Tag Archives: writing

Diversity

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it burst forth from rock, high in the mountains-

its journey before unseen.

now respendent with light, with movement,

wind catching droplets,

splaying out upon the sky

in joyful play.

then down.

down the jagged crests,

tracing o’er all crevices and round mossy stones,

giving in to grand descent,

trusting powers drawing on its way.

to go, where least resistance begs,

unrelenting,

e’re to make its journey

as it may.

til when upon a jutting cliff,

a solid mass,

blockade,

its forces split.

“Which way?”

the stream,

it wonders,

droplets crash and turn in wild careen,

hesitating e’re so briefly,

then to choose.

or be chosen.

diverse paths from hence-

bifurcating,

two where once was one.

Yet on, no stopping,

naught to bring them back,

or time to pause in retrospection.

down, they travel, each its separate way.

the two,

now different,

lost to what once was.

yet

both-

still valuable with richness unsurpassed.

both-

bringing life and nourishment to all they touch.

both-

essentially the same, though drawn in diverse ways.

until at last

they reach the sea.

again

the two are one

in unity.

the world,

enfolded,

molded,

cleansed and moistened-

life

entrusted

here

so lovingly.

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-Joan T Warren

This free-style prose flowed from my mind and fingertips tonight as thoughts I’ve been pondering for months–thoughts of sadness and turmoil over our polarization as a country, which is torn between left and right political views and personalities, thoughts of the hope for unity and love rising up, embracing diversity, thoughts of value and respect for all living things, born and unborn, bound and free, rich and poor, faithful and disdainful, wild and tame–all came together in the imagery of the water cycle, in what I perceive to be a love-gift from our maker.

May we care for our planet, and may we care for each other: Republican and Democrat, Independent, Green, Black, Blue, Whatever. May we care for each other whether behind walls or by reaching out. May we care for each other whether we feel a need to set personal boundaries and draw lines or whether we feel we’ve been ostracized, abused or neglected by someone’s boundaries or lines. May we care for each other whether worried about losing rights for equality and choice or to bear arms. May we care for each other whether we trace our ancestral culture to Isaac or Ishmael, to Sitting Bull, Dalai Lama, Peter the Great or Henry the 8th. May we do so without having to face a common foe threatening our existence, forcing us to pull together to fight it. May we care for each other, period.

May we care, lovingly.

Daily Prompt: Lovingly

 

 

The Joan T. Warren Process of Writing for an Anthology (or, Sense & Sensibility)

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The Joan T. Warren Process of Writing for an Anthology (or, Sense & Sensibility)

Has anyone noticed how my blog posts have steadily decreased in 2015-2016? It’s true, I’ve reduced blogging to occasional at best. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing, though. Yes, I’m still working on the novel, the one on my bucket list. It’s getting closer to first draft stage (then the hard part begins). As loyal readers know, I also started a blog that draws on my expertise as an occupational therapist and reaches out, forum-style, to therapists and people/families with health challenges. This past year much of my writing effort went into a project that diverted me from my goals, yet is turning out to be a learning opportunity. That’s what I’ll be telling you about today.

My local writer’s group is publishing an anthology through the Florida Writer’s Association. Its many chapters, written by locals, highlight Clay County history. It will be called Embedded in Clay. You can read more about it over here.

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From Embedded In Clay FB page

 

I’m used to writing essays for health science. In college, I impressed my English professor with the best CLAST essay score he’d ever seen; the best possible, actually. I’m used to writing various styles of poetry. I’m used to writing recovery curriculum, personal stories–and I’m somewhat comfortable writing fiction. I’m mostly used to writing in my own way, on my own time, as an introvert, for pleasure.

I’m not used to writer’s groups. I’m not used to Chicago-style referencing. I’m not used to historical, referenced work.

When I accepted the challenge to write for Embedded in Clay, I did so with some trepidation. A transplant from Maryland, I knew little of Florida history, and less of my own county. I wanted to learn more, though. Taking on a writing project was a sure way to force myself to learn. You can’t write what you don’t know. My initial trepidation was well-founded.

