Permission Slips

I’m sharing this post with permission from a Story Circle Network writer friend; I loved it and think you will, too.

Posted on by Jude Walsh Whelley

 

permissionJude

Every Sunday I meet with my tribe of four women writers for a morning of what Eric Maisel calls Deep Writing. It is a lovely, centering time where we sit side-by-side and write. During occasional breaks, we share information on craft, submission, and building platform. The shared writing energy keeps us focused and productive. On my drive home, as I process what I wrote and what we shared, I am frequently inspired. At those moments, I use the voice memo function on my phone to record my thoughts. I may listen to that voice memo and transfer it to written form immediately or, if life grabs me when I get home, the memo may sit for a while.

In a recent burst of decluttering energy, I decided to review the waiting memos. I found this gem and want to share. I was looking for ways to honor my muse and prioritize time for writing. These are the permission slips I wrote for myself. Perhaps you might like to take a few moments and write some permission slips of your own?

I give myself permission to do what I love

I give myself permission and encouragement to pursue my writing dreams

I give myself permission to devote time to my writing first

I give myself permission to buy the things I need to help me accomplish my goals

I give myself permission to say no to favors or meeting someone else’s needs that distract me from my purpose

I give myself permission to do this without guilt

I give myself permission to write my truth without concern for how it makes anyone else feel because it is my truth, my writing, my story, and no one is going to keep me from speaking my truth.

I give myself permission to put myself first

Jude Walsh Whelley writes fiction, memoir, and poetry. She lives in Dayton, Ohio. This post was previously published on her blog, Writing Now

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, energy, essay, finding yourself, growth, Learning, personal stories, reflections, Story Circles, Writing | 3 Comments

How Does Technology Influence Our Lives

my best pic copyI love technology but sometimes it drives me nuts! After a long day of teaching, shopping, and picking up a few groceries, I found my car in the huge parking lot and pressed the open-door button, tossed my parcels in the car and headed home, exhausted.

At my front door, arms loaded, key ring in hand, I pushed the open-door button again and stood there waiting. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at my silly mistake. Hey, after all, I push a button on my car radio to hear music, another on my TV remote control to see the news, another on my iPod, iPad, and iPhone. Why not for my front door? No wonder confusion reigns when I have a lot on my mind.

Years ago as a career woman and mother of seven, I’d  needed something to save time. A newsletter would improve communications and cut time on the telephone. So, I got a typewriter and a mimeograph machine. My son loved to crank the handle and spew out copies.

Mimeo-User-1-GuyYears later I was doing training classes and still using the old typewriter to prepare handouts. Never a good typist, I wasted a lot of paper, so I bought a word processor, a big improvement, I could make corrections on the screen. When I was asked to write a weekly newspaper column I needed something more. I bought my first computer in 1989 and taught myself how to use it. 

I designed a 3-fold brochure for my company, Golden Solutions, in 1992, it took me three days to make. Today, with a newer computer, (4 since then) and many new systems and new software, I have spent lots of money and time to learn all the new stuff. It took me years to realize the only way Apple or Microsoft can make enough money is to tempt us with newer technology, which, of course, is more complicated and more expensive and has a longer learning curve. Colleges teach us how to use Microsoft word, for Pete’s sake. Now, I don’t update unless really necessary.

I am re-doing  my Golden Solutions brochure again and so far it has taken me seven days, I think I may soon be finished with it. What happen to all that time I was going to save?

About social networking:

Good News – Because families have scattered many of us don’t live in the town or neighborhood we grew up in, our relatives may be in Ireland, Texas, Australia or the Cayman Islands. We can afford to talk with them frequently, they instantly see the pictures of our family.

Not so good news – Our kids don’t call, or listen to our voice messages – they text.

Good news – We have Skype, FaceTime, video conferencing, and teleseminars for unlimited learning, see a few in my last post. You can even take college courses.

So much is done on the information highway, that hackers abound! One new worry is, voting machines can be hacked, this has sent many states back to using paper ballots. Is this progress?

