Writing 101- Committing to a writing practice …

Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Nailing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance Number 5 on your alto sax. Making perfect pulled pork tacos. Drawing what you see. Or, writing a novel. Each requires that you make practice a habit.

Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.

Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

The basic unit of writing practice is the timed exercise.

– Natalie Goldberg

Author Natalie Goldberg says to “burn through to first thoughts, to that place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor.” Here are some of her rules of free writing practice from Writing Down the Bones, which we recommend you keep in mind:

  • Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you’ve just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying.)
  • Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.)
  • Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.)
  • Lose control.
  • Don’t think. Don’t get logical.
  • Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.)

Today’s assignment asks for choosing three songs, that are the most important in our life and what they mean to us?

For me that is a difficult task. There are many that have come into my life at different times. I tend to focus on the artist rather than the product.

My taste in music is somewhat eclectic, anyway. The last time I ever really listened specifically to popular music would have been in early 1970’s. Since then, I have not lived under a rock and have heard all sorts of music. Some good, some not so … My feeling is that Payola still exists. That what the general public hears on radio stations AM/FM, etc. Is still manipulated by industry.

That is not to say that talent and hard work is not required.

In my youth, I lived in North London U.K. I would go to different clubs and pubs, with friends and occasionally by myself. To listen to the vibrant music culture that was emerging then. I remember one DJ. from the ill-fated Radio Caroline. Boasting that he could influence society’s buying habits, through wearing an article of clothing, or playing a particular record in about three weeks. He was likely right? For that’s how trends are started. people make money and some of that moola flows straight down, to those who can influence the most.

So, how do I choose? Three is such a limiting number.

How do others write? I use those scribblers that in September after “Back to School” events are over, go on sale. I use a pencil. Generally a propelling one. That only requires leads to refill. Pencils are “high-tech” instruments.  The hand guides them like a mouse and they have a delete feature on the top. One can fast-forward, eliminate, copy and paste very simply.

Do I worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar? … Yes I do! But i seldom think. Just let it flow, as if drawing.

Go for the jugular? Well violence just begets more violence. Going for the jugular may be just phrase that is urging us to say what we mean? But the “jugular” … c’mon. Let’s keep a sense of proportion and try to be polite, as we draw the noose tighter? ;-]

Okay down to the nitty gritty, … now there’s an influence from the 1970’s, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. They’re still playing, ya’ know?

In the 1950’s I used to listen to a BBC radio show called Children’s Favourites with the host Uncle Mac. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_McCulloch

The music choices were wide and eclectic. All good. Maybe the first song I sang to myself was this one? Popularized by the Kingston Trio and in Britain by Lonnie Donegan. About a man with the name of Thomas C. Dula who was hanged in 1868 for the murder of Laura Foster.

My next song chosen is from the 1960’s. I might have chosen one of several Beatles songs from the time, or one of many other British Bands that shot to prominence. There was so much going on then, on both sides of the Atlantic. For myself 1968 was a special year. This next tune dates from then.

The last choice. Is a difficult one, in that, I’ve already used up two choices. Yet I am determined to use this one, in my selections. Since it is the last opportunity in this post. Here it is. From the coffee houses of New York, in 1960’s to a life in Hawaii. Buffy Sainte Marie :-


Writing 101- A room with a view …

Today’s Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

The spaces we inhabit have an influence on our mood, our behavior, and even the way we move and interact with others. Enter a busy train station, and you immediately quicken your step. Step into a majestic cathedral, and you lower your voice and automatically look up. Return to your own room, and your body relaxes.

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

Giving your readers a clear sense of the space where your story unfolds will help them plunge deeper into your writing. Whether it’s a room, a house, a town, or something entirely different (a cave? a spaceship?), provide concrete details to set this place apart — and to create a more immersive reading experience.

It’s possible I’m wrong?

For Muslims it is considered offensive to sleep with the feet pointing to Mecca. … Hey I didn’t make the rules!

Where is God Not (retold by Nasruddin)

My beloveds, I travelled again to the village of my friend Tekka, after years away. He had become very devout in his ways, sometimes a little pompous, but still the kind soul I had loved for years.

I visited him, and we picked up our friendship as if we had never been apart.

