Tag Archives: Writing

A Storm of Doubt

Doubt blows through
a dust-devil of uncertainty
clouding my judgment

It’s hard to recognize
the truth in the storm
To believe the evidence
right in front of my face

One does not become
a contest finalist
if one cannot write

Still self-doubt rages on

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I missed the last Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. But the given word—storm—has been swirling in my mind ever since. So, for Open Link Night, I’m putting off working on my memoir, which is a finalist in the Oregon Christian Writers contest, and writing a stormy Quadrille instead.

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Extremes

Thirty words seem easy
compared to thirty thousand or more
needed for a memoir

With only thirty
you can just delete
all the ones you really don’t want to share

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My Memoir Monster

If my memoir is a monster
Taking on a life of its own
Does that make me Dr. Frankenstein
Madly nurturing what I’ve grown

Or am I more like Dr. Jekyll
Consumed by my Mr. Hyde
A raging egomaniac
Fueled by wanton pride

Maybe it’s Leviathan
The great monster of the sea
Tamed at last by God alone
Just like the sin in me

I wish it were a jigsaw puzzle
Of Bigfoot or old Nessie
With pieces that fit neatly together
Instead of being so messy

In the end it’s just my story
Dying to be told
One page at a time, not in rhyme
Hopefully before I am old

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Decided to share this for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub today.

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Choices

Life is a series of choices

Some seem insignificant
but have life-changing impact

Others we agonize over
but are insignificant
in the grand scheme of things

Some choices
appear to be the only option
We can’t see the consequences to come
or alternatives before us

I’ve spent many long hours
pondering the” what ifs” of choices
that turned out bad.
If only I hadn’t…
then maybe everything would be better.

But ultimately
there is but one choice that truly matters
It is a choice we all face

Do I trust God or do I go it alone?

All is not rainbows and roses
if one chooses to trust
Hardship and regret don’t instantly
melt away

Life is still a series of choices
including the choice
to trust God with my mistakes

Including the choice
to share my story
my series of choices
with the world
in the hopes of encouraging another

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Sifting Beans

I’m sifting through dry beans
picking out rocks
tossing damaged beans
skipping the limas
keeping the good ones
planning a steaming hot
pot of bean soup with bacon
carrots, celery, and onion
a few of my favorite herbs

Or maybe I’m writing a memoir

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It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and Toni offers the word “skip” for inclusion in our 44-word poems today. I’m thinking about what to leave in and what to leave out of the memoir I’m writing.

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Birth of a Poem

How, pray tell, does a poet decide
Which words to lay side-by-side

How did Milton measure the cost
When he penned Paradise Lost

Could Dickinson take a single breath
Without thoughts of poetry on death

When describing Ben Adhem’s vision
By what motive was Hunt driven

Did Poe write poetry as a child
Or his odd thoughts drive him wild

How did the Brownings, poet pair
Pen sonnets of love with such flair

Did Frost truly encounter a road
From which his famous poetry flowed

How did Rosetti write love verse
Allowing the reader her faith to traverse

Did David find a sense of calm
With every line of every Psalm

Do other poets lie awake at night
Scribbling verse without the light

I desire sleep before break of day
But words come and won’t go away

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The first stanza of this poem was written in the dark in the notebook I keep on my nightstand. I wasn’t sure where it was going to go, but by light of day this is what I came up with. I could have added many more stanzas with references to many more poets, but decided I needed to stop somewhere. This is for day #25 of NaPoWriMo.

5/26/16: Decided to share this for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night because I am shy on time and inspiration to write something new today.

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Cry, Pray, Write

So you want to know how to write a memoir. Well here’s what I know.

Step one: Ask yourself if you’re nuts.  If yes, proceed to step two.

Step two: Attend a writing conference for inspiration.

Step three: Go home and cry because you don’t want to reveal the level of detail one conference speaker said you would have to.

Step four: Pray and ask God for direction.

Step five: Write and self-publish an autobiographical poetry book that vaguely addresses the story you want to write.

Step six: Tell yourself the poetry book is a sufficient memoir because, after all, we don’t know what Paul’s thorn was either.

Step seven: Have several people ask when you’re going to write your story.

Step eight: Write an outline of your story in your Color Notes app on your phone, then write two book proposals, one for your memoir and one for a devotional.

Step nine: Attend another writers conference and pitch your book ideas to editors and agents.

Step ten: Get sidetracked for three months working on a “marketable” idea from the agent, ignoring advice from a spiritual writing mentor.

Step eleven: Get further sidetracked writing and self-publishing a holiday poetry book.

Step twelve: Lie awake at night running scenes in your head of what you need to write, but not get up to actually write them down because you don’t want to disturb the sleeping dog.

Step thirteen: Tell your friends and family you’ve decided to write your memoir. (This step may be optional, but is helpful if you’re the kind of person who once they’ve said they are doing something has to do it.)

