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We left our heroine musing about paths and peacocks and seemingly stuck in the middle of both. Perhaps that is what 100 words a day is about, just keep writing it and then see what writing to keep. So should she re-join her group and tell them about the peacock? Should she keep herself a little apart, maybe even go down a different path? Characters often find their own way so having the tale grow daily might lay out just what that way is. Is there romance with a fine fellow from the group? Insight from a brilliant peacock?
It is seductive to keep writing along the lines that inspiration started, even when the writing gets forced. How does it work to have a story spring fully formed from the imagination and then just need to set it all down? It doesn't seem to work well, this getting a super picture of a scene and then dragging it on and on. This seeing a peacock in a dark wood may be better set in the book as a dream rather than as this long allegory, Pilgrim's Progress with Peacock--like the title of a painting. There, 100 words done.
Using a mentor in a novel to get all philosophical about life seems an effective tool. Never noticed anyone doing it so clearly before reading the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline
Winspear. Maurice has taught Maisie to mimic the body language of a person to realize what they are feeling, to feel it herself. He has taught her to meditate (but then Walter Mosley's latest hard-boiled detective does the same thing!) and to note every detail in an investigation. They have to have a falling out so we do not get too much of Maurice, though we want more.
When the sky quieted at last and turned into layers and layers of quiet, fluffy Jasper Johns grays, Mathieu was soothed and his crying quieted, too. Lying by the open window, he felt absorbed by the gray cottony atmosphere, and so he breathed slowly, the anger and violence and pain eased. Not a ray of sun appeared for the rest of the day, and even his food took on grayish tinges and felt good going down his gullet. When the gray matter of the brain could fluff out the gray softness of the mind, the world was good to him.
Playing with research can divert a writer from the job for hours. Peacocks are pheasants, it turns out, iridescent blue or green in Asia and coated with gray in the Congo. Great guess to have them roosting in forest trees. Peacocks have harems of peahens and groups of the creatures are called parties. Now are the three in the developing story a party? A party of peacocks greeted her as she wound around a longish bend in the path. Silly purplish prose can also be diverting and if the nugget image is cut out, may just grow to a story.
Ginny's Fiction Writing Blog has a Monday Morning Story Starter and this week's is: "I could have avoided the whole bloody business if I had only . . . " OK, it's near the end of this week and I need a starter fast. "I could have avoided the whole bloody business if only I had not tried to explain the appearing and disappearing peacock and its mysterious call to the group gathered around the dinner fire. Roger immediately claimed the protein of the pheasant, for that it what peacocks are it turned out, would help everyone with this exhausting trek. I screamed, NO!"
A special day that does not have trappings is a lot like a medieval castle that does not have tapestries. Decorate with garlands, plaster with starshine, set singing birds loose, but the yearning for the tapestries and the trappings tugs. That was then. What is it like now? Rough waters, these discoveries that was so gloriously then is no longer. The castle walls blend into the moat, the whole a pièce de résistance with the holding power of the Prussian army. Finding the strong, soft iridescent blue of the thread of the new path, the differently decorated path. . . .
A perpetual sense of involuntary alienation led her to notice the raccoon on a leash at the bus top and imagine taking it to a dog park where it would soon be so very uncomfortable, wondering why the dogs were looking at it with such distance and little moues of distaste. Later it would wonder what was wrong with it, why it didn't fit. They all saw it, and her, as unassimilably alien, even in the only place where she could breathe free. Full disclosure: mostly poached from Fernanda Eberstadt's review of the biography of Clarice Lispector by Benajmin Moser.
"How a hangover cured my blues" might be a nice oxymoronic title. He'd finessed the health path, and so felt strong when the apple was offered him in the garden. They were spoofing "Mad Men," and she'd brought him a martini. He, unlike the others, stopped with a second. Sundays used to be about one-upping other guys' hangovers; today he decided on quiet lounging. Who knew what enforced lounging could do? A few hours of malaise, then an eerie energy emerges. Funny what post-grad life can do without leaving a wimp in its wake. Energy: the new hangover.
frothy fillings stopped it in its tracks winding skeins must've been mauve where trips ran lengthwise faults mended with a breath throats lifted wet paper soothed gone with a click a hum that stood all on end reaching for another glass with distraction vermilion marked all of it where ecru gave way gasped crumbled reformed in spinnerets airy strong crystal threads of light silver dripping with sap sticking to heels winding hair through narrow eyes sharp bark for attaching and freshening in every breeze green knocks twists escapes gray forbidden dancing begins with hands intricacy matches webs of loving fire
Now the red 9-11 triangle is on my Twitter and Facebook profile photos, the memories seep in thicker and thicker. 5 in the morning, being awakened to be told the news and then trying to find my daughter until 2 in the afternoon. Meantime, caring for Mother with Alzheimer's on !!Her Birthday!!! was a challenge. We changed the newspaper back to the day before, only did videos, no TV, had the TV upstairs on very low and changed it when she came up and lived on two planes all day, a day as surreal for us as for everyone.
