Category Archives: #writerlife

The Babies and the Stories

Hummingbirds make such wonderful mothers. Six years ago, the hummingbird who raised two nests right outside my door was a good example. When one of her babies turned out to find it more difficult to learn to fly, she spent hours one afternoon patiently teaching the little one. The green hummingbird raising her babies in our oleander right now is another good example. First, before she ever laid her eggs, she completely moved her nest from the windchime/mobile to the oleander tree when she realized the first place was not safe. Now we’ve noticed that because the sun beats relentlessly on the babies in the mornings, she sits on them for protection even though they are now big kids. We expect them to fly away any day now. Here she is shielding them from the sun.

Last week I told you that Kana was enjoying a manuscript box, but Tiger would lie down in it when Kana wasn’t there.

I think I forgot to mention that my daughter gave me Storyworth for Mother’s Day. I had never heard of it before. Every week for a year I get a story prompt mailed to me. The idea is these stories are all about my life. As soon as I email one back, my kids get the story dumped in their inboxes. I am allowed to include photos if I like. And if I hit send and regret something I can easily edit it. At the end of the year, the kids will get books of “the story of my life.” Why is this different from creative nonfiction and memoir writing? These stories are geared for my kids and (hopefully someday) their kids. Some of the stories are already part of family legend, but now they will be written down in a permanent form. If I don’t like a particular prompt, I can change it out, but so far each one (I’ve done four) have been fruitful lines of enquiry ;). I’ve written about my first memory, most memorable birthday, favorite trip, and a time when I was brave. I’m not saying I wouldn’t share any of these on this blog, but not today, folks.

It’s a genius idea that I wish I had thought of before these people did hah. The reason it’s genius is that it’s got to be a money maker as it’s pricey. But I kind of think it’s worth it because who does this anyway? And keeps it up for a year? You could do this completely on your own. But will your loved ones keep writing those stories every week? They will if they know you paid for the subscription!

Make it a fine week!!!!

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Filed under #amwriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Family history, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, writing prompt

Neighborhood Visitor

I have this great photo to share with you. I did not take it, but it is one of the bobcats from my neighborhood. My neighbor found the animal resting in his yard, so he snapped this image. What luck! And what gorgeous animals the bobcats are.

This poem was in Poem-a-Day this morning coincidentally.

The Waiting

Jane Wong

I was waiting for something
to arrive. I didn’t know what.
Something buoyed, something
sun knocked. I placed my palms
up, little pads of butter, expecting.
All day, nothing. Longer than
that. My hair grew, fell out,
grew. Outside my window, I felt
the flick of a tail in September
wind. A bobcat sauntered across
the grass before me, the black tip
of its tail a pencil I’d like to sharpen.
I immediately hushed, crouched,
became a crumpled shock of
joy to see something this wild,
not myself. It turned to look
at me, its body muscular in
the turning. In its mouth was
the tail of a mouse drained of
blood, dangling diorama of death.
Sharp eyes looking at me and then,
not. Its lack of fear, its slow stroll
across the stream’s bridge, fur
lacquering its teeth. Sometimes
what comes to us, we never called
for. How long had I been crouched
like that? I stood up, blood rush
trumpeting. My arms wrapped
themselves around myself, lifted.
It was as if a bank vault had
opened and I was just standing
there, stealing nothing.

Copyright © 2021 by Jane Wong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 17, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Make it a great week!

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Filed under #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Nonfiction

A Mixed Bag Week

While the gardener and I were in California for two days last week, my daughter encountered the bobcat. She was in the back of our house, watering plants. As she turned slightly, she saw the bobcat walking toward her from the side.  She scooted into the house quickly and took this video.

She said that the bobcat actually hung around the backyard for awhile. Then he/she was back again the next morning!

In Arizona our mask mandate is expired, but where I go people are all still wearing masks inside. Not outside, thank goodness. Without a mask mandate, you do run the risk of running into a jerk. When we were in Pasadena, I noticed that everyone has to wear a mask outside, even walking down the sidewalk where other people are a block away.  I thought that was pretty stupid, too. I wanted to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. Dear God, Can we please have common sense back? I promise I’ll take good care of my share. Love, Luanne

Pasadena sidewalk

Not sure if I mentioned that my The Artist’s Way group finished the Cameron book and is moving on to another. We’re starting Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It’s a short book, but so far it has some brilliant ideas. I also think the Cameron is brilliant, but there are things I don’t like. One of those is that Cameron comes from a place of extreme privilege, whether she thinks so or not, and it kind of permeates the book. The Bayles and Orland book has a voice I prefer.

