Riding the Magic Train

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I recently recalled a story at a gathering of my fellow writers about the time our family tested out the Blu-ray player my husband had coveted for years. When I retold the story, it occurred to me – which the element of imagination is missing sometimes from readers. Not all readers. But those who seem to miss the point can be the most vocal.

We had saved to purchase it along with an appropriate television to view this new-geek-inspiring technology. My husband was all about how much more real our television viewing was going to be. One of the first films we watched in “Blu-ray” was The Polar Express.

Things being accurate, real, these are the things which are a focus for the engineer’s mind; such a mind my dearest one possesses. How he ended up with an artist, I’m sure perplexes many of our professional colleagues (they are just blind to the art of the code poetry they do in their computer engineering work).

Regardless, there is a scene in The Polar Express where the train jumps the tracks over the frozen lake and finds its wheels back on the tracks after quite the Evil Knievel jump back and the conductor and children inside the cars survive the iron horse acrobatics unscathed

“Oh that’s not even plausible! Come on!” My husband explains.

I respond, “Your suspension of disbelief left the station?”

It’s then when our daughter, 24 at the time, piped up and said, “Dad, weren’t you paying attention earlier – It’s a Magic Train, Dad!”

Hubby shakes his head and we continue to watch the film. Again there’s a scene that makes my hubby yell out again in aggravation at it’s unrealistic possibility. Before he can interrupt the viewing experience of the rest of the family my daughter repeats herself more emphatically now. “Dad, It’s a MAGIC train.”

He slumped back in the sofa left to brood about what that means.

What was it about the story that our adult daughter easily picked up on that my husband dismissed or completely missed? Because in the beginning of the story, one of the children in the story clearly states “It’s a Magic Train!” because the protagonist is suffering with the same issues my spouse was whilst viewing the film.

In today’s modern world, I feel like the audience out there (meaning anyone taking an interest out of working three jobs and slaving every day to read for pleasure) is insistent on the experience being so real that they forget the magic of fiction. I’m not saying that as a writer you don’t have a responsibility to suspend disbelief, you better be sure to do that. But, there is a bit that the reader gives, too. They have to not miss that it’s a magic train when it’s a magic train and that is one of the main elements why this is such a unique story.

When I recall this memory, it is because I’m struggling with balancing the magic in my story and the reality my readers may demand. Then Neil Gaimain’s words come into the internal conflict inside of me. Why are you writing this story? Who is directing it? It’s not your readers or the internal editor. It is you the writer, the vessel with which the voices in your head become real.

You can lead your readers, your characters, the story itself where it needs to go. And sometimes it’s not where you expect or intend – or when you intend it (read: missed deadlinesa), but it is where it needs to be. Sometimes that means it requires a leap of faith and knowing that sometimes it’s a magic train.

What’s your magic train moment?

The Word Warrior Readies for The Battle for Joy

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This past week I was hit by a virus locomotive. Seriously, this virus du jour was not a Mack Truck as folks often like to say when they get the annual winter cold/flu. Mine was an entire train wreck of viruses all smashed up into one body. I’ve suffered many a malady in my nearly 45 years; but, this last week there were honest moments that I thought death may be imminent. I still sound like Goofy, all full of snuffles, congestion and the dreaded cough. But, I’m not stuck in the creative void I had been the few days leading up to the illness and the creative black hole that happened during it. But somewhere between the combo sinus headache and migraine – in fact I think it was while I was lying on the cool bathroom floor too afraid to be far from the porcelain throne – I broke free from the gravitational pull of Planet Writer’s Misery. As I was able to physically sit upright again, and the wretchedness of virus locomotive’s tracks on my being was leaving the station, the vision of my future became clearer and clearer. It was topped off with producing six pages on a project for my university studies that had been eluding me for three weeks. I have about 36 more pages to produce, but hey, it’s a start.

If that kind of break through wasn’t enough, I met two goddesses for brunch today, they pretend to be the human mothers Kymberlee and Janaya. We drank mimosas, heavenly coffee and ate eggs with vegetables. Throughout our conversation they showed me a mirror of who I am creatively – the Word Warrior. I’m currently in a battle to win the war between surviving and thriving. I know how to survive. Now is the time to live my joy. It is time to give back through the words and works that I create and not be afraid.

Kymberlee did a mini oracle card reading for the three of us. Mine focused on the natural rhythm and cycles of life. Change. It truly is the only constant and everything is about the flow. I joke constantly to my colleagues at TSSDJ* that you have to be fluid because flexible is too rigid. I’ve been too rigid lately. That’s why my psyche is being bruised so often lately. I have to allow the change to happen much like the seasons. I have to embrace it – both the light of it and the shadow of it. I make my characters in my stories do that – embrace the dark so that they can get to the light. The author needs to write the same kind of acceptance into her own life.

“So look-out you rock-n-rollers!…” as my Uncle David Bowie (no he’s not really my uncle, but he may as well be with his words of wisdom) says,  Casz has her armor on and she’s leading the charge to win the war against doubt and live the dream as reality. Sing it with me now, “Ch-ch-ch-Changes!”

