Education vs. Technology


These days I look at our education system with a deep sense of sadness and befuddlement.

What are the cornerstones of our educational base now?

At one point they were reading, writing & arithmetic .

Why are they no longer ‘teaching’ children these fundamentals?

They are not teaching children how to write any longer.  They are not teaching them how to spell.  Children have iPads now that they work off of with calculators to assist in the math areas.

A recent article spoke of children coming into school not having developed the muscles to hold a pencil or pen in order to write.  Here are the two schools of thought that currently seem to exist.

“One school believes that learning handwriting is important for children because they think fine motor control and how you organize your thoughts develops with your writing skills. But the other camp believes that we’re moving into a world where [everything] is done on computers, so learning how to write by hand is an outdated skill.”

I believe and know for fact that the first school of thought  is based on proven theory and writing should never be considered an outdated skill.  It should be an absolute necessity.  Now more than ever!

I am absolutely appalled though that schools are moving toward technology at such a rapid pace without any thought as to how this will impact the youth of today years from now.

One person bemoaned on their blog how ‘dangerous’ pens and pencils are and that they should be banned from the classroom!  The reasoning was infantile at best.  The writer of that blog post insisted that pens and pencils can and have been used as weapons.

It is not the pens and pencils that are the issue.  It is the children’s behaviour.  I cannot recall throwing pencils at other students.  That is not to say it didn’t happen.  The children that did partake in this type of behaviour were quickly reprimanded.

And if a child displayed such disruptive behaviour there were usually underlying and more serious issues at play that would require further investigation to help the child.

And as we know, technology has created some major hindrances in child development and brought about things such cyber-bullying.

As a child I loved getting school supplies.  I would get a new pencil case, pencils, erasers, rulers, geometry kits, pens, binders, and packs of loose-leaf paper,  We had the duo-tang folders to put the paper in and I would label each folder with the subject matter that it would contain.  This was based upon the colour of the folder as well.

I loved the smell and newness of everything.  In elementary school we were given ‘scribblers’ by the schools. This was how you practiced your penmanship and spelling.

So the big thing was having a cool lunch kit.  I do believe the last one I may have had was a Partridge Family one.  I also had a book bag made from a cheap vinyl and yet these items gave me a sense of belonging.

We were given projects to do and book reports to prepare.  There were certain things the teacher looked for.  One was indeed penmanship.  And I worked at this.  My mother and oldest sister had beautiful handwriting and I aspired to write as they did.

Writing and reading were the two things I loved most about school.  Arithmetic…well, it scared me a bit back then.  Being that I am someone who learns best by visualization, those early math books weren’t very good at allowing me to do this.

Still the problems presented such as (i.e. a train traveling 45 mph arrives at 10 PM.  Another train travelling 65 mph arrives at the same time…what distance did each cover?) always gave me pause to think.   And while they often confounded me at the beginning, they eventually became the ones I really like.

They were like a mystery to me.

What I liked about them is they assisted with critical thinking and they helped in terms of developing the brain’s cognitive and figurative functions.

Being able to assess and determine a variety of issues is a good thing.  And it is the lessons from my youth that have helped enormously to shape the person I’ve become.

I feel children are being robbed of an education if they are not being taught to read, write and spell.  If they are not being taught to calculate math manually as well and are solely reliant on technology then what happens ? For example what happened to play?

Parks and playgrounds now sit empty. Why?

Here is another excerpt.

“Of course, there are so many other concerns when it comes to kids and devices with regard to social interaction and the development of emotion.

“Whilst there are many positive aspects to the use of technology, there is growing evidence on the impact of more sedentary lifestyles and increasing virtual social interaction as children spend more time indoors online and less time physically participating in active occupations,” Karin Bishop, an assistant director at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, told The Guardian.

Flanders echoes those concerns, and points to emerging literature that indicates that extended screen time may be creating problems for children, including an increased prevalence of ADHD, a lack of good interpersonal skills and an expectation of instant gratification.

But he also doesn’t think that it will result in scaling back on tech in the classroom.

“Right now, schools are still emphasizing learning the alphabet by tracing the letters with their fingers and writing them out with pen and paper,” Flanders says.

“But I think 30 or 40 years from now, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”

I really believe that schools need to have a concise educational plan.

For example:

Grades 1-4:  No computers in the classroom.  (All learning  is based on the tried and true methods of working with paper, pencils and pens along with text books.  The use of reference materials, such as dictionaries, thesaurus’ and encyclopedias should be encouraged. )

Grades 5-7:  Begin to introduce computers into the classroom as a tool, nothing more.

The emphasis should be on developing children’s skills and abilities to become engaged and plugged in adolescents.  The formative years are critical in terms of assisting our children to develop such skills.   To think that writing is going to be an ‘outdated skill’ is damn well frightening to me.

The page has been the one thing in my life that always listened.  I could pour out everything and anything onto that page.  It was now purged from my youthful soul that was shattered at that time.  Had I held all of that in, had I never been able to express the hurt, the angst, the fear that existed…I’m not certain I would even be here.

A counselor told me that they had encouraged a female patient to journal.  She hedged at the idea.  Later it would be discovered that the girl did not know how to write.

