiona

I’m back. If you have any questions, do ask and if you think anyone would enjoy joining in, send this along to them or click one of the buttons below.

I shall see you all on Friday for the week’s roundup; Tuesday for playing with the diamante form, which I think you will enjoy — plenty of scope for play; and Thursday for the last group of words that clutter.

Happy writing, everyone.

 
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Posted by on 01/06/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Tuesday Tryouts: In Which, I Try an Interview

8:12 am — Atlanta

Hello all. I hope you are well and have had a wonderful weekend, writing or otherwise. I have the brisket in the slow cooker, so have cleared the decks for me to try something new: an interview. I know I promised a ballad today, but it occurred to me that Tryouts don’t all have to be poems [just 99% of them] and I have wanted to do this interview which will give you the opportunity to try several things.

I first met [in a cyber-sense] Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita when I read about Fiona’s small stones in someone else’s blog back in December. I tracked down her blog and was immediately interested in what she was suggesting which was that anyone who joined pay a little more attention to the world than normal and for each day in January write a small stone. This did not have to be a finished poem, but a sentence, phrase, or a few words.

When the month of writing ended Fiona and Kaspa did two things: they started a writing network, Writing Our Way Home, and they asked us to polish a few of our stones and submit them for possible inclusion in a forthcoming anthology of small stones: pay attention: a river of stones. Now they are getting ready to repeat January’s experiment in July and this interview is to help publicise that, as well as the writing network.

The writing network has 383 members currently and contains many levels. There are groups of all sorts, to do with writing, reading, journaling, poetry forms, video poetry…if there isn’t a group we are encouraged to start our own. Fiona and Kaspa offer ecourses at very reasonable rates, one of which I am enrolled in for May and I shall let you all know how it goes [or you can sign up!]. Meanwhile, drop by for a visit…Join!…You can join in, or skulk around the edges. The atmosphere is relaxed, like being in a large cozy study, or den.

How do you see, or define small stones?

Fiona: The most important thing about a small stone isn’t how it looks or sounds but how it you find it. The idea is to pay more attention – whether you’re in your living room or climbing a mountain – and notice things that you wouldn’t otherwise notice. Notice one thing properly, and write it down. That’s it.

Kaspa: There’s no form in terms of metre, or syllable count. The form is the process of paying attention to the world, and writing what you have noticed in an accurate way. Some people do write their small stones in poetic forms, which is great, but sometimes a small stone is just a snatch of beautiful prose.

What is your intent with your small stone mission, particularly with regard to July?

Fiona: We’d love to encourage as many new people as we can to try out writing small stones. We’d also love previous participants to have another go – at a different time of the year – and see how their experience differs.  

Kaspa: In January we had around 300 bloggers take part in our challenge, writing one small stone each day. This July we’d love to have 1000 people noticing and writing down one small stone each day. We’ve created an online space, The River, to collect everyone’s small stones. If you want to take part, and be in The River, let us have the URL of your small stones blog.

Tell us a bit about WOWH and your vision, or dream, for it.

Fiona: We’ve been talking about this over the weekend… Kaspa?

Kaspa: The mission of Writing Our Way Home is to help people connect to the world through writing. We spend so much of our time wrapped up in our own thoughts, making judgments about the world and so on, that we often miss what is right before us. This is true of the natural world, and it’s true of our relationships with other people too. We don’t encounter the real person in front of us, just who we’d like them to be. Writing Our Way Home is about learning to pay attention to what is real.

How that happens includes the river of stones, and the Writing Our Way Home forums, and the e-courses, and courses and workshops in real life too. The ideal for us would be able to do all of these things, and still have time for us to pay attention to our own lives… time to tend to the veg. patch.

Tell us a little about the courses you offer and how they connect to us as writers, to small stones, and to WOWH.

Fiona: At the moment we offer two e-courses – Writing as Spiritual Practice (which Fiona wrote/runs) and Eastern Therapeutic Writing (which Kaspa wrote/runs). The courses are designed to be very flexible, and to give participants an experience of learning a lot about themselves as well as doing lots of writing and having fun. We keep the cohorts small as people have gained a great deal from speaking with each other in the private groups on the forum. ‘Writing Ourselves Alive’ and ‘Writing Towards Healing’ will start in August, and we’ll be launching ‘do it yourself’ courses in June. You’ve just got time to sign up for Kaspa’s course which starts in May.

