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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vacation blog

Vacation Blog

Like any professional journalist, I have provided advance work in anticipation of my spring vacation. Not only three weeks advance posts, but this fourth entry to explain the profusion.

And oh, oh, oh, are the clichés and slang building up to…to…to…a molten core, forged on the crucible of Vulcan, purged by the mighty bellows of Hades to erupt upon the pages, brilliantly hot, scalding with fresh nuance.

That was close, “Critical mass” was on my finger tips, seeking release, but along with my other resolutions to further my writing career and firm up the ‘ol buttocks, I am abstaining from common clichés and other rote comparisons in continued honor of Janet Finch and other great literary geniuses. But, dang, clichés are hovering, waiting for any opportunity to sneak from the shadows, escape the rigors of captivity to once again lay upon the screen, black tuxedo with white tie, like the keys of a piano.

I weaken, like an addict stumbling on the stoop of a twelve step program. Seeking familiar voices, a favorite song no longer on the charts, fallen to ridicule and parody. Still the melody haunts. The addictive words chanted over and over again, pounding inside the skull with the persistence of a pitiless metronome. Give in to the easy answers, the vulgar, mindless phrases that bind us one to another, in familial lubrication of sound and sight. Create a secret, hidden blog, the addict thinks, indulge in all the forbidden lexicons, the short cuts to understanding, the labor saving devices of communication. Who will notice? There are no empty bottles to dispose of, no illicit contacts or pay off to be made. Type, type, type, slip, slip, slip, back to the mundane, the ordinary, worn furnishing, past their prime, still comfortable, but not worthy of the spot light or keener exploration.

This was a good exercise. Writing is like calling a sponsor when the pull of addiction is too strong. Help me be strong. Don’t let me slide back, keep me moving forward with conviction.

I digressed from my original thought, yet captured the essence through an entirely different path. So it is with writing, whether telling stories in fiction or distilling my own roiling thoughts and volatile emotions, the physical act of writing brings clarity, substance, and insight. (Wait, can I compare this to diamonds? The four C’s. I have the seed for another pearl of a blog).

I love to write!

More Horse Names

As I promised, more horse (or other companion animal names for that matter) names, because I like it, and because writing is therapeutic and allows the thought process to progress. Earlier I expressed the overwhelming storm of ideas pouring down, a gale force whipping me from one project to another. The pollen has settled and I patiently, selectively nurture each fragile petal to unfold and bloom, not to be scattered by the March breezes. I am a vigilant gardener of ideas and stories, guarding my beds from the invasive snails mauling and shredding, pools of stagnation and infestation or weeds like pop-ups, which spread with the speed of the DSL and cable internet.

The List, minus the Mustangs

Horse names

Wishy -- my first word, for ‘horsey.’ There is a horse at the Ranch with that knick name, because he was the first horse there I really, really wanted to own. It is still one of my first choices.


Gray Horses:

Garth – gelding, Eloise’s beloved stallion, Dahlquin

Glinda – mare, Wicked, Broadway

Celeste/Celesto/Celestia

Black Horses:

Sirius Black – gelding. Also Literary theme

Elphaba – mare, Wicked, Broadway theme

Mares:

Aldonza – Man of La Mancha, Broadway theme

Dulcinea - ditto

Glinda – Wicked, Broadway

Elphaba – Wicked, Broadway

Eliza Doolittle – My Fair Lady, Broadway

Eloise – Dahqluin herione

Arianna -- Dahlquin

Arabella -- Dahlquin

Nova – Dahlquin, means new (not no go)

Jane Austen – literary theme

Gabaldon – one of my favorite authors, Literary theme

Auel -- ditto

Kingsolver -- ditto

JK -- ditto

Rowling -- ditto

Gryffindor – Literary theme

Phillia – Funny Thing Forum, Broadway

Geldings:

Garth --Dahlquin

Artax – Roland’s horse, Dahlquin

Quixote – Broadway/Literary

Pseodollus – spelling?? Funny Thing forum/Broadway

Weasley -- Literary

Dickens -- ditto

Mr. Darcy – ditto (thanx Dani!)

