I am just home from leading my first solo out-of-town Enneagram retreat. It was about a dozen women from my church and we spent the weekend on the bank of the Mississippi – or maybe the St Croix – river – or maybe it was a lake (we spent a fair amount of time sitting in chairs around a fire holding coffees or beers or a glass of wine debating the topic in that fun, easy way you do when no one really cares and no one can’t be bothered to pick up their phone and check).
It was good – at least for me. I know the women enjoyed the time away from daily life and the time together. I hope they got something out of the many, many words that seemed to tumble out of my mouth and my hastily drawn diagrams and my probably far too many handouts. But I met the two goals I always set for myself when I speak: 1) I made people tear up and 2) I made them laugh. Just now I am thinking I need to add another goal for retreats. It’s a goal I always set for myself when taking groups of kids somewhere: I returned with the same number I started with. Continue reading
As I wrote, sweated, swore, over-caffeinated, chuckled evilly in public and generally fussed my way through NaNoWriMo this year some new connections started sparking in my brain. Connections are one of the things that make it possible for me to write. The plot I have carefully crafted connects with a news story I hear on the radio or a favorite character connects with a stranger in the coffee shop I am working in. Suddenly things take off in an unexpected direction and I don’t know what’s happening until I see it appear on my computer screen.
That’s the magic.
Last Wednesday, December 4 — well, actually, 1:20 am Thursday the 5th — I finished my NaNoWriMo novel. You know, the one that was supposed to be done on November 30th. I have always scoffed in a superior way (the only way to scoff, when you think about it) at those people who blithely say “I didn’t finish on the 30th. But that’s okay, I’m giving myself until the 15th to finish.” You’ll never be done, I think towards these procrastinators as I smile sweetly and nod, that’s just one more excuse to not write. And yet, there I was, on November 29th, already saying those words.
I wrote a guest post about NaNoWriMo and Resistance for a blog dedicated to romance authors and books. Not my genre by a long shot, but I poked around and there were some other great posts about writing and NaNoWriMo, so it seems I am in good company.
You can read it here.
Blogging is an odd world. At time it feels (and certainly held up as) a colorful, vibrant community of free ideas and new media. Other days it seems full of self-promoters and flimflam artists and people regurgitating someone else’s snake oil and calling it thoughtful insight. (Can you tell I have spent the last 21 days pumping up my word count?) And yet, here I am. Playing the game, peddling my own brand of snake oil. Continue reading
It’s Halloween. I woke to a Facebook picture of a friend in green translucent makeup. I got my morning coffee from a guy dressed like Waldo. If this year is like the past several I will again and again wonder why a big bearded guy dressed as a ballerina is buying cold medicine, or the teller at the bank is doing Elvis impressions. It’s not that I don’t like Halloween, I do. I guess I just have a short attention span.
It’s good weather for Halloween today. It’s foggy and dark and even now, at ten in the morning, I can imagine spirits emerging from behind the parked cars and making their way through the strip mall parking lot toward me. The space between this world and whatever world lies just out of sight seems very narrow today.
It is a good day to get ready for an adventure.
November is National Novel Writing Month. If you know about it, you know the drill. 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1667 words a day. Every day. For 30 days. There is only one way to do it, realistically: no edits, not questions, no doubts. Chris Baty, the founder compares it to snapping the rearview mirrors off your car and driving as fast as you can. Continue reading
I realized about 5:00 this morning what I’ve been doing.
Last Friday I decided to do a brain dump; I wanted to get all the various thoughts, half-baked ideas and things I wanted to write off the “white board of the inside of my skull,” as David Allen says, and get them on paper. Then I could see them, connect them, moved them about and hopefully decide how to go about writing.
It was an invigorating weekend, I’m not going to lie. Me and my music and my markers and my sticky notes and a bare chunk of wall. I loved it. And in the end, I had what you see at on the right. Some blog post or short article ideas were a single word or phrase; that was all it took for me to know what to what to write. Others were a bit more complicated. And one – as you can see right there in the middle – went on and on and had connections and theories and thoughts until I started to feel like the guy from A Beautiful Mind.
Someday – hopefully soon – those sticky notes will become a post or two or three about how the internet and social media have changed teaching and learning and the passing on of knowledge and how we must all be both teachers and learners and the beginner’s mind and the gift of ignorance and the synthesizing of information and what it means to be an expert and so much more, maybe even a reference to the Gutenberg Bible.
But first I have to own up to what that mass of sticky notes that have been carefully arranged and rearranged really is about. Continue reading
It happened again this week. Multiple times in fact. Someone had a Great Idea*. Some of them were pretty good ideas, I have to admit. I am not sure I personally would have called any of them Great, but to each their own. But to be honest, I am growing tired of Great Ideas. They bring out the cranky old woman in me. Oh, you’ve got a Great Idea? Stand in line. I’ve had more Great Ideas than you’ve had hot dinners. I’ve got Great Ideas that are older than your shoes.