Right. So I’m still in Florida where the weather has been more cloudy than sunny. My father says I must have brought it with me. Apparently I’m a modern day, real-life Joe Btfsplk. I left the steel gray November skies of Vermont to be greeted by… gray skies in Florida. I’ve been cheated.
Still, there is sun sometimes, and there is certainly warmer weather to un-chill my bones, so I’m happy. Dad is recovering at a steady clip and in good spirits. All is well.
NOW, on to the matters of the holiday season. Do we want to be a bunch of crazy internet people swapping addresses and sending each other gifts? According to Tara, Barbara and Debbie, we do! So, announcing the (drum roll please)…
I did a little research to see if there was an easy way to do this, and one way to keep addresses anonymous is to use an Amazon wish list which would only be sent to the person who is gifting you. So here’s what I propose, but if someone has a better suggestion I’m open!
- To participate, you must have submitted a 100 words entry at some point in the history of this website.
- If you want to participate in the first annual (well, that remains to be seen) Velvet Verbosity word-nerdalicious Secret Santa gift swap, send me an email at velvetverbosity(@)gmail(.)com. In that email, let me know that you are willing and able to participate including sending a gift to another player in the range of $10-$20 (is that too wide?). Let me know if you are able to send internationally if necessary, or if you would prefer not to (I’m not sure if we’ll be able to do this with international word-nerds yet).
- Please send the above email by Wednesday midnight. I will then send you a little survey to fill out which will need to be returned to me by Friday and you will need to include a link to an Amazon wish-list and/or your address with some gift ideas (this will be more clear in the email I send to you).
- Gifts should be sent by next Monday.
- I’ll be participating too! To make sure it stays a surprise, I’ll be using an online tool or my mother to help out.
What am I missing? I know I’m missing something. I’ve got about a billion things on my plate as usual, INCLUDING some exciting ideas about to be put into play for this website that I can’t share just yet.
Yes, that’s right, I’m going to leave you hanging, for now. In the meantime, you’ve got plenty to keep you busy with this Secret Santa business and the 100 Words challenge. This week’s prompt is from the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition. Here is the opening:
The chapters which immediately follow constitute a fragment of one of my many attempts (after I was in my forties) to put my life on paper.
It starts out with good confidence, but suffers the fate of its brethren–is presently abandoned for some other and newer interest. This is not to be wondered at, for its plan is the old, old, old unflexible and difficult one–the plan that starts you at the cradle and drives you straight for the grave, with no side-excursions permitted on the way. Whereas the side-excursions are the life of our life voyage, and should be, also, of its history.
Verbose, but beautifully executed. Your word is:
Anne Lamott (who shares the same last name of my favorite literary fictional character), is an author who I have fallen in love with despite never having read a single book she wrote. Yet I resonate with every interview, article, and quote that comes from her. I feel guilty for liking her without having read her work. I just added Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life to my GoodReads wish list. Maybe Santa will leave it under my Christmas Tree.
I’m thinking of Anne Lamott because I just read another article about her writing advice on Brain Pickings (another favorite). Pulled from the linked article, which in turn was pulled from the above linked book:
One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.
In order to be a writer, you have to learn to be reverent. If not, why are you writing? Why are you here? … Think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world. Think of those times when you’ve read prose or poetry that is presented in such a way that you have a fleeting sense of being startled by beauty or insight, by a glimpse into someone’s soul. All of a sudden everything seems to fit together or at least to have some meaning for a moment. This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of — please forgive me — wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break in on our small, bordered worlds. When this happens, everything feels more spacious.
There’s a whole article full of these quotes over at the Brain Pickings link I gave you, but these are two of my favorites. I often struggle to define why I write, why I continue to offer a platform here. Not struggle in the sense that I have to convince myself to keep doing it, but rather to define clearly why it matters so damn much. Lamott’s words here capture a bit of that why.
So often we focus on the “how” of writing – the mechanics of language and grammar, the mechanics of making a living at it, how to promote ourselves, getting published and so on. I’m driven to focus on the why. Why would I do this if no one ever paid any attention? That’s what interests me.