Check out www. StorageCraft to see the likely life of what we save digitally. A few holes have been poked in my love for technology for saving some precious stuff.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have survived for many centuries, by contrast, today’s digital files are in danger of being lost to us within a matter of decades, or even years. How can a fragile, physical object such as a papyrus scroll be more robust than a modern digital document?

Categories: creative writing, energy, essay, growth, Learning, memoir, personal stories, stories, Story Circles | Tags: | 9 Comments

Independence Day

Fourth of July

I had an unusual kind of Independence Day it was a different kind of freedom.

The kids are grown, so are the grandkids, the family has scattered like many families so there was no picnic this year. Instead of feeling sorry for myself I celebrated in a new way.

I spent the weekend inside my air-conditioned apartment, avoiding the ninety-two-degree summer temperatures, and high humidity of Florida; my laptop and me, or sometimes my iPad, when I got tired of sitting at my desk. Content and excited, I felt like I had been at a three-day Writer’s Conference!

I’d listen, take notes, and learn, continuously amazed at the breadth and variety of teleseminars, teachers, and successful writers available to me in my living room. They were free, and this is particularly pertinent to those of us with tiny incomes and small budgets: Such as senior citizens, students paying college fees, and people who earn minimum wage.

Among those I learned from were:

  • Joseph Michael Scrivener Coach – Scrivener Basics, and How To Use Scrivener to Accelerate Your Writing
  • Brooke Warner and Joy Myers – Scene The Master Tool Of Writing Webinar much needed portions for me were transitions and narrative.
  • Mary Karr Interviews (two) – Point Loma Writers, and Mary Karr in Conversation with Brooke Warner

These are all now available on YouTube

I re-read Stephen King book On Writing, I liked it even better on the third read. Then I read a memoir just for fun, A Trip To The Beach – Living On Island Time in the Caribbean by Melinda and Robert Blanchard. I wanted to feel myself back in the Caribbean to re-excite myself about my nine years on Grand Cayman and the memoir I am writing about it, An Unfinished Woman.

I’m charged and ready to go!

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, dreaming, energy, finding yourself, growth, Learning, memoir, personal stories, reflections, stories, Story Circles, travel, women, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Story Corp Struggle

This turned out to be a tougher assignment than I planned, some people had a bit of a panic, a few got it done, and some including  me are still working on it.

I guess I wasn’t clear enough that it was a two-fold job, one to conduct the interview, and two to write a six-hundred-word piece about your experience. And nobody did the uploading to Story Corp yet.

The people interviewed and the stories were interesting. Molly asked her Aunt to tell her a story about her Mother because she hadn’t asked those questions before her Mother died. So she got to know her better through the eyes of her Aunt.

Ruth interviewed an old guy who is an excellent golfer, she asked his advice on golfing. The punch line was that he always sought to score his age. He finally made it. He is eighty!

Ralph interviewed his Granddaughter-in-Law. She told him stories of the many years of studying and degrees she had received, the main one being a Degree in Questions! Ralph, a Minister, had the pleasure of performing the marriage ceremony for her and his Grandson.

Kathy’s title was I Flunked! She interviewed her neighbor, she had her questions prepared, but he kept changing the subject. She was afraid of being too personal and he thought her questions were too general. We were all surprised at her ending.

Ani interviewed a woman wearing many hats among them developing a program called Keep St Pete Lit and raising a daughter, as a single mother. She loves her work for the non-profit but needs more money!

I’m off to Sarasota to interview my son, Kris, who is always too busy for the interview. He loves flying and he just built another airplane. More later.

I Invite you, readers of this blog to look at the last entry and see the instructions, then participate. I promise an exercise in thinking, interviewing and writing.

 

 

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The single most important key to success is to be a good listener.

We had a great variety of stories about keys, last months assignment. There were so many readers we barely had time to let everyone read.  Here are some of the themes.

  • After a long journey, a hotel key card that wouldn’t work no matter how many times it was exchanged left the traveler frustrated and angry.
  • a typesetting class where the letters or ‘keys’ have to be set a certain way; a p and a q look the same upside down, we learned that mind your p & q’s refers to typesetting.
  •  A key to a safe deposit box left to a son by his father and its mysterious contents.