He came through the woods, smiling and stinking like maggoty peaches. He had no fear, and wore the most amazing woven leggings made from something animal and primitive. We all wanted those leggings, but he never took them off. He headed straight for the fire and never looked anyone in the eye except the Captain. The Captain, on the other hand, was the only one at ease with him at all. We all circled, hesitated to sit, and watched him smile at the fire and the Captain. Nicely Morris brought him food and he stood and bowed his thanks.
Inside the dream power is a growing flower, pushing all before it, shading all under it, dominating the place, gracing the hour. Winsomely provocative, the flower invites full speculation as to color, height, longevity, fragrance, spread, appeal. Disguised like this, power eludes the grasping fingers, the hungry spirit, powering itself within its universe and daring to be plucked. Plucked, it will die, of course. What to do with the new flower power? Pluck it and put it in water with chemicals and it will move about the world; leave it and live with it and it may improve the world.
Becoming one with the water, he melted against the mottled stone, so smooth, its bronze flecks dusting his skin and he licked them, tasting ancient earth-embedded stone and feeling the sharp pricks like a yogi's bed of coppery nails. Flow was ecstasy and it had taken years to find the element that started it, enfolding him in thoughtless glee as he turned to the moon and, bathed in ripples and beams, sang without knowing the song flowing through his whole body and he could no longer tell where water, flow, song met and moved, leaving only sweet peace behind.
Can "shimmer" and "nub" be used in the same piece of micro-writing? We'll see. Shimmer looks and feels and moves and might even have a lovely low hum, so it is multisensorial while the simple Anglo-Saxon nub is too brief and low and small to give off much in the sensory or imaginative realms. In fact, nub comes from knub or knubbin in Low German, meaning, of course, the stub of a thing. Other say it is a small or imperfect ear of Indian corn, and thus anything small, undeveloped, but they could have left out the Indian.
With the body of a small child and little in the way of controlled movement, the woman in the armchair was a brown nubbin of humanity adrift in a vast shimmer of sliced and polished light dancing on pools of aquamarine ocean humming with successions of string-plucked sounds married to every color in the rainbow. Except purple, alas, used up in this sentence. Another butterfly within a diving bell, as the shimmer prevailed even while the nub was the jar in Tennessee, organizing shimmering flights of laughing wings among the green lace of the lush forests of the mind.
Trying to change the path of one's thinking while terminally cranky in convalescence is masochism. Balancing the press of requirements to take care of others with the desperate need to be kind and nourishing to one's whimpering mind and exhausted body seems sheer futility. It will take too many tomorrows rubbed together like juniper sticks to make a fresh and clean fire to burn away needy selfishness and create the energy to work all possible hours for others. It is all in POV, of course. Restand at the center and "the slovenly wilderness" will re-weave itself into generous loveliness.
Steer straight, he kept barking at her while she widened the blisters on her palms with the effort to make him quiet. We're going into the beaver dam, she said calmly, wanting nothing but the nastiest destruction she could wreak, along with havoc, of course, but the babies stopped her short. Dratted babies had to have been put there by more cunning than she had and they worked, immediately. She relaxed her hands, smeared them with salve, put on the canvas gloves, and ploughed ahead with one oar until the skiff's nose was pointed toward the fires on the beach.
Reading or writing? Which is more transformative? Yeah, it depends on the person, I know. Reading is a train ride with tiny, dark, lonely stations and tiny stations ablaze in truths screwed into the walls and ceiling and floor, and valleys full of spiderwebs and hillsides full of blossom, and huge stations buzzing with movement and silent wooden stations breathing all on their own, and unexpected men pausing and undreamed-of children speaking, and women who look out of dark gray eyes, and sometimes lunch and sometimes not. Writing is forced swings at the railway steel across endless steppes.
Shrouded in prayer, they moved one by one through corridors, stepping over and through each doorway while the low shimmering hum from among them kept time with the shuffle and step of movement and the air thickened with voice and intention and the riotous web of prayer before new waves clotted and gathered according to the swaying colors of giving and receiving the substance of prayer as it became felt throughout the lines of the corridors and the gatherings at corners and as the one and the crowd touched and parted and a soul wrapped a mind with prayerful hugs.