Kaspa: The courses are all rooted in connecting with the world, and also with oneself, through writing, although they come at this from different angles. We’re just saying the same thing over and over again, really, but in different ways so people (including us) don’t get bored….. The important thing is paying attention, the courses help us to do that, and direct our attention and our writing practice to the areas where it might be most helpful.

I hope that gives everyone food for thought and that you will stop by Writing Our Way Home, and/or decide to join in with small stone writing in July. For examples of small stones stop by the River which keeps a running flow of stones, and stop by my other blog, Random Stones.

I will see you Thursday for more on words to avoid, and Friday for the week’s roundup, and next Tuesday we will take on the ballad. If you know anyone who might be interested in, or enjoy, any of the above, then click on the buttons below. Happy writing.

 
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Posted by on 26/04/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: To Be or To Do

9:09 am, Thursday — Atlanta

Verbs. No part of speech communicates as effectively as a richly active verb. Whenever you come across a dull being verb (am, are, is, were, was, be, being, been), try to reorganize your poem so as to employ, instead, a better and more active verb. You want the reader to interact with the poem and that happens with active verbs.

Here is what Moat and Fairfax, from The Way to Write, have to say: “Imagine you were around at the moment the rudiments of language were being discovered. First came the grunts in the shape of names — MAN. WOMAN. FIRE. Then from outside, MAMMOTH! One big name, speaking danger. But with it a new need, the need to name something entirely different. ‘What’s that mammoth up to?’ The verb was born.

Dependent on nouns, but powerful.

Not so powerful when the mammoth is merely being, when for instance he’s sleeping; but when he’s acting, when for instance he tosses you over his head, very powerful indeed.

Nouns may be the most loaded words, but verbs are the most dramatic.

‘The mammoth is asleep under the tree.’ That expresses a state of being; a calm observation — you might say it gives a false sense of security.

‘The mammoth sleeps under the tree.’ That’s more powerful. You get the feeling that the mammoth is putting his back into it. His sleeping has almost become an act. The reader is put on the alert.

‘The mammoth has gone to sleep under the tree.’ More powerful still. That really does suggest action. It also points out that the mammoth was awake beforehand. Now the drama’s creeping in. He might wake up.

All three statements are in the present. They all say the same thing — to the untuned ear. And that’s the point. The tuned ear detects the difference. A difference of meaning, and a difference of power. The writer must have an ear; and by discipline he must tune it to register where the power, and so the meaning, lies.”

Active vs. Being

This is not to say never use being verbs. Sometimes we want to have a state of being, but too much being leaves the reader with a fuzzy, and often dull, image. There is nothing to see when something is, as opposed to something running, singing, breaking…When you use being verbs, do so with deliberation and an awareness of the effect.

A friend, Kaspalita, who is part of a duo who created a network for writers, Writing Our Way Home, wrote a poem this morning that illustrates my point and he kindly allowed me to use it as an example.

I snort up the letters in your poem
enjoy the soft edges of your vowels
your consonants draw blood

I’m spraying ink onto the page
nothing is wrong/nothing is right
the paper skits under the speed of my hand

in the morning
illuminated in a pool of dawn
I see a heap of broken words, and
on the floor, dark letters cast aside in last night’s frenzy

the only things moving are motes of dust
caught by the sun

by Kaspalita, March 17, 2011

Note the active verbs and how they set the tone and drama of the poem. Be conscious of the images they give you. Find the being verbs. The speaker is speaking of a state of being in all cases. The being verbs are necessary, but are, as they should be, a small percentage of the verbs.

Go through one, or more, of your poems and highlight the active verbs and the being verbs. See how many being verbs you can make active and if you leave a verb of being, do so because you know it is the right verb.

Thank you if you stayed through to the end. There was no way I could shorten this [and I could have made it longer!]. If you have questions, or something you wish to comment on regarding verb use, please do comment.

I will see you tomorrow for the Friday roundup of prompts and exercises and Tuesday for the next phase of dialogue poems.

 
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Posted by on 17/03/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Friday Freeforall: It Has Been That Kind of Week

8:09 am, Friday, 11 February, 2011 – Atlanta

I feel like I have been through a month this week. Am glad to have reached Friday in one piece.

