Tag Archives: Dot Hearn

In Pursuit of Art

“Art will take you places”
~ from  the video,”Art,” by Andrea Dorfman

If you’re anything like me, you’ve questioned the worth of your creative endeavors (be it writing or music, painting or sculpture) once or twice (…or more). But in times when budget cuts target the arts first, it has become even more important that we embrace – and encourage – creativity, for ourselves and others.

This video says it all.

Thanks to Dot Hearn, who introduced me to this video a while back. I could watch this over and over.

Flash Fiction – in a Flash!

You might not believe this.

When I woke up this morning Dot’s email with her Wednesday’s Word piece sat in my inbox.

At 7:02am.

I forgot to mention yesterday that Dot didn’t want me to send her any word from my magic word bag a day or two ahead of time. She wanted to attempt the Word of the Day challenge like I do – wait until the Wordsmith sends his word out into cyberland, then write like mad.

So, when I crawled out of bed this morning, opened my laptop, and saw her story, my mouth fell open.

That’s what I’m talking about when I say commitment and dedication, and a fervor for writing. Amazing!

And, I don’t just mean her quick turnaround. Wait until you read her story….

*****

From Wordsmith.org, Today’s Word:

bread and circuses

MEANING:
noun: Things intended to keep people happy and to divert their attention from the problems.

ETYMOLOGY:
Translation of Latin term panis et circenses, from panis (bread) + et (and), circenses (circuses). The term originated in the satires of Roman poet Juvenal (c. 60-140). Circus refers to the circus games, such as chariot races, held in the Roman times. The term has been loan translated into many other languages. In Spanish, for example, it is pan y toros (bread and bullfights).

USAGE:
“Madrid has set up a series of summits that look a lot like bread and circuses for a domestic audience at time of economic misery.”
John Vinocur; Still Waiting for a Brave New Europe; The New York Times; Jan 4, 2010.

——————————————-

Judy opened the suede covered octagonal box, lifting each of the origami flaps – ocean blue and ponderosa green and solar yellow – as if the touch of her delicate fingers would burn them. Leaving behind a scar so ugly that no one would ever bother look inside again. And look inside was the point. Just a glance, a peek, no lingering. But if the entry point was marred then no one would come.

Each pointed flap laid open on the royal purple satin tablecloth, splayed as a ripened sunflower at the end of August. She moved forward, resting her belly on the edge of the table and peered over the box’s edge. There was the hat, just as she left it.

She felt comfort in knowing there had not been others since her last visit.

Judy reached into the box and slid her hands under the brim, whose color was the same as the dimming table. The four sprouts of the hat, the same color as the exterior of the box, bounced and giggled as she lifted it upward and toward her head.

Should she put it on now? Or wait?

“How long?” Judy yelled into the other room.

“Not long.” Margaret replied. “The ticket sellers will be here soon. Followed by the ushers. Then the food handlers. Why?”

“My hat, is it ready?” Judy shouted back, her voice now breathy as the opening moment neared.

“Wait.” Then silence.

Judy lowered the hat back into the box but left the flaps open.

“What are you doing?” Judy asked as she entered the kitchen.

“Building hardtack boxes,” Margaret answered. “Practical and nutritious and they last a long time. You entertain and I feed. Okay?”

“Deal.” Judy continued walking through the kitchen then walked right out the door and down the steps to the lawn. Where. Her naked feet met the blades of grass – again – and they smiled. She continued walking until she reached the plastic covering they’d hung from the garage. The white length of Tyvek stretching from the roof’s overhang, across the pvc pipes duct-taped together to the opposite sides where they were tightly tethered by yellow truck rope. All very carefully done so as to not smash their attendees. Or each other.

For some reason that neither of the women understood, the county government gave them a grant to do their show. Judy the performer and Margaret the nurturer. Between them they kept the people happy and kept them out of trouble. The valley was hit hard with the downward spiraling economy and people started becoming just plain mean. Hoarding. Isolating. Not taking car of themselves.

One day, Judy was in the driveway with Billy. He had just started taking acrobat lessons from her a few weeks before, she remembers. They were stretching and doing handstands and back flips and this car pulled up across the street. They even turned off their engine. Judy was having Billy practice smiling when he was upside down which was, according to him, a nearly impossible task. The couple in the car started laughing after a few minutes, with giant smiles on their faces nearly to the point of tears.

Two weeks later Judy received the distinguished monetary grant award for performers whose work inspires others to “Just Be Happy.”

That was about two years ago now. And here they are again, except that they bought the house next door and it was currently under remodel. The goal was to finish the master suite and to make the unused child’s room into a guest area. Every visitor needs a little “me time.”