Here’s one of my latest art journal pages. Although it’s not cheerful, I am pretty happy with this messy one. The man’s face is a transfer from a sketch my MIL did of a man at the Art Students League when she was there. His name was Leonard.

I read an article, “Success and the Late Blooming Woman Author,” in a recent issue of Writer’s Chronicle, the publication of the AWP. Late blooming is a subject dear to my heart because I didn’t publish Doll God until I was almost sixty. Look at this passage:

The percentages of women writers 55 and older being published in “the most equitable magazines”  “rarely reached twenty percent.” Ugh. Well, I keep working against that. Never said I wouldn’t take on a challenge.

Leaving you with a little cat chat. This Perry routine has evolved over time, and this is where we are most recently: Every night Perry carries his “babies” up to our bedroom and, one by one, lays them in front of my face and looks at me for approval. His babies are little stuffies we call squirrels and mice. They are not all squirrels or mice, but they are close enough. When I wake up in the morning, I am surrounded with cat stuffies in the bed. Here’s another piece of cat info: when I hold two cat food cans in front of a cat–let’s say, Felix–he will go back and forth a couple of times, sniffing them, and then nudge one toward me. There is no doubt that my cats know they are supposed to choose which one to eat.

Make it a great week, dears.

 

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Art and Music, California, Cats and Other Animals, Reading, Writing

Pear and the Gunnywolf

It’s probably not surprising that I’ve gotten myself really tired, especially by adding in 3x week physical therapy appointments for my shoulder. Therefore, I’m going to keep it short today.

Pear, who recently turned 21, has some lumps growing on her left front leg. I took her to the vet when it began, back in January, and on Friday I took her back, this time to the owner vet. He said it wasn’t cancer and it appeared to be dead tissue. He also said it was funky and not something you see on cats. Then he said if it becomes intolerable to her, he can do a very quick surgery, even at her age. It’s a matter of quality of life. Pear heard the word “surgery,” and when she got home she started working on it. On Saturday I found one of these “furry grapes” lying loose on her blanket. I’ll spare you the photos hah.

I was cleaning out a drawer and found a broadside poem I kept from 2016, written by Megan Snyder-Camp. It’s called “The Gunnywolf,” and it’s the title poem from one of her collections. I realized I had never read the collection, though I really love this poem, and checked it out on Amazon. Temporarily Out of Stock!!!

Here’s the poem–enjoy and have a lovely week!

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Cats and Other Animals, Poetry

Palimpsest of Scraps

The more time I spend with my art journal(s), the more I am realizing what appeals to me and what I like to work on. I am beginning to see a connection with my writing. 

The word palimpsest carries great meaning for me. Here is the Merriam-Webster definition:

palimpsest

noun

pa·​limp·​sest | \ ˈpa-ləm(p)-ˌsest  pə-ˈlim(p)-  \

Definition of palimpsest

1writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased

2something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

The following image is my latest two pages. I call it a palimpsest because it was created with many layers, and bits of each layer show in the finished pages, whether by eyesight or touch. For instance, there are pieces of poems: “It Would Be Easier to Stop Talking to Your Ghost” by Stella Li and “Triptych in Black and Blue” by Tatiana Johnson-Boria, published by Pleiades.

I’m also using my love of the reality and concept of scrap (title of my memoir-in-scrap), as well as a poem I’ve recently shared. I also love scrapbooking and used to love to design and make stained glass. I haven’t worked with quilting at all and not with mosaics since I was a kid, but those are other scrap arts and crafts that I love. 

For the initial layer of these pages, I used scraps from many sources, including graph paper, music, poetry, a story, a piece of an envelope flap that has the Hallmark logo embossed, and ripped up practice runs with art materials. I even included a hunk of the glued bottom of a brown bag. 

I skimmed through my pages in order of when I made them, and I discovered that at first my collaging was on the “top” of the page, so to speak, whereas now I am using collage as a base and then a bit more in one or two other stages. I learned the value of collage underneath because of all the interest it provides. My first pages look very flat in comparison.

Onward to more improvement LOL. I do see a connection (first noticed by Sheila Morris) between these art pages and my poetry. The layering, complexity, and happenstance, for one–er, three–things.  