Surprised that no one thought of this. “More than once, I’ve wished my real life had a delete key.” Harlan Coben

Jan has a new project that she is excited about. She’s setting up a new way of earning income from writing and will use her extensive workshop and training experience to make it successful. Here is how. Home Parties are here again! Invite four or five women to your home for a Writing Party! Choose either Memoir, Life-story Writing, or Advanced Writing Skills.The one and one half hour session can be daytime or evening. The fee is $25 per person and you are free, it’s your gift for arranging the gathering. Call Jan now for dates and details. 727-254-1997

Assignment for June 15th: Story Corps, NPR

We discussed interviewing skills. And asked you to think of your favorite interviewer.Who do you listen to? Like? Why? Listen to some Story Corp segments including the TED TALK by Dave Isay, founder of Story Corp. Then …

  • Download the Story Corps App for instructions.
  • Choose someone to interview.
  • Pick great questions.
  • Record the story. Find a quiet place to record. Listen carefully.
  • When you are finished, upload the file from the app to share the conversation with the world or just our class.
  • Story Corps wants you to help create an archive of the wisdom of humanity.

You will find plenty of good tips here: https//storycorps.me

Remember, you can use a smartphone, iPad, tablet, or any recording device. Download the Story Corps App then use it to upload to the Library of Congress. Yes! The person you select will be in the Archive of the Library Of Congress for generations to read.

For class – Write about your experience in 600 words or less to read in June. Remember to title your piece and give us the word count when you read.We will continue this project in months to come. The point is good interview skills are important to a writer’s work.

Write! Publish! Sell! In her most recent issue, Joan West highlighted our group and published the story Maria Mason wrote for our key prompt. We appreciate her support.  To sign up for her terrific FREE newsletter send Joan an email to writepublishsell@comcast.net.   Check out this comprehensive newsletter.

 

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, essay, finding yourself, memoir, personal stories, stories, Story Circles, women, writing | 2 Comments

Choose a Key, Any Key

 

The Story Circle Creative Writing Class will meet next Wednesday, May  20th (note new starting time 5:30 to 7:45 PM) and the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Safety Harbor Library. We have added an extra half hour to the meeting.

keys for prompt.jpgAssignment: Jan bought a big bag of keys at the flea market and thought they would make a good topic for our writing assignment this month. Everyone in attendance selected a key from the pile. If you weren’t there imagine a key and write about it. We suggested everyone try to stretch some by writing fiction instead of memoir.  See what your creative mind can imagine about a key. Write in 600 words or less. Give your story a title, give us the word count when you read.

All Writers Welcome: We invite all writers to attend the class. It is a wonderful opportunity to associate with other writers and keep motivated. It is one of the reasons Jan and I continue to do this each month. Seventy months so far! You may learn something new that will help you with your current project or your next one. If you have friends who write, please forward this email to them.

Each month we provide a writing assignment with a maximum word count of 600.  Everyone has an opportunity to read their story and is given gentle feedback from the group. After all the readings we provide you with a short lesson on some aspect of writing.  Dialog, editing, creating the scene and opening paragraphs are a few of the topics we have covered.  No reservation required and no cost to you.

Third Edition of our Chapbook  is published! Diane Persall put the books together, we have two, this time, so many stories were submitted. The books are wonderful with color photos and a beautiful cover designed by Jill Barber. Many thanks to both women and to all of the contributing writers. The book sells for $3.00 each or four for $10. We still have a few of first two books you can purchase at the meeting.  You want to make sure you have the entire set.

One of our writers wrote an interesting blog post about the assignment. With his permission we share it. Our guest blogger writes,  Jimmy Pickett.http://coachpickett.org/

“I don’t write fiction.”   Another lie!

