Mini-conference on Storytelling

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Two weeks from today (November 2nd) has been marked on my calendar for weeks. It’s the day of our one-day writing conference: “Storytelling: Bringing the Past to Life.”

If you’re a Vancouver area writer, you’ll want to give this a look. Here is the delectable lineup:

9:00 a.m. – “The Drama of Biblical Fiction” by David Kitz (president of The Word Guild).

10:00 a.m. “Writing the Play Tolkein” by Ron Reed (eminent playwright and founder of Pacific Theatre, Vancouver).

11:15 a.m. “Twentieth Century Historical Fiction and Memoir” by Rose Seiler Scott.

1:30 p.m. “How to Save Your Family History through Short Stories” by Jim Martens.

2:30 p.m. “Writing Historical Musicals” by Allen Desnoyers, composer of “Pier 21 – The Musical”

The day winds up with an evening performance of “Pier 21 – The Musical” (ticketed separately).

Location:

South Delta Baptist Church
1988 – 56th Street
Delta, BC

This conference is sponsored by The Word Guild’s Surrey and White Rock Chapters. More details and a registration form are available HERE.

2018 in Focus (Spiritual Journey Thursday)

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My One Little Word for 2018 is/was FOCUS. I wrote about what I expected my focus on FOCUS to do for me back on January 4th, and did a mid-year evaluation on July 5th.

Since then I haven’t actually dwelt on my OLW a whole lot. But reading these two posts and looking back over the year helps me see that focus has, in some small way, actually become part of my DNA—though I could still do much better.

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A Bible Journal doodle I did on the word FOCUS, in January, 2018.

In September we took the trip to the Canadian Maritime provinces that I was dreaming of back in July. Before our trip I focused on getting ready. During our holiday I focused on the sights, sounds, smells, tastes—all the wonderful moments of exploration and discovery.

When we got back home, I kept my promise to myself and again picked up and focused on the fictional story I’ve been writing (in some form or other since 2014). I’m thrilled to announce that the first draft is nearly done!

Something I do to help me focus on this project (and others) is to set my iPad timer for the amount of time I plan to work on it (for this one 90 minutes a day, four days a week). That somehow frees me to dive in and get immersed in the work without the distraction of looking at the time.

Another focus trick I use is to treat myself after onerous tasks. Treats are things like drawing, painting, doodling, or reading (not food!).

My one little word for 2017 was LISTEN. I was sad to leave it behind. But I didn’t—at least not completely. I have found that habits I formed during my year of LISTEN are still with me. (For example, in conversation, when someone cuts in and begins to talk over me, I immediately stop talking and listen—something I trained myself to do last year when I was trying to become a better listener).

Similarly, I hope that habits I’ve formed this year under the influence of FOCUS will prove to be just as sticky.

And now, it’s time to focus on Christmas. To all of you—have a very blessed one!

Merry Christmas Header

spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey (First) Thursday, hosted today by Irene at her blog Live Your Poem. There you will find links to other Spiritual Journey Thursday posts.

Look both ways before proceeding (Spiritual Journey First Thursday)

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January 2018 seems like just yesterday in some ways—and like a long time ago in others. As I look back and ahead, here in the middle of the year, I see several trends.

FOCUS

My one-little-word for 2018 is FOCUS. I began to put that word into action early in the year by cutting out some activities and routines. One of them, you Poetry Fridayers may have noticed, was to withdraw from posting a weekly poem and linking up with Poetry Fridays. Indeed, my poetry-writing has taken a back seat to other things this year.

Graphic art interest

The interest in doodling, drawing, and lettering that was ignited when I discovered Bible art journaling last spring, has continued to grow. Joining Instagram earlier this year (@vi_nez), has challenged me to grow even more as I’ve discovered amazing artists whose work I admire. It seems to me that at some level, drawing uses similar mental, emotional and intellectual brain pathways as writing (especially writing poetry) and so my urge to create has been absorbed in this new-to-me art form.

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In June I took part in a flower-drawing challenge (we were given the names of 15 flowers to draw; lettering/words were at our discretion if at all). I chose a Christian quality as a title for each of my flowers. Here are four that I did.

Finish what I start

One writing project that I continue to work on is a novel—a sequel to the Bible fiction I published in 2012. That book (Destiny’s Hands) fictionalizes the story of the Bible character Bezalel. He was singled out for the job of making the Tabernacle and crafting all its worship accessories (along with many helpers—see Exodus 31:1-11). In Destiny’s Hands, I follow Bezalel from the Egyptian craft guild, where he works for Pharaoh, to the time he receives his assignment from Moses.

