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Friday, December 19, 2014

Restless is Right

I can't believe it's Friday again. What a week it has been. I just got back from Jamaica last night and it was hard to leave the island. Thankfully, I'll be back soon enough! While I was staying at my friend Gaia's gorgeous house (which also doubles as a fantastic retreat center), my friend Nat and I hatched up a plan. You see, she's a yogi/yoga teacher, and I'm a writer/writing teacher. So we thought - why not combine our powers and lead a kickass yoga/writing retreat in Jamaica!? It will be the perfect opportunity to teach all that I have been learning about writing from the body and tapping deeply into our five senses. 

We want this retreat to be a sensory experience, a time to focus on the self and reflect on the page. Nature will be our playground, as we explore the gorgeous natural surroundings complete with waterfalls, beaches, lush forests, and more.

 What I loved most about my time at Wabi Sabi Eco Retreat was the people I connected with while I was there. Gaia Budhai is an extraordinary human and she attracts the most interesting characters! We had a beautiful time together, cooking up tropical dishes in the kitchen, taking walks down to the river, watching hummingbirds dance among the flowers, playing games on the veranda, dancing in the streets of Ocho Rios, and bathing in waterfalls that cascade down mountains of smooth rocks, making for a delicious back massage.

 I am so excited to share this magical place with others. I would really appreciate any feedback you can give me as I begin to plan this retreat. Please take this short survey and pass it on to anyone you know who might be interested. More info to come soon!!

Happy winter solstice to all!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Writing Against All Odds

Hello blog world! Here I am, recooping from my semester in ... Jamaica, mon! Turns out this writer is still restless after all. But still, I have not forgotten about my weekly blog promise. It is Friday, and so, I blog.

This week, I want to tell you about a few writers I admire who have managed to have successful writing careers against all odds. A few days ago, I watched The Theory of Everything, a movie about Stephen Hawking's incredible life. I was moved by the enormous obstacles that he overcame to survive, but I was even more impressed by all that he has accomplished in his life - even with a debilitating disability. This man has shaped the way that we think about time and space, and he continues to work on his physics projects to this day. (Back when he was just 21, they gave him 2 years to live. He's 72 now.)

We all know him as a famous physicist and cosmologist, but perhaps you didn't know that he is the author of over a dozen books, as well as countless scientific articles. His book, A Brief History of Time, has sold more than 10 million copies in 20 years and has been translated into 35 languages! He has even written several children stories with his daughter, Lucy Hawking.

Okay, so lots of people have written multiple bestselling books. But have they had to use cheek muscles to do it?? Here is a bit about Hawking's writing process from his website:

My main interface to the computer is through a program called EZ Keys, written by Words Plus Inc. This provides a software keyboard on the screen. A cursor automatically scans across this keyboard by row or by column. I can select a character by moving my cheek to stop the cursor. My cheek movement is detected by an infrared switch that is mounted on my spectacles. This switch is my only interface with the computer. EZ Keys includes a word prediction algorithm, so I usually only have to type the first couple of characters before I can select the whole word. When I have built up a sentence, I can send it to my speech synthesizer.  

That takes dedication!! Sitting there in the dark theater, watching the amazing story of this fantastic human playing out in front of me, I thought to myself - if he can write books, I have no excuse!!

Thinking about writing against all odds made me think of another writer with a life-altering disorder: Josh Hanagarne, also known as World's Strongest Librarian. I saw him speak a few years back at the Miami Book Fair and I was extremely impressed to learn that he keeps a blog and has a bestselling book, even though he can barely sit still - truly. This is not the same "ants in your pants" problem that I have. In an interview with Cathy Lamb, Hanagarne explains his writing process and the challenges of writing with Tourette Syndrome:

With the nature of Tourette’s, I’m rarely capable of sitting still long enough to write for more than fifteen minutes a day. Sometimes that would get me 1000 words, sometimes it would get me 100. My goal was simply to write every day and keep my fingers moving. I learned that I have to make a huge mess before I can clean it up. I don’t ask myself editorial questions on the fly.

Again, if he can write a whole book by sitting down a mere 15 minutes a day, what excuse do I have?? These two individuals, and many more out there, have to surpass severe obstacles to write - but they do it with grace and brilliance. Their dedication and tenaciousness inspire me to glue my butt in the chair and keep my pen moving on the page. Gentleman, thank you for your amazing contributions to literature and culture. Til next week!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Live Birth

My baby was right on time. It came into the world Wednesday around noon. I felt that euphoria that mothers always talk about after they finally get to hold the baby they've been carrying in their belly for nine months. My baby only stayed with me for about four months, but I think I've been holding it inside for much longer.

After my baby came out of the printer for the first time, I held it close to my heart. These after-birth moments are very important in establishing a close connection with your baby. I didn't want to do anything else except look at it, trace the image on the cover, flip through it's pages, and count to see that every toe was in place.

I was so in love, I decided to print out a bunch more of my babies. Why have only one copy when you can have thirty?? Then, my newborn and I had to be separated for a few hours because she needed some extra attention in the binding department. So I dropped off my babies at the copy store, and they promised to take excellent care of them. I kissed them each goodbye and counted the hours until I would get to hold them again.

When I finally had them in my arms a few hours later, they were even better than before! Now they had two spiffy staples in their center that made them look super professional. Now my baby and I were ready to go out into the world. My baby was ready to meet its audience.


Check out some photos from the Chapbook Launch Party! 
I am so indebted and in awe of the nine amazing women who shared their 
wisdom and words with me this semester.

CNF Love Fest
Enraptured by someone's brilliant reading
Reading from my latest book :)
The Magic Class
Chapbooks: Printed and Bound!