As I sit
by Javier Mendoza
As I sit alone on the edge of a cloud,
Whistling a heavenly tune,
While watching the beauty of nature surrounding me,
Feeling the love from everything of life,
I had to let go of things that
Society had blinded me with:
Corruption, ignorance, materialism,
the imitation of treacherous people.
I had to look away from all of the hatred,
The destruction of our planet,
The destruction of our country,
The destruction of our people,
As I sit here so blissful, meek, and enlightened.
I’ve known Javier since he was five years old–over thirty years now. He went to kindergarten with my younger brother, and they became fast friends. My mom sort of adopted him, and watched out for him growing up. He became a brother to us. I remember how devastated he was to learn that my mom had died. I think he cried harder than I did at her funeral. To this day he opens every message to me with, “hey sis…”
Looking at him you’d see this big, bald Mexican guy. He’s intimidating. But underneath he’s so sweet and thoughtful. You’d never suspect that he writes deep, beautiful poetry. I love him to death.
1. Open a new document. Spend ten minutes setting the font, spacing, and indents.
2. Turn to a clean page in your notebook. Spend fifteen minutes sharpening your pencils.
3. Make a quick snack so you don’t have to stop writing. Spend a half hour loading the dishwasher and cleaning the stove.
4. Spend an hour organizing your writing books by height, then color, then topic, then height. Don’t read any of them.
5. Spend two hours searching online for inspiration. Spend most of the time looking at cat videos.
6. Make an update about your writing on Twitter. Forget the world exists for five hours.
7. Decide to take a little nap to replenish you energy. Wake up wondering why it’s dark already.
8. Jot down notes for a great story idea. Don’t actually write any of it.
9. Have kids. Enough said.
10. Make blog posts. Hey, that’s writing, isn’t it?
Recently I read an article on writing called, “Object Writing,” on the Writer’s Digest site. The part about “object writing” was interesting. It talks about picking an object that has meaning to you in some way and think of all the sense experiences associated with it–sight, smell, taste, sounds, and physical feelings. It also says there are two other senses: organic sense–“awareness of inner bodily functions”–and kinesthetic–“your sense of relation to the world around you.”
Sounds good so far. I really need to work on my description of senses instead of relying on a few terms or associations.
But then the author went into her advice on when and how to write. That’s where she lost me.
“Object writing works best when you do it for ten minutes, first thing in the morning.”
“Always wake up your writer early, so you can spend the day together.”
Yeah… that doesn’t work for me. I learned long ago that I am not a morning writer. I just can’t write first thing in the morning before my brain is functioning. And I can’t write during the day because of the constant interruptions. Between my husband and five children (thank god we don’t have any pets), I rarely go more than a few minutes without someone bothering me.
Of course, the author also says: “If your writer is anything like mine, “lazy,” even “slug” is too kind.” The key words there being, “anything like mine.” BINGO! My inner writer is obviously not like this author’s inner writer.
Okay, I get her point about getting up early to start your day writing because you will be more fresh and observant. At least I think that’s what she’s saying. But this does not work for me. I’m a night writer. Once the family is in bed, out comes the notebook and pen. I get more done at night than any other time of day. My inner writer spends the day soaking up experiences that go down on paper long after many people are sound asleep.
My other problem with the article is this little gem: “Guarantee yourself ten minutes and only ten minutes. Set a timer, and stop the second it goes off.”
No. Just no.
It goes on to say:
You’re much more likely to sit down to a clearly limited commitment. But be sure you always stop at the buzzer. If you get on a roll some morning and let yourself write for thirty minutes, guess what you’ll say the next morning:“Ugh, I don’t have the energy to do it this morning (remembering how much energy you spent yesterday), and besides, I’ve already written my ten minutes for the next two days. I’ll start again Thursday.”
I mean, obviously if you have a job and get up early to get some words on the paper, stopping when the buzzer goes off makes sense. Otherwise you might be late for work, but I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have all day to write (because only one child is home during the day and so is my husband). Also, my inner writer does not like being interrupted. Making myself stop at ten minutes just as my creative juices start flowing would make me weep. It would ruin my day. Not to mention when or if I wanted to continue what I was writing I would have lost the mood.
I have a crap memory. I forget what I was thinking hours, if not minutes, after I think it. I’ve taken to writing lists on stickies so I don’t forget things I want to do later. When I write, I do it fast before I forget, and still, sometimes I get frustrated because I’ll think of a great word that I’ll use in the next sentence, but when I get to that sentence, I’ve completely forgotten the word.
Any distraction breaks my concentration, and there goes everything I was thinking about. Just gone. It’ll take me another ten to fifteen minutes of thinking to figure out where I was in the story or what I was planning to write next. I’m the kind of person that will stay up writing all night because I’m afraid to stop. If I stop I lose the story, the voice, the inspiration. If I stop, the next time I come back to the story I have no idea what to write, and what I do write sounds completely different than the original. I don’t stop unless I have to.