The leaders or conveners of the monthly meeting of the writers circle at the end of the meeting always challenge the participants with an assignment for the next meeting.   The assignment is usually a topic. For example, this month the assignment was to write something (600 words or less) on “falling.” Various individuals wrote wonderful pieces of prose or poetry. Some were stories of events in the writers own life journey. Others were metaphorical and still others were deliberate fantasies or fiction.    For next month our assignment is to take a key from a pile of old keys one of the leaders had brought and write a 600 word or less fictional piece.   My immediate thought was, “I do not write fiction.”  As I thought more about this statement I was aware that it is not true. Of course, I write fiction.

What is fiction?  Oxford Dictionary states:

  • Literature in the form of prose, especially short stories, and novels, that describes imaginary events and people.
  • Invention or fabrication as opposed to fact.
  • A belief or statement that is false, but that is often held to be true because it is expedient to do so.

I began to think about the fact that when I talk about an event in my own life or about an event in the life of someone else I witnessed or was told it is never more than a piece of truth which has been filtered through my accumulation of biases, prejudices, expectations and fears. There may be some kernel of truth, but it is wrapped in the fabric of what is now my story.  I am well aware that if the story begins as something which happened in my life it has now been kneaded, shaped and left to rise over time in the warmth of my imagination or, perhaps,  out of the bin of regrets to an invented reality.  Often I cannot identify the original kernel.

What is the difference between my stories as I now “remember” them and those which I might deliberately imagine or invent.  What is fact?  What is fiction?  I know that some of what I think is a fact can be “fact checked” much as the political fact checkers are constantly checking the “facts” of what  political candidates say.

I have framed degrees from various academic institutions. They each attest to the fact that  from x date to y date I completed a required course of study to the satisfaction of the particular institution of so-called higher learning.  That is the extent of fact.  What happened between x and y other than I enrolled in and completed the requirements for certain courses to someone’s satisfaction is not recorded anywhere.  What I think I remember may bear very little resemblance to what someone else may have witnessed or heard.

Even if I deliberately set out to compose a fictional story, I may have consciously or unconsciously incorporated an event from those stored in my memory bank.

Another form of fiction is described by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her Ted Talk “The danger of a single story.”    In this Ted Talk she discusses the danger of only telling “a single story about another person, event or country.”    She reminds the listener or reader that a single story only tells a small piece of the truth and perhaps not even that.

All this went through my mind as I thought about the lie I had been telling myself about what I write.  I had said, “I do not write fiction.”   This is not the truth.  It may or may not be a partial truth.  Even when I have my fictional niece and nephew exploring some subject or concept, I invent not only Sam and Paul but the circumstances which will fence in the exploration.  Even the concept which I have these fictional characters exploring are my version or definition.   The characters, Sam or Paul, are loosely based on some very precocious young people that I know.  Yet, as Ms. Adichie reminds us, no one story or even ten stories about these characters will give one a complete understanding or picture of who they are.  They are always more than that.   As is true of all of creation not only can I not give a complete picture of who they are  at point A in time, they are never the same from one moment to the next.   Everything and everyone is constantly evolving. This is true whether they began as an invented character or a historic one.

This morning I was reading a letter from Frederick Douglas to Harriet Tubman written on August 29, 1868.   The truths he relays to Ms. Tubman about his impression of her which  says something of him, gives us a tiny window into the lives and souls of these two human beings.  He says, “I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have.” (Quoted in article in the Wall Street Journal, opinion section, A11, April 21, 2016 from Sarah Hopkins Bradford’s “Scenes in the  Life of Harriet Tubman.” a letter dated August 29, 1868.)

The long and the short of it is that I must now replace the lie, “I do not do fiction” with a new truth. This truth presents new challenges and opens new windows.   I will want to be more careful in presenting my offerings as either “the truth” or even “a truth.”   Perhaps my imagination can now be allowed new wings. Ahh!  What color of wings would I like?  How big should they be? Where will they take me?

Check out Coach Pickett’s blog at the above link.

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I Can Walk Again and I Feel Like Dancing

If you know me personally the news that I took a bad fall on January 19 is not a surprise, I’ll tell you briefly what happened. My co-facilitator and good friend, Sheila and I were on our way to the Safety Harbor Library to do our monthly Story Circle Creative Writer’s Group. As usual, we stopped at Starbucks for coffee. Back outside we saw Maria, our friend and fellow writer headed toward us. She was excited and waving her notes,  “Look, I found the perfect cover for my book!”

