Robin Hawke


A Flat Road
April 18, 2012, 11:18 AM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff, Quotations

Blogging has become my only (tenuous) link to writing. Every time I see the way clear to practice writing, something happens. I’m about to hit the road again: this road shows yield signs and unfamiliar intersections but little chance to drive the keyboard with steady rat tat tats.

To my faithful readers: It is hard to sound out how appreciative I am of your visits. I thought I’d be able to catch up with your blogs and your progress in the coming week. My world changed and I must navigate. I’ll drive myself to write the three sentence stories, knowing that grammar will slip off the page and word choices will be imprecise. Each story I manage will be my patch of tarmac. Temporary. Each is a promise to myself to stay on the write road. Thanks again for your support.

I’m hanging in there:

Chu says ‘…that because you proceed through a series of plateaus, so there’s like radical improvement up to a certain plateau and then what looks like a stall, on the plateau, with the only way to get off one of the plateaus and climb up to the next one up ahead is with a whole lot of frustrating mindless repetitive practice and patience and hanging in there.’

—from Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace



Devotion
January 7, 2012, 7:16 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff, Love and Romance, Three Sentence Stories | Tags: ,

Recently, I wondered why I was devoting so much of my time to love. I’m skirting the trite, the seamy and the hokey catchphrases of sentimentality and overblown lace hearts.

Then, I had this question—what other emotion will transform me, my writing and our world in ways I can be proud?



New Year’s Wish

I want wonderful things to happen in 2012, but I’m concerned. Another earthquake, tales of corruption, friends battling cancer—these events threaten the 365 days to come with the true displeasures of life. Conversely, last year I discovered pleasure in writing daily stories on, of all things, this blog.

I’ve scrubbed paint on a canvas; I’ve managed dancers on a stage; I’ve moved furniture and tilled earth. These things taught me to push words around, to lift them, to bury them, to exchange them, to sound them out loud. I’ve drowned my fears for the future with steady, consistent storytelling. If one story fails, surely the next will succeed. Or the next.

But blogging, as I’ve recently discovered, is not limited to a writer’s output, however clever or truthful. There’s more: the good company of other bloggers; the pleasures found sharing reactions, comments and likes; the discovery of kindred blogs; the community of writers.

While this year will be spent traveling with words in much the way I spent last year, and while there will be periods when blogging will be confined to pushing the publish button, I hope to share new adventures in wonderful blogging:

Fulfilling, Creative, Insightful Words to All.



Buddha Rocks Project and Wrap Up
December 19, 2011, 7:52 PM
Filed under: All Writing Challenges, Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , , ,

I want to thank Evelyn and Eric. The Buddha Rocks Project gave me something I haven’t put my finger on yet. How silly, I just learned BuddhaRocks is one word. Seven days rocking—you think I would have caught that significant detail before now.

This I believe: when we write, we have writing thoughts. When we stop, our writing thoughts get overlooked. During the Project, sentences invaded my dreams and images caused forgetfulness.

I sent the David Foster Wallace quotation to my sister-in-law who’s been MIA on the blog front. It helped her. She’s posting again. And in posting, became excited by what she was writing.

The cure for a writer’s block is absurdly simple. String together any two words. Then two more. Write until you feel like writing what comes.



I write because I’m no good at politics but I want to change the world.
November 17, 2011, 7:12 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff

That was my answer. Now, go, now, answer this post:

The Reasons We Write

 



NaNoWriMo Day 3
November 3, 2011, 10:01 PM
Filed under: All Writing Challenges, Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , ,

The experience reminds me of vomiting. I vomit words 1-1,000. Then I feel so sick, I vomit 1001-1500. The gory glummy stuff gets choked back, stalled while I sweat. Oops, I vomit words 1500-2700. Then, in a last fit of disgust, I quickly vomit the words that will fulfill my goal.

My stomach settles, while my brain mushes together some thoughts about what to eat, what to watch.

The next day, I start fresh; I don’t dare look at the spew on the page before I begin gagging.



Announcing

I’ve had a busy week!

***promotion***

My third book, Recommending Honey, ($0.99) is now live,  in Amazon’s ebook store. I wrote this one, a clean romance, in honor of my nieces. It’s about a realtor who is always intruding, opining and matchmaking. If you enjoy it, please consider writing a review.

***end of promotion, back to blogging***



Deadlines and NaNoWriMo
October 24, 2011, 8:45 PM
Filed under: All Writing Challenges, Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , ,

I’m imagining the participants of NaNoWriMo, all us writers, staring at our desks in horror. A horror that will grow through Halloween night.

