“Well now, what have YOU been up to?” Collecting Inspiration, of course! Oh – and I’ve fallen in love. Don’t ask.

Hello, everyone! It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything original and I’ve decided that I’m far overdue in updating The Old Fossil Writes. It will take a few days, but I’ll try to give a brief  “catch up” today…answer a few questions that some of my friends have emailed me and such – – like “Well now, Pearl, just what have YOU been up to?”

For one: I’ve fallen in love!. Don’t ask.

These past 14 months have been kind of trying. There have been ups, downs, tears, laughter, frustration after frustration and some really lucid moments when who I was before 8 December 2016 erupted from the depths, kicking and screaming. During these months, I’ve had ample time on my hands to reflect on my life and analyze my priorities, recall my dreams and goals, and try to get a grip on why I wound up where I am, who I am and why I am the person I’ve become. In this space of time, I have also inadvertently collected vast amounts of inspiration, and that from some very surprising people and places.

And I’ve fallen in love. Don’t ask.

I’ve actually stayed pretty much aligned with my social media, but even that has undergone some major changes. And while I have missed so many of you (but thanks to you guys who dropped me a line now and again, via email, Twitter and Instagram!), I have made a number of new acquaintances as well. It’s been altogether interesting to learn about the histories and cultures of even more countries than I have previously been introduced to…and, indeed to find how similar they are to my own American Indian forebears.

Enough of the where’s and on to the results of all this thinking:

Try as I might, I can’t seem to pick up the thread of the Folded Dreams novel. I’ve tried re-reading “…the Beginning” and even going over and over the many drafts of the novel since the beginning. No joy. Nada. Zilch. Kuchh nahin. Nothing. So I’m left with the question of whether I should take these new found insights, or seeds of ideas, or whatever you want to call them, and try to find a place to insert them into one of my books-in-progress, or simply start a new story. If I opt for a new story, it may still fall under the genre of Visionary Fiction, but only just.

I’ve started painting again. Still not having full control over fine movements in my fingers makes wielding a paintbrush difficult, but who says I must use just a brush! There are other art implements I can use…the earth, the sea, even animals offer up their various treasures…or even my hands (I’ve not used my hands to apply paint to canvas in years). And then there are those oil paints that my youngest son got for me several years ago – I don’t know why oils terrify me so much, but I’m going to give them a go. And canvasses larger than 24″ x 18″ ( or whatever that size was…stupid short term memory). I’m seriously thinking of going for a big, blank wall.

Sculpting and carving will, of a necessity, have to wait.

Did I mention that I’ve fallen in love? Don’t ask.

So that’s the basics of what I’ve been up to: collecting inspiration, meeting interesting people, both online and off, and doing a lot of introspection. Oh! And I’ve lost that horrid stroke related weight and started wearing a bit of make up again!! There’s more on my mind, but that can wait. Like that bit about me falling in love. Yeah – he doesn’t know – so don’t ask.

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I’m Still a Writer, Damnit! (some grumble from the pity jungle)

It’s been one of those days where you find you’ve taken two steps forward and three steps back – then fell backasswards off of a cliff. Want to come to my Pity Party, anyone?

  1. I’ve had a stroke. Can’t remember squat, like:
    *how to type
    *how to use a pencil
    *how to spell
    *how to walk
    *how to talk
    *how to dress myself
    ****how to finish the novel I was in the middle of when I had this blasted TIA, which was a hard won, one-third of the way to completion.

I seem to have gotten lost somewhere, those parts of me that make me – ME. I do know who I am. It’s locating me inside of this dumfuggled, scrambled, crambled, muddled, fuddled and befuddled, addled, dizzy, woozy, muzzy, groggy, foggy, dopey and dazed brain of mine that causes me such agitation.

It’s so frustrating. I get flashes of the whole the snapshot of what “Me” entails. Then it’s gone.

I know the basics: I’m married – and of a necessity, due to my limitations, separated from my spouse. I know I’m an ordained minister, an arm chair philosopher and a student of Nature and that I maintain websites connected to THOSE parts of me (which are woefully out of date).

I also know that I cannot pursue any religious ministry because my filters
are all out of kilter and “the ‘f’ bomb” slips out every now and again, along with certain other, less shocking profanities. In any case, no longer clergy material.

But I AM still a writer, damnit.

At least, I think so.

“I think, therefore I am…”, or so the saying goes. So, yes, damnit…STILL A WRITER!

You just watch – – I’ll come away from this experiece with all sorts of creations under my belt (Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise!)

The Velcro Toss

I had an idea many years ago on how to deal with my progeny when they hit my last nerve. The “Velcro Toss”.