In the sequel (my working title is Under the Cloud), I follow his sister (a purely fictional character) through the rest of the exodus, taking her and her family to the border of the Promised Land.

I’ve worked on this project for several years and still don’t feel I’ve researched enough. But a while ago I decided enough of that, better get writing. I am about two thirds of the way through (53,000 words Monday) what I’ve planned. I’ve been beavering away at that project for most of this winter, doing 90 minutes a day four days a week.

During the summer months I’m going to shelve that project but am determined to take it down again when we get back from our travels. My goal, at this point, is to simply finish a first draft. It may never get published, but I will finish writing it.

Vacation

Our summer vacationing starts next week with trips planned to see our children and grandchildren and hopefully take a meander through Canada’s maritime provinces after the summer rush. We’ll see.

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Early in the year I was part of an artist mentoring group. In that group we were encouraged to create a vision board. Here is a photo of mine. It addresses various aspects of life and I think it might be time to update it.

I’m loving the creative shot-in-the-arm I’ve received from taking up art journaling, drawing, and lettering. It’s a lot of fun to learn new things! At this point I have no ambitions for this new venture but to learn it. My writing I hold loosely too. I put all these things under the umbrella of a Bible verse I chose for the year:

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. … One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV

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spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThis post is part of Spiritual Journey Thursday, a link-up with other bloggers who write about their lives and work from a spiritual perspective. Doraine Bennett is hosting our link-up this month. Visit her at her blog Dori Reads.

Duty revisited

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Image: Pixabay

Duty revisited

Forget what I said earlier about Duty
being a stern mother
and a tiny house
where I kept stubbing my toe
on “You shoulds.”

Lately Duty has become
a pool noodle
that keeps me happy
playing in the safe shallows
instead of risking
the big surf of the deep,

a tether
that won’t let my ball
arc dangerously through the air
and maybe get bruised on the rim.

I haven’t opened the freezer lately either
to check on the state of my dreams.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration:
This prompt for this poem was the following on the Poetic Asides blog on November 18, 2013:

“For today’s prompt, write a “forget what I said earlier” poem. This poem could be a response to a poem you wrote earlier in the challenge (or just earlier in general). Or it could cover one of those moments–I have them all the time–when you say something that ends up proving wrong or that you wish you’d taken back.”

The poem that “Duty Revisited” talks back to is…

DUTY

Duty is a stern mother:
Do your homework first.
Finish the cleaning before you read.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
Don’t be late!

Duty is a tiny house,
no room for big projects.
I want … ricochets back
You should
Always stubbing my toe on something.

Duty is a pair of old jeans,
comfortable, unpretentious, serviceable,
sturdy, familiar,
safe.

Attention to duty means well-fed children,
happy parents,
a manicured lawn,
a reconciled account,
a shining car,
…a freezer full of dreams.

© 2004 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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work

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And so the work of writing a poem a day begins…

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Image: Pixabay

work

it starts with pen on paper
it’s scribbles and cross-outs and trying again
it’s squeezing eyes shut to focus
it’s herding cat-thoughts
into an orderly, logical line
it’s silence
no music, the door closed
no one dropping into my office to chat

it’s following arrows and numbers
to read through the mess
of what I’ve written to this point
to “hear” what’s next
it’s ideas finally snapping into place
it’s the moment I switch
from writing desk to computer
prop messy sheets on the stand
it’s beginning to type

it’s feeling this thing I’m making
—a sculpture with words—
under my fingers
it’s making keyboard adjustments
as surely as if I used a file on wood
it’s reading to check tautness of ideas
flow of words, it’s tinkering
adding a word here, taking one out there
with an eye on word count

it’s saving, printing
putting it in a folder to cool
it’s going downstairs
flicking on some frivolous TV show
and resting my brain
that is now exhausted and mellow

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt or inspiration:

The poem above was inspired by this April 9, 2015 prompt at Poetic Asides:

For today’s prompt, write a work poem. For some folks, writing is work (great, huh?). For others, work is teaching, engineering, or delivering pizzas. Still others, dream of having work to help them pay the bills or go to all ages shows. Some don’t want work, don’t need work, and are glad to be free of the rat race. There are people who work out, work on problems, and well, I’ll let you work out how to handle your poem today.