We start with Donna Vorreyer’s Poetry Tow Truck. I know I keep saying her prompts are fun but…her prompts are fun. In part, Donna says: Today’s exercise leans on some of our most prized possessions to help us draft. Take a look at your bookshelf (or the stack next to your bed…or next to your couch…you get the idea). Write down six to ten titles. Go to the tow truck to learn more.

Next, we drop by Writer’s Island where they wish us to “beguile the time” [Macbeth]. Look up beguile. It has some interesting definitions to play with. The Island lists a few.

This week, Carry on Tuesday features a quote from pianist Arthur Rubinstein. To read the line and to hear some music, stop by.

At Sunday Scribblings, we have more than a one word prompt this week: I know we’ve had “Bedtime Stories” before, but this is an altogether more grown-up prompt. Intrigued? Go over and see the rest of the prompt.

One Single Impression offers a single word prompt accompanied by a photograph and an allusion to Matthew 11:28-30.

I always head for Big Tent with a lift of the heart. There is something about a circus…They start their prompt with: Got the blues? I do. And I can’t stop whining about it. Winter has me down, baby. Really down. Are you blue about anything? It doesn’t have to be winter (some of you live where it’s summer now). It can be anything. Now go to the circus for the rest of the prompt.

Our colourful Jingle Poetry offers us Aims, Goals and Ambitions with accompanying video for inspiration in their Poetry Potluck. Next week: Love, Bonds and Relationships!

Over at Poets & Writers they have an interesting prompt. That’s all I am going to say. You will have to go there to see it. It’s tricky but if you have the right poem could be fun.

There is a particularly evocative photograph on Magpie Tales. The colours, the winter scene, and the house looking deserted…

Three Word Wednesday has their three words and definitions. I am almost more intrigued with working a poem from the definitions they give us each week, than the words themselves.

And, definitely head over to We Write Poems because they have a personal challenge this week. At first I thought, Well, not for me…too difficult. But the prompt has been working on me and I may give it a go. They start with : Happy Valentines! Out of the fire and into the frying pan! We’ll let you write whatever valentines to your sweethearts as you wish. What we’re asking this week is that you write a valentine message to yourself! How can you not go look at the rest?

The Thursday Think Tank at Poets United ends their prompt with : Take a little time and think about what the shadows around you represent. Look at your surroundings and see what shadows inspire in your imagination. They also have three photographs and a quote from Elie Wiesel to spark our thinking.

And our anchor site One Stop Poetry. They offer plenty of inspiration in a variety of forms, but I still have a hard time navigating around. They have a seemingly nifty feature where you can hover your mouse over Features and Articles, but when I clicked on one it took me to an About page, not the page itself. If one of my readers has cracked the code I would love to hear from them.

And, if you have not visited the new networking site for writers, Writing Our Way Home, come take a look. We are up to 220 members and counting. It’s quite an enterprise. My page [if you can see it without joining] is here.

Have a good weekend. Take time to write, or at least look at things with an eye to writing about them.

 

 

 
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Posted by on 11/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts: Useful Things to Know

8:47 am, Thursday 3 February, 2011 – Atlanta

Goodday! I hope everyone is dry and safe.

Today I want to give you links to a half-dozen items that are useful to read, or are of interest. First, I forgot to link The Rag Tree’s poem on submissions which, given three Thursdays on the topic, I thought you would enjoy reading. I am sending you to the page but have a browse around his blog, as his interests are widespread: Gilgamesh, grammar, a new world…

I stumbled, as is my wont, across another list of publishing resources in Poets & Writers.

There has been an interesting development in our writing world. A Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry has been published recently. If you go over to The Poetry Foundation you can download and read it. There is much of interest. To read a commentary on the strengths and weaknesses and hopes that the code embodies, check writer/editor Dave Bonta’s post.

Another article of interest is at Olivia Tejeda’s site Away With Words…The article addresses gender inequality in print and the findings of a group, VIDA,  established for the purpose of looking into the subject.

And, finally, a shout out for a new writing network. I am calling it that rather than a website because in many ways it mimics Facebook, but is designed for writers. They have just started, so there will be a shaking out and some of us keep losing our way around, but it’s fun to have a community and a place to meet. Check Writing Our Way Home. Join! You don’t have to do anything but you will have a “room”.

That’s it for today. Back to mantras next Thursday. Tomorrow: Friday’s roundup of this week’s prompts around the blogosphere.

 
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Posted by on 03/02/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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