WFMAD Day 30 – comfort

We spent a little time at the State Fair last night with Number One Son and his girlfriend. We had hoped to enjoy the Shinedown concert, but the sound was pretty bad and crowd not really chill enough for our tastes.

I did have a good time checking out the chickens, bunnies, and cows. Saw one rabbit that is larger than my pillow and had way better hair than me.

I had hoped to make up the rest of the pesto today, but writing comes first. 


Today’s advice: "I write for a couple of hours every day, even if I only get a couple sentences. I put in that time. You do that every day, and inspiration will come along. I don’t allow myself not to keep trying. It’s not fun, but if you wait until you want to write, you’ll never do it."  Dave Barry


Today’s prompt: Signs taken out of context are wonderful sparks for creativity. If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll see I often post photos of signs that strike me as funny, or intriguing, or as… yes, a sign about a larger experience than the physical, literal sign might imply at first glance.

On the way to the State Fair last night, I came across a sign that made me chuckle and is going to be the basis for my free-writing time today.

You can use my sign, too, or you can go for a walk or drive and find a sign of your own.

My sign?

Scroll down and all will be revealed…

The oracle is ready to speak…..

Can you feel the wind rise as She opens Her mouth?………

and whispers:……..

"Comfort window"

What would you see if you looked through YOUR comfort window?

Scribble….Scribble…. Scribble…

WFMAD Day 3 – Hungry Monday

I’m off to give a speech this morning… a speech about writing. To teachers. I’ll be telling them about this challenge, among other things, and trying to help them shift out of editor mode and into writer mode. I’m also going to explain why focusing on publication can create problems for young writers.

Focusing on publication can create problems for ALL writers, come to think about it.

People at the beginning of their writing journey often assume that getting published is the goal, the end of their road. I did. I was willing to put all of my energy into tracking trends and editors and networking with other writers and thinking about how to market my books if they were ever published.

That was a mistake.

Yes, you do need to put some energy into those things, but the most important thing is to develop your craft. The best thing any of us can do for our careers is not to network, not to attend workshops, not to go to writer’s group, or read a blog or enter a contest or work on a website.

The best thing we can do for our careers, and more importantly, our souls, is to sit down, every day, and write. Like you are going to do right now. Just fifteen minutes, buddy. You can do this.


Today’s advice:
Here’s a quote from author Sue Grafton: “Writing isn’t about the destination — writing is the journey that transforms the soul and gives meaning to all else."


Today’s prompt: Last night my husband made me an incredible dinner; the kind of meal that you make for someone you’re dating when you are ready for the relationship to go to the next level. (Is there anything as nice as being courted by your spouse? I don’t think so.)

Write about preparing that kind of meal. It can be from your POV or that of a character. It could be the meal you’d like your beloved to make for you. Focus on taste and smell and making your reader very, very hungry.


WFMAD Day 2 – rolling, rolling rolling

Wow! I’ve had incredible feedback already – thanks to everyone who checked in on Twitter, Facebook, LJ, MySpace and all the other landing zones for this blog.

Several people wrote in with suggestions for keeping those precious fifteen minutes uninterrupted. My favorite so far: "Let the dog out before you begin writing."

What are you doing to protect your WFMAD time?

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read yesterday’s post.)

We had a Comfort Gathering for my father in the Forest yesterday. His oldest friends and family joined us to tell stories about my parents and share the joy of their presence. I had a big photo of my mother on the mantle; her senior picture from high school. That leads me to our prompt today.


Today’s advice:
Be clear with yourself about how much of your time is controlled by other people, and how much is really under your control.


Today’s prompt: Find a yearbook pic or school photo. It can be of you, your beloved, your kids or you can go here for inspiration (click on the image to make it larger). Choose a photo that evokes an emotional response – that gut feeling – even if you aren’t quite sure what that feeling is at first. Don’t think, just write the words that stream through your mind as you look at the photo. Write for fifteen minutes and have fun!


Dawn Patrol

Yesterday was a lucky day for me. My tomato plants survived the frost, snug in their little handmade hoodies. My flights were on time, my flights were (relatively) comfortable, and my luggage did not wander off on its own. AND I won a contest. I have never won a contest before in my whole life. And get this – I won ICE CREAM.

Coconut & Lime is my favorite food blog. (You really should check it out and try some of her recipes.) When I was inbetween flights at O’Hare Airport yesterday, I saw the announcement of a contest to win some of the new flavors of Haagen-Dazs ice cream. So I entered. I always enter contests; it’s a case of blind optimisim overcoming decades of painful experience. But yesterday, I won! I don’t know when the ice cream is coming, or what flavors will be in the box, but I’ll let you know.

One of the nice things about jet lag is that it’s really easy, as an East-coaster, to wake up wicked early for a sunrise stroll. San Jose is a very walkable and runnable city. I am staying on the campus of San Jose State University and went for a run last night through the surrounding neighborhoods. This morning I wandered through downtown, enjoying all the public art. While looking for an open coffee shop, I came across a cool memorial to Ernesto Galarza, called Man of Fire.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic He was a brilliant author, activist, and organizer who fought for decent working conditions for farm laborers and educational opportunities for all.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The piece looks like a long dining room table, with objects that reflect Galarza’s passions and accomplishments scattered on it.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic See this memorial to his life and work, especially since we just celebrated International Labor Day yesterday and Cinco de Mayo on Monday, was a meaningful way to start the day.

I leave in a while to speak at Yerba Buena High School, then to Hicklebee’s for a 4pm event and signing. You’re coming, right? Please? Paleeeeezzzz?

My dad

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

He turns 79 today, but that’s not how we’re supposed to say it. He prefers us to note that he is “beginning his eightieth year.” This way he gets to say he’s 80 a year early, in the same way I started calling myself a teenager when I was 12. But we’ll honor the request. After all, he’s almost 80. That counts for something.

My father has been a profound influence on my life and on my writing. He is a poet, first and foremost. This means he sees the world through the eyes of a child, and his heart is pure, and his feelings are easily wounded. He is an alchemist who transmutes emotion into words into laughter and tears. He rages against social injustice and corruption and he cheers good intentions. He is a hopeless optimist. He does not suffer fools gladly. He is committed to the life of a Christian seeker. He is not allowed to touch chain saws, but he makes great soup. (There was a time when he made Very Bad Soup. The scene in SPEAK where the dad buries the nasty turkey soup in the backyard was inspired by one of Dad’s earliest soup attempts in the early 1970’s.) He likes Harry Potter. He has never forgotten the lessons of the Great Depression. He gave a poetry reading last month that left the audience in tears. He loves my mother.

My father is a great man.

In all honesty, I have to report that I did not think this when I was 13 years old. Our family went through a very, very rough decade (more like 15 years) and through much of it he confused me, bewildered me, infuriated me. I am sure I did the same to him. There was love underneath it all, but lots of pain was smothering it. So if you’re having a hard time with your dad or mom or whoever today, take a deep breath and count to 80. Try to talk about it. The pain can be washed away and the love will grow.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic My dad.