Monday, July 2, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
It'd been five years since we'd vacationed on Cape San Blas, a narrow peninsula that points its finger away from the Florida panhandle and out into the Gulf of Mexico. Coming back to one of our favorite beaches was exciting, but for me, it held a special significance. The fall following our return from the Cape in 2007, I discovered Writing.com. And the first fictional story I posted there that was written for an audience, (unlike all the journal-format scribblings I'd done up to that point), was inspired by my real-life events that took place on Cape San Blas.
Last week while I walked on the beach, I thought a lot about that story and reflected on my writing journey from 2007 until now. My mind wanders when I beach comb; it is one of my favorite activities, a peaceful time when I marvel at the beauty of the sea and all the treasures she holds. The sound of the surf, the salty smell of the sea air, and the sun's heat intoxicate and inspire the writer in me.
The first day of every vacation we spend at Cape San Blas, I decide on a certain and specific item I hope to find while combing the beach. One year, it was a whole, intact sand dollar. Another year, I searched for a perfect, unbroken spiral seashell. Walking the beach becomes a sort of Where's Waldo scavenger hunt, with a prize hidden out in plain sight.
This year, I decided to find a shark's tooth on the beach.
As my eyes drifted up and down the wet, hard-packed sand at the sea's edge, I thought about how similar my beach combing quests were to the way I approach story writing. Ever since that first story back in 2007, I've started each new piece of fiction with a specific challenge in mind for myself. I try something new, something I've never attempted before. I wrote my first story in third-person, which is the natural, organic comfort zone for my muse. So in subsequent stories, I've tried first person, second person, and omniscient narrations. I throw myself into new genres, experiment with unreliable narrators. Once in a while, I write with pen and paper instead of typing on a computer. The idea isn't to rigorously challenge myself, so much as to give fresh focus to each new project, to heighten each experience and invite the unexpected into the mix.
In past years, I've successfully found the beach object of my desire. And next to pristine sand dollars and perfectly curvaceous spirals, I have bowls of broken shells, each beautiful for a special, one-of-a-kind reason, collected along the way. This year, I didn't find a shark's tooth. But that's okay; some challenges push you further, make you wait while you work harder for your results. This happens in my writing, too. Some stories fall short and don't capture the magic I intend, the first time around. Sometimes, I have to carry that focus into the next project until I master that which I grasped, maybe held for brief moments, but let slip away by the end.
One thing's for sure, while I hunted for that elusive shark's tooth, the balmy breeze and sugary sands of Cape San Blas inspired the writer in me, just as it did five years ago.
What new writing technique have you challenged yourself with lately? How'd the story turn out?
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
No dull whirl of unseen, internal components, no blinking green lights, nothing.
I checked the connections. All good. I checked the monitor, modem, printer. Everything seemed to function, except the hard drive.
Basically, I had a comatose machine, in a vegetative state. A headless, metal corpse.
Braced to hear the worst case scenario, I took the drive to Best Buy. It felt like Christmas all over again when the Geek told me the power box was blown -- just a $60 part -- which he would replace in-store for $50 more. Three hours later the ordeal was over.
Yesterday revealed an unexpected realization: I don't want to go back to life without my computer! Let's face it. A writer doesn't need more than her hand, a pen or pencil, and a sheet of paper to compose. And it's more than enjoying the online experience. Simply put, I have come to rely on my online network of friends and family.
I love reading what you've aspired to, attempted, and accomplished. I'm inspired by your perceptions. I feed off your energy. Yeah, I can pick up a telephone and call some of you. (And I do!) But the Internet brings so many more of you right to me, right into my life.
I love it. And there's just no going back.
So thank you, for every word on your blog, every status update, every tweet. I don't know what I'd do without you!
And, let's all decide right now to back up our flippin' files -- 'cause if my hard drive can pass away quietly in the night, so can yours!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
|Natasha (the christened baby's mama), Noelle, Nadine, Natalie, and me|
Saturday, June 5, 2010
But, I'm a procrastinator.
I do a little something each day, so I can hold my head high in the evening when hubby asks what I accomplished. Yesterday though, when the kids wanted to spend time with me doing "something NOT boring," I decided to embark on a project that's been long overdue -- and admittedly one I don't have time for right now.
For the fourteen years hubby and I have been married, we've taken photographs to archive our lives together. Everyone does, right? Our problem is we've always printed out the photos from film (until two years ago when we scored our first digital camera), enjoyed flipping through the pictures for a week or so, and then tossed the envelop into a royal blue footlocker that once served as a coffee table when we were newly weds, and now occupies a stretch of wall in my writing studio. It barely closes.
The kids and I started in Target, where we optimistically purchased two photo binders holding a total of 600 pictures. By late afternoon, it was clear to us that we'd need to make a return trip.
