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Friday, November 16, 2012

Oh How I Miss You

Here's my post for the Oh How I Miss You Blogfest.  The instructions are as follows:  "Do you have a couple blogger buddies who aren’t posting as often? Those who’ve pulled back and seem absent from the blogging world? Do you have blogger buddies for which you grateful and would miss if they vanished? Now is your chance to show your appreciation and spotlight them!"  To find more participants in this blogfest, click here:

For many folks, including me lately, blogging feels like the ebb and flow of a full moon tide.  Sometimes my posts spew out in a head-on rush to shore and sometimes other factors tug my sea of words in another direction.
In this regard, I elect Suzy Hayes/Palmieri, as my first nominee in the Oh How I Miss You Blogfest.   These days, Suzy is focused on her two books, both scheduled for release in 2013.  I’m delighted for her, and am drumming my fingers as I look forward to two wonderful reads in the spring.  But I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to wishing I could still read Suzy's evocative writing on a regular schedule.  Her words reached in and held me. They forced me to sit while they filtered through and fingered soft places.  So often, I'd read her posts mesmerized, until I exhaled in a soft and committed “Yes.”  To read Suzy’s old posts, click here.   These days, you can find her here. 

When it comes down to communicating with gut-wrenching honesty, I have to give it to Carolina Valdez-Miller.  Oh my word, this woman can write.  She has brought me to tears on more than one occasion, and it’s clear that which has moved me comes with an incredible thoughtfulness.  In my mind, Carol lives as purposefully as anyone I “know,” and every word she commits to cyberspace rings pure.  You can read Carol here.

I know I’m only supposed to feature two or three bloggers, but there are a few more I want to recognize.  Yvonne at the Organic Writer constructs stunning poems that sometimes leave me exultant, and other times leave me shattered.  Kudos to a writer who can prompt such emotion.  Tricia, at Tailspinning  may be my soul sister on the other side of the country, writing beautiful haiku’s to reflect the gorgeous photos she takes of her lovely coast.  Another blogger/writer  I treasure, Jan Morrison, lives on the east coast of Canada, and, finds joy and pleasure in the nature that surrounds her. You can find her here, and here.

Some of these bloggers still post regularly.  Others not so much.  But I owe all of them a debt of gratitude for the ways in which their singular words and encouragement have touched my life and helped me grow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Matter of Degree

When our most recent Nor’easter, “Athena” arrived last week (Who knew “winter” storms get labeled now, too?), I choked when I heard her name.  Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom and “Just” Wars, pounded our coast eight days after Sandy. For a while Wednesday and Thursday, I wondered what wisdom irate Mother Nature sought to impart as she launched her second offensive in less than two weeks. Patience, perhaps? Maybe fortitude?  Or perhaps, it was something else. 
We get these Nor’easters, and we get through them, but during Athena, following so closely on the heels of Sandy’s devastation, something occurred that brought to mind how fate factors into our lives.
The coast south of Boston is littered with sharp rocks.  The area’s past is colored with tragic shipwrecks—including a horrible story of Irish of immigrants who died within sight of our unforgiving shores.  Only a fool pilots the waters anywhere near us without up-to-date navigational charts.  Once, my husband watched a man throttle his powerboat outside a marked channel at the mouth of our harbor.  Before he could finish saying, “That guy is nuts” that “guy” hit ledge and began to sink. 

Keeping that in mind, tell me how this happens? With the wind blasting and massive swells pounding on shore and off shore ledges this week, an empty fishing boat from Gloucester, a city north of Boston, (13.5 nautical miles away, or about 60 miles by car— an interminable time through traffic should you choose to drive), pulls its mooring and travels across Massachusetts Bay to the South Shore.  It makes it from one coast to another, without capsizing and without hitting rock.  It rides Athena’s mountainous waves and washes up, relatively unscathed in front of a house, which happens to sit on the brink of one of the few small stretches of ledge-free coast in our town. 

I’m sure the owner of that boat is cursing the mooring that didn’t hold, but I hope, also, he is counting his blessings.  I think of folks in New York and New Jersey, who’ve lost everything—scrabbling for scraps of their lives—chasing family photos as they blow across debris littered lots.  Then I imagine that fishing boat, twirling and spinning across miles of dangerous water, missing the Grampus Ledges, the Black Rocks, Minot’s Ledge, Harding Ledge, Thieves Ledge, and so many other obstacles, to land, battered but whole, on the other side of Massachusetts Bay. 

I caught a photo of the boat during the height of the storm.  The next day, the sky was scrubbed clean and blue.  I stepped out with the camera, chasing a picture of the still ferocious sea crashing over our lighthouse, and as I made my way down the coast, I passed the stranded boat again.  Seeing it there, safe and whole, I understood Athena's lesson. 

There’s a mighty fine line between awesome and awful.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IWSG: A Resource for You

This is my post for November’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  To read other contributors click here.

In 2011, I participated in a Grubb Street fiction workshop taught by author Lynne Griffin via a grant through our local libraryAt the time, I’d written a first attempt at a novel, a mess I’d consigned to a folder on my flash drive.  During the six week workshop, I learned much about POV, voice, and setting, but the lesson that resonated for me focused on conflict.  Through Lynne's classes, I realized my first novel was a disaster because I had been afraid to raise the stakes.  A confessed coward, I refrained from forcing hardship on the characters I created, and whom I’d come to love.  As a result?  Ho hum...

During the spring before the class, I’d started a second novel, and though I had to take several breaks at critical junctures before I could bear to force my protagonists into overwhelming and sometimes tragic circumstances, the lessons I absorbed from Lynne allowed me to do so.  Now, on my tenth revision, I still have a long way to go, but when I think about the impact that class had on me, I know I’d never have my second, improved story without it. 

Aside from the bla, bla, bla backstory above, I gained one more thing from Lynne’s class. From 2006-2009, she and three of her partners took turns writing for their blog, called  the Writer’s Group.  There, they shared experiences in regard to all things writing, and though they no longer contribute to it, the blog remains public.  Their engaging essays impart truths and reassurances related to the technical and emotional considerations associated with writing and publishing.  When I need practical help or feel most insecure about my journey, I peruse the subjects they covered back then and it always helps to keep me going. 

Check out the Writer’s Group.   Maybe it will help you too.

What resources do you turn to when the writing journey overwhelms you?