Of course, of course, the mechanics are important too. To deny that would be an error. But one should never lose sight of the why. Because the why is the difference between going through motions, and living.
What’s your why? Tell me in comments.
In other news, a few of you expressed interest in the watercolor of the girl taking flight with a flock of book birds. I have a series in mind and when they are done, yes, prints will be for sale. I’ve also got some new vintage paper cut-outs coming up on Etsy within the week and before Christmas. (This here is the moment when my why and how come together
Your word this week, from the quotes above, is:
Until next week word-nerds, live and write from your why.
It is amazing what losing 5 and 1/2 hours can do to your week. On Monday I was scheduled to take the train back to Northern Vermont after visiting my daughter for the weekend. I’ve taken the train several times, as has my son, and it’s always on time and the wi-fi always works (except through Randolph, because valley I guess).
Not so this time. The train was two hours late. I heard stories of a truck stuck on the tracks and another of a fire on the tracks started by sparks on dead leaves. I can’t tell you which is the truth.
The five of us waiting on the train sat in a fluorescent-lit waiting room the size of a decent bathroom. With a claw-foot tub, a commode, and double-sink you’d have enough room to twirl in the middle. I ate a PayDay for dinner and silently prayed for no further delays. I’d be getting home after 11:00 at this point.
Later, on the train, my plans to post the 100 words prompt as well as get some other work done were thwarted by both pleasantries and frustrations. My seat neighbor wasted no time in introducing herself and telling me about her rather fascinating life, and asking all about mine. We swapped stories, shared our art, and otherwise had a delightful time. She blew me a kiss before departing.
At some point I let her know that I had to some work, even though I was enjoying the conversation, and then spent the next 40 minutes trying to get the wi-fi to work with no luck. I gave up, I had no choice, but knew I was going to be in trouble the next day prepping for a class I was teaching.
Indeed, next day I was up at 6:30 a.m. and was out straight until 9:30 p.m. at which time I was so tired I couldn’t move my mouth to speak, much less type a blog post (I forgot to mention I was running all that day on 3.5 hours of sleep).
Ah, me. Time is the one thing we can never get more of.
Tomorrow I’m off to Florida for two weeks to help out my father who just had back surgery. I won’t spend much time on the beach, but inspired by the topic of this post, your word this week, word-nerds, is:
Oh, and p.s. I gave you til Sunday at midnight on this one.
I woke this morning to the scent of snow on the air. It’s still holding out, but the weather says we’ll get a couple of inches tonight. It brought to mind the childhood magic of waking to snow, not being privy to weather forecasts. Going to sleep the night before with cold, hard ground, and waking up to the brightness and quiet of a heavy snow.
I’m insufferably nostalgic, I know.
Over the weekend I accompanied my mother to a local craft show to sit with her at her tables. It was a slow day, so I spent the time sketching and painting.
In other news, I’ve also decided to take a hiatus from the Internet. Other than this blog, another writing site, and the client social media I manage, I’m taking time away from the wondrous World Wide Web. My intention is to focus more on writing letters, writing for myself, reading, and, well, doing what the tagline of this blog says, “cultivating a literary and artful life”. Ironically, this may mean I post more. By hiatus, I mean a hiatus from the consumption of information.
This week’s word, from one of the vintage dictionary birds:
See you soon word-nerds.
I’ve been in front of the computer screen a lot lately, proofing text that’s more technical than creative. I needed a creative break, so I pulled out my giant chalkboard and made this. I was going to use it in the next 100 Words post, but I couldn’t wait. So here you go, a little random Thursday inspiration.
The full quote is:
And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath
I’m new to hand-lettering, and this is my first creation in chalk. I used standard issue chalk, no point. I erased a lot and the final product took a lot of cleaning up. I’ve since learned that there are magical things called chalk markers. I’ll be treating myself to some when this work project is done. And the two others I have in queue.