Picture one large blank wall, covered in one half of velcro…the sticking part.

Now picture a kid’s jumper (overalls to our followers who actually speak the Queen’s English!) made out of the stickY half of velcro.

Kids get rowdy…toss them in their velcro jumpers onto the velcro wall. Let stew for an hour or two. Peel off. Repeat as necessary!

I have had a stroke and will now be an annoyance to my children. I hope they’ve forgotten about my threats of using the Velcro Toss when they were small and lovably annoying.

Just sayin’.

“The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán” by Robin Flower (or: “Pearl and Rain”)

The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán

(from the Irish by Robin Flower)

Illustration from "Medieval Cats" by Kathleen Walker-Meikle ( it's on Amazon - click! )

Illustration from the book “Medieval Cats” by Kathleen Walker-Meikle ( it’s on Amazon – click! )

I and Pangur Bán my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Pearl's kitty, "Rain". NOT available on Amazon!

Pearl’s kitty, “Rain”. NOT available on Amazon!

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

For the cat person in your life! ( Amazon - "Click!" )

For the cat person (or cat loving writer) in your life! ( Amazon – “Click!” )

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

“To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick – or – “Gather ye’ rosebuds”

Even in poetry, do I find inspiration. Case in point: the poem, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, was a 17th century work by English poet Robert Herrick which has had the power to gently urge me to write now, before my own words fade. From this poem we understand Herrick’s belief that life is very short, that the world is beautiful and love is splendid. Above all else, we must use the very short time that we are here to make the most of that life, leaving negative tendencies by the wayside and not to rely on fate to dictate the terms of life to us.

The older I get, the more I feel the same. Negativity has been banished from my vocabulary, for the most part, as has the word ‘can’t’. Even though I must live in this world with eyes wide open, seeing the harshness of reality, fortunately I’m able to dream…and write. I can think of no better inspirational quote than that by Tom Schulman, the screenwriter: “But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”

carpe-diem

    ~ To the Virgins, Make Much of Time ~

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Writing is my way of ‘gathering rosebuds’, I suppose, even if the tendency is to go cautiously – so cautiously, sometimes, that I cease to make the effort. I may not be the virginal maiden to whom he speaks, but Herrick’s poem is certainly an inspiration for me to make much more of my time.

Avoiding Plagiarism – or – “Reading off-genré while writing”

When you’re a writer, there’s always the chance that you’re going to be accused of plagiarism, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. The problem is that plagiarism isn’t only taking someone’s work and passing if off as your own, but is also defined as taking someone else’s ideas and doing the same. Considering that original ideas are as scarce as hens’ teeth, how in the world can a writer hope to avoid such an accusation? Well, my personal practice is that, if I’m going to be reading in between bouts of writing, I read off-genré.

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At present, the genré in which I’m writing is Visionary Fiction. This is a relatively new designation which includes a combination of fantasy, scifi, metaphysical and so on. I knew that it was going to be a bit difficult to find something to read, but I didn’t realize just how difficult until I ran into a bit of a writer’s block and decided to take a break. It seemed as though every book I picked up involved a portion (no matter how small) of something I address in Folded Dreams, even if what I’m reading is historical fiction, elves, magic or romance. As a matter of fact, I have a half dozen books open in Kindle right now because I only got so far before running into a similar story-line as my book.

The same situation arises when I watch a movie. I can’t tell you how many times in the past week that I’ve had to change channels five minutes into some film or another because I didn’t want it to influence my writing. That’s not to say I avoid all of them; I do look for inspiration for surroundings and descriptions (adjectives, phrases, etc.) from whatever I read or watch, but I’m so paranoid on the subject of plagiarism, that if a subject comes even close to what I’m writing, I step away from it and go watch PBS, read poetry (and I have to be careful there as well!) or either take a walk or a nap. About the only thing I’m safe reading – and that only relatively – is non-fiction.

I subscribed to Bright House cable television service for the first time in about 2 years this week. Movies, y’all. Lots and lots of movies that I haven’t seen…and all in my favourite genrés: fantasy, time travel, ghost stories and so on. I’ve been lucky that we now have a 24-hour news channel, Food Network and The Travel Channel, and that one of the channels has been showing nothing but all eight Harry Potter films for days now, and that The Conjuring and The Conjuring II (stories from the files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren) were On-Demand, otherwise I would have slept my week away!

Maybe I am paranoid, but the idea of anyone finding cause to say I plagiarized any part of Folded Dreams is horrifying to me. So I stay off-genré as much as I can when I’m reading or watching television. “Writer’s Life”. I swear, sometimes it can be hell. Just sayin’.