Clavell -- ditto

McMurtry-Mac -- literary

Dune -- ditto

Roland -- Dahlquin

Val -- ditto

Hubert -- ditto

Lando -- ditto

Reginald -- ditto

Gryffindor -- literary

Ravensclaw -- ditto

Hufflepuff -- ditto

Slytherin -- ditto

Lonesome Dove -- ditto

Literary:

These are either favorite authors, or characters or book titles

Gabaldon

Auel

Dickens

Jane Austen

Mr. Darcy

Dune

Lonesome Dove

Whinny

Racer

Clavell

Tai Pan

Shogun

Mr. Perfect

Hazel

Fiver

Kingsolver

JK

Rowling

Harry Potter (duh)

Hermione

Sirius Black

Dobby (taken, my horse’s name)

Kreature (Mica’s nick name)

Winkie

Thestral – the winged horse things from Hogwart’s

Hedwig

Nimbus 2000

Firebolt

Quidditch

Seeker

Gems

Diamond

Jewel

Gem

Flint

Topaz (brown or gold)

Jade

Citrine (brown or palomino)

Ruby (roan or red)

Opal

Obsidian (black)

Emerald

Sapphire

Jasper (brown or red)

Carat

General all Round

Zippity Do Dah

Solstice (especially for palomino or light sorrel)

Solstyce (see above)

Equinox

Moondance (especially for black/white tobiano)

Christmas – every horse is a Christmas present!

Rhapsody

Melody

Cheval

Caballo

Buell -- motorcycle

Katoom – aka KTM

Kawaski – June’s mispronounciation

Power

Promise

Myriah

Romance

Casanova

Don Juan

Several of the Mustang names fit here as well:

Teacher

LOL

Treasure

Some may think I have too much time on my hands, listing and categorizing all these names. I see it as part of the process, being creative, playing with words, being a writer.

What's In A Name?

What’s in A Name?

A horse by any other name would smell as sweet. Montague and Capulet are great equine names. She was the best of mares, she was the worst of mares, she was a mare of wisdom, and a mare of foolishness. Lucy Manette might make a suitable name for someone’s horse. Ask a jellicle, names were vital, visceral to the cats of T. S. Elliot.

I love names, naming things. A creative process, fun and whimsical. Insightful and important. Naming a child is both glorious and intimidating. It is a lifetime commitment wrought with consequences and repercussions if done unsuccessfully. That is another blog entirely.

Companion animals, once known as pets, are a joy to name. I spend (waste?) hours thinking of monikers for an abundance of animals I will never have. Window shopping or internet shopping, filling my cart only to delete it before the final checkout.

Generally, I shun the obvious, childish over-used, clichéd names. No Spots, Brownies or Kings for me…unless, of course, it is exceptionally inventive. We have a dog, a pound hound, and her name is Phydough. When we tell people, they are always astounded to know someone actually, truly named a dog Fido. It is the ultimate generic dog name. We have a friend who had a dog named Phydeaux. Somewhere there could be a Phy Doe, in a witness protection plan, perhaps.

One of my latest obsessions has been the Mustang Makeover, a contest put on by the BLM to raise awareness of mustang and burro adoption. 30-100 trainers are chosen to train a wild mustang, fresh off the range, in 100 days, culminating with an exhibition and auction of the horses. Pretty neat! (another blog topic)

So, even before we have applied to participate, let alone be selected, I am already thinking of names for my wild steed. And while I was at it, I just had to make a list of many horse names I would consider. It will be an ongoing endeavor, because I’m a nut case. Remember a blog I did about writers block and too many ideas…?

What are these wild and crazy names I am so eager to share? Gathee ‘round.