And now was Judy’s time. She skipped back into the house and into the room with the box with her hat. This time she lifted it onto her head. Then she checked herself in the mirror and ran through the kitchen and out the door. She would not have her guests upset – so she places the hostess with the mostess hat on her head and let the spokes bounce with each step back to the garage where she could help people forget their troubles, just for a day. Or an hour, even. Every moment counts. Every moment is important to the health and well-being of the individual which is important for the survival of the planet.

“You feed their bodies and I feed their soul,” Judy shouted toward the kitchen window, where Margaret was standing, shoulders up, hands pressed against the window’s ledge. And the faint beginnings of her smile.

“Y-up,” Margaret mouthed, since Judy wouldn’t be able to hear her, anyway. Best to save the vocal cords for the evening’s performance. Judy said she had a surprise for them all tonight. Margaret would wait, as she always waits. And be there with Judy’s hardtack when she was done. For now, she needed to get the first pan out of the oven, before it burned.

*****

Dot is a writer in the spaces between work and working out. Current projects are completion of a memoir and revision of a mystery novel, alongside writing short stories and poetry.

She blogs at The Writing Vein.

[tweetmeme]

Back to Wednesday’s routine, sort of

Last week, I took a break from the usual Wednesday’s Word challenge, and hosted guest author Linda Lappin. Tomorrow, I will get back into the virtual ring with Wordsmith.org and his never predictable word of the day.

Well, it won’t be me in the ring exactly. I’ll be cheering from the corner.

For the last two months, I’ve invited another writer to participate in Wednesday’s Word of the day. E. Victoria Flynn started us out. Ann M. Lynn braved the second round. And, tomorrow,  I welcome my friend Dot Hearn.

Dot and I met through Ariel Gore’s Lit Star Training online writing course. During introductions, we discovered we were both new to the NaNoWriMo madness that year, that we both recently embarked on a serious commitment to write, and that we were both sign language interpreters. Of course, I connected with Dot right away.

But, it wasn’t until after Ariel’s class ended, when we embarked on a project together, that I understood the true depth of her commitment to writing and her unconditional support of other writers.

Dot and I, along with a small group of other Lit Star graduates, designed and self-published an anthology (On the Fly: Stories in Eight Minutes or Less) of quick writes that resulted from several writing exercises in Ariel’s class. We were all amazed at the kind of writing that came out of one prompt and an eight minute time limit, and we wanted to share that magic with others. The anthology project gave us all a taste of the publishing world and an even more solid connection to each other.

Dot continues to work with the same spirit and determination. She maintains a website called The Writing Vein, where she posts her own writing prompts every Friday – The Razor’s Edge. I love reading her prompts, as they tap into several avenues of inspiration by combining a written prompt with an image and a song.

I could blather on and on about Dot, but I’ll let her tell you – in her own words – how she came to love writing:

Writing has been one constant throughout my life. Sure, I’ve taken a little time off here and there, but I wrote my first stage script at age 9 and hand-wrote my first novel – all 72 pages – at age 10.

As a teenager and during my early adult years, I submitted poems and a few of them were published. My early college days were spent in journalism, the middle college years brought a sign language interpreting degree, and my most recent college degree included a minor in theater and a minor in writing.

Right now I have one novel in revision; a memoir still being written; short stories and flash fiction and poems floating around on editors’ and contest judges’ desks; a produced radio script, freewrites galore – and more. And I am into the fourth year of a ten-year commitment to write no matter what; I think writing is becoming a habit I don’t want to shake.

I am a writer in the spaces between work and working out. Current projects are completion of a memoir and revision of a mystery novel, alongside writing short stories and poetry. I hope soon to tip the balance of work and writing life, so that work will happen in the spaces between writing and outdoor adventures.

Thank you, Christi, for giving me this opportunity to step outside of my box to participate in your Wednesday’s Word. I’ve been a fan since it’s inception and I’m excited to be able to participate in this way. You are an inspiration.

Thank you, Dot! I can’t wait to see how you wrangle Wordsmith into a crafty creative submission tomorrow!

[tweetmeme]

Live to Write, Write to Live

Inspiration is all around us.

Yesterday was one of those days when I thought, why write? Staring at the future, instead of staying in the moment, I pouted through the morning. I wrote anyway (it was Wednesday, I had to), and I felt better.

Today on The Writing Vein blog*, I watched this video about art, its mystery and its draw:

art manifesto

How the future unfolds doesn’t matter so much. I just love to write.

______________

* I don’t know where Dot finds such lovely music and videos, but I’m glad she posts them. I could watch this one again and again (and I have) Thanks, Dot!

