Wednesday Walking In This World

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Evening Snow at Kanbara, Edo period (1615–1868), 1834
Ando Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper; 8 7/8 x 13 3/4 in. (22.5 x 34.9 cm)
The Howard Mansfield Collection, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1936 (JP2492)

Julia Cameron’s second book in her Artist’s Way trilogy is entitled Walking In This World.  For many years, I mis-read this title as Walking In The World, and the difference is notable.  “The” world is inspecific, whereas “This” world is particular.  By focusing on this reality, this moment, we focus on the now.  It is in the now that our power resides, where we access our own inner strength and wisdom.

Cameron uses images in her work of Japanese woodblock prints.  These are fascinating pieces of art, because they’re carved into wood in a negative image and then stamped onto paper as a positive image, colored from there.  I found the image, above, while doing an internet search, but am most familiar with the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.  They have a large collection of works by Hokusai, who is one of the more commonly known woodblock artists.

Katsushika Hokusai
Japanese, 1760-1849
Dawn at Isawa in Kai Province (Koshu Isawa no akatsuki), from the series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjurokkei)”, c. 1830/33

Not all of their collection is on display, such as this image, but you can page through their website and view an extensive archive of material.  Hokusai focused on images found in nature, particularly mountains and especially Mount Fuji.  He also has some haunting images of ghosts from Japanese folklore.

What museum near you might you visit this month?
What kind of art calls to your senses?

A Writer In Her Library – The Shape of the Whole

The Library at Chez Noony
Or, The Ladybug Bed and Breakfast Dining Room and Reading Nook

I spent much of December and all of New Year’s Day organizing my library.  I put everything in order by topic, and then alphabetical by author.  As I did so, I started to realize something:  my library is a clue to myself.  As I am exploring new diary techniques and autobiographical writing, organizing my possessions, and more particularly my books, has been a window that looks into the world about which I’m writing.

I can trace my own development as an adult through my books.  There are the ones I have from my first university degree; Russian, philosophy, metaphysics, Wicca, and astronomy.  Then there are my travel books and books about hiking – how to do it and where to explore.  I have a startling number of personal productivity books – Covey and Smith, of course, but lesser-known authors as well.  Personal finance features largely even before my MBA books, and I had a blast of nostalgia when I found my macroeconomics book, the first course I had to take as a prerequisite when I started my MBA.

There’s also the material I collected when working on my unfinished master herbalist coursework, aromatherapy science, and cooking.  I have a huge home section, and not just on decorating the home – how to buy it, what to do when things go wrong, how stuff works in it, how to remodel it, and even how to entertain in it – and more than one entertaining book, too.  I even have a book on how to be a blonde (don’t ask, it was at a used book sale and made me laugh, which was worth it for the dollar it cost to buy).

As I explore my own mind, and give myself permission to tell my own story and not the ones that were handed to me to cover the facts, I find that my library is a comfort to me.  I enjoy sitting in the Ugli Chair and looking around at the books.  I imagine staying in there for days, leaving only to use the restroom or get food and water, and that image is one that’s exciting.  A retreat from the world to think and contemplate and read and write?  What could be more fun?

Excuse me, but I think I’ll go sit in there for a while before I go to bed.  But before I go, I have a question for you, Dear Reader:

What are your favorite topics about which to read?

Sunday Box Talk – Questions and Answers

Morning Pages In the Garden With Coffee
Image © 2013, A. Catherine Noon

I’m sure I’m not alone during this time of year in wondering what new beginnings are occurring and what things to leave behind in the old year.

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
Zora Neale Hurston

I think it’s important to not be so quick to demand answers.  Finding the right questions is important, particularly if we are to get to the answers that will help us.  Our society has become impatient with not knowing; we assume the answer is always on the internet.  It’s become common to say, “Just google it,” and the company name has become synonymous with finding answers.

The important questions aren’t so easily remedied.  Take “Who am I?” for example.  That’s not something one can google.  It’s also not something we can easily answer with a pat recitation of our name, birth date and serial number.  Sometimes the answer can take a lifetime, and sometimes we can live for decades without knowing that we don’t, in fact, know the answer and haven’t yet really asked the question.

A Writer In Her Library – Taming the Chaos

I have been a reader for a long, long time.  I started collecting books in my early teens and, despite two deep – and I do mean, deep – purges, I still have a prodigious collection.  The hieroglyphics above is a screenshot of the index I use to keep track of all this bounty.  (You can click on it to enlarge the picture if you’re that masochistic.)

A couple thoughts about personal library organization:

If you’re serious about being published, making an index of all the books you either own or have checked out – and liked – from the library would be prudent.  But don’t just keep the author and title.  Dig a little deeper for clues into the business:

Who is the publisher?