Step fourteen: Decide you need to learn more about the craft of memoir writing.

Step fifteen: Read memoir by spiritual mentor from writing conference.

Step sixteen: Read another memoir, and a book about how to write memoir, and another memoir, and another book about how to write memoir, then start reading a third memoir but decide it’s not believable and make a mental note not to write your memoir that way.

Step seventeen: Take advice from book on memoir writing and simply start writing one paragraph, one scene at a time.

Step eighteen: Get into text discussion with a friend who suggests yet another book on memoir writing you should read. Order said book on your Kindle, realize what you’ve ordered is actually a different book by that author, then order the paperback of the first book from Amazon.

Step nineteen: Write poems about writing memoir.

Step twenty: Stop worrying that your first draft is terrible (because as Anne Lamott says, they all are),  and resolve to write, edit, rewrite, and persevere.

I’m afraid that’s as far as I’ve gotten so you’ll have to come back next year for the remaining steps.

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The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write a “How To” poem. Since I am in the process of writing (or trying to write) my memoir, I thought I’d share a little step-by-step how-to on how to do it.

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Memories

Yesterday, Toni at Kanzen Sakura commented thanking me for writing two haibuns. I replied that I’d only written one. Apparently that’s because the second one was still in the works. So I’m posting this second haibun now for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub.

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Working on my memoir, giving in to the compulsion to communicate my story to whoever might need to read it, I decided I would have more success in actually getting the words on the page if I hand wrote. There is something about typing that makes me feel like it has to be perfect the first time, but handwriting builds in an automatic rewrite when I later type it up. So I rummage through my cloth basket of blank journals for just the right one. [This takes some time because there are probably 20 or more journals in that basket, evidence of another compulsion]. I find a 150-page spiral bound notebook with only 10 pages used up and decide that’s perfect. I peruse what’s been written and come across these words, written 18 ½ years ago:

It takes courage to write. Courage is not the same as fearlessness. Rather, courage is writing in spite of fear.

Just been reading “The Courage to Write” by Ralph Keyes. It got me thinking about writing a book about the effect being raped at the age of 14, while still a virgin, had on my life—the teen years, college, marriage, sex, life, thoughts, depression [although genetics had something to do with this as well].

I must be crazy. I can’t write such a book. Or rather I can, in that I’m sure I have enough material and could actually write it, but would I ever be willing to let anyone read it?

Crazy indeed. Yet here I am, almost two decades later, still compelled to write that book. Only now the story is complete. There is more than just the pain and suffering of trauma to tell; there is also the story of healing and redemption. Now there is courage.

Memories fester
Hidden on journal pages
Die and are reborn

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The Notebook

The small notebook languished
at the bottom of a dark drawer
its pages filled with
lists of vegetables, partial poems

Ingredients lists for salads and stews
long since cooked and eaten
but not necessarily forgotten

Poem bits inspired late at night
by verses careening through
the writer’s mind in wakefulness

Ideas for the next great
inspirational Christian bestseller
scribbled in haste at a stoplight

Prayers for loved ones
some long gone
others still in need of those
languishing prayers

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The Tuesday Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today calls for writing a poem that includes one line from the poem Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye. I was going to wait until tomorrow to write this so it could be my Lenten poem for tomorrow, but after reading Nye’s poem I couldn’t get this poem out of my head. I chose the line “lists of vegetables, partial poems.” So here it is, an extra for today.

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My Journey of Lent

The journey of Lent is personal for each Christian. In fact, some Christians aren’t even aware of what Lent is, what it means. It should be a journey of drawing closer to Christ, of understanding His sacrifice. Yet so often it becomes a journey of self-righteousness rather than self-sacrifice. We “give up” something we think is important—often things that would be considered extreme luxuries in other parts of the world—like chocolate or sweets, T.V. or Facebook. Then we tell everyone what we’re doing so they’ll see just how self-sacrificing we are.

Several years ago I decided I wasn’t going to give up things for Lent. Instead, I adopted a writing discipline. This year I decided it would be poetry—I would write a new poem every day for Lent (with Sundays off, of course, because they aren’t part of the 40 days of Lent). Now here I am telling everyone about it, and thinking that I’d forgotten how hard it is to write a new poem every day whether there is inspiration or not. Still, the writing journey does draw me closer to my Savior, requires me to think about Him when I might otherwise be distracted by chocolate or sweets, T.V. or Facebook. It’s really no sacrifice, but it is a worthwhile journey.

Desert sun blazes
Forty days, forty long days
No food, no water
It’s only the beginning
Real sacrifice is coming

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For Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub, Rajani has challenged us to write about a journey. The subject of this haibun was rambling around in my head this morning, though not in terms of a journey, but I wasn’t sure how to express it. The Haibun journey turned out to be the perfect expression. When I tried to write the haiku, however, it wanted to be a tanka.

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