“Nasruddin, you are a light to the eyes,” said Tekka, “Please stay with me. I insist.”

I accepted his kind invitation. He showed me my sleeping room, with a window to the east, and the bed made up. “I have arranged it so your head faces toward Mecca,” he said proudly. “You must always sleep with your head toward Mecca, out of respect for the Prophet, on whom be peace.”

My first night, I tossed and turned, and finally fell asleep. I am apparently an active sleeper, for when Tekka shook me awake the next morning, he was very agitated.

“Nasruddin, I am disappointed in you!” I looked at myself, and said, “I am often disappointed in myself, Tekka, what seems to be today’s problem?”

“You have slept with your feet toward Mecca! This is most disrespectful!”

“My apologies, Tekka, it was unintentional. I am a very active sleeper.”

Tekka was mollified, but insisted that the next night I must do better. I promised I would.

The next night resembled the first. I slept well, after some tossing and turning, but awoke to find my feet on my pillow and my head resting on the floor at the end of the sleeping mat. Just as I realized my predicament, Tekka stood in the door and clucked in concern.

“This will never do, Nasruddin. I am a good citizen and a good Muslim. You must sleep with your feet pointing the opposite way from Mecca, and your head pointing toward Mecca, out of respect for the Prophet and devotion to Allah.”

“What is your reason for insisting on this, my friend?” I asked.

“You must not point your feet toward God!” he said, and repeated it. “You must point your head toward God and your feet away from Him.”

I thought about this. We spent the day together, and that night Tekka was most emphatic. “Nasruddin,” he said, “If you cannot sleep with your head toward God, I regret to say I cannot have you in my house. It pains me to say this to an old friend, but my devotion is to Allah.”

The third night was much like the other two, except that this time I awoke with my nose pressed against the floor at the foot of the sleeping mat. It was pushed out of shape, and I was rubbing it when Tekka appeared. His face was clouded with anger and sadness.

“Before you speak, Tekka, answer me this,” I said, springing up. “Does Allah rule over everything, even the fate of men?”

“You know he does,” replied Tekka, puzzled.

“Is Allah there in every part of His creation?”

“Of course he is!”

I pointed out the window at the birds rising from the edge of the well. “Does he live in the birds of the air?”

“Yes,” said Tekka. “Why are you asking these questions?”

“Please have patience with an old friend,” I replied. “Is Allah everywhere, even across the desert and the mountains?”

“Allah is the creation. Allah is in the creation, and is the lord over the creation!” exclaimed Tekka.

“So, Tekka,” I said, holding out my feet. “Point my feet where God is not!”



Similarly :-

It is difficult for me to pick “One place”. “What place would I go to right now”?

For expediencies sake, I will choose a Trans Atlantic flight. From North America to London, England.

I have flown a few different routes. Spokane to Minneapolis/St.Paul then on to Gatwick or Heathrow. Spokane to Denver and on. Taken off from Seattle, Vancouver, or Calgary AB. All landing at those London Airports. One time we landed in Amsterdam. Where I waited for a connection to Heathrow.

Not once were we served Camembert.

One time flying out from St.Paul, I was bumped up to first class. Where the travel is world’s apart from economy. The first thing that happens when welcoming you aboard is escort you to your seat and then offer Champagne. Around comes a cheese board and I seem to remember Camembert was on offer, then? As part of a selection. I think I declined the cheese board? However they were magnificently presented. A special cheese knife to cut the desired cheese. This was before the twin towers fiasco. Things were different then.

Senator Ruth, it seems. Is totally out of touch with the world, of most people. Her notion of extra billing to expenses for another meal because the airlines, or class of travel she uses. Serves her “ice-cold camembert and broken crackers”.  Shows a disdain. It shows a disdain for us the rest of the population. Apart from Senators in the Canadian Senate. Few of us are able to bill for expenses. The sort of expenses that get reimbursed promptly. Few of us have the ability to book first class travel. Which means travel in style where the seats are like day-beds, with quiet service. The little complimentary sacks of soaps and hair care.

What does Nancy Ruth do? We are told by one unnamed Senator that we “Do not have the first clue about Parliamentary life and public life in general”?

Nancy Ruth


I wonder if Ms. Ruth has the same opinion?