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some previously written but not-as-yet published poems out of storage. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to type it into comments and share your take on the subject with us. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

Preserving

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Tomorrow is April 1st. As I write that I feel a frisson of excitement. April is National Poetry Month (in Canada, the U.S. and perhaps other places too). This April, as I’ve done during the last several Aprils, I’m planning to drop other projects and works-in-progress and concentrate on poetry. Yes!!

Last year I wrote a poem a day and posted those freshly written puppies here on the blog.

This year I’m planning to do something a little different. I’ll still be posting a poem a day but from my pantry or cold room, so to speak. I have written many poems over the years that I’ve never published or posted anywhere. This April I’m going give some of them their first outing. I may publish a poetry book review or two and some how-to pieces as well.

If I know the poem’s inspiration or prompt, I’ll post that. If you decide to use that prompt to write a poem of your own, you’re most welcome to type your poem into comments so we can all enjoy your take on the subject.

(I’ll still be writing a poem a day. But I won’t be going public with them while they’re still warm from the oven, at least not most days…I’m a slow writer–need time to rethink, revise, work out the kinks, etc.).

Wishing you a wonderful month of preserving.

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Image: Pixabay

Preserving

Near multitude of washed Gem jars
next to the stove with boiling pot
of glass tops, zinc and rubber rings
she stacks the beans to chop-chop-chop.

Stainless steel bowls of new-shelled peas
wait still and mute for boiling bath
three-minute scald then colander scoop
into cold water filled with cubes.

Skins of tomatoes, peaches, beets
slip easily after scalding soak
hands soon stained red, sticky with juice
of roundness slippery as wet soap.

Sliced cucumbers sit overnight
in salty brine before they take
their Million Dollar Pickle bath
tart vinegar, mustard, turmeric.

In steamy kitchen open-mouthed
boxes wait scoop of beans or peas
jars merrily clink in canning pot
our cold room soon is rainbow-raised

with rich wine beets and red chow-chow
yellow peaches, pickles green
a freezer piled with boxes neat
of carrots, broccoli, peas and beans.

I too gather from my life’s plot
dehydrate, freeze, pickle and can
sustenance for my winter’s days
preserve with paper and with pen.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Prompt or inspiration:

I wrote this poem in response to Seamus Heaney’s poem “Digging” considered one of the top 100 poems of all time. It was linked on Adele Kenny’s blog The Music In It, her post of April 2015 poetry prompts.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater at The Poem Farm. Two days ago her blog was 7 years old. On her blogaversary post, she shared her National Poetry Month inspirations for the last several years. I love the many ways and places that people find inspiration for writing!

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Just an ordinary walk

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In the last few weeks my walking partner, dear hubby, has been finding it more and more painful to walk. Then the doctor told him, no more long walks until you’re better. So for now I am walking on my own.

When I took solitary walks in the past I experienced a wonderful loosening of words and ideas. And it’s happening again, if I’m alert to it.

To help with that, I carry a little notebook and pen to write down words, turns of phrase, and images that I don’t want to forget. Or I hold them in my head. That’s what I did for the poem below. When I got home I free-wrote like crazy to capture everything in prose. Later I worked some of my ideas into …

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“I am a long skinny shadow now, walking down a golden street” (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Just an ordinary walk

On this cold morning I am soft wax
feeling intimidated by impatient cars
swishing, swooshing
swirling beside me.

One turns right in front
of my WALK light, almost clips my toes.
Even in moments of still, distant traffic hums
a far off siren screams.

City birds above me chirp, warble
sing their own bustle, swoop down (peck, peck),
flutter away. They are nonchalant, daring,
savvy to the rhythm of feet and tires (hop, hop).

My nose tests wind gusts, smells
gasoline, diesel, vanilla, a passerby’s peppery
perfume,  chocolate, cinnamon
(something good is baking at Safeway).

I am a long  skinny shadow now walking down a golden street
past a lady in a taupe coat with her silky dog in red
and a grey couple smoking on a bench.
They pull their Lhasa Apso close so I can pass.

I can’t find the book drop at the library.
The security guard points me to it’s green-light lips
“You scan it.” He shows me which bar-code
and the slot sucks the book from my hand.

As I turn toward home, the sun stares
into my eyes, brash. I shade them
with hands balled into gloves, fingers
squeezing warmth from palms.

A kid with a black-and-white backpack strides by
black arms bare under short black sleeves
black jeans, white shoes—so cool
but how can he not feel so cold?

I climb stairs, twist key in the lock—
happy to be home.
It was just an ordinary walk
but forever engraved in this poem.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the queen of poetic forms, Tricia at her blog Miss Rumphius Effect.