As she stepped toward me I stepped back, and suddenly I was flying through the air. If you have had a big fall, you have had the same feeling. Time stood still as I sailed through the air and watched the tarmac get closer. Crash! I hit the ground hard, on my left side. I couldn’t move. I was numb from my shoulder to my ankle. In a subconscious move, my arm flew up and protected my head and face.

“Don’t move! Don’t try to get up,” Maria, who is a nurse said. “Take a deep breath, then another.” Meanwhile, a crowd gathered. Can I help, what can we do? I did try to get up but I couldn’t use my elbow or knee to help, they were skinned and bleeding. Then as luck would have it, there were two strapping, handsome men standing over me. In one swift move, they lifted me to my feet and helped me into Sheila’s car. I insisted we go and teach the class.

Sheila ran into the library and came out with a wheelchair, Maria helped me get into it and we went in for the class. We had twenty-eight people that night, the largest group we’d ever had, until the end when I couldn’t stand up by myself, most didn’t know what happened. A couple stayed behind to talk and gave me hugs and said they’d send me healing energy.

I wish I’d taken Maria’s advice and gone to the emergency room. When I still couldn’t walk ten days later, I finally did go. I had a triple fracture of my pelvis. I was pretty much out of commission for three months. Yes, I admit, my fingers still worked and I could have written. But I took advantage of the time for solitude and contemplation.

 

 

Categories: creative writing, memoir, personal stories, reflecting, Story Circles | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

A Reminder for the February Story Circle

Happy Valentine’s Day Writers,

Since this is the holiday of love we decided our prompt for the month would be about Love, the good the bad the ugly. It can be your love of a person, place, or thing. Maybe the love of chocolate.  Whatever you want to write about love, we want to hear.  Remember to keep it to 600 words or less. We hope you will join us at the beautiful Safety Harbor Library on Wednesday, February 17th from 6:00 to 7:45 PM.   Meet other writers and learn what they are doing, how they are improving their skills and have fun.

All Writers Welcome 

We invite all writers to attend the class.  It is a wonderful opportunity to associate with other writers and keep you motivated. It is one of the reasons Jan and I continue to do this each month.  You may learn something new that will help you with your current project or your next one.    If you have friends who write, please forward this email to them.

The Story Circle, a creative writing group, meets the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Safety Harbor Library located at 101 2nd Street North, Safety Harbor, FL 34695  727-724-1525  from 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM.  We would stay longer but the library closes at 8:00 PM.  Each month we provide a writing assignment with a maximum word count of 600.  Everyone who wants to can read their story and is given gentle feedback from the group.  After all the readings we provide you with a short lesson on some aspect of writing.  Dialog, editing, creating the scene and opening paragraphs are a few of the topics we have covered.  No reservation required and no cost to you.

Third Edition of our Chapbook

Our assignment for December was to write about a song that means or has meant something in your life. We decided to use music for the theme of our third book. As always keep your story to 600 words or less and give it a title. Dianne Persall is our editor again and is anxiously awaiting your stories. The final deadline is February 14th so you still have time to be included in this edition. Even if you missed the December meeting we want your story. It’s your chance to be published.  Once you have it written, read it aloud and have another writer check for errors. Dianne won’t edit your story but she will put together another fine book for us. Paste the story in the body of the email to:Diannepersall@hotmail.com.  Send her your photo and a fifty-word bio.

 

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, essay, finding yourself, growth, memoir, personal stories, reflecting | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Life in Song

Finished my assignment! Did you write one? 

I was sixteen and Nat King Cole was singing, “They tried to tell us we’re too young, too young to really be in love.” Well, they were right, I just didn’t know it then, I fell for it and fell in love with love. Married a guy I hardly knew mostly to get away from my overly strict, but loving, parents.