The practical, bills and groceries, last edits, and the impractical, dazed thoughts, are bumping one another, screaming for attention.

I’m resisting the dazed thoughts. I want to experience my first NaNo without predetermination. Despite the severity of my intent, incubation begins, immediately followed by, “Oh, no…to do, to do, to do…”



NaNoWriMo Hoops

I signed up.

I’ve practiced…I’ve stood in place, bent my knees. I’ve kept my eye focused on the basket. Bend, bend. It’s rather a bouncy bend, somewhat satisfying. (Okay, the dribbles in between the bends are even more fun.)

Last night, I let go of the ball and lobbed it toward the basket. I followed through; I signed up, added my name to a long list of participating writers.

Anxious, I await the results of throwing words at paper, though all I expect is a count, 50,000 words by the end of November.

I’m not planning; I’m not plotting. I’m following through. I’m leaving my hand in the air, my wrist cocked until the ball whoofs through the net. Somewhere the score will climb, word by word. Some words I will stick, others not so much. They’ll all add up.

Then? I’ll run after that ball. collect it, go back to the line. Bend my knees. I won’t forget the backspin.

NaNoWriMo 2011



Reception

I wrote my first six word story on August 19, 2011:

Love seconds, if I hit redial.

I was cheered, lucky:  a college friend immediately emailed her support for more short short writing. She said something about marathons and sprints–I wish I could recapture her words–the gist was that training for marathons requires intensive, powerful bursts of exercise.

Since August 19th, I’ve written a six word story every day.

Almost one month later, on September 11, I attended an outdoor craft fair in Old Alexandria, Virginia. The streets were closed to traffic. Men in tuxedos walked out of a church, looking for something to eat. I sat down on a four inch stone window ledge and wrote in a spiral bound (notable for all the words I’ve crossed in it) notebook:

The bride kept dancing with Steve.

That month I submitted the story for a contest…and I won! My story will be published in Fast Forward Press’s next anthology of flash fiction. The prize is beyond thrilling and, like my best friend, provides me with another straw of incentive to continue writing.

Thank you Lys, thank you Fast Forward Press, thank you blog subscribers, thank you anonymous men in tuxes.



The 100th Post

For years, I’ve wanted to challenge myself to do something, anything, for 365 consecutive days–besides breathing, feeding and dreaming.

Imagine 365 six word stories. How will they distinguish themselves?

I’ve never identified myself as a blogger, but here I am, 100 posts here, almost 50 posts on DIY Romance, with a grand ambition: a six word story, a three sentence story, writing challenges–writing daily stories for a year, and, if I manage that, an ambitious five years of storytelling. Well, at least three, if the power stays on, there aren’t any earthquakes or hurricanes, and I keep my appendix.

Imagine the stories. Thousands of stories. Simply put stories. Stories I’ve written. Every darn day.

I’m familiar with the creative process. I understand pushing addled I’ll-refine-it-later and regurgitating it-worked-then ideas. These always precede another stage of creation—the one I wish would visit me every day—the stage where I crack my limitations to drop something of value.

Imagine 365 days of telling stories, all the fits and starts, the mental pounding I’ll take, the mirific, stopdrous, pleajorvous eurekas.

I’ve lived my life striving to be a better person. Every darn day. If stories renew our love for life, realign our priorities, or help us feel more compassion for others—then my daily posts will stand as celebrations of that quest.



Another Friday Afternoon
September 9, 2011, 6:37 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff, Love and Romance | Tags: ,

I’m cleaning–it’s almost the weekend and I’m avoiding a rewrite of the final chapter of my latest book. Cleaning lasted fifteen minutes. You see, I noticed I had shelved the following two books side by side:

A General Theory of Love

The Concise Book of Lying



New, I Hope Improved

I have a new lease on this blog. Friendly encouragement, glee crafting six word stories and understanding (of how to mesh my readers’ wants with blog and personal requirements) are providing excitement for the days ahead.

I’ve changed categories; I’ve moved posts, added new, deleted a few.  Most importantly, I’ve discovered the joys of self-imposed constraints. Budget constraints, spatial constraints, time constraints all play a part in the creative process, often for a project’s betterment.

The six word story provides and demands an imposing, but redeeming, constraint. I noticed that many six word stories might be divided into three sentences, so I’ve adapted the six word story into a three sentence story constraint for this blog. I’ll post my DIY Romance six word stories here, too, but weekly.

Excited, engaged, no longer thoughtless, bursting to tell–it’s good to blog. The first three sentence story went up today. Come back tomorrow for another.



