The Real Beauty and Happiness Is Between Your Two Ears

DSCF5216Sometimes I can’t even believe I made it to this beautiful place.  This beach, with its crystal blue waters is known to locals as ‘the toilet bowl’ and makes for some great snorkeling and general lounging around the shore

     Hello to all those who dare to dream, dare to try, dare to seize the day.  I thought I would write a bit about writing here, writing is something that is not only what I do, and what I love to do, it is something that I think everyone should do, everyone should enjoy.  On a whim this morning I looked up our local correspondence University (Athabasca University which I have taken Psychology and Criminology through in the past) and did a search on creative writing.  There was a course, but there were many courses I had to take before I could take that one.  I am seriously thinking I would love to do this, love to go back to University despite my 43 years.  The only thing that really scared me off was that a 3 credit course costs $677.00!  I am going to look into financing options, there used to be something called a bursary for part-time studies that would pay all the costs of such things, but I fear that has faded into the cost-cutting jungle.  So, I looked at an option, iTunes U!  Well, it is a definite option and certainly much less cost, but there is still some cost.  One video I wanted to look at regarding freelance magazine writing was $10 to download and thanks to wise investments (not) and careful saving (not) I currently have an available balance of $35 on my Mastercard.  I looked at some of the free resources though, and I watched a short video on getting ideas for magazine writing and it prompted me to write a query letter to a magazine I was once paid a phenomenal sum from to write an article about my old Cadet Squadron.  Writing the article was pure pleasure, I even drove out to the airport where they had a gliding program going on.  If I could get 3 or 4 jobs like that a year I would be a very happy man.

As far as other writing goes, ever since I stopped posting my poems I seem to have stopped writing them.  As mentioned though, I really want to get into poetry publications and get noticed and known which could help my writing career in many ways and just about all of them insist that your poem can’t have been published online or otherwise if you submit them.  Last night though I did pick up a great resource that I received in the mail from amazon.com called “In the Palm of Your Hand, the Poet’s Portable Workshop”, and after working through the first chapter, I worked with a writing prompt and wrote something I was kind of proud of about how I felt about a dear Uncle who has passed away.  It is hard to describe how I get my ideas.  I think some of my best writing occurs when I start with a pen and paper.  I also quite often start before that laying in bed.  I turn out the lights, turn off any distractions aside perhaps from my classical music station on the radio and just toss ideas around until I can come up with something workable, plausible.  (I often use this same method for short stories and Novellas as well).  Then comes pen and paper.  First, I try to just brainstorm, write out every idea I have even if I’m not going to use it at all.  Then comes the outline, which is a bit harder and needs to be double spaced because I often make changes.  With shorter works like poetry, I might stop at the brainstorming phase and start to write, but with longer ones an outline is essential.  Sometimes I don’t even follow the outline for short stories, I just dive in and let the story and my memory lead me.  With Novellas and such longer works, the outline is more essential, but is always being revised.  When I am writing a longer work, I often come home from supper and go right to sleep, then try and wake up late at night in the wee hours and write then.  I start out reading and editing work I did the night before, or from my last session and then I find that my ability to write is increased.  When I write poetry, I start with the brainstorming and then I write out long hand a whole poem.  I have been told it is best to leave your work for some time, but I often go right to the stage of typing out the poem on my word processor, and I find somewhere between the written word and the computer typed words a change occurs.  I feel moved to write more stanzas, or to say things differently.  Lately I have been trying to write in iambic pentameter, which actually comes pretty easy with practice.  I simply count off two syllables for each finger on my left hand and when it fits into the rhyming and meter I am going for, I write it out.  What seems most essential though is to have a theme.  I have done young love to death (hey-that gives me a great idea-a poem about ‘old’ love!).  I have also used themes of brotherly love, friendship, my illness, history (usually of World War Two), my fears, and more.

I don’t know why, but writing seems so exciting to me.  Even when you put aside the (slim) hope of money, the concept of becoming famous or at least well known and respected, there is something that really hits me about actually creating something, and this feeling often also goes for reading quality literature.  When I mention quality literature though, I should point out that my concept of quality literature has changed a lot in the past few years, largely because of my good friend Richard Van Camp who writes everything from dark novels exploring horrible sides of the human condition, right down to baby books and in between (comics, graphic novels and more).  I want to put in a mention here about a graphic novel I am reading right now that is just so good I can’t help but tell people about it.  It is called, “Brooklyn Dreams” and is a black and white, thick book where a man is sitting in a dark room supposedly talking to a Psychiatrist, recounting his days as a teenager in the drug culture of Brooklyn in the early 70’s.  This book is so engaging I have been savoring reading it page by page, massively enjoying the art and the incredibly humorous stories.  I think one of the great things about graphic novels is that it allows more people into the wonderful world of literature, people who don’t understand or have the patience for longer works of literature.  Feel free to post any of your favorite reads here.

After yesterday’s words about changing the focus of this blog to mental health, I wanted to mention at least some snippets about the subject.  I have been attending a class run by the Schizophrenia society about recovery from mental illness, and I strongly urge anyone out there, be they Bipolar, Schizophrenic or Depressive, to try and connect to a similar organization in their community.  I have gotten so much out of looking at more modern ways of dealing with my illness, I have learned about medications that may help me with fewer side effects, and even just kind of got out of my shell a bit and went to a place where I can feel comfortable about talking about my illness.  I actually think I am going to re-take the class another time just because the content of the course was only one small part of what made it great.

Well, dear readers, I hope some of you can take something from  today’s blog.  As far as any advice I may have, I think one thing applies to both people struggling with mental illness and people who have the desire to become a writer.  Keep a journal.  Head down to the dollar store, pick up a notebook, and find a good pen or package of good pens, and bring it with you everywhere.  Jot down how you are feeling, how things ‘make’ you feel, ideas you have for stories.  I actually forgot to mention one aspect of the writing process for me, once I am done the outline for a short story or a novella, if I get stuck, I write out with pen and paper a scene from my story.  It just takes a little push sometimes but when you do push yourself, you can find out that amazing things happen.  As for keeping a journal, it is something recommended for anyone, and it can even include blogging if you are so inclined.  As always, feedback is appreciated, so if you wish, please email me right at my personal email, viking3082000@yahoo.com  all the best readers!

IMG_8135This is a picture from the near-desert area of the interior of The Big Island of Hawaii, which some world class observatories call home.  I did some hiking and a lot of driving in this place and ended up feeling like a brand new person upon my return

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