Inspiration For Today

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anyone but yourself.”
Virginia Woolf

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Inspiration for Today

“Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.” – Hafiz
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Today I didn’t get home until after 7:00 because of school and cross country so my post for today is just a picture and quote. It’s just a little reminder that even when you’re super overwhelmed (like me right now) you should still make time for the things you love.

Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

John-Steinbeck-007

Every week I am excited to get an email from this website I’m subscribed to called Brain Pickings. It features posts on interesting ideas, insights, inspiration on anything from science to poetry.

This week in their newsletter an article on John Steinbeck (my favorite) sparked my interest. Here he offers six tips on writing that I thought I’d share with you all!

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

*Be careful of number six if used in a public setting (source: experience)

Three Writing Lessons I’ve Learned From Blogging Everday

For the month of October I have taken on the 30 Day Challenge of posting on my blog everyday. It’s October 15th, the halfway point, and here are a few realizations I’ve come across that will make you want to challenge yourself too!

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  1. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” –Sylvia Plath

When it comes to writing, if you’re a perfectionist like me, you’re often your worst critic.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve written something and then kept it safely pressed inside my notebook to never to be seen by anyone because I thought it wasn’t finished.  With this challenge, I have no excuse to hide my work because I’m too worried about what other people think.  When I need a post for the day, I’m forced to put on display what I’d normally keep to myself.  The result?  Better than what you’d expect.  Some of the most popular posts on my blog ever are of poems I’ve written with no intention of showcasing in the blogging world.

2.  “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

For writers it’s natural to pick up a pen and paper when revelation strikes.  But what about the days that troop by without any sudden flash of inspiration?  That’s when writing becomes difficult.  A challenge like this forces you to sit down, painstakingly pull words out of your unenlightened brain, and try to form coherent sentences with them.  You may not win a Pulitzer Prize every time, but this work ethic forces you to push your limits even when you’ve hit a wall.

3. “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” –John Rohn

Right now I could probably think of a million different things I could be doing instead of blogging. With a busy schedule, loads of responsibilities and the effects of sleep deprivation after hours of homework kicking in, it’s easy to push writing aside, no matter how much I enjoy it.  But, how you spend your time is a great indicator of where your priorities are.  If one of your priorities in life is spending time doing the things that you love (like writing), then you shouldn’t let your mundane routine stifle your passion.  A challenge like this is perfect for making sure you find a way, not an excuse, to pursue what you love.

Strings of Syllables

“Sometimes the slightest things change the direction of our lives, the merest breath of circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.” – Bryce Courtenay

Here’s a poem I was inspired to write today.

The weight of your words do not always disappear
these wisps of inspiration or hope or purpose
packed into just a few syllables
can resonate within the mind, reverberate within the skull,
upturn the worlds on the pinpoint of a human mind

By happenstance these strings of syllables may settle
long after their utterance, awakening understanding
and turning a stumbling darkness to a soft light
one just bright enough to illuminate a world
once dreary with dull pain

Daily Inspiration

“I hope you live a life you are proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Despite the fact that today has been so overwhelmingly busy, I don’t want to break my Thirty Day Challenge already so I’ve left you all with a quote I love and I picture I took a few months back! Enjoy 🙂

I Quit

Don’t be worried by the title, I’m not quitting my Thirty Day Challenge of writing a blog post everyday. This is the title of a short story I wrote while living at the beautiful Skidmore College campus (the pretty picture below) this past summer while attending an incredible writing camp.

Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY

Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY

This story was inspired by an awesome TED Talk by Scott Dinsmore about refusing to waste your life and instead pursuing a job you actually care about.

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

Madeleine pushed the heavy door open like she did every day, but now for the last time. Stepping into the daylight, she let the rays of sun caress her face. She smiled at the sky, she hadn’t felt this good in years.

“What just happened?” Russell’s brows raised in confusion as he followed his co worker out. He was exactly a step and a half behind.

Madeleine turned to him, her smile growing as if she had just realized that outside the mundane realm of fluorescent lights and bleak cubicle walls there were birds and trees and blooming flowers. She finally returned to Russell.

“I’m free. I finally did it. I’m out of this insane asylum for good.” She said.

Russell’s jaw dropped, but he quickly regained his composure with a thin-lipped gaze. He looked like a disappointed parent, as if he was waiting for her to apologize and march, head bowed, to the corner to lament her mistake.