Months, and several history books, trips to Clay County Archives and internet searches later, I knew more about Clay County history. What did I know? One thing, mainly: that I knew too little to write for an anthology!

Yet the deadline loomed.

I dug in.

My first draft = my first mistake

I took on too much without clarifying the parameters of the project. I thought the chapter could be anything I wanted it to be, any style, as long as I used Chicago-style references. When I brought it to group, I learned we had a 2500 word limit! How did I miss this? My chapter was more like 7000 words. Everyone else knew the parameters. I searched through my emails and contract, and realized I must have not received that page. How could I have embarked on a project not knowing its parameters?  I quietly received feedback from the small group on how to start slicing and dicing. Some people loved my imagery, which was encouraging. Approaching our new, extended deadline, I carved writing time out of what usually is reserved for sleep and family time.

My second draft = my second mistake

Returning to group with a hard-fought (harshly shortened) second draft, I felt relieved and proud of what I’d accomplished. Again receiving feedback quietly, only one piece being negative, I felt pretty good about the piece. I started working on the summary, the loglines and photos. I was happy to turn it all in before the holidays. Now it was time to get ready for family at Thanksgiving, and, before long, Christmas. No time for anything else.

Then the email came. “Please give me a call when you have a few minutes to talk about your story,” our group leader wrote.

This can’t be good, I thought.

It wasn’t. Turns out the one negative feedback I’d received had been hers. She didn’t like the way I’d presented the historical report. “Their lives are interesting on their own,” she said, “It’s distracting to the reader to take them on a journey through time. Just tell the story.” She didn’t stop there. “Why are so many people trying to write about an imaginary journey through time? I don’t understand it. . . just tell us what happened, it’s interesting in and of itself.”

I realized I was face to face with a professional writer who tells it like it is. She likes to read history as they tell it in history books (I never did; I actually liked Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure!). She likes the facts (I like the human interest side–skip memorizing the dates of this battle and that invention). She likes structure (Me? Freestyle, much preferred). Why, we are Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen, 1811): both valuable, but very different. She, however, is the founder and leader of the group.

After a few questions to clarify the knock-me-off-my-feet-but-okay-I-must-learn-from-this feedback, I swallowed hard and thanked her. After hanging up the phone, I decided to abandon the project. I just couldn’t give it any more of my time.

Then my conscience bothered me. I don’t give up, it’s not my style.

Instead of giving up the project, I gave up that Sunday and rewrote the chapter. I savagely edited everything flowery–all the parts that made it come to life for me. I took out the imaginary journey. I cut the imagery that transported the reader 200 years back in time. Sensory experiences: gone. I’ll reserve those for another publication, I figured. If she wants the facts, okay, she’ll get the facts. I was mad, but I did it. I didn’t have time to figure out how to keep sensation and imagery without the imaginary journey.

I read it aloud a few times. It was okay. It told some pretty interesting stories that really happened. There was only one problem: I didn’t really like it. It didn’t move me. I didn’t feel proud of it.

I decided not to turn it in. I went on with holiday preparations. So what if I’d spent the last nine months nurturing this chapter for naught?

But it wouldn’t stay dead. As the new deadline approached, I decided to take it out again, just to be sure I shouldn’t turn it in. The chapter tells the story of three women in history who faced some serious challenges and made some serious differences. Their stories are truly worth reading. I still didn’t really like the writing style I had to use, under the circumstances, but I decided to turn it in anyway. I promised myself I wouldn’t do much more, though. The holidays are for my family.

My third draft = Apparent success

Wouldn’t you know it, she liked it! I still don’t like it much, but I went ahead and (fairly heartlessly) crafted a summary, loglines and some photos from the archives. It’s all been turned in and is in editing now, so I’m still not sure what it will look like when they publish it.