Blog Identity
August 27, 2011, 3:01 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , , , ,

This blog is having an identity crisis.

I’ve been given sage advice to write useful content, content that I have mastered and understood. I have many skills: software skills (Photoshop, InDesign), organization techniques, creative wherewithalls, and an evil eye for design. Writing skills are improving, so is researching the web and cooking with figs.

I thought  I would write about creativity. I set up google alerts for several topics: innovation, creative process, evaluation. (My improving research skills—bring information to my inbox rather than search for hours.) The topic offered promise, but I was bored reading about it. Its opposite (organization), even less interesting. My own creativity would burn away to smoke, if I were to examine it.

My fig chutney had too many mustard seeds; my fig pudding needed firming. (Useful knowledge: overwinter fig shrubs in Virginia by filling the interior with straw. As the straw breaks down, it keeps the shrub snugly warm.) My software skills have nothing to do with my career as a writer. After all, this blog is meant to introduce people to the romances I’ve written…so photoshop, adios.

The identity crisis continues and blog-writing skills remain in stasis.

But, one useful organization tip: When tackling an attic full of stuff, work on the messiest section first. Things in this section will migrate to other parts of the attic. Repeat as necessary. (And that’s the sum total of what I want to say–keep chipping away at the messiest stuff.)



Choosy Partner
August 22, 2011, 2:14 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: ,

Wanted: one great idea. Will pay blood; will pay time; will pay sleep. Must not be tried and true, but capable of transformation.

Must also be recognizable.



Brainstorming
August 17, 2011, 8:56 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: ,

A friend and I were talking on the telephone. She was brainstorming. I was cleaning house with the phone tucked under one ear. She was throwing things out. I was putting things away.

Reminder to self: Don’t tidy while talking to friends; don’t compartmentalize while brainstorming.



Value-Added and Value-Subtracted
August 12, 2011, 2:59 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , , , , ,

My job disappeared because people wanted the information, the how-to I sold, free of cost. They began to look on the internet for advice and knowledge. There, people willing to give it away—to market their skills and make their name—were easily found.

I turned to writing books as a way of consolidating the information I taught for over a decade. I wrote several nonfiction books…to discover that people sold tutorials on the internet. The tutorials were specific and narrow in scope, ten pages of information equivalent to one page of my books, but they were similarly priced. I began to write a tutorial, but discovered the value to price disgusted me. The prices of tutorials were entirely too high for my peace of mind. The practice felt like robbery. I put my moral foot down and never published a tutorial.

Fast forward, I began to write romance books.

I am finding a similar moral morass. There are so many free books, why would anyone pay for light fiction? I don’t have the chops to sell at a higher price; my fiction-writing skills are growing. I’m trying to make a name for myself, so I’m offering my books at a deep discount to those offered by established professionals. It’s the same situation, but I’m the one devaluing the occupation.

The value for price ratio in this industry disgusts me; $1 for my book seems too cheap and, yet, because I have to buy my own books to give them away, hoping to build an audience who will one day read my more-than-a-dollar books, I don’t want to raise the prices. But, $10-14 for a piece of fiction, no matter how many gushing reviews it has, seems exorbitant for a person in my financial situation. I would like to honor these seasoned writers, but find myself in the bargain basement, hoping to find decent prose, because my library’s budget is restricted.

This situation cannot be particular to writing. The internet has devalued all information. Seemingly free, its cost is the livelihoods of people with skills. And, if you scrutinize its free information, it’s often banal.

The moral dilemma has hit me hard. I feel trapped by the demands of society to provide a living for myself, the need to find an audience, and the crippling certainty I’m going about it all wrong.



Bachelor Pad 8/9/11
August 9, 2011, 4:01 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , ,

I watch reality television. One reason is that, until a few years ago, my television only received one channel. With no choice, I began watching whatever. Reality television caught me by surprise. It was fascinating despite the absurd premises. People were making the choices a character in a book would, but they were not two-dimensional beings with one three-dimensional hang-up. They were full-grown three-dimensional beings with several two-dimensional hang-ups.

Bachelor Pad has one of the worst premises of all reality shows, finding love while competing for money. But, last night, there was a sterling example of what makes reality television so intriguing.

Two characters, people, Jake and Vienna, once engaged with a publicized split, are thrown together. Jake makes what he believes is a peace offering and Vienna accepts it with a stony expression.  His private comment to viewers, “I was able to do something nice for someone who did something terrible to me and that make me feel good.” She confesses the scene, conversation, was torture and she thinks he is a phony.

