Hello November

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Welcome to November — the month of gratitude, holy souls, and vacations.

Arriving at this point feels as though life is moving way too fast. Here we are, near the end of yet another year. Ready to embark on a shopping spree, if we haven’t already. Planning time with family, ready to say thanks.  

This year, I’m extra thankful for the arrival of November. Our extremely long election season will soon be over. Come what may, we have to go on with our lives and embrace a time of tradition and joy.

Here are some of my favorite things about November (in no particular order):

Festivities

Everyone is eagerly looking forward to the festivities, don’t you think? The twinkly lights in the trees, the dazzling shop windows and bright Christmas illuminations, you can’t help but love November.

Food

Mmm, all that food. From pumpkin pie to hot chocolate topped with cream to mulled wine to creamy mash – are you drooling yet?

More Sleep

Thanks to the clocks going back, even your punishing 6 am start doesn’t feel so punishing.

More time to write/create 

More time spent indoors translates to more writing. A welcomed change for the busy writer. So, no excuses; get that project done. 

Thanksgiving

This is a big one. With festivities including parades and monumental meals, the whole land is celebrating.

Scenery

Here, in Southern California, fall foliage isn’t as spectacular as in other parts of the country. We do have some, but its beauty pales in comparison to anything in New England, for example. But, big BUT, the heat has died down, and we’re enjoying perfect temperatures. Chilly mornings and evenings, and perfection in the afternoon. And hopefully, just hopefully, tis the rain season. Fingers crossed.

How about you? What do you like most about the month of November? Or what do you like least, for that matter?

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Image: quotesideas.comgoodbye-october-hello-november-images

Blurred Reality

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How much of ourselves do we put in our stories?

Something I asked on this site not long ago.  Responses varied from not much to everything, and I appreciate your candid answers. 

Here is my take:  from a writer’s standpoint, short stories have a certain effect on me, somewhat different from novels. They take a peek inside, if you will, reach the broken, the defeated, the cautiously hopeful and happy parts of the self.

BLURRED REALITY, a short story about family and relationships, did exactly that while taking shape, before it decided to be something else; to take a familiar yet different course. Sure, the story portrays people I know, but it’s not their story — it’s not entirely about them — because, as we know, art takes a form of its own in the end, irrespective of our intentions.  It grows into something sufficiently distant from reality in order to exist.

So, allow me, dear blogging friends, to present BLURRED REALITY, a short story, published by Solstice Publishing, now available in ebook format.

Here he stood, his life a muddle of thoughts worsened by anger that had been stealing his peace since childhood. He should turn around. Go home and forget. Life had been good lately—a wife, a baby on the way, a well-paying job. Behind this door, he’d find a drunkard who had mistreated everyone and robbed them of a sense of family.

For more, visit:  BLURRED REALITY

The Mind and Plans

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So, my plan to catch up on blogging and get back to a weekly routine didn’t quite work. It came apart, it seems, like shattered glass, each broken piece echoing its demise.  Every time I sat down determined to focus, something else came up — an urgent idea for a story, someone needing something, the preoccupation with our remodeled kitchen that still needs finishing touches.

On and on it goes.

Life is a series of distractions, including a news cycle I tend to get sucked into more than necessary. So, I keep falling behind. Sometimes, irreparably so. Keep getting sidetracked. Diverted. And by the end of the day, overwhelmed.

Our weather in Los Angeles doesn’t help the mind quiet down either. There is a storm somewhere off the coast of Baja, California, that seems to have a measurable impact on mood and focus. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I really need to consider deep meditation. Stay indoors and meditate all day. Now that sounds appealing.

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Finally, at work

So, today, I pushed everything aside with a stubbornness that shocked the mind into compliance, and came here to chat … because darn it, it helps. You know what else helps focus the mind? Poetry of the calming sort. Nothing heavy, or thought-provoking, just soothing verse I found and thought I’d share. Verse celebrating the last few days of summer.

So, tell me, does art, in any shape or form, help you focus?

Beauty of Summer

By Nette OnClaud

A fleck of wheat along the bay / A quiver in the grass,

While daybreak shifts and ripples while / It mirrors clouds that pass.

Warm breezes drift among the trees / So calming to my ear

And only wistful eyes can seize / This dreamy atmosphere.

Then stars lend glitter to the night / To beam upon the dew,

Which reaches every tree with charm / As beauty thrills anew.

Image: http://www.pinterest/MikaBar

Writing, a Delicate Dance

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Blurred Reality is a short story that demanded more than usual. So, please allow me a moment of reflection before I send it out.

Short stories are like that. Different from novels — works that require personal bits but can spin into something else fifty or a hundred pages later — short stories demand more. To me, they demand more personal experiences, more understanding, more emotion.  

They demand putting oneself out there. And that can be difficult because it’s counter intuitive. We’re programmed not to expose our own experiences or those of our family members. Our psychological defense mechanisms are in place to keep us from doing exactly that.

But as an avid reader, I know full engagement is demanded. As a reader, I don’t want to be protected. I want to be transported, and the author doesn’t get to choose if I like where I’m going or not. Or at least that’s the illusion.

Emotional writing that doesn’t go there comes out as unnatural. Fake. And readers pick up on it, don’t they? They also pick up on over sharing, too much drama, so it’s all a delicate dance where every step looks easy, but it was meticulously studied and planned and hopefully understood.

Donald Maass advises that we mine our own experiences as writers. So, in the end, style or voice, those celebrated terms we hear so much about, boil down to psychology. Crazy, I know.

What do you think, dear blogging friend? Have you ever taken a big breath and jumped?

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Image: thefivepointstar.com