Will anyone else like it? I honestly don’t know. This is a learning project for me. I’ve thought about publishing both versions here, and asking for your feedback, to see what my readers think. Yet,  I get few comments on my blogs.  I don’t know what to do at this point. I don’t really feel like promoting the piece, since I’m not really proud of it. . . but the women whose stories I told deserve to have their stories told. It’s not about me, it’s about them. It’s about you, the readers, and the encouragement, inspiration and enrichment you may gain from what three amazing women–in what is now Clay County–did between 1806 and 1906.

Final Publication = ?

Still in process. . .

Joan

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Joan in Nov 2016

How About Another?

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It’s not like I don’t have plenty to do. Actually, I live in Plenty to Do. I know everyone there.

In the center of Plenty to Do lives a tiny little voice named ‘But.’

But, and her best friends, ‘Lemme,’ ‘Justdothis,’ and ‘Onemorething’ have been nagging me quite a lot lately. In fact, they kept me up too late several times this past week, looking at photos to crop, laughing over background colors and arguing over which WordPress theme would let them get their job done best.

I finally got fed up with their noise and decided, “Why not? Might as well have another!” I went on over to help them out today. I missed lunch and some paperwork of my own, but now maybe I’ll get some sleep.

At least until it’s time to get the next post ready!

Want to see what these gals from the land of Plenty to Do came up with? It’s a brand new blog, a forum for interacting about health, functioning well, recovering from injuries and disabilities, raising children with special needs, and the like. It’s a forum for people–patients, families, therapists, teachers, anyone interested in these things. Here, I’ll be writing more about what I know: Occupational Therapy. Here, I’ll be hosting other bloggers who are therapists, health care professionals, parents of kids with special needs, adults with spouses or parents with special needs, and such! There will be interviews, re-blogs and links to great resources.

Sound good?

Then come on, join the fun!

OT Interactions

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Sincerely,

Joan T Warren

 

 

How to Write With a Whip

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Ever get caught up in frustration that there’s just not enough time to write?

Between working full time, homemaking, investigating information we need to write, and a few other significant endeavors, like parenting, many aspiring writers feel they’ve been “tied to the whipping post!”

 

(Here you may imagine I inserted a video of the Allman Brothes playing the song, “Whipping Post.” Or, you can go to You Tube yourself, leaving me no copyright issues.)

Tired of feeling whipped? Let’s take that WHIP in hand, turn it around, and get cracking!

First, let’s clearly identify the factors that WHIP us, ie., detract from our writing time:

W is for working! While some writers are fully financed by someone or something, most of us have to work full-time to keep that ever-so-important roof over our heads and food in our bellies! Read the rest of this entry

Four-Dimensional Thinking: 2014 Review, and More!

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You may have heard of three dimensional thinking; considering past, present and future. As we close out 2014, and welcome the new year, I’d like to propose we consider not just 3-D thinking, but four dimensional thinking as well.

Read the rest of this entry

And on and on

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I wait for no one
I am a-wastin’
You cannot stop me

I will tell

I am an illusion
I keep on slippin’ into the future
Procrastination is my thief

If you enjoy wasting me, you will not waste me
I am an equal-opportunity employer
You can’t save me to spend me on another day
If you want me, you must make me

I change things

I am too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love,
I am eternity

I am the most valuable thing a man can spend
I am the coin of your life
Come spend a little with me

I am what keeps everything from happening at once
I have a wonderful way to show you what really matters
I am the clarity for seeing right and wrong

There is a place for me
I’m of the essence
I heal all wounds
I have been kind to thee

There is one of me for every purpose under heaven
I have no dominion over love
I will explain
I am on your side
You had the me of your life

I go on

I am time

I am up,
Time to go.

This, the ultimate in plagarism, a group of sayings related to time, by various famous quippers and long-forgotten cliche-makers, supplemented and arranged by yours truly, to honor my friend, who is ever precious, present, and elusive at once.

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I Could Have Built a. . .

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I could have built a …
Rainbow
Of the neatly folded laundry,
Or a tower made of
Dishes stacked in gleaming
Rows and columns.

