Keep the Drama on the Page

Maxwell (3)“Keep the drama on the page!” ~ Julia Cameron

Friday, the 13th. A day of drama, real and imagined, that at best distracts you and at worst consumes you. What I have discovered from years of journal writing is that drama is best kept on the page! I became aware of this truth by studying my favorite author, Julia Cameron who coined the phrase, “Keep the drama on the page.”

Before reading Julia’s life-changing book, “The Artist’s Way,” drama would play out in my life in various ways from shouting matches with my spouse to withdrawal and depression. Drama zapped my energy and misaligned my focus. It flooded my mind in a sea of negativity. I had no outlet.

Then I read, “The Artist Way” where I discovered that I didn’t have to be a professional writer to write. I let go of the perfectionism that held me prisoner for so many years. Julia was a welcome warden, a professional writer who encouraged me to write without any preconceived notions or aspiring accolades. “If you write, you are a writer.” Her simple mantra unlocked the guarded gates of my mind so the words could flow and heal my soul. I have been writing ever since.

Sometimes, I hit the ground running and don’t write for a few days, but it doesn’t take long for the drama and negativity to seize my mind. Writing is the only way I have found to release the onslaught of fear-based thoughts that threaten to confine me. Morning Pages is the life line that deals with the drama, purges negativity, and gives form to my creativity.

 

 

Ode to a Frog

Ode to a Frog

April is one of my favorite months of the year. I think of it more as a month of rebirth than January. It is when spring kicks into gear and the world begins to bloom. Every living thing seems to comes out of hibernation. The sun shines longer, birds sing, and it’s National Poetry Month! I love that poetry gets to share the spotlight among the arts.

In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I would share some poems with you along with the story behind it. The poem featured in this post is one I wrote a few months ago for the annual Mounds State Park Photography and Poetry contest which won the Hybrid Photo/Poetry category. I snapped this photo, among many others, on a visit to Mounds on my birthday. The frog lives among other critters at their visitor center. When I looked at the photo it reminded me the age old tale about a frog that gets a kiss and turns into a prince. It was like the frog was looking at me saying, “Where’s my kiss? But, on second thought maybe not. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” That photo and thought inspired this poem that made me laugh out loud.

Ode to a Frog

Where’s the kiss

you promised me?

To turn me

into the man

you want me

to be.

One who anticipates

your every need

and proposes

on bent knee.

A man who says

I love you

morning, noon,

and night.

One who opens

doors for you,

romances you,

and never picks

a fight.

A man who fixes

everything.

One who works

around the clock

to give you

what you want.

Who goes to

the theater with you

instead of watching

the game.

A man who puts you

before his friends,

even his dog.

Oh, never mind.

I’d rather stay a frog!

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Copy of I'm in the write mood!

It’s that time of year again! Time to put your writing chops to work. Every year I think I’m going to skip it, but then when November 1st gets here, it feels like a holiday and I get as excited as a child waiting to open Christmas presents!

50,000 words in 30 days, what could I possibly have to say that would take that many words? I originally thought I would do a series of personal development blog posts I’m working on to fill the space, but that historical fiction/time travel book started knocking inside my head asking when the heck I was going to set the characters free that have been taking up space in my cerebral cortex for nearly 20 years!

My goodness, 20 years seems like a lifetime. It is beyond time to tackle this project once and for all. I have attempted it at least a dozen times. I keep getting stuck then abandoning the project, but for the story to keep resurfacing the way it does, I’m thinking it wants to be born and become part of my legacy. We will see! It sure has been incubating long enough. The characters almost seem real to me, like family, and friends from high school waiting patiently for the next reunion!

I think the real reason the story hasn’t been completed yet is simply fear of not being able to tell the story the way I see it in my mind. Not doing the story justice terrifies me. I have even thought of contacting a “real writer” like  James Alexander Thom to share my idea with him in hopes he would write the story or at least help me. He and his lovely wife Dark Rain would bring a rich authenticity to it that I’m not sure I can do.

But, today, I feel strong enough to face my fears and do the warrior word dance. Thank you NaNoWriMo for pushing me out of my comfort zone once again!

Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff,
WriterKat

P.S. If I fall a little short of 50k words by the end of the month, I’m counting this blog post

If You Really Knew Me

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I attended a writing workshop yesterday led by three fantastic facilitators (Lorraine Marshall-Rey, Michael Brockley, and Jeffrey Owen Pearson). The workshop title was “Writing the Lonely Life” and the topic was loneliness, being alone, and writing. I will attend a writing workshop on any topic. I like to keep my claws sharp. Plus, I meet the most fascinating people at writing workshops. There seems to be an automatic trust among kindred spirits. After a few minutes getting to know each other, we put our vulnerabilities on the table like scalpels during open heart surgery.

One of the ice breakers the fantastic facilitators used was an exercise called “If You Really Knew Me”. We went around the room telling each other what they would know about us if they really knew us. We discovered that one of the facilitators (Mike Brockley) has over 700 “conversational” ties, each one with a theme or story. We learned that a couple writers struggle with depression, one writer just graduated and feels lost, another one used to be in a cult. I shared about overcoming a phobia of escalators and using that same fear-facing strategy to publish my writings that I had spent years putting in a box or throwing away.

After I left the workshop and thought more about the exercise, I thought about some other things I could have shared, like how I have a touch of OCD that prevents me from letting any canned goods be upside down in my cabinets or how I would rather read and listen to the rain than watch TV or how I redirected negative emotions of an abused childhood to write and publish books to help others that have gone through the same thing.

But then, if you really knew me, you would know I wouldn’t want to mention anything that seemed like bragging. It is a fine line we walk between sharing our stories to get to know each other better and staying silent to avoid sideways glances and shoulder shrugs.

Of course withdrawal is where loneliness begins and thus the need for workshops such as this one where we learn about anaphoras and ghazals, pair up to create couplets, dance, laugh, birth poems, and make new friends that helps fill the abyss of loneliness with the connection we all crave.

Write on.

WriterKat

Below is a poem my new friend Helen Townsend and I created at the workshop. We both created couplets separately, then when we paired up to put the poem together, we were in awe of how one line seemed to be responding to the other, almost as if the inner voice of strength was talking one through the fear (which was a word we both came up with when asked to list the cost of loneliness). It was a fun exercise. 

Defeat

I want to step out into light

but loneliness keeps me in a shroud of fear.

    Take off your eye glasses

    De-focus your fear.

I am a fist

of pain and fear.

    Twirl your precious stones

    let your fingers forget fear.

My face hides a

self-imposed prison of fear.

    Walk outside in inside-out-socks

    Your feet splash puddles of fear.

My strength is here

I don’t feel fear.

 

 

Lessons in Procrastination

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“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” ~ Steven Wright

I can relate to this quote by Steven Wright. Distraction and procrastination, among other limiting behaviors, seems to be the curse of writers! In fact, as I am working on this post, I am simultaneously looking up Steven Wright videos! It’s a miracle I get any writing done at all.

Writing is something I feel compelled to do, but at the same time feel pulled away from by every distraction and procrastination technique in the book. It feels good when I focus and get some structured writing done, even some stream of conscious journal writing feels like an accomplishment some days.

My energy seems to be all over the place. So, I’m doing a couple things to help harness my efforts and laser focus my writing into this one place instead of the various places I tend to write including a zillion other blogs (okay, maybe not a zillion, but a couple dozen that keeping up with feels like a zillion sometimes).

Something that helped me keep my writing deadline that I created for my memoir, “Looking for Lucky” was to create a KDP Select ebook version first. Why? Because Amazon’s KDP Select has a very strict deadline policy. Whatever date you select, you have to upload your files by that date or you cannot use the platform for one year!

The deadline worked for me to get at least the ebook version done by the deadline, albeit with a few typos, but I still need to get the print version and audio version done. My goal was to publish Looking for Lucky and Remember When in November, which did happen technically. I am learning to overcome perfectionism which stalled my writing for many years. I felt like my writing wasn’t good enough to publish. I still deal with those insecurities sometimes, but I do it anyway. Do it anyway… that seems to be the be cure for procrastination!

Write On…

Kathy G
a.k.a. WriterKat