Passing It On: Prolific Times Three

There’s no better way to finish off the weekend and start a new week than with an award.

Mary Campbell shared her Happiness 101 award with me a few days ago. Today, Linda Cassidy Lewis honors me with the title of Prolific Blogger (you can read about the award itself, here).

More than a testament of my writing, both these awards are evidence of the strong connections we find with other writers, whether online or in person. Mary’s award gave me an introspective opportunity to ask myself what it means to be really happy. Linda’s award offers me a chance to ponder the word Prolific.

I’m a big fan of the thesaurus. Some writers refuse to use it, but I love it. I’m a visual person. When I see one word in isolation, it sometimes appears flat to me. But, when I read through the word’s synonyms, the word takes shape in a more meaningful way for me.

Prolific: fruitful, generative, innovative, plenteous.

The maker of the award ask that recipients pass it on to seven other bloggers. Seven is a big number. Three is more magical for me. I hope Advance Booking will keep me on the list of winners even as I side-step that rule. At any rate, here are three bloggers I love who deserve the title of Prolific:

  1. My friend Sarah, Ms. Celiac in the City, is a wealth of information about gluten-free living. I can manage gluten, but I have to consider a nut-free, egg-free diet for one of my kids. Sarah and I talk food quandaries as often as we can, and she provides resources to other sites with food allergies at the forefront.
  2. Dot Hearn, whom I mentioned in my last post, is a writer out west. Though we’ve never met in person, I love having her as a friend and writing colleague. She keeps her website rolling with writing prompts and news about literary and arts events all around town. I wish I lived in Oregon or – at the least – had a large disposable income within reach, so I could fly out there whenever I darn well pleased.
  3. E. Victoria Flynn is a fellow SheWrites author and a Mother Writer. She recently began a weekly post on What to Read This Weekend where she highlights an interesting or inspiring blog. And, she created a great logo for every Mother Writer out there.

Like I plan to do, you can buy a t-shirt, a messenger bag, maybe even a magnet. My dream would be to buy a book of temporary tattoos, so I could slap the logo onto my bicep for some added sass.

***

Thank you, Linda, for acknowledging my blog. It’s an honor to display the badge. I only wish I had the kind of writing space in the picture…minus the dog. I’m terribly allergic. I doubt I’d get much writing done with a furry friend stirring up dander just below my feet.

Still…the coffee, the printer overflowing with finished works, and the light bulb going on daily with amazing and creative ideas…dreamy.

Happy.

Happy. Content. Peaceful.

In recent days, the question of what makes me happy has come up in two different places.

On Thursday, Mary Campbell, at Writer’s Butt Does Not Apply to Me, passed on the Happy 101 blog award to me, because (and I am not making this up) “[Christi] always has something sweet to say.” I like Mary (and her blog), and I wonder if Mary might write a letter of confidence for me and mail it to my husband the next time my sweet turns to sour.

But, seriously, I believe in Karma, and the Golden Rule. My mother always told me what goes around comes around. And, as I approach the start date for a novel workshop, and imagine the thought of eleven other writers cutting loose with feedback, I hope all that good Karma and those sugar-sweet words will carry me through critiques.

On Friday, my friend Dot Hearn, at The Writing Vein, posted her second Razor’s Edge writing prompt, which centered around Happiness. Dot addresses the theme in three different ways: a written prompt, a photo, and a song by Joanna Newsom. I was entranced by the song and video. The music even stopped my three-year old dead in her tracks.

“What’s that lady singing?” she asked.

I couldn’t answer. I was too busy listening and floating and falling in love with the harp.

[You’ll have to click over to Dot’s post to watch it. It’s lovely. Really.]

Both Mary and Dot posed the same question: what makes me happy?

As Dot points out, happiness runs deeper than that giddy, maniacal feeling I get when I stay up way past my bed time and suddenly everything is funny.

Although I admit, that kind of guttural laughter from me – and especially from my kids – will cancel out a bad day in a second, my concept of true happiness is defined by contentment and an understanding that if I am comfortable in my own skin, I am happy.

I treasure those moments when happiness runs deep, grips me just below my chest, and imparts a sensation that no matter what surrounds me, good or bad, I am here. In this moment. Alive. And, I am not alone.

That kind of happiness materializes in connections I make with those around me: my family, my friends, sometimes even strangers. In the absence of words, a glance, a smile and a nod, or a hand in mine touches my core and fills me up.

***

Eye to eye, we connect.
Our backgrounds are a blur.
Our mouths are quiet,
But our minds convey:
I see you.
I know you.
I understand.

***

happy. content. peaceful.