I could have built a
Mansion,
Straightened cupboards,
Cleaned out closets–
Put toilet paper in the bathrooms,
Straighten towels and changed the lightbulbs.

I could have built a
Grand museum–
Carved a sculpture, worked the clay,
Or a masterpiece on canvas
Wielded paintbrush,
Seized the day!

I could have built a
Mighty enterprise,
Just by tackling my desk-work!
Or created global networks
On my twitter, blog or Facebook.

I could have built a
Perfect woman~
Washed my hair
And put on makeup. . .
Or at least a fitness model,
Walked the block and practiced yoga.

I could have built a
Three-course dinner,
Made the kitchen counters glow;
Or at least brewed gourmet coffee–
Drizzled caramel on the top,
Put my feet up, watched my show.

But you came in through the door, dear;
With your face so sweetly shining,
And your love so pure and true–
All I did was spend this hour
Hanging out, enjoying you.

 

Joan T. Warren

Many thanks to Girl in the Hat for a very creative weekly writing challenge: to write a list, then let it flow and change as it desired. This poem began as a list of things I put off to respond to blog writing challenges! It morphed nicely into something rather fun, uplifting, and, hopefully, something we can all relate to. To see other writers’ responses to her challenge, visit WordPress’ Weekly Writing Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy WordPress Anniversary (to me)!

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Something from WordPress arrived in my notifications box today!

Borrowed from a website that borrowed from . . .

Borrowed from a website that borrowed from . . .

Excited (in the style of Ralphie, opening his package from the Lil’ Orphan Annie Radio Show), my heart raced. Could it be? Freshly pressed?

The highly coveted Freshly Pressed Award, in my box?

 

imageBut, alas, it was just a little congrats for one year blogging.

 

 

Ditto. . .

Ditto. . .

 

It’s okay, though, WordPress, I do appreciate you remembering our special day. Now that I’m over the initial let-down, I think it was really nice of you. It has been a good year together.

A year ago today, you helped me publish my first blog post. Wading through the countless themes, layouts and options, we put together a pretty good start.

During the year, I learned a few things. I found that there are some excellent people all over the world who participate in WordPress blogging. A few became fast friends, as we enjoyed reading one another’s posts and commenting in supportive dialogue. I have new friends in Scotland, Canada, and across America. I’ve had visitors from nearly every country! All this without annoyance from over 14,000 spammers that Akismet blocked for me.

This is a snapshot of my all-time visits. The list of countries is three times longer than would fit!

This is a snapshot of my all-time visits. The list of countries is three times longer than would fit!

I’ve seen reader interest wane in the face of serious and lengthy posts. I’ve caught a few waves of new likes and follows from brief and light-weight posts. I’ve played with some blog-building strategies suggested by overnight-success bloggers. Oh, and I almost forgot, published 60 posts. Not bad for a full-time professional with a second full-time job (family).

In the beginning, I heard that publishers want new writers who can boast a platform of 10-15,000 followers. “You can build that in a year while you write your book,” one author told me.

It’s been a year. I’ve missed a lot of sleep! I’ve built a platform of a whopping 200-something followers. Few ever comment (come on, people, it’s lonely without conversation!).  I’ve written only about a tenth (if that) of my book. I don’t feel too successful on this one-year anniversary, dear WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming you. I’m just saying, it isn’t what I thought. Just like in marriage; there is the honeymoon stage, then comes disillusionment. To make a life-long success, couples must get through these phases to real love.

I still hope to finish my book, to live to see it published, and then maybe another after that. Not just for fun, but to make some (albeit small) difference in the world, one that will outlive me.

Whether I’ll need to build a sizable platform or not, I don’t know. What I do know is, I’m not wasting my time here (well, maybe a little!). I’m learning to write better. I’m learning about others, what they see and have to say. I’m learning plenty about what doesn’t work. And, it’s pretty fun.

So, if you want to hang out another year or so, WordPress, I’m game. Do you have an iron, though? I could really use some fresh-pressing; I’m starting to get wrinkled.