Since the Western States mustangs are gathered from Nevada, a few names acknowledge the Silver State: Elko, Winnemucca (actually used last year!), Silver State (duh). Reno and Vegas are too obvious for me, although I do like Ranger, go figure. Let’s move on to desert theme names: Prairie Dog, especially for a buckskin or brown horse, Prairie Fairy for a petite mare or a draft cross giant; Conejo or Coyote. ‘Tang (minus the ‘mus’) is good; Fairal, Pherral, or Farrelly are fun (as in feral); Treasure, because horses are just that. How about G-Man, because these animals are Government Issue. Gensis or Eden because it is a new beginning. LOL, as in Labor of Love as well as Laugh out Loud is appropriate, and along those sentimental thoughts, I like Teacher, because horses educate us. Centadias, my Latin is poor, but it should mean 100 Days—that is the assignment. Because Russ and I already have horses named for gems/minerals (Mica and Black Diamond, aka Dobby), the geologic theme names are: Topaz, Citrine, Opal, Garnet, Gem, Flint, Obsidian, Jasper and Carat. Perhaps less generic than Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald.

I’d sure love to hear other ideas and the meanings, because it is a pleasure to ruminate on. Obviously I need help with Latin. For additional names and the themes, look for more blogs. I’m on a roll.

A horse is a horse, is a horse, is a horse, but the names we bequeath should be significant in some way; memorable, appropriate, meaningful, thought-provoking, perhaps humorous and fun. It is an opportunity to share something of ourselves and how we relate the lives around us.

Writers Block

This post should have preceded the former...oh well.


Writers block

Back in December and January I had my first glimmer of writers block. And it was not what I thought it would be at all. Somehow I always envisioned writers block (WB) to be the inability to think of anything to write. A loss for words. No creativity. A blank canvas.

Ha, WB comes in many forms, and can be quite insidious if dwelled upon. Thank goodness for antidepressants, counseling and family and friends.

My affliction came in the form of intimidation, insecurity, a veil of doubt that I was unworthy and foolish to consider myself an author of some consequence. Lack of words, failing creativity, no. Not even fear of rejection. That is easy, I say please, they say no thanks…next. But the stifling, choking dread of rejecting myself. And since “It’s All About Me” that is paralyzing. Self-rejection. (Imagine your hand saying “No, thanks, I’m turning in early. Ask Lefty.”)

In my continuing endeavors to grow and expand my skill and knowledge of the historical novel market, I have spent some time on the Amazon historical forum I discovered at the bottom of World Without End, Ken Follett’s October 9 release. Bet there are more forums about literary, contemporary, mysteries, etc. I could be doing further research for Rainmocker and Cabs for Christ…but that would take even more time from writing them!

Given the 30 or so active people on this forum and the diversity of tastes in the genre, it has shaken me up a bit, reminding me with the undeniable clarity of a 2 x 4 between the eyes that getting published is as ephemeral as the smoke from the proverbial pipe dream, not to mention the obligation of satisfying a strong and loyal fan base of avid readers. Not only Is It All About Me, but I Want it all! I want to write what I love, have others love it as much as I do, and have the best sellers to fund more writing. Please and thank you.

Whining and venting aside, Roland and Eloise beckon, there are wolf cubs to feed, a bear scratching his massive behind on a tree and an anxious steward longing to sleep in his own bed come nightfall. The horses are nickering, welcoming me with armloads of hay…oh the rich life of a fiction writer. Eloise will be rubbing her back, weary from a days hard ride, the endless questions posed by her charges, complaints and rain. Is her mother well? The harvests have been good, and so the burgeoning populace. How will they all eat? Will the stores last? The friendly nickering and soft breath of the horses warm her heart, lifting her spirit as only communion with God’s most noble creature can. “Aye, you great looby,” she sighs, seeing to their feeding, one more step, another chore complete.

Focus, Focus, Focus

Focus, focus, focus.

I have discovered another form of writer’s block. Too many ideas. An abundance of projects all beckoning, luring me from “Dahlquin” and “Rainmocker.” Two weeks before the spring equinox, warm sun sparkles across the bay, gleaming through my dirty windows. Sunglasses are required to behold the dazzling white blooms on the plum trees, an avalanche precariously perched on thin branches in optimism and pure defiance of the whims of nature. Anything can happen in March. And indeed rain is predicted for this coming weekend.

