The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, July 29, 2011

All in the Eye of the Beholder...

two panels of an 6-panel painting by Gerhard Richter
This painting covers most of one very large wall in the St. Louis Art Museum.

       For three days this week I was at our city's art museum, taking a workshop. Teacher-writers from three National Writing Project sites came together to explore how art could enrich children's lives as well as thicken up their writing and thinking and math and science and social studies so that it will end up a meaty, flavorful broth.

        (So don't ever talk about teachers' three-month vacation. None of us were paid to do this.  We did it because we're suckers for committed to our students. And besides that, the museum has the coolest paper and gigantic clipboard paintings to work with.)

      For one activity, we went into one of the galleries filled with extremely abstract paintings. This Richter painting (part of it is shown above) was on one wall, but our facilitator sat us in front of the (also large) painting on the opposite wall of Richter's work.

      I breathed a sigh of relief, because looking at both of them, I connected more with the one we were going to study.  The Richter...too abstract, too "out there," too weird.

       After talking 10 minutes or so about our task at hand, our facilitator said, "Now turn around, because the painting we are going to be working with is behind you."

        Oh no! The Richter!

        And for close to two hours, we dived into the painting and when we were forced to surface at the end, it was reluctantly. We "moved" through the painting (physically), we made noises that corresponded with particular parts of the painting, we wrote about the painting, we drew what the painting compelled us to draw, and we created 3-D "visitor guides" for the painting. (People gathered and watched, curious about what we were doing, and why...)

        Our facilitator noted that docents have no idea what to do with this painting. They run-walk by it, saying, "And here's a very famous painting," and (probably) pray they don't get any questions about it that are not answered by the label on the wall.

       It's all in our eyes. If we just dismissively rush by a painting, a person, a poem, or a story without looking deeply, we miss out.

        So the next time you see a piece of art you don't instantly connect with, the next time you see a person who doesn't look like they're your "type," the next chance you get to read a story that isn't what you're normally drawn to, stay there for a while. You might find that depth leads to clarity... 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Match

photo by udijw

Fireblossom wrote a poem for me. (I won a contest posted on her blog. It was grueling...144 questions--gross!--each one requiring copius amounts of research. Whew! I'm glad it's over now.)

I am going to print the poem and hang it up in my writing space, which is still under construction. (So yes, Shay, I am going to "pick the blooms" but certainly your name will be on what I hang as well. Anyone who knows my writing knows I could not write a poem like that one...)

For those who don't follow Fireblossom's blog, I'm providing a link.  (It's written about writing...Don't we all need inspiration at times?) Check out the poem here.

And thanks again, Shay...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Torturer or Murderer? AND Something Mind-Blowing

Two nights ago a fly got into the house and tormented me for a while. Perhaps the huge spiders who have set up a campsite in my family room let them in? Anyway, in the wily way they have, the fly eluded me. I tried to swat it, I attempted to sneak up behind it and smash it with anything handy, but unsuccessfully.

photo by leonlee28
Finally at one point, I saw the fly inside an empty glass. I quickly put a small bowl on top, trapping my flying foe.

So far, it's still alive. Occasionally I observe it. It's interesting. The fly is not giving up. Every time it detects some movement, the fly walks up toward the top of the glass, hopeful. When I shift the bowl slightly, the fly springs into action, ready to slip out of any available crack. And even without any food, the fly is sustaining itself.

Part of me wants to take the glass and bowl outside and let it go free. Most of me wants to wait out the fly, and see how long it takes. 

As writers, we have to be persistent and not give up. If we're "blocked" by one editor/magazine via a rejection, we need to look for a crack or an opening or a submission possibility somewhere else.

And when we have a long dry spell, and have not gotten an acceptance in a while, we need to find ways to keep our spirit alive. Meet with a writers' group to get some affirmation as well as some constructive criticism. If that's not a possibility, read over what you're working on. Find some great lines you're proud of, or a marvelous hook at the beginning, or a satisfying conclusion. You could even blog and get some positive feedback.

Be like the fly. Be persistent.

And, since I have no idea of a post that could just include this, I'm tacking on this video. It shows a 3-D "copier" that can replicate objects with moving parts. On the video, a wrench is copied. It will amaze you!     

Another One Bites the Dust

It's tragic when someone full of potential crashes and burns. It's even sadder when someone's life is all crash and burn. And so it was with Amy Winehouse.

Such a soulful singer she was. So young, the possibilities for her were endless.

It seems like 27 was the over-the-brim age for several artists along with Winehouse--Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin (one of my all-time favorites).

This video is for my husband, who has never heard Winehouse (since she has never appeared on NPR) and for anyone who would like a reminder of what she could do...while sitting on a stool with just a guitarist accompanying her...


Book Blurb Friday # 21...Ooops, It's Sunday!

Every week, Lisa Ricard Claro does it. She gives us a nudge. A prod. A poke.

Write, she urges.

Every week, she provides a photo (this one is brilliant--ha!), she writes a book blurb herself, and invites everyone to link theirs to the group of blurbs, via the handsome Mr. Linky. To see all the book blurbs this week, go to Lisa's blog: Writing in the Buff .

Believe it or not, there have been a couple of blurbs I've written that I'm interested in expanding. Last year I crashed and burned with my first attempt at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month--in November). Perhaps the second time will be a charm?

Anyway, writing a book cover "blurb" helps us hone our writing abilities. The blurb has to be 150 words or less, and it has to entice the reader enough to buy the book (which sadly, will not be at a Borders bookstore).  Below, you will find the absolutely breath-takingly awesome photo (again, ha!) and my blurb.

photo by moi

A Heart of Stone

The two of them used to walk the grounds of the cemetery. The lovely hills. The quiet. The privacy.

But then he left her for someone else. And somehow, Maggie couldn’t stay away from the rolling green waves of the cemetery.

One day, Maggie became part of it. She stood there, gazing at the tombstones and the towering granite crosses that surrounded her. The autumn leaves had cascaded down, creating a vibrantly-colored carpet for her. Suddenly, she was frozen in place, unable to move, a single tear suspended on her cheek.

And that was how she has been for the last forty-three years…

Many visitors stop and admire the size and the artistry of the “marker,” and yet everyone is clueless.

What will it take to breathe life back into Maggie? What will make her granite heart beat once again?

(145 words)