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Happy Anniversary!

Joan T. Warren

Faith or Fear: Roots Run Rampant

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Fear has roots with underground runners! Just when I think I’ve pulled the biggest, up crops another branch. I pull it, and off of that one, a myriad others, in all directions.

As a young adult, I realized I was a people-pleaser. I wanted people to like me, to approve of me, and for things to be peaceful, no conflict.

I dug into the matter. “There are weeds in this garden, Lord, help me pull them out by the roots and let your truth replace all the lies I believed!”

“If people get upset, you’re going to get hurt.” Yank. “I will wipe away your tears, bind up your wounds. A tender shoot I will not break.” (Ah).

“It’s all your fault!” Yank. “You were a child when you learned this, it was not your fault. Let me show you instead what is your responsibility now. . .” (Wha?)

“If you’re good, nothing bad will happen, so you must be bad because bad things happened.” Yank. “Bad things happen, regardless; look what happened to my Son.” (Oh).

One root led to another, until, looking up at the garden, it was disheveled. Some roots broke off, leaving tiny pieces and hidden sections that sprouted back up later.

“You’re a mess, you’ll never get this done.” Yank. “Let my Spirit guide you; I will send rain to loosen the soil, then the roots will give more easily. You are already perfect in my eyes, so don’t worry about it so much. As a matter of fact, how about you hand me those gloves and let me be the gardener now?” (Oh, okay).

That was over twenty years ago.

Gradually I got free. Free to say yes or no. Free to confront or let go. Free to choose according to what rang true in my gut instead of whatever others said. Free to live with the consequences, positive and negative, of my own choices. Free to learn and grow as a loved child would.

Fear still crops up, though. Just today I read a blog-friend’s post on fear and realized some new ones to take to the Gardener:

http://holisticwayfarer.com/2014/02/26/what-if-you-werent-afraid/

Without fear, I will be able to achieve my goals, which are huge, by the way. More on that later.

Your turn: fear or faith? What do you see as your biggest victory over something you feared, and how did you find the courage  to achieve it?

Comment and/or post your related link.

Related links:

http://kimberlyharding.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/to-fear-or-not-to-fear-two-images-to-help/#comment-5046

Liebster not Biebster

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This article has absolutely nothing to do with Justin Beiber, shown here turning himself into police on Jan 30, 2014, courtesy of abcnews.com

This article has absolutely nothing to do with Justin Beiber, shown here turning himself into police on Jan 30, 2014, courtesy of abcnews.com

All the talk about what the Biebster is doing wrong again. . .  instead of that, I am going to talk about the Liebster!

imageKhana, of khanasweb.com, was awesome enough to give me the Liebster Award nomination. This award honors quality blogs that have less than 200 followers. I guess she feels I qualify on quality, and my stats tell me I do on the last! As of today, 168 extremely insightful, astute and intelligent people follow this blog! It will be interesting to see if participating in this award will add to that number, but I’ll keep writing even if  just for you wonderful 168!

In order to comply with the nomination, though, I need to answer Khana’s ten questions–hers, not someone’s who started it 10,000 posts ago! I decided to turn them about and give them to you from #10, countdown fashion, to #1. After you get through this incredibly interesting material, you will find links to those I’d like to pass the nomination on to, and the ten challenging questions I thought would be great to know about them.

Here goes!

10. Describe yourself in a Haiku. (A three line verse of seventeen syllables, traditionally five, seven, five, but this is flexible).

Simple yet complex
Compassionate yet boundaried
Gentle, wild and true

Did that tell you much? Well, it’s a start. Let’s jump into the weightier questions–

Read the rest of this entry

New Menu Topic

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possible looking down to say we dont talk about those things“My dear,”

she whispered as she peered down over her bifocals

to the little one fearfully looking up to her for help,

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“These are not the sort of things people talk about.”

This new category/menu heading is dedicated to those things.

Because silence is not always golden.

©JoanTWarren