Need to get into step with the changes around you? Add this to your soundtrack:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMQ0Ryy01yE

Now tell me how you’re living your dream….

Those who do also provide teaching link soup…

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I am very excited about the upcoming months. I am teaching a slew of workshops in my little community.  See here – Memoirs, Muse Cooking and Just For Teens. If you know anyone who is in the Greater Seattle Area that might be interested, please do spread the word. I thank you in advance. 😀

I haven’t heard yet if I have any students. I hope so. If not, I won’t give up.

I’m going to do some non-fiction stuff for SnoValley Writes! work session this Sunday.

And I am going to completely rewrite a short story and submit it to Glimmer Train by Jan. 31.

There’s something about homework that is necessary, too.

I must also not forget to work on the next episode of Martius Catalyst.

Why this busy beaver writing work all in one weekend?  Because as of July, I will be at minimum going to part-time on The Soul-Sucking Day Job (aka TSSDJ). If the agency does not allow me to job share with the other specialist that works part-time. Then I will be making a huge jump to full-time freelance. My doctor even said, “You must reduce your stress.” She also said I needed to reduce my waistline. That’s a different post. But I’m working on that, too.  Yuki is making me.

I have been boosted by so many folks giving me encouragement from my writing group, to my college classmates, or my Detroit brothers and  sisters and even my new found Seattle family.

All of this and its my beloved’s 43rd birthday today. We do the big celebration with the family tomorrow; but, we did go for a nice long walk today with Yuki and get a nice cup of coffee — just the two of us. Simple things. It all makes it worth while.

Do note the change in the title of the Blog. You can all thank my newfound and very supportive friend, Janaya for it.  Thank you my friend. You are an artist and a scholar. Thanks for shining a light in a corner of my mind that needed illumination.

I  must also give thanks to the gentleman Logan Lo for his kudos and encouragement. I am sending apps for writer-in-residence. I will keep everyone updated.

Writing Workshops Offered at Si View Community Center

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Give yourself permission to pursue your passions in 2011. Try on a writing workshop for size. Yours truly will be offering these work shops at the Si View Community Center. Register Here. Many of the workshops are offered more than once to give you the greatest ability to attend despite hectic schedules!

1.  Memoir Writing Workshop — Bring Your Story to Life:  Everyone has a story to tell. This workshop helps students  tell their story with the finesse of fiction and create a contemporary memoir worthy of publication.  (Offered  from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Two separate workshop offerings:  Jan. 29/March 12.  $75.00 (Adults & Seniors, Male or Female), Min. 3/Max 13.

2. Teen Creative Writing:  Awaken your imagination, broaden your powers of observation and put them on exhibit through fiction, personal essays and blogging. For the teen writer who wants to push themselves further. (Includes interactive discussion on being a writer, craft and releasing your creative genius). Two separate workshop offerings Feb. 12 & Apr. 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. $50 (Teens) Min. 3, Max 13

3.  Creative Writing — Kick Your Muse Up a Notch:  You want to write and write you will, but what to write, escapse you still! Students spend the workshop time cooking up a new creative recipe. Will help all levels of writers with spicing up imagination, stirring up the creative process and enjoying the fruits of their new recipe for writing success. One offering, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. $40 (Teens/Adults/Seniors) May 14.

If you have any questions, problems with registration or need additional details, please feel free to comment here for a response.

2011 – The Year of Living My Art

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The new year and a new decade are upon us. Bring on 2011, I think I’m ready.

A fellow student pal of mine said it’s a time for reweaving. I like that perspective. Reweaving. Time to undue the old fragments and freshly weave them for the new.

This past year taught me that I’m fairly disciplined, but need to be even more disciplined if I’m to have the dream job of staying afloat alone by the words I compose. I also realized that when I have a schedule and stick to it, I’m more productive. I am not a soul who can float from day to day without a clear goal in sight. My life partner gifted me “A Working Writer’s Daily Planner 2011…” I shall stay organized as far as writing goes. Oh yes, I shall. Given that I return to classes to finish my Arts & Literature degree requires that I stay focused. Just two to three more semesters and the beloved sheepskin will be mine. Another notch towards the dream goal life.

For 2011, that will be my goal, I’m using the energy of the new year to gain new momentum and push myself even further.

I’m starting my new year just a few days earlier, too. I thought it wise to give myself a jump start. I made a short story submission to a literary magazine and I’m working on a manuscript to submit for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and for the first time ever, I’m going to apply for a writer-in-residence program. I’m nervous and excited and only a tad bit terrified. The terror is dampened by the promise by my spouse – not only my best friend in life, but a best friend to my writing life – not to desert me ala Marta Becket’s husband did in 1983, just as she was realizing her dream art life. “I promise to stick by my crazy artist wife,” he said to me today. What a gift. In return, I promise to pursue my truth and my art until my dying breath. Perhaps we can seal that deal with a trip down to the Amargosa Opera House?

Tell me your plans and goals for 2011!