I’m going to start PT for my shoulder/arm. And now I have vitreous detachment of my only reading eye. One of my eyes is to see distance, and the other is for reading. Seriously. That’s why I can’t wear bifocals and rarely wear glasses just wandering around. I wear glasses to read, another pair for driving, and then I have a computer pair made out of some really old and ugly frames. But my eyes (sort of) don’t work together, so having a really blurry reading eye kind of sucks.

Saturday I walked outside into the blue-blue sky, and I was attacked by swarms of birds from every direction. It was like a remake of the Hitchcock movie. But they weren’t real birds. They were one of the entertainments my eyes are providing me right now :/.

In other news, the puffballs are out! Technically, they are called Sweet Acacia trees, but we call them the dang puffballs. There isn’t a human alive who isn’t allergic to these things. They smell super sweet and, at first, you will think they are roses. But then the scent goes on and on and becomes sickening and you realize it isn’t roses at all. But they do signify home after all these years.

In the close-up you can see that this tree has two little puffballs growing from the trunk itself.

Announcements:

Pear Blossom’s 21st birthday is tomorrow!!! And Tiger Queenie’s 17th is April 1. Happy birthday, sweet girls.

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Filed under #amrevising, #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Art and Music, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Memoir, Poetry, Reading, Writing

Cat Pile

When I try to get a little rest around here, this is what happens.

Pear is at the top of the photo, then Tiger in the middle. They both have birthdays coming up. Pear will be 21 and Tiger will be 17. The big gray boy is Perry who is already 5.5 or 6. I am somewhere underneath. These are my three couch potatoes.

Then we have the other three cats. Kana is not a snuggler, though sometimes she sleeps in our bed with us. Sloopy Anne doesn’t like other cats much, but she sleeps with us a lot of nights, just not when Kana does. Felix is not a snuggler and never sleeps with us; he’s still a sweet boy.

Here is one of my art journal pages. Because this is all so new to me, it’s like a blank canvas of learning for me. And I love learning. Now I know I love getting my hands dirty haha.

Yeah, my goal is not to make pretty pages. It’s to express myself and to keep finding new ways to do so.

The gardener had dose #2, and he really didn’t have side effects other than a sore arm–and a big twitch in the muscle at the injection site. My second dose is this Friday. Please wish me luck! Stay safe and have a wonderful week.

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Filed under #amrevising, #writerlife, #writerslife, Art and Music, Cats and Other Animals

Reviews and Journals and Vaccines

Recently Liz (Elizabeth) Gauffreau  (also: Liz Gauffreau blog) reviewed Doll God, and it’s such a gorgeously written review that I wanted to point it out. This is the Amazon link: Doll God review by Liz Gauffreau. Her analysis reminded me of what Doll God meant to me when I was writing it and what it still means to me today. Here is a small section with her comments followed by a quote from “Sonoran October.”

I particularly appreciated the poems focused on the landscape of the Southwest because I’ve never lived there. After a few rereadings, I realized that the poems express a relationship with the land that is very intimate. You can’t get it from visiting; you have to live it. From “Sonoran October”:

Midafternoon, the only movements:
cottontails dart like ballplayers
from creosote to cactus to ocotillo.
A sky so blue it hisses at my touch.

I’ve been continuing to work on my art journals, although I’m supposed to be finalizing 2020 for taxes for the business. (hahaha) Yes, I said journals, plural. That’s because Amy Maricle suggests keeping more than one journal going at once. When one is drying, you can flit over to another and work on that one. The one I started with is relatively small, and the second one is much larger. The pages are also different as the smaller journal as an accordian style inside, and the larger journal has regular pages. I am learning why art journalists like to make their own journals, though. As you move through the journal, it becomes thicker and thicker until it can’t close. If you bind your own, you can solve that problem by making your binding adjustable or just giving yourself more space.

I suspect the gardener thinks the time I spend on the art journals is amusing or he isn’t sure what to think about it! He doesn’t say much, and he tends not to bother me when I’m in my office working on them. Maybe he’s mystified why I’m not using that time to write. I’m not, though, as it’s a completely different experience than writing and much more relaxing during the pandemic. Artist Anne-Marie van Eck says to stay in “createfulness” because when we create we are connected to our bodies and our minds and we stay in the present. I find that to be an exact description.

Many people seem to have taken up hobbies or expanded on them during the pandemic. Have you done that yourself? A friend of mine became an experimental baker, and another took up quiltmaking. Another friend has become an obsessed gardener (haha, you know who you are–I know you’re reading!!!!) and is transforming her yard into one huge garden (in addition to the catio she already has for her kitties).