There is unfinished business between the two. On the face of it, it looks as if Jake is trying to put a cap of friendship on closure. Or at least a cap of good will. Yet, his delivery is awkward and lecturing. The subtext seems at odds with the offering. But, viewers know, from episodes of The Bachelor, that Jake has a wooden aspect. We also know he has an image as a good-guy to protect. The words sound right, but there’s something about his expression that doesn’t ring true. Contempt?

My questions: Is he trying to be mature and does he, in fact, want to mend fences with Vienna? or Is he trying to save face and look good for his public image?

I couldn’t tell! And that, that, is the hook of reality television: figuring out subtext, as if people were characters.

The third rose (approx 12 mins. long):



One Way of Being
August 8, 2011, 8:05 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , , ,

A funny thing happened on the way to find nominations for the Blog on Fire Award. I began to question what I was doing with my own blog.  There are so many blogs—with generic advice written by myriad experts.

I ran across an article, in a blog naturally, on How to Write a Successful Blog.

Discouragement set in. Not one of the things it suggested was at all interesting. Do we really need more of the Top 5 Lists or Top 10 Things?    Tutorials and how-to’s, must I?

I’m interested in a world filled with increasing amounts of love, tolerance and compassion.

But, I’m not interested in a blog that tells you 5 Ways of Being More Compassionate. Nor do I want to write a tutorial on How To Love Thy Neighbor.  It’s true, I already knew this about myself and my blog. But  what I didn’t know was how upsetting it would be to discover that, once again, I’ve chosen the hardest and lengthiest path possible. There is nothing popular or latest trend about love, tolerance and compassion.

On that note, I am off to make a donation to the Red Cross. It is one way I can stir my own compassion.



Flowers
July 21, 2011, 10:22 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , ,

It’s hotter than any day last summer. I went outside to see how my plants were faring and discovered the flowers were cheery and their leaves yellowed prematurely. My dog loped around, glad for a chance to sniff for the scents of twin fawns that have lost their mother to a road hazard. I cut yarrow and zinnia, cosmos and goldenrod. (I’ve learned to strip the leaves in the field, so they don’t litter the bottom of my sink, turning into a gooey mess.)

Inside, the air conditioner runs without stop. I snipped the stem of one bloom and placed it in a vase. One by one, I held up each flower against the arrangement in progress, determined its height and cut it accordingly.

My mother-in-law taught me not to snip flowers the same height. To this day, I don’t gather flowers without remembering that sage advice. For a few moments, I reflect on how much she loved her own garden and hope I didn’t forget to teach my daughters the same lesson.



Anguish and Repetition
July 14, 2011, 10:43 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: ,

Reading romances leads one to wonder about the inner lives of characters. So many heroines and heroes keep secrets, refusing to divulge them until their thoughts have rounded the bend almost as many times as a race car at the Indy 500. Even on the straight away, characters feel a strong need to ponder and delay until they bank another curve.

I’ll drive one lap with the character, but I’ll bail on the second. I’d enjoy more candor, even if  I know it will shorten books into stories.



Las Vegas Week—So You Think You Can Dance
June 10, 2011, 3:36 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: , , ,

This week must be more grueling for the participants than I can even imagine. Each day there are cut-throat auditions and new material. And each dancer must notice the other 150+ contestants to see a huge quantity of quality. The stress is extraordinary. How do you measure your worth against so many excellent others?

As the versatility of the dancers is measured by the judges, the numbers of contestants dwindle. Dancers who thrill me are let go in favor of other dancers. I understand the reasoning. As soon as I see a bent arm by a ballroom dancer in contemporary, or a beat missed by a jazzer in hip-hop, I know their chances slim to nothing. My heart aches for all of those hours they have perfected their craft, the devotion that brought them to Las Vegas.

Value is placed on those most adaptable. This creates a difficulty for some truly great dancers. As artistry matures it often becomes less supple. These dancers should not question their musicality, their coordination or their ability. To cloak themselves in an entirely new style in the time it takes to learn choreography–that’s the skill of chameleons, no less wonderful, but perhaps more promiscuous with their time.



Ugly Sentence
June 4, 2011, 11:25 AM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff

Yesterday, I wrote an ugly sentence:
I know something is beautiful when I fall in love with the means it takes to grow me—the ways it opens me up to passionate living.

I can delete the word up:
I know something is beautiful when I fall in love with the means it takes to grow me—the ways it opens me to passionate living.

I can delete something is:
I know beautiful when I fall in love with the means it takes to grow me—the ways it opens me to passionate living.

