Tag Archives: A-Z Blogging Challenge

A Blogging Challenge.

afraid

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  I’d hang out with spiders in a dark box falling from the sky with a parachute.

No, absolutely not, but is that me speaking or my fear?

Probably a combination, but I will tell you what I did do a few years back, despite all sorts of reservations, fears, and more than enough reasons to say no. 

I signed up for the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge, wrote A LOT of posts, blogged every day of April, except Sundays, and commented my heart out on a long list of wonderful blogs from all over the world.

I’ve made a lot of friends in the process, learned much more than I ever though possible and had a blast along the way.  My eyesight suffered a little from reading print size and colors that should be taken out of usage, but hey, small price to pay.

And, so, A-Z Blogging Challenge is just around the corner.

Will I see you there, come April 1st?

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Photo: liveagainsttheflow.wordpress.com

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Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

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Ever gone skydiving?

No, me neither.

How about public speaking?

I was not ready for oratory last night, but a toastmaster friend said it’s the only way to improve. Find the end of your comfort zone. Jump over it. Sure, take a little time (or a lot) to prepare, but if you keep saying, “I’m not ready,” you’ll never be ready.

When I joined Toastmasters, back in August, the goal was to listen. Learn. Give the introduction speech, then a talk once or twice a year. Preferably in low-turnout nights, surrounded by people I know. Play it safe.

But my friend, a speaker extraordinaire, said no. That will do for you exactly nada. Nothing. Get out of your comfort zone, and the rest will come.

But what if I screw up?

You won’t. But if you lay an egg, step back, laugh, and we’ll laugh with you. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Those words — from Neal Donald Walsch — are still ringing in my head.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

As I reflect upon those words, I think that’s true with everything. I was not ready to send my latest story to Red Fez Magazine. But after I read it to the point of blurry vision, I took a deep breath and clicked Send.

A month later the story was published at Red Fez.

Didn’t know whether I was ready for the A-Z Blogging Challenge last year. But in a moment of courage and madness, I said Why not? The outcome, as I already mentioned, exceeded my expectations in wonderful ways.

I learned, the hard way, that as a writer, blogger — as an earthling — I’m doing myself a disservice in keeping behind the comfort line.

All right, I don’t plan on jumping out of a plane (not yet) or mountain skiing. Still want to keep safe, limbs attached to my body, but I say The Heck with too much comfort.

So, why not give the speech? (I’ll share the pics as soon as I have them). Why not go for another challenge? Submit more stories? Why not — finally — join Twitter? Just in time, too, for the A-Z Chat tomorrow (2/28). There’s never time to do more — a universal problem — but life begins at … you know the rest. :)

Have you stood on the edge of your comfort zone? Jumped past it? How did it go?

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Image: www.sodahead.com

M is for Murals of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the mural capital of the world (according to the Mural Conservancy). A place where folks don’t just talk about their art, they show it.   

L.A. attracts free minds and outspoken spirits from all over the world. And the home-grown people? They are eager to showcase their talents as well. We live in a town of mini artists, and some big-name talents with Hollywood right here.

Let’s look at a few murals:

1. An interesting set — impressive in size — is a homage to singer Jim Morrison.

First one (above) is in La Brea, south of Franklin.

Second, of a shirtless Morrison, in Venice Beach — both by artist Rip Cronk. Clearly west-side Angelinos love the late singer.

2. Rip Cronk is also the man behind Ocean Swell. If you zoom in while taking the picture, it can easily be mistaken for the real thing — an actual ocean swell. This one is also on the west side, Ocean Front Walk at Clubhouse.

3. And probably the most controversial mural is Lady Liberty, by Mike McNeilly, once located on the side of a Westwood building. 

Behind the statute is the Declaration of Independence, and Lady Liberty has a tear on her face.

The controversy began when the artist demanded he be allowed to paint freely, followed by a trial, then the artist’s arrest. Eventually, the mural was taken down.

4. This Santa Monica Beach mural, by Arthur Mortimer, is one of many that stretches across the entire side of a 4-story parking structure in Santa Monica.

It was commissioned by a foundation and it adorns a wall across an open space from their office building. Much more fun to look out the window and see scenes depicting historic events and the beach than just blank space.

5. And, of course, the famous marathon mural depicted below.


Many murals have been destroyed by vandals — some have been restored close to original form. They stand out alongside freeways or on buildings daring in size and splendor. When driving past, I try to take a moment and admire the public art.

Is there public art where you live? If so, how do you like it?

L is for Lyrical Prose

Lyrical prose makes the words sing, doesn’t it?

Without the restrictions assigned to other styles, fiction writers are free to express their creativity, bend rules, even alter time and place to give us beautiful prose.

Take Anna Karenina and the paragraph that sums up hopelessness and pain.

“All her illness and treatment stuck her as a thing so stupid, ludicrous even! Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken.”

Tolstoy could’ve limited this to “Her heart was broken,” but the reader would have been robbed of Anna’s emotional complexity. No emotion, no reason to care, little reason to read on.

Another book that comes to mind is Janet Fintch’s “White Oleander.” The heart-wrenching images stick in this reader’s mind like glue, but without having wrapped the story in lyrical prose the images would have faded from memory soon after.

Here’s a short segment form the opening paragraph: “We couldn’t sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I. …  I climbed to the roof and easily spotted her blond hair like a white flame in the light of the three-quarter moon.”

The beautiful imagery describes Mom’s restlessness, (showing her almost on fire), which lead to their problems.

Lyrical prose conjures up vivid images; it creates psychological and emotional depth. I have deep admiration for authors who take the time to use language as musical instruments, to serenade the reader with their prose.

None of this is without an element of danger.  Overwriting tends to sneak into lyrical writing. We make small moments larger than life. Overuse metaphors and similes (I know I have to avoid such pitfalls).

The language doesn’t always have to be musical and rhythmic, right? Imagine how exhausting for the reader to experience the character’s deep emotional feelings all the time.  

Searching for the the right balance isn’t easy. So, the study continues.

How do you find the right balance? What is the effect lyrical prose has on you ?

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Thank you for stopping by my site. Hope to see you on Monday, when M is for Murals of Southern California. Have a magnificent weekend!

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Photo credit: Photo – Wordsthatsing: wordpress;