I’ve been doing prose revisions lately. Two essays and a review all needed revision. Thank goodness for good and kind editors.

A friend and I read the first part of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, a biography of one of my favorite writers, written by Ruth Franklin. The book could be better. It spends so much time on Jackson’s husband’s career that it feels as if he is standing between me and Jackson, if you know what I mean. And he’s a creep, too. When we had to return our “copies” (hers was audio) to the library, neither of us were very sad. In case the name Jackson doesn’t ring a bell, think “The Lottery” or The Haunting of Hill House or my favorite We Have Always Lived in the Castle. 

Nevertheless,  I rechecked out the book.  I am reading sections related to the writing of certain books. Continue reading

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Filed under #amrevising, #writerlife, #writerslife, Art and Music, Book Review, Poetry book, Poetry Collection

What Gave and Took from My Energy Supply Last Week?

The high point was Saturday when I attended the Barrelhouse writers’ conference, Conversations and Connections, via Zoom. I attended sessions by Tommy Dean (micros), Randon Billings Noble (lyric essays), and Claudia Gary (villanelles). It was a comfy way for me to attend a conference. Even so, I get a little overstimulated. Plus, I had to feed the cats their very complicated breakfast during the micro segment, so I couldn’t do the writing. I learned some interesting stuff, and if I ever get a clear head again I plan to make use. If they offer the conference online again, I highly recommend it. The cost was not high, and we get a couple of free books.

Also this week, I did the following:

  • worked (from home)–the usual crap–no more, no less
  • cleaned the living room and my daughter’s old bedroom (even got rid of stuff nobody is going to want)
  • was frustrated because of the pandemic and because I am tired and don’t feel so great (Valley Fever)
  • was in pain, particularly my arm and shoulder
  • wrote a review of Beth Ruscio’s poetry collection Speaking Parts for Main Street Rag
  • played with my art journal
  • worked on the beginning of the new draft of the memoir
  • got frustrated working on the beginning of the new draft of the memoir
  • cleaned up cat puke from several cats and wet litter dragged through the house by my old girl, Pear
  • groomed Pear every day and worried about her
  • was annoyed by the gardener worrying about the covid variants and the vaccines (he’s an overthinker)
  • was annoyed by an identity theft issue and the stupid bank it occurred at
  • attended a telehealth appointment and made more medical appointments
  • talked to my mother less than usual, but was glad to hear she got her second vaccine dose (I also owe phone calls to two relatives and a text to my brother–I can’t seem to want to communicate with people lately–maybe that’s why Perry chatted with you last week hahaha)

Almost everything this week, other than the conference and the art journal were energy sucks. I can’t stress enough how therapeutic the art journaling is for me (you too?). I know I suck, but I am learning techniques. I have to remember that I am starting from absolutely ground level.

Looking forward to an energy sprouting week ahead. Who’s with me?!!!!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under #amrevising, #AmWriting, #amwriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Art and Music, Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Writers Conference

Interview on the Making of the Poem “Scrap”

You might remember my poem “Scrap” that was published last month at Anti-Heroin Chic. Poet and blogger Chris Rice Cooper has published an interview where I discuss the making of the poem–the backstory–on her blog over at blogspot.

Come join the fun!

INTERVIEW

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Interview, Literary Journals, Poetry, Writing, Writing Talk

Poem Up at The Orchards Poetry Journal (Remember the Hawk?)

A big thank you to editor Karen Kelsay who has published my poem “Without Flight” in the new issue of The Orchards Poetry Journal. 

Last May I wrote about a red-tailed hawk that showed up on our patio. You can read the prose account here: An Unintended Visitor

 For the poem version, you can follow the link to the beautiful Winter issue of the journal. My poem is page 94 of the magazine–95 of the digital form:

WITHOUT FLIGHT

###

This week was not as good as the one before because I didn’t feel that well, plus I had extra work-work.

But over the weekend, I created a chalky pastel background that I really like, a strange scribble background using pastels in similar but different shades, and a string ink background. 

I also was able to do some revision work to an essay that is in limbo with a journal. I’ll try to read it over today or tomorrow and see what else it needs.

So far in January I’ve collected a few rejections. Last spring I had two poems accepted by a journal that has not yet published them. They didn’t put out a fall issue, so am I waiting for the spring one? Hard to tell. I wrote to them, but got no response.

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Inspiration, Literary Journals, Poetry, Poetry Collection