Delete fall in and with:
I know beautiful when I love the means it takes to grow me—the ways it opens me to passionate living.

Still ugly. Try way instead of means, though it seems less technique-y:
I know beautiful when I love the way it takes to grow me—the ways it opens me to passionate living.

Delete takes to:
I know beautiful when I love the way it grows me—the ways it opens me to passionate living.

Oops, two ways. Try manner:
I know beautiful when I love the manner it takes to grow me—the ways it opens me to passionate living.

Delete it takes to grow me:
I know beautiful when I love its manner—the ways it opens me to passionate living.

Still ugly and I’m not sure it’s any clearer. Come back to it another day. Start fresh, with a whole paragraph. (I itch to return fall and up to the lineup.)



An Eye for Beauty
June 3, 2011, 2:04 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: ,

I’ve been trained in the arts and have an eye for beauty. This does not make me special. We all know beauty. What is beautiful can look sordid, childish, quick, painstaking, redemptive; it can nod to truth or fantasy; uncomfortable or comfortable, it can flow through us or catch us unawares.

I know something is beautiful when I fall in love with the means it takes to grow me—the ways it opens me up to passionate living.



Auditions—So You Think You Can Dance
June 2, 2011, 6:58 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags:

These early auditions—the judges are judging more than technique. The stage interview probably determines whether a contestant has an interesting-for-television personality; performance determines entertainment value; personal history dictates whether the viewers get a taste or a dollop of the audition; the judges guess who will create buzz and provoke votes.

The personal stories are fascinating. So many dancers have overcome hardships, are affected by the deaths of supportive family and friends, have sordid or wacky tales to tell. Even Ringo Starr’s alleged daughter dances with heart, if not technique. I wish that every fifteen minutes I would be allowed to see one amazing person, notable for nothing but dancing. I’d be delighted to support a dancer who will not find fame through biography or personality but through movement and expression. A few of these dancers will rise through the ranks–I will get to meet them in later shows. Until then, the producers and editors determine who guests my living room.



Growing Numbers
June 1, 2011, 12:49 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags:

I didn’t have a facebook page until a few weeks ago. I made a few posts and abandoned it. It will live in virtual isolation, friendless.

The computer world did friends a disservice when it streamlined the process of making them. So many friends—numbers camouflage the sincerity of those relationships. Don’t get me wrong, I have many people I enjoy getting to know on-line and value those relationships. They are meaningful and important.  I simply wish to reserve my friendship for those who have signed up for more than a chat or a number.

 



A Hike
May 31, 2011, 3:22 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: ,

Why, when I’ve written for years, do I feel like I’m just beginning?

This beginning place is not foreign ground. I’ve stood here before. I know where the path in front of me leads.

But, the creek I ramble along is overflowing with last week’s rains and spring thaw. Rocks I’ve jumped on are submerged; the water is cold; the trail hasn’t been pruned. The distance I make is accompanied by doubt and scratches and not a few slips.

I know where the trail ends.

It ends in the promise of satisfaction and waterfalls of clean, clear prose. It ends in jubilation.



A New Season—So You Think You Can Dance
May 27, 2011, 1:21 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff

I’m not sure when dance and athleticism merged. Or when dancers became gymnasts.

Dancers brave space. Here on earth, they throw themselves into the air, onto the ground and around another dancer. Their muscles speed up actions or slow down time until my heart jumps.

This television reality show introduces me to new forms of dance, forms that compete for a balance between startling acts, natural talent and bold timing. Attempts to dance better than the contestant before, than dancers of earlier eras, garner both my amazement and my fear for a dancer’s ligaments.

I can’t explain why, when I love these performances, and this show,  I crave for a dance without athletic, supernova moves—a dance that communicates without an explosion of superiority.



Sweet Inspiration
May 25, 2011, 9:11 PM
Filed under: Emotions, Life and Stuff | Tags: ,

I believe in junk, trash and disaster, that they are the dialects of creativity. If I sit down to write greatness, I will fail. If I sit down and begin my discourse in the rubbish pile, let out words without the interference of my private censor, I have an opportunity to find value. It’s not easy being bad. It’s not easy taking garbage and raking through it, sorting recyclables from salvageables. I’m happiest later in the writing process, after I’ve chosen my vocabulary and direction—when I have an inkling of how the sweet odor of persistence will transform the stench of compost.



Where Stories Count

This blog? Where stories count:

I share short-short stories on this blog: Three sentence stories and  flash fiction in response to writing challenges.