Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Taking Life "Bird by Bird"

October has come and (almost) gone, and I am marveling once again at how fast this month always flies by! It never fails—each October is always busier and more eventful than the previous October, but it continues to take me by surprise every year.

This month I am taking an in-depth online novel writing course, which has been wonderful and challenging and has really made me think through my current WIP. I am also participating in an online book study of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, working on a new set of revisions for two completed manuscripts, and preparing for a school visit this Friday. All of my writing synapses are zapping and snapping, and although my brain is starting to feel a bit fried, it is totally worth it! Add to all of this the sleepover with nine 11- and 12-year-old boys to celebrate my twins' 12th birthday last weekend and our family camping trip past weekend (with the resulting piles of laundry), and my plate is definitely overflowing! Every single one of these things is good, though, and for this I am thankful.

Which brings me back to Bird by Bird. In the midst of all of this “busyness,” Lamott’s whole concept of tackling one thing at a time calms me and reminds me to slow down, breathe, and focus on climbing one step, and then another, and then another. Viewed from this perspective, everything seems much more manageable and I can breathe (and sleep) much easier. I also really appreciated a quote from E. L. Doctorow that Lamott shares in an early chapter of her book: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” This is a wonderful notion, and can be applied to LIFE, as well.

One of the peaceful scenes I enjoyed this past weekend near Brevard, NC.

I hope your October has been just as inspiring and exhilarating as mine! Have a great week, and happy writing!

Friday, October 17, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Guiterman’s Harvest Home and A Climb to the Sky

Visit Michelle at Today's Little Ditty for a spooktacular Poetry Friday Roundup!
 
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For the month of October, I am focusing on poems about fall. Here is a wonderful poem I came across awhile back by American poet Arthur Guiterman. I love Guiterman’s rich descriptions and playful use of verbs!    
 
Harvest Home
by Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943)
 
                   The maples flare among the spruces,
                   The bursting foxgrape spills its juices,
                   The gentians lift their sapphire fringes
                   On roadways rich with golden tenges,
                   The waddling woodchucks fill their hampers,
                   The deer mouse runs, the chipmunk scampers,
                   The squirrels scurry, never stopping,
                   For all they hear is apples dropping
                   And walnuts plumping fast and faster;
                   The bee weighs down the purple aster

                   Yes, hive your honey, little hummer,
                   The woods are waving, "Farewell, Summer."


Last weekend I visited friends in the mountains near Brevard, North Carolina. After a lovely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stopped near milepost 409.6 and climbed Frying Pan Lookout Tower, an old fire tower built in 1941 and now listed on the National Register of Historic places.
 
Here is a picture of the tower from way down the trail. 


Although though I am normally not afraid of heights, the prospect of climbing the tower was a bit daunting at first. But I talked myself into it and was rewarded with a stunning view of Cold Mountain and the valley below. The leaves were in the early to mid stages of their colorful fall display, and storm clouds were gathering in the distance. It was spectacular and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!


Here is a poem I wrote that was inspired by this experience. I hope you enjoy it!

Climb to the Sky
 
I climb the tower,
October sky
Just out of my reach.
 
Miles below
Life is loud,
And often harsh.
 
But so high up
A keening wind is all I hear;
Trees and mountains sit in peaceful silence.
 
Sunlight filters through clouds
And rolls over the landscape,
Turning dying leaves into waves of autumn gold.
 
And I stand,
Gripping iron rails,
A thousand feet above it all.
 
Here is a picture of Cold Mountain from the ground.
 
I hope you have a wonderful autumn weekend! Happy Friday, and happy writing!

Friday, October 3, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Autumn Fires

Thanks to Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup for hosting Poetry Friday today!

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I have enjoyed watching the slow transformation of the leaves around my neighborhood this week; the yellows and reds are replacing the (still abundant) green a little more every day. I am looking forward to much cooler weather this weekend, and am especially excited about visiting the NC mountains twice in October. This is definitely my favorite month!
 
My fall-themed Poetry Friday contribution this week is a lovely poem by Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson titled Autumn Fires. We had a fire in our fire pit last weekend and will likely enjoy another tomorrow night, watching the last of summer's trimmings rise in sparks and ashes. This poem captures this moment of fall perfectly, I think! 
Autumn Fires
by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
 
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
 
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
 
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
 
Have a beautiful weekend, and Happy Writing!