This same source sniffed at the auditors looking into expense claims. Going on to say, “they are bean counters and they work in a very narrow environment”. Yes they do. Thankfully for the Canadian taxpayer. For they are not counting beans but dollars. Dollars that to Senators, are about as worthless as beans.

So, here’s to Ms Ruth. Anytime I fly to Europe again, I shall be thinking of her and her extra meals, paid courtesy of the Canadian Taxpayer. Looking at her; Canada’s first openly lesbian Senator.

She has had over ten years, of the pork barrel. In that time what has she actually achieved? Not very much it seems?

The only thing I could see was; “in 2010, Nancy Ruth took credit for the Throne Speech‘s including a proposal to study changing the line of “O Canada” from “all thy sons command” to “thou dost in us command”, the original wording. Intense publicbacklash caused the Prime Minister’s Office to announce the issue had been dropped from consideration6] “.

Maybe this failure, caused her to take it out on the taxpayer? Determined to seek revenge for this slight, she is extra billing and double dipping, in some sort of fury at being rejected? Who knows? Maybe it’s none of that? Perhaps, it is just plain piggy, Like the rest of the piggies, that run government.

She has all the trappings of the well-heeled. The designer jacket and jet earrings. The progressive bifocals, a touch of lipstick underneath a grizzled countenance.

For none of us would begrudge her a decent meal, as she flies around the country putting wrongs to rights. Another meal, on top of what the taxpayer is already going to pay for. When she travels first or business class. For she is right. “Ice-cold Camembert and broken crackers”, is positively insulting, toward such an august member of the Canadian establishment?

Maybe she might have just asked a flight attendant to run that Camembert under the microwave for a few seconds? Or for some crackers that were not broken? But like a dummy she kept quiet. Then upon descending, went and scarfed down another meal, before leaving the terminal?How did it actually go Ms Ruth? Enlighten us poor sinners.

Austerity is for others, not for Canadian Senators.

We hear the angel’s trumpet, as Ms Ruth travels the highways and byways. Seeking out some other anthem injustice. It is rarefied air up there in the high-flying ethers, for sure.

Writing 101- Unlocking the mind …

You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen — it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.

– Author Khaled Hosseini, “How to Write,” the Atlantic

The first assignment asks the participant to just write for twenty minutes. A seemingly simple task?

Living in western Canada. For the last day or so, I’ve been somewhat perturbed or pre-occupied by something that appeared in our national press on Saturday. A quote from one Canadian Senator, concerning airline food. Her opinion was that airline food was “bad”. Which justified her billing the Canadian public for the expense of another meal. Ostensibly, to replace the aforesaid airline food.

Senator Ruth, actually said that being served “Ice-cold Camembert and broken crackers”. Was unacceptable to her, thus the replacement meal at taxpayers expense.

Why has this struck a chord with myself and others across the country?

Well, there are a few levels to consider.Firstly, I do not consider myself a world traveller. Yet since the 1960’s I have taken enough trans-continental flights to have some experience of airline food. These flights have always been taken in economy class. A couple of times because of being a solo passenger, it resulted in being bumped up to another class. Just once or twice.

In economy class, the food was never wonderful. Yet it was adequate. Actually, I learned long ago that when booking a ticket to order a special dietary meal. Usually I ask for a vegetarian one. But there is a list to choose from. One may be Halal, Vegan or Sikh among others like Nut-free.

That is my first tip to travelling. I always confirm this at the desk, when booking in. It means among other things that you are usually served first before the general cabin population. Years ago, being a vegetarian meant sumptuous repast. It was as if the airline was afraid that the lack of animal protein, meant the passenger was about to keel over and expire? So, they always did it right. These days of cutbacks to passenger comfort. means less leg room and food or beverage service. Means that the meals have become smaller and less diverse. A vegetarian meal has started to become predictable. Like all the other meals they are served on plastic plates. No more china and silverware for you chappies in economy. After all, there is always the possibility, you will attempt to hi-jack, or whatever?


There my time is up … and I have yet to get to the crux of my gripe. Maybe there will be an opportunity to expound in the next segment?

Just remember – “Ice cold Camembert and broken crackers”, is the current theme.