So many commitments, I have promised myself to get back into shape and have returned to swim aerobics three times a week…so far so good! A page a day is my new credo, thanks to Cathy and the Tuesday Afternoon Red Pencil Society (emails not included); and I have relished this assignment, moving forward with “Rainmocker” in the least painful way.

And--I have challenged myself to keep a weekly blog, with the discipline and obligation of an employed journalist. Thoughts, ideas and creative juices flow through me with the unguided force of winter rains washing down hillsides, uprooting the flora and fertile soil, rushing to fill the previously dry arroyos, devoid of bloom or blade, then depositing them haphazardly causing more flooding, more erosion. I try to keep my head above this torrent. Grab a branch, jot down the idea before another wave of energy, born of imagination and dreams takes me down another yet vacant gulch, thirsting in this bountiful season.

Focus, I command. Follow through. With so many ideas and plans twinkling and sparkling, stars within my grasp; only if I concentrate. I am a chocoholic in Belgium, on a budget, with a deadline. Focus: write the outline, start a list, “Save as”. Motivation I have. Like a child at an Easter Egg hunt, sturdy basket clutched tightly in my eager hand, I run back and forth, my eyes seeing more than my fingers can manipulate. Faster, faster, before the eggs are gone, before they disappear into another basket. Gone. Focus, consider the contents of the basket and savor the treasure I have.

This weeks blog complete, I will contemplate the unfinished works, the “B” Word, Horse Names and the Next Big Project, with all its details and unknowns, the Mustang Makeover (check it out on-line). A short story idea, “Gold” and all the details and business of publication. Did I mention I have a family?

And yes, what would Eloise do? Remember her, my spunky Irish protagonist? After complaining vigorously of the injustice of having to work on such a beautiful day, she would glumly set herself to task, and ultimately get the job done—then saddle up!

We will be on Spring Break the 14-24 of March. Enjoying our time at the R-Wild Horse Ranch in Platina, California. www.R-Wild Horse Ranch, there are several web sites.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Janet Finch as inspiration

Along with all the changes, plans and resolutions that have come in with 2008, I have been pleasantly encouraged to set a weekly deadline for my blog. Accepting this challenge I will treat it as an assignment with punctual entries. Along with a page a day, regular swim aerobics or other adequate exercise, and renewed vigor for community service (not the judicially imposed kind, thank you very much).

Inspired by Janet Finch’s “White Oleander” I am seeking prosaic ways to describe things without standard clichés (so very handy and time saving in contemporary writing).

With the wisdom of half a century, I am guiding myself through yet another of life’s hormonal shifts; tectonic plates pulling away from each other, ripping deep, jagged chasms only to clash with equal pressure, colliding and forcing one plate to explode up while the other is ground down, buried, lost. Our cycles crest and fall, perhaps lap gently, eventually dwindling down to a trickle before vanishing in the arroyo of great maturity.

Trusting myself, I squint into the dark corners, either to embrace the natural beauty of the cobwebs, or dust away the old and neglected to feel the lightness that liberation brings. There was healing, comfort and rejuvenation in the sheltered recesses, the thick, warm blanket, familiar and worn, like seeds or bulbs waiting below the surface, storing their life force. The time is right because I say it is. I believe in myself.

Back to the real world, I’m sweating bricks. That was hard work, and Janet Finch has nothing to fear from me. More importantly, did anyone get it? What was I saying—in the proverbial nutshell? (answers provided below) I will continue to be inspired, and to exercise the muse. In my historical fiction books, I try to avoid clichés because of the contemporary imagery and slang implications. It will be an interesting challenge writing my legal drama, of light literary caliber, as I enjoy the feel and authenticity in my protagonist’s voice. Somewhere in the middle, perhaps, I will discover my true voice.

Answers:

First paragraph: teen angst to PMS to menopause…

Second paragraph: I needed a kick in the *** to get off my sorry ***

Class dismissed.