Noise battered and bounced around the thin walls, and the movement inside jostled or stilled, frenetic, intense in some corners, dazed and unfocused in others. The mirror reflected clashing colors, jerkily fluid lines and monotonous sameness of expression. Thought flowed hazily on the surface swirls of fleeting shock waves and stomachs growled. Egos were left at the door, protection was all. To mingle and belong, contribute a bold sound bite, a brash action, or a protective insolence drove the goals of the jigsaw group, for individuals were submerged for eons here. A high school French classroom on an autumn day.
The Red Queen said it: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" Her prescience alarms nearly 150 years later, and satisfies as well, for it is comforting to hear that someone knows the truth of the housework, of the errand list, of the earnings drive and of the needs waiting on the sidelines. The joints ache and running is slowed, losing one's place not yet acceptable and none new enticing. Still aging.
One hundred days left to write one hundred words a day and to get all that needs to be woven into a brighter tapestry strung on to the loom. Very tall order. One hundred feet tall; feels like one hundred kilometers tall. Cutting the fat is likely the single route, well, no, cutting the fat and weaving very very bright colors every day. Maybe just that. Maybe no time for other stuff; maybe just that. The sky is blue, the sun is out, the clouds are myriad puffs of light white, so perhaps there are happy one hundred days left.
They danced in the elevator to the tango tunes in his iPhone and people looked at them strangely. "What did you expect, coffee and Danish?" she trilled as they waltzed off at ground level to hip hop down the street to the light. Circling the surly pedestrians, they sang along to Glenn Miller and caught the next green light, then into the park where people started dancing along behind in a very individualistic conga line since everyone had different tunes and very different volumes and quite varied skills. Thrilled with the wave they were cresting, they switched partners, and leapt.
Where does deep, elemental power come from in a story. Does it come with calling up ancient archetypes? Fearless action? Breaking a taboo for a greater good? Does it have to be connected with nature and all that is natural, or does brilliance of thought and sharpness of insight do the trick? For the emerging of essential power is a force of nature, but the mind has to be natural and so it is not just concepts steaming from actions that creates the sense of power passing over one, so the mind can, in a single sharp moment, produce it.
Accomplishment does not always bring peace. The spirit tosses and turns, chasing elusive rest, becoming nearly frantic with wanting to be still. Passing beyond the limits of what body and mind could do in a day did not, this time, create the restful result that finishing the fraught task was to have done. What happened? Moderation packed and went to South America; frenzy became the modus operandi, and calm simply moved next door for the duration. Recapturing the original goal of peace eluded even breathing, and counting did not quiet the churning mind or put the strained body to sleep.
She did not simply jump to conclusions, she leapt upon them like a demented and starving bobcat. Propelling each leap was a perspective mysteriously set at the center of the prey itself, and with this skewed perspective she lost any compass to rational behavior. Having exasperated everyone within hailing distance, making them shrink from even the first word from her, she wished herself a bobcat, mercifully free from the stinging embarrassment that followed each frenzied, unthinking leap. "Consider," said a rueful inner whisper. Before all else, especially before any action, Consider. Turn away from the Rush In button and Consider.
What is it like to be in the Mind of Being? In the Virtual Zen Retreat, we are trying to get from the Mind of Having to the Mind of Being. But the Mind of Having is so familiar and comfortable, that clutch in the gut of wanting, that frustration tensing the shoulders of grasping. The Mind of Being is foreign, occasional, a remembered adventure in a quiet forest. Rinpoches live there. The Mind of Being is so un-Puritan, one seems not to be busy, to be self-indulgent and lazy if pursuing it. Being in Being is Bliss.
The Mind of Having is the Gimme Mind. The Mind of Being is Forgotten Self Flow. I want to HAVE the Mind of Being. That is the knotted crux of not making the transition from Mind of Having to Mind of Being. I need it, I want it, I don't have it now, I only occasionally had it, I want others to see me with it, I want to HAVE it. Don't know how to work with this paradox. How to use Philip Pullman's Subtle Knife to get from Having to Being. What is the Subtle Knife in this case?
The retreat question of the day hit her between the ribs: "What happens when you embrace anxiety?" No! she thought, and decided to take issue with the word "embrace." No, don't embrace anxiety, just welcome it in for the moment: "Oh, hi anxiety, I see you are here again and taking up residence in my tummy so that I feel quite nauseated. Well, hello again. You're back. You can come in and stay awhile, but don't expect me to pay much attention to you. You can sit here on the sofa next to me while I get this task done."
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