Tag Archives: north carolina

Bored? Write about it….

snow.jpgAs we recover from the early December snowfall, trapped at home due to icy roads, it’s easy to feel bored.

There are only so many ways you can reorganize your pantry and entertain house-bound dogs, and yes, even watching movies gets old pretty quickly. And reading, while always stimulating, feels self-indulgent to me after days on end.

I need to be writing! New material, not just editing. As good as it feels to whittle and sculpt, there’s no substitute to the high you get by rolling out new pearls. So, on to new stuff….

When writing creative nonfiction, it’s easy to be intimidated by all the great prose out there. I recently read essays by a woman visited by the ghost of her mother, an environmentalist who protests exploitation of sea life by robbing coastal souvenir shops with his father, and a piece by George Orwell about a wild elephant on the rampage in Burma. Do you ever feel that your own experience, while certainly special to you, seems inferior when stacked up against that of others?

Don’t! Just because you haven’t survived a harrowing incident recently, been the victim of a crime (thank goodness), or saved a baby from drowning, you still have an extraordinary life, and I promise, you can find something inspirational to write about.

And on that subject, one of my favorite prompts came from a Women on Writing  newsletter. It goes like this: “Take a small, boring moment that happened and write as much as you can about it. Go overboard describing it, and make this boring moment exciting by describing it in intense detail with ecstatic prose.”

So while we all might not have an earth-shattering event at our fingertips, we all do have a seemingly boring incident to write about AND possibly elevate. You just have to be creative about it. Such an assignment might also be fun — at the very least, it’s certainly good practice to flex those creative muscles and push yourself in this way.

Humm…reorganizing my pantry is suddenly exciting again. And didn’t one of the dogs do something silly this afternoon on a walk through the neighborhood….

 

 

 

Advertisements

Poem #25 – About the State Bird

cardinalToday, in honor of my dear friend Jen Kretchmar and our numerous road trips together, I share a poem about our beloved state bird. The Northern Cardinal inspired Poem #25.

To catch up on my progress, I hope you’ll breeze through the daily list to read the poems posted so far. Just five more poems to go!

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. Scroll  down read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poem #20 – Little Town of Ether

etherYou don’t have to open a book to plunge into the history of our state. Try visiting a little town like Ether. Although they often fell victim to North Carolina’s all-too-brief gold rush or the decline of our textile mills, these little communities are coping in their own way. And even with tiny populations, many of these towns still have enough life to make a visit a rewarding and poignant experience.

The little town of Ether, Montgomery County, N.C., inspired my poem for today.

To catch up on my progress so far, I hope you’ll breeze through the daily list to read:
#19 – The Harry She Loved
#18 – RU OK?
#17 – Small Failures
#16 – Small Miracles
#15 – Inclined to Mischief

You’ll also enjoy reading the work of my fellow poets, which inspire me every day. If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. Scroll  down read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

One True Sentence

Ashley3Yesterday, I had the honor of leading a writing workshop for the mentees and mentors in an exciting employee development program known as “Believe and Achieve” at the N.C. Office of the State Controller. I did so at the request of my own lifelong mentor, Sherri Creech Johnson, who directs communications for that department. It felt like old times when I also reconnected with David McCoy, the State Controller and former Secretary at the Department of Transportation, where I used to work.

David and I are pictured here with Angela Barrett, program participant and winner of the Writer’s Tool Kit, which includes the famous writing and style guide written by William Shrunk and E.B. White, along with other necessary items such as pencils, post-it-notes, and a very big eraser!

100_3968The kit also includes a coffee mug embellished with the names of some of my favorite literary classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and 1984. (And of course, it also included some chocolate!)

Angela won the Writer’s Tool Kit in a random drawing but she was also a star participant at the workshop. As part of our writing exercise, in just 10 minutes, she and her partner somehow managed to compose an elegant first paragraph that stressed the who, what, when, where and why of a hypothetical office renovation! Hats off to Angela and all the outstanding folks who so graciously honored me with their time yesterday. I write for a living but it’s far more than a vocation for me, so it is always a delight to spend time talking with others who share my enthusiasm.

Our workshop was titled One True Sentence: Ten Tips for Writing Fearlessly. It’s based on a quote from Ernest Hemingway, who once wrote: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” So we talked about the idea that if you start with one true sentence, you’d be surprised how quickly the next sentence will come…and then the next…and so forth. We also covered some very common grammar quandaries and the importance of organization and reading.

Not surprisingly, we spent some time discussing the intangibles involved in fearless writing. These included having confidence in yourself, finding a hero, and working with others to collaborate and revise. As I’ve often reflected, writing can be a solitary journey, but it doesn’t have to be! This point was reinforced by my delightful “reunion” with Sherri, David, and Julie Batchelor  (Deputy State Controller and yet another NCDOT alum).

I don’t have the opportunity to see Sherri as much as I’d like but it’s amazing how quickly we caught up. And even though she didn’t know that I would be mentioning E.B. White (that splendid essayist and the author of Charlotte’s Web), she closed the workshop with a quote from the same man that magically summed up the day. With these words, I’ll close too, hoping that any writing you do connects you with old friends and ends up making the world a better place.

“It’s not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”– E.B. White

Naked and Hungry Featured in the N.C. Collection at Wilson Library

If you follow the popular blog Read North Carolina Novels, which is maintained by the N.C. Collection at Wilson Library on Carolina’s campus, you might see that Naked and Hungry is today’s feature novel.

I thought it was pretty neat to have an ISBN number but I think it’s equally cool to have a call number in the state library system: C813 M533n.

Thanks to Google Alerts for letting me know and to the kind state archivist I met during a radio interview last fall who held true to his promise. And if you like novels set in our home state, check out How to Find More N.C. Novels.