“So, you finally did it? Quit the job. I know it’s been a little stressful but no twenty five year old walks out on a job this good.”

Her mind reeled back to a week ago. It was a grim Wednesday morning. Fog hung in the air and she stood with her eyes cast down trying to avoid the casket being lowered into a pit. Her eyes were stinging but as hard as she tried, she couldn’t cry. There was no relief. She couldn’t make them come. She wasn’t close to her father. He was always one of two places, at the factory or drinking at the bar down the street. She’d been working since she was fourteen. She supported her family by chipping in for overdue rent or reluctantly giving a five for gas. I guess that’s where the rat race began, Madeline realized. She was always searching for the stability her father didn’t care about. Seeing for the first time in two years she felt a pang of sadness as she looked into his pale face. This was it? She felt that he’d wasted his life. And she wasn’t about to do the same.

Now she turned to Russell, “Yes. Yes I did quit my job. Ask me again, I love the way it sounds.” She had almost reached her car and the entire walk to the parking lot she hadn’t noticed his negativity. She was tired of it all. The dark mornings stumbling from her blaring alarm clock to her dripping coffee machine to her droning conference calls. She was free, thanks to her father. The best thing death can bring is a revelation. She had realized that she was writing her own story and she didn’t need to make herself the victim.

“Do you realize the implications that you will–”

She wasn’t listening to him. She was thinking of the offer she had received for an internship in Venice a month ago. It barely paid any money. But still, she’d always wanted to work at a bakery. To create something more than her own misery. “By the way, do you know how much plane tickets to Europe go for these days? God, it’s been forever since I left this city.”

“Um, well, no.” Russell mustered, losing his train of thought. “But as I was saying–”
He tried to continue, but she cut him off again, “Oh Russell, don’t you see? I don’t want to end up like my father. I need to change something about my life.”

“Then change something! But quitting your job? It’s ridiculous. You can do what you really want when you retire. After three years of working with you I have never questioned your sanity until now.”

“Russell, stop looking at me like I’ve lost my mind and just listen. We could be replaced with a computer programmed robot and our world wouldn’t look any different than it does right now. We could press a few buttons, instruct it to follow our daily routine, and sit back to watch our life pass by. I’m done living like this.”

Russell’s arms were folded across his chest. He wasn’t buying it.

“Just think about it.” Madeleine said, her eyes lighting up. “We don’t have to be trapped. This is our life and we can do whatever we want. The possibilities are endless, and exciting– yet how do we spend most of our time? Letting the days troop by, sleepwalking through life.”

He didn’t understand her. His father was a banker and his mother a secretary. He’d grown up comfortable and accustomed to this lifestyle. He asked, “But aren’t you scared?”

“Honestly… yes. But that’s normal. I’ve learned that the only thing people are more scared of than wasting their life is uncertainty.”

“Well Madeleine, I still think you’re a little crazy. Just don’t come crawling back to me when you’re unemployed and scrounging for money.” Russell turned abruptly and walked back in through the tinted door of the towering building.

Madeleine called back to him, “Don’t save up everything you want to do for retirement! It’s riskier than anything I’m trying to do.”

He didn’t turn back. He had an appointment to go to and he didn’t want to be late.

Backing out of the parking lot, Madeleine watched the hot sun reflect off the outside of the tinted building. The rays of light bounced off the glass in waves, barely letting any sun inside. Looking ahead, her past waving goodbye in the rearview mirror, she began to think that maybe her dad’s life wasn’t wasted because, after all, she was finally leaving.

The First Gleam of Day

“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.” -Khalil Gibran
pretty tree
To keep with the nature themed poems I’ve been posting recently, here’s another along with a picture I took last summer!

The young birch casts its shadow
across a lightly trodden path
under the first gleam of day
from the slowly rising sun

This magnificence, you see,
exists every day at dawn
how we would marvel if we always saw
what sleep often subdues

Sunset Silhouette

Here’s a poem I wrote a few months back while looking at this beautiful view!

so-amazing3.jpg When night swallows day
and the trees silhouette
the finger painted sky
Look up
you’re sad and you need a sunset
there’s only one a day

When the quiet of the forest
seems as lonely as your mind
listen closer, you’re not alone
there’s life in the trees
just because their hearts are silent
doesn’t mean they’re not beating