Our newspaper, the Erie Times, ran an article about our men in the Korean Conflict and how we could support the brave and lonely soldiers by baking and sending cookies, and writing them letters. So began my writing relationship with Bob. A few months later he came home on leave and proposed. Wow, that sounded like fun! I said, “yes” and I moved with him to Texas. Our marriage lasted six months.

I was seventeen when I married again and began my second life as a wife. My first baby was born when I was nineteen and six more were to come.

During the next ten years I was overwhelmed with diapers, feedings, and cuddling and much too busy to listen to or hear any songs. Did we even have a radio?

When my beautiful babies were no longer toddlers, I became the chauffeur. Everyone had something to do or somewhere to go, my husband went to a job he loved, and I drove the kids to little league, brownies or cubs scouts. I watched and waited, or sometimes went home and waited some more, for time to fetch them.

One day, I was thirty by then, I heard Peggy Lee sing, “Is That All There Is?” Well, I bet you remember that song too. Was this a reminder to wives and mothers of what they may be missing?

Oh, I loved “Camelot.” Arthur sings: “It’s true, it’s true. The crown has made it clear. The climate must be perfect all the year.”

Guinevere: “And I suppose all the autumn leaves fall in neat little piles?”

“Oh no, my lady the wind blows them completely away.”

It was exactly the way I wanted my life to be!

Well, by the time I was forty-nine all my husbands had blown away in the wind, the kids were grown up and I was ready to dance. Perfect timing, it was now the disco era. None of my husbands had danced so I was always hoping for my chance, and now I didn’t need a partner. It was perfectly acceptable to dance alone. My favorite song? “It’s Raining Men,” with The Weather Girls.

“Humidity’s risin

Barometer’s getting low

According to all sources

The street’s the place to go

 

Cos tonight for the first time

Just about half past ten

For the first time in history

It’s gonna start raining men

It’s raining men, Hallelujah.”

One day as I was trying to make up my mind whether or not to move to the Caribbean, it was pouring rain, I was stuck in a huge line of traffic, people were honking and flipping the bird. I took a deep breath, looked up and saw a double rainbow arcing over a white steeple; I took it as a sign, made my decision and moved to Grand Cayman. I named my house there in honor the Muppet’s Song, “The Rainbow Connection.”

“Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me”.

For the next nine years I loved nights in the moonlight under the swaying palms, moving to the salsa, merengue, rumba. My favorite song? Bob Marley and the Wailers, “Three Little Birds.”

Don’t Worry About A thing cause everything’s gonna be alright.”

 

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, energy, essay, finding yourself, growth, memoir, personal stories, reflections, stories, Story Circles, writing | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

My Life In Song

Our assignment for December Story Circle was to write about a song that means or has meant something in your life. As always 600 words or less, and as usual we had pieces that were inspiring, happy, sad and funny. Words are meaningful and when put to music “transport us” to a deeper place than the one in which we consciously reside. Writing about music that touched us in some way was exciting.

Eight people read. We loved them for sharing and could identify with many of the themes. We are using the December stories for our next (third) book. It’s a small chapbook and we’d like to include your story if you are in our story circle.

Dianne Persall is our editor again and is anxiously awaiting your stories. Please send them to her by January 15, paste them in the body of the email to: Diannepersall@hotmail.com. Even if you missed the December meeting we want your story. It’s your chance to be published. Once written, read it aloud and have another writer check for errors. Dianne won’t edit your story but she will put together another fine book for us.

We had an end of the year celebration; thanks for the homemade cookies, and for the delicious Stuffed Grape Leaves and Olives that Jill made. We were touched when the participants thanked us for time spent and knowledge dispensed. We started this Story Circle in December 2009 and have facilitated 72 circles since then, attended by as many as nearly one thousand budding writers.

Assignment for January: We are writers and also readers. Share your experience about a book: one you’ve read that has impacted your life, a favorite book, an experience with a family member or friend regarding a book, or an experience buying a book or giving one as a gift. Keep your writing to 600 words or less. Give your story a title and be prepared to tell us the word count.

 

 

 

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, essay, finding yourself, growth, memoir, personal stories, Story Circles, women | 3 Comments

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