We looked through hundreds and hundreds of pictures, laughing at forgotten memories, oohing and ahhing over the glossy images of the kids' baby years, telling and retelling the stories of our lives.
Each photo is one significant moment in time. Oh, the stories.
The pic at the top of this post was taken one month after Sidney was born. She's snuggled in the carrier strapped to my chest. Cody was a month shy of two years old. We spent that day roaming the ruins of the chateau, dating from the 10th century, of Foix, which is a wonderful little city in the department of Ariège. At the time, we lived outside Toulouse, and Foix was just a forty-five minute drive away. It is considered the gateway to the beautiful Pyrenées Mountains, the natural southern border between France and Spain. (Learn more about Foix HERE.)
Monday, May 10, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Sidney: Yes, please. Mama? You look tired.
Me: I'm just a little sad. I found out this morning one of my short stories was rejected by a literary magazine.
Sidney: Oh Mama! It's okay. When you're a writer, that happens. You just gotta be sad for two minutes, then get on up to the next one and be happy.
Pretty good advice, from a ten year old. There are a lot of things going on right now, bad and hurtful things, things out of my control. Draining my energy. Zapping my creativity. The magazine rejection is the latest, though easiest of them all to manage.
But, Sidney's right. Sometimes, being happy is a choice to make. Rather than give in to the sadness, the feelings of helplessness and despair, I can power through what I can't change, channeling every force in my heart with intention. Staying positive, standing tall. Life's too short to wallow in the negative.
Sidney lifted my spirits with her support. Now, I'm off to cheer her on through her fourth grade's Field Day. Sack races, water balloon wars, wet washcloth relays -- all under a cloudless, cerulean sky ruled by the hot, Georgian sun. May children's laughter sate my soul.
I look forward to reading your blogs this afternoon. In the meantime, do writers respond to rejection letters, form or personal, from literary magazines? What about rejection letters from agents and publishers? Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A new dentist's sign went up in a neighboring town, on the opposite end of the recently constructed plaza that houses a just-opened Mexican restaurant. The new dental offices look clean, sleek and modern, from the outside, of course. I won't step foot inside, so I will never be able to comment on the office interior or on the good dentist's services. Why, you ask? Because according to the sign, the dentist's name is Justin Payne, DDS.
Justin Payne? Really? As in: Just In Pain? Who in their right mind goes to a dentist with a name like that? For that matter, what man chooses dentistry with a name like that! If it had been me, and I was passionate about working inside the general public's mouthes, I would at least use only my first initial. J. Payne, Super Dentist. Throw in the middle initial even: J.S/T/W/P/Whatever it is. Payne.
Whether it's fair or not, names give us immediate impressions of the people who bear them. Choosing character names for fiction is a fun and delicate business for this reason. I once participated in a workshop on Characterization, and we spent a session discussing character names. We were given an interesting assignment to open creative doors and raise awareness where names are concerned. I'll print the assignment here, and anyone who wishes to give it a go should do so before reading the rest of this post, where I'll include my own answers:
Typically, all characters have at least a first name. Because of our own experiences, cultural or social background, age, etc., we often hold opinions about certain names. Names can suggest courage, sophistication, clownishness, intelligence, sex, race, class, religion etc. Here is a little exercise. Tell me what the names below mean to you, what we might deduce about the character.
1) Loyd (the author spelled the character’s name incorrectly for a reason, why would she do this?)
2) Marie Huguenot (this one is tricky)
3) Dr. Selim Sengor
5) Colin Glass
6) Colie Bluestone
Friday, April 23, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
A Sister Lost
Ages ago we shared our lives, but now.....
Sadness tortures my soul when I think of you
Immersed in glamorous audacity, skin and ego
Stroked by countless people, but none who really love you. I see you
Trample down fields of flowers in reckless pursuit of nothing that matters
Eager to finger that golden horizon.
Reaching, insatiable, for the jewel-encrusted platter
Laden with unrestricted choices, you are
Oblivious to the pewter chalice you've knocked to the floor
Spilling my love, unnoticed, under the
Table of your life.
By Nicole Ducleroir 10/2008
A Sister Found
Aging accusations became brittle with time
Siphoning the last of my stubborn resolve
Into the abysmal void where what matters not is
Time is touted as the healer of all pain, but
Everyone knows it takes more.
Reaching out from your fractured world, shaking the family tree, you
Forced me forward, frightened, until the gap between us snapped shut and
Order returned to the universe in my heart.
Unwritten chapters await our pen; across the first pristine page I write:
Never, ever again will I accept a day of my life
Devoid of your precious light.
By Nicole Ducleroir 12/2009
Author's Note: Due to width limitations of blogger post columns, some of the longer lines of these acrostics fell to the next line. Arg.
Artwork by Linda Wilder @artistwilder.deviantart.com