#Blogtoberfest Day 30: On the Brink of Everything

On the Brink of Everything by Parker J. Palmer caught my attention on my recent visit to Barnes & Noble. He may be on the brink of turning 80, but while I don’t agree with some of his thinking, he does share the things that are true for him about growing older, being mentored when he was younger, and becoming a mentor to younger people now. The point is that people of all ages have something to learn from or share with others.

I totally agree. When I was in my 20s through 40s, I often gravitated toward older women who taught me so much. I even wrote a song called “Wise Woman” about my friend from Montreal who I met in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Then somewhere along the way, I noticed younger women were gravitating toward me, looking at me as a mentor and I love fulfilling that role. Sometimes it’s people I’ve met online or at church or wherever. Sometimes it’s my readers.

They say that when you want to learn something new, you have to be willing to be a beginner. And that’s me with music. I have to be a beginner. And so I’ve met such interesting young people as we travel this road together, whether music or poetry.

November is just a couple of days away and I really do feel like I’m on the brink of everything, experimenting with a bit of unplugging and planning another cross country move. I invite you all to travel that road with me. And while I hope to take a blog hiatus during November, I’ll be back to share any experiences/insights worth sharing and I invite you to do the same.

No matter how young or old we are, we’re all on the brink of everything that’s going to come next.

#Blogtoberfest Day 26: Unplugging in November

Instead of doing #NaNoWriMo in November, I’m going to unplug – at least somewhat. What I will not be doing (or trying not to):

  • Blogging
  • Reading on Kindle
  • Watching travel videos on Youtube (okay, maybe once a week)
  • Sleeping with my iPhone
  • Playing gin rummy on my iPad

What I hope I will be doing:

  • Practicing the keys
  • Writing songs and/or fiction
  • Reading paperbacks and/or hard cover books
  • Going to Barnes & Noble
  • Visiting the Guitar Center

I also plan to delete my LinkedIn account. I only returned because the old Lynda.com was now part of LinkedIn and they forced me to rejoin LinkedIn to access it. Each time I renew for another month, they change how they work. Now you have to use iTunes to manage your payments, which I try to avoid as often as possible. iTunes – ugh! I”d like to delete LinkedIn immediately, but I still have access to classes for most of November.

Except for Twitter, I’ve deleted my other social media accounts. Even the word “social media” creeps me out – lol!

Ah, but then there’s YouTube. I subscribe to several travel Vloggers, but I’ve noticed that by watching their travel experiences, my travel experience is diminished. It’s helpful to read about places you might visit, but YouTube vlogs kinda take away the surprise, those things you stumble upon which make your experience so much richer.

And I really dislike all the begging to subscribe and share and donate money. I definitely think I need to avoid travel vloggers. At first I thought that might be the hardest thing for me to give up, but it’s getting old and I’m not enjoying the videos as much.

I have no idea how November might change me, but I hope to update you all in December.

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 25: How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career (and your Brain)

Unplugging – it sounds so sexy to me – lol! I’ve been drawn to unplugging for some time because, like most people today, I’ve been noticing the downside of too much information, over stimulation, social media, etc., etc. And not just as a writer, but as a musician and as a person.

Working in the San Francisco Bay Area with a career in electronic publishing since the late 1970s, I was one of the first to hop aboard all things electronic, imagining something like the internet and hollering with glee when it became accessible to all. But things don’t stay as they were. Instead of being helpful, the internet has deteriorated in so many ways and don’t get me started on social media.

Anyway, it’s interesting that many people are realizing this now – people are getting off social media, studies have been studied, books have been written, and people are speaking out about the harm of it all.

What I’m leading up to is I found this post in my email yesterday – “How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career” from Productive Writers. He quotes a book called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I downloaded a sample to my reader and can’t wait to get into it today.

I’m wondering if maybe this is why I’ve lost interest in writing. Is it because I can’t focus for that long these days? Have I said everything I have to say? Or did I lose interest as my readers lost interest? Once the algorithms changed from people finding me via search engines to a weighted discovery of numbers – sites and books with the most sales are shown to people’s eyeballs. So if your numbers aren’t huge, you get practically zero visibility. The more you sell, the more you will sell. The less you sell, the less people will even know about you until finally your sales stop completely. Another way the internet is all screwed up.

We’re being told what we see – it’s no longer the free space where all are equal – that’s the problem with social media – it’s controlling “information” and we see different things, dictated by advertisers and algorithms. We’re being controlled like puppets. But the scariest thing of all is how our brains are actually being changed from it.

It’s definitely time to unplug – at least somewhat. It won’t be easy because we’ve been trained to reach for our smart phone every time we get that twitch, which is practically nonstop. I’ve noticed that if I turn my phone off or leave it in another room, I sleep much better. No middle-of-the-night poetry, but I’ll just have to write it at the computer during the day. Who knows what I may actually accomplish?

#Blogtoberfest Day 19: Things I Will Miss

I will miss the morning sunlight peeking through the trees,
soaring birds chirping their morning wakefulness,
squawking gulls flapping their wings,
treading shore birds scanning the pond for breakfast.

I will miss sipping my coffee on the lanai greeting the dawn with prayer,
scribbling my early thoughts,
clearing my mind of nighttime fears,
making room for gratitude and thankfulness.

I will miss cocktails and apps overlooking the springs at the BoatHouse,
strolling World Showcase,
martinis in the Wilderness,
dipping my toes in the ocean.

I will miss our dream kitchen,
white cabinets and quartz countertops,
undermount lights with a view
of morning walkers and evening golf carts.