So, setting a timer and only writing for ten minutes would ruin writing for me. Writing for thirty minutes wouldn’t make me not want to write the next day; writing for a forced ten minutes would make me not want to do it again because it zaps my creativity.
My advice to writers:
Write when you can or want. If it’s early in the morning before work while you sip your first coffee of the day–terrific! If it’s the dead of night surround by the quit darkness–fantastic! If it’s five minutes in between diaper changes and cleaning peanut butter off of your toddler or five minutes between supper and bath time–awesome! I used to write on butcher paper whenever it slowed down at work–back when I was much younger and my brain actually remembered things.
Write for however long works for you. If all you can give yourself is that ten minutes before work, then use it good. If you can fit more time during the day, then go for it. If you feel the need to stay up all night writing–probably not the best idea if you have to go to work or take care of kids the next idea.
Don’t listen to people that say you have to write a certain way because they aren’t you. Only you know what your inner writer likes, so listen to it.
So what time of day or night do you like to write? What techniques work for you?
I couldn’t have said this any better. We need more tolerance and understanding in the world, not more fighting.
Even though I’m an atheist, I acknowledge how religion can be a comfort to believers, but when their faith begins to harm others…
Originally posted on Claire LaZebnik:
I don’t usually write about religion. I’m not the kind of person who wades into areas fraught with potential peril. I’m the kind of person who flees from fraught. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. So here goes.
I think people should be free to believe whatever they want. They should get to worship whatever god or goddess or many gods they believe in, alone or with others who want to join them. They should also get to NOT worship if they choose to, and their morality should never be questioned because of that choice. People should all be judged by their actions, not by their professed beliefs.
I will fight to defend anyone’s right to believe and practice what he wants to, so long as his religion doesn’t impinge on anyone else’s.
People should be allowed to practice their own religious beliefs in peace.
What people should NOT allowed to do is marginalize, disenfranchise, persecute, abuse or harm…
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A story written for my fiction class. It had to be under 500 words. I chose to do another “ripped from the headlines” story. This one is based on an accident that happened in the Vancouver area a while back. A teen waiting for the school bus was hit by a woman who then neglected to tell police she thought she hit someone. He broke both of his legs and wasn’t found until an hour later when the tow truck driver showed up. He was lucky to survive.
When they say that your life flashes before your eyes when you are dying, what they really mean is that your future is played out. It’s like nature laughing in your face. Oh, you’re dying, haha, here’s everything you’ll miss. Loser. When I tried to explain this to my mother after the fact she cried.
“Eli, don’t say such things,” she moaned. Then she fretted over the way my blanket lay across my jacked-up legs.
I never saw the car that hit me. I was late for the bus on a Wednesday. The wind stung like a thousand bees, numbing my exposed skin. I got to the corner, checked my watch, and woke up in the ditch, snow all stuck in my lashes.
“Hmm,” I thought, “this isn’t right.”
I tried to move, but the air was too heavy. I shouted for help, but my voice got lost in the wind. I prayed for the angels to come, but they never did. I don’t remember feeling much pain, just cold. They said I was lucky.
I never saw the car that hit me, or the terrified look on the driver’s face when she neglected to tell the police I existed. While I lay in the ditch, feeling almost no pain, I saw the image of a girl. She had brown hair, sort of curly, and blue eyes. Our future together sped past my eyes in a blur. I tried to tell my mother about it; she tsked me and told me not to be silly.
“Only God knows what is in store for us.”
“Maybe God gave me the vision. To show me what to fight for.”
I got tsked again for that. Then fretted over while she attempted to hide her tears.
I never saw the car that hit me, or the terrified look on the driver’s face, nor remembered the man that found me. He came to tow away the wreck and heard moaning in the trees. I read about it in the paper–how he vomited at the sight of my mangled legs.
They say I may never walk again. That makes my mom cry. Everything makes her cry. I tried to tell her I was okay; I was alive. She can only sees the things I’ve lost because she didn’t see my future flash before her eyes–she didn’t see everything I will gain. Starting with the brown-haired girl visiting the kid in the room next door.
Another story from my fiction workshop. This one is based on an incident that took place in my small town in 2011–an anti-government gun hoarder killed his family, set his house on fire, then had a shoot-out with the police. All of this took place blocks from my kids’ elementary school. I listened to the gunfire and watched the smoke from my yard about a mile away. It was intense.
Her grandmother considered black cats to be harbingers of doom, Julia Carlson recalled as she left for work. Otis, the local stray, zipped across her yard, his black tail disappearing under her porch. Silly cat, she thought. She skipped down the rickety stairs, digging through her purse for a stick of gum. Alex would be at work today–he had dreamy chocolate eyes.
A cobalt blue car idled empty in the middle of the street, coughing up exhaust. She looked around for a driver. A man dressed in a business suit scrambled away from Mr. Peterson’s front door as the window of the car exploded, peppering Julia with shards of safety glass. Someone screamed; she didn’t think it was her.