Where are they located?  Are they an international conglomerate (tip-off here is if they have multiple, international, cities on their title page, like New York, London, and Tokyo).

What year is the book published?

What genres are listed on the Library of Congress listing?  This will give you an idea of other topics in which you might be interested, as well as give you thoughts about topics about which you might be prompted to write – even for blog posts.

Who is the agent?  You might have to do some digging.  It may not say in the front material, but some internet sleuthing might reveal it to you.  If you adore five authors, for example, and four of them are from Publisher A, and three of them are represented by Agency B, then poof! You know to whom you might want to submit something in a similar vein.  (This is the natural extension of the old adage, “Write What You Know.”)

You might also be interested in where you bought it or who gave it to you.

Even more, you might want to say a few words about whether you liked it, or when you talked about it on a blog, or other information that is of use to you.

I keep my book index in Excel because I’m good with Excel and it’s immensely customizable.  Others I know have done it in online communities such as GoodReads or LibraryThing.  I don’t like those options because I can’t control them, can’t customize them, and at the end of the day, don’t own them.  I like to have complete control over my list.

Over time, your library can reveal to you the shape of your own mind.  Maybe in 2010 you collected nothing but books on such-and-such subject, but this year, you’re deeply interested in this other subject over here.  You can write essays on your books and share them with other bibliophiles online.  Or, like I’m doing here, you can even write a blog post about your organization system.

Fun times, nu?

Now, back to reorganizing.  We moved last year and it threw my library into disarray.  Next up:  textile arts books.  I can’t wait!

What about you?
About which subjects do you enjoy reading (whether or not you have them in your library at home)?

A Writer In Her Library – Journaling with Deena Metzger

I’ve re-discovered one of the books in my personal library, Writing For Your Life: A Guide and Companion to the Inner Worlds, by Deena Metzger. I’ve been doing a lot more journaling in the last year and it re-ignited my interest in books about journaling and ways that have worked for other diarists.

This particular book has an emphasis on specificity and poetry. She has us examine our observations as though we were a traveler in a foreign country, visiting a new place. By doing so, we turn our attention to things and see them as though for the first time. She invites us to get more specific in what we see. In this way, we can bridge into poetry and metaphor, see the importance of what we’re seeing in a new, and deeper, way.

I like books that have exercises in them because, at the end of the day, I’m a writer and not just a reader. I prefer books that invite me to be an active participant. I think that’s why I enjoy mysteries – because I get to solve the story along with the characters. Metzger has us experiment with many different methods, trying each of them on to see what works for us and for our writing.

It is through facts that we can get to the heart of emotion. Rather than tell the reader, “I felt sad,” we show the reader what sadness felt like and its uniqueness in that time and place. Each sadness is different: different causes, different participants, different consequences. The more we can report the facts of the feelings, the more we can get to the center core of Truth in our experience. I think this is at the heart of the old writer’s adage, “show, don’t tell.” When I say to the reader, “I felt angry,” I’m telling the reader what I felt. When I say, instead, what that anger did to me physically, what I said and how others responded to me, and what was left unsaid, I show the reader a moment in time – so much more than just the emotion of angry, but an entire scene and its aftermath.

I’m only in the first part of the book right now but am thoroughly enjoying myself. Highly recommend this to those of you that enjoy journaling, or that think you might want to give it a try.

What how-to books do you recommend?

Two for Tuesday

I was looking for a lolcat to adorn my post today, so I asked Google, “lolcats all of thems.”  This is one of the ones that came up and since I guffawed out loud – sorry, “lol’d,” I figured I’d better use it.

Why?

Because lolcats.

ANYway.  I have not one but TWO posts for you today!

The first is at the Chicago Region of National Novel Writing Month.  Just because you didn’t “win” NaNo doesn’t mean you lost.

The second is at Torquere Press’s blog, Romance for the Rest of Us.  I got to musing about my daily round and shared pictures.

Hope you’ll stop by and show me some love in the comments! Happy reading!

Two for Thursday!

Happy Thursday!  I know, I know my post title doesn’t rhyme.  Par for my week.  The heat went out at our building last night, so my brain hasn’t thawed yet.  I’m applying liberal servings of coffee.

I have two posts for you today!  One is by me, ~waves~, because I’m over at Beyond the Veil today talking about – what else – NaNoWriMo!

The second thing I have for you is a chance to win prizes! Woot! My buddy Dani Wade is up at the Nice Girls Writing Naughty blog today with some tips on staying the course – if you’re feeling discouraged, this post is a great pick-me-up. Plus, she’s giving away a prize to one lucky commenter – AND you will be entered to win our grand prize of $25 USD to All Romance eBooks.

Happy reading!