But most of all I will miss
the last house where Skipper lived.

 

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 17: Living in the Moment (#poem)

When I was a child, I knew how to live in the moment
No bills to pay, no past to replay
Anticipating the next adventure
Beach, park, or reading all day
Alone or joint venture

When I was a child, I had no worries to bother with
Maybe a few, such as dishes or dusting to do
Begging them off while watching Disneyland fireworks go off
Dreaming of becoming ‘big, rich and famous,” didn’t you, too?
Confiding in that one friend who wouldn’t scoff

When I was a child, I dreamed of the future
A wife, a mother, even a movie star
Ironing and watching Password or the Fugitive like mother
And don’t forget “My Mother the Car”
After playing outside with my friends or my brother

Today I vow to live in the moment
No worries, no past, just the next step on the way
Anticipating the moment’s adventure
Beach, park, or reading all day
Writing without censure

#Blogtoberfest Day 16: #NaNoWriMo Prep

Ever since my first NaNoWriMo about 2004, I’ve run fast from any mention of “NaNo.” What a big mess of a manuscript I wrote – something I could never edit into coherence.

The writer of this post thinks people should stop writing and start reading – that writers get way too much attention at book stores. I agree, that it isn’t for everybody and there are reasons to do it or not to do it – only you can make that decision. But here’s why I’m going to commit to doing it this year:

I’m reading the revised edition of “No Plot, No Problem” and the author made this statement:

“The year was 1999, and I was working as a writer in the San Francisco Bay Area, drinking way too much coffee and watching the dot-com boom rewrite the rules of life around me”

That was me, too!  After moving around quite a bit since then, I love the idea of reconnecting with Bay Area people who were there back then and maybe still there. But NaNoWriMo also connects me to a writing community and after writing in isolation for too many years from moving around a lot, stumbling around in the songwriting community, which is nothing like a writing community, I’m eager to reconnect with a writing community again.

So, yeah,  committing to #Blogtoberfest is the warm-up to writing every day and so I’m preparing to writing a novel during November, no matter how short or long, as long as there is a beginning, an ending, and a middle.

#Blogtoberfest Day 15: A Phenomenal Woman (#poem)

I read “Phenomenal Woman” in Maya Angelou’s Poems, and I’d like to quote it here. I hope that’s allowed as long as I give credit with a link to the book. Anyway, she’s such a brilliant poet, and I have much to learn from her writing.

I totally relate to this poem because I’ve often said it’s not so much about how pretty or skinny or young you are – it’s your attitude and the confidence you display that gets attention from both men and women.

Except for the “chick lit” era when I had my “Chicks Over 40” blog, I often feel invisible online. I feel far more appreciated in person walking down the street among total strangers.

Phenomenal Woman (a poem) by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s sin the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
“Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

#Blogtoberfest Day 11: Poetry-Inspired Lyrics

The Flame, Leonard Cohen’s last book of poetry (and more), arrives on Friday. I can’t wait to read it, especially after reading some of the poems in the sample. I got the hard cover because some books should be read in print.

I love that his songs started out as poems. My first song submitted for professional feedback to a NY Broadway composer started out as a poem and he led me down the path to making it a song.

In Nashville, “writing to title” co-write sessions are scheduled – they have nothing to do with poetry but the good news is everybody in the room gets songwriter credit. (Two NSAI mentors loved one of my “hooks” but somehow my story wasn’t the usual Nashville story and it didn’t go anywhere).

In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter by Shelly Peiken, she laments today’s songwriter in L.A. being relegated to “topliner” – the person who is called in to write the melody or lyric or maybe just a hook or phrase. The “producer” provides the “backing track” and gets 50% of writing credit and the rest is divvied up according to some sort of formula.

But you know what? This is what you get when a society decides that humans can be created the same way – sperm donor meets egg donor meets surrogate and somehow the couple who purchases all of this genetic material becomes the “parents” and a “family” is created.

I don’t see much difference in creating a human and in creating a song today. Very sad with many consequences with this type of thinking. But that’s the world people have shouted into being. At least for now. I pray that people will come to their senses some day.

#Blogtoberfest Day 5: Social Media Makes You Stupid

I believe that people aren’t normally stupid. Dysfunction, inauthenticity makes people look stupid. Social media actually makes people do stupid. It dulls your brain, your thinking ability, lessens your communication/people skills.

Take writing, for example. It’s often been said that you need to exercise your writing muscle and write every day or most days to stay strong. So inactivity weakens that writing muscle. And if you’re inactively writing because you’re sharing photos and likes on social media, your brain becomes lazy.

And so I sit here day after day this October unable to focus on writing a scene. It’s like when I first started writing, only worse. Back then, it took me all day to actually sit down and write a scene. I had good intentions of starting my writing day int he morning. But I couldn’t get anything out of my head until about 4 p.m.

Now I’d be happy if I could do that. Instead, my brain is jello, my attention span is ridiculously short. It’s easier to flip through youtube channels, peek into Twitter, and play a game on my iPad. I might read, but even that seems like a challenge – all of that focus on understanding content.

This is sad and must come to an end. I must sit down  and write every day to get that flabby writing muscle in shape. Even music has become a crutch – it’s easier to open up Logic Pro and start auditioning Apple loops or keyboard a few midi notes.

Maybe that’s what #Blogtoberfest is all about for me – getting my writing muscle back in shape. A daily blog post is the warm-up, hopefully leading to writing a sentence, a paragraph, a page, three pages maybe. That used to come so easily. But one thing I’m noticing is that I feel such peace when I’m sitting down and actually writing something… anything.