Writing gave me a voice.  It enabled me to express the feelings that were locked inside  that verbally I found so difficult to share.  Even if no one else ever saw the words written they were there.

Don’t take these skills away from children.

Read below what is replacing paper and pen.

‘Written communication among kids and teens today has morphed into such a confusing mixture of acronyms and emojis that it can almost make hieroglyphics more easily understood. This is why it’s important for parents to be up on the latest text slang.

“Text lingo practically changes weekly and a lot of the times, parents have no clue what their kids and their friends are saying,” says Titania Jordan, chief parent officer of Bark, a software program that monitors, detects and alerts parents to potentially dangerous conversations on their kids’ cellphones, and email and social media accounts.

“I’m surprised at how many parents still don’t know what ‘Netflix and chill’ means.” (For the record, it refers to hooking up, not actually watching Netflix.)’

And yet we readily hand our children cellphones and tablets that connect them to what, I am no longer certain.

Read Ray Bradbury’s book released in 1953 for ‘Fahrenheit 451’.

Below is a summary of the book as written by The New York Times.

‘Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.’

This has a chilling ring of truth to it.  The T.V. has now been replaced by iPads and Tablets.

Will there come a time when books are no longer necessary, when their value is no longer worth the pages they’ve been written upon?

I for one certainly hope not.

 

 

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The Responsible Writer…


forgiveness

I got together with my writing group tonight.  The topic for tonight’s discussion was a provocative one.  It had in fact sparked a weird conversation on the Meet-up site. I had found the conversation rather amusing in that obscure and animated manner that we at times come across.

The topic for tonight’s discussion was the role of the ‘responsible’ writer.

An interesting notion regarding the ethics of what we write and how they impact the reading public.

Certain things were declared to keep us in the realm of respectability regarding our writing.

One was to not take a real person and fictionalize their life in a derogatory manner.

The second was not to be deceitful. Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling for Columbine’ was used as an excuse as apparently not all the things in that movie / documentary? were factual.

Still, sometimes you have to stand back and look at the message….yes?

Drive the point home by whatever means but some felt he’d been rather deceitful in the execution of telling the tale.

A lot of questions sprang to mind as I listened to the views expressed.  We all agreed that journalism is held to a very different standard than your run of mill book.

And it should be.

Las Vegas 2015 178

The term ‘literal truth’ was a raised a few times and I sat considering what meaning this held.

It is a factual term that cannot be disputed. For example the Moon circles the Earth every twenty-eight days.  It is a literal truth that is a proven fact and cannot be altered.  Now that I had reconciled it’s meaning in my head then came the ’50 Shades of Truth.’

And I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  This particular book was mentioned a time or two as well tonight.

While almost everyone and their dog that I have spoken with will tell you how poorly written it is, I ask you this?  What then was the appeal?

To say that a lot of bored housewives were out there smacks of a certain duplicity and insults women in general.

I read the first book.  Didn’t like it.  It was billed as erotica and in truth it was a poorly written romance.  Nothing more.

But I will take my hat off (if I wore one) to E.L James.  She sold this book through brilliant marketing.  Sex and controversy!  Hell, now that is combination that is irresistible.  Get the public curious and they will take note.  She also used social media much to her advantage as well.

I can recall when Michael Jackson wrote ‘Moonwalk’.  The lead up to the release was hyped to the max and ‘promised’ to give us the skinny on the ‘gloved one’ in his own words.

Personally it was a disappointment for me.

Michael was trying to sell a story he’d been parroting for years and in many ways it read as though he was trying to convince himself as well. I didn’t buy it.  And it made me sad.

bs 1

The responsible writer…provocative.

What if a woman writes about her love and adoration for her husband who happens to be extremely abusive and controlling to the outside world?  Does this set a poor example for our youth?

If a woman is raped in book and confesses to ‘liking it’ what message does this convey?

At the age of 12 or 13 I slipped beneath the covers with flashlight in hand and read my father’s copy of ‘The Happy Hooker” unbeknownst to him until I was caught.  Back in 1970 I wasn’t too certain what much of what I was reading meant, but I can assure you I was not inspired to go out and fuck a German Shepard.

We need to respect that our children are not mindless sheep who will believe everything that they read.  Also we must infuse a sense of kindness and love in them and teach them by example.

Mark Chapman read “Catcher in the Rye”  It triggered something in him and he killed John Lennon.

Is the book at fault?

No.

face pain 1

Mark Chapman was mentally ill and unfortunately the object he fixated upon was a brilliant musician.  I love John Lennon’s music. His gift of song spoke to me on such a personal level.

There are many who condemn him for being and an abusive asshole.

I do not condone this type of behavior.  What  I saw was a man trying to change, wanting to be a different man, wanting to be better.

I have not always been the lovely woman I am today either.

John was not afforded certain opportunities as his life was cut short.

In high school we read two books back to back in social studies.

“Mein Kampf” and “The Diary of Ann Frank”

Quite simply the lesson was ’cause and effect’ intimately woven together and it was an incredibly powerful lesson.

One was the progression of an intelligent and extremely impotent and insecure man who was falling into the obscene and frightening belief of his own myth that he had created becoming the epitome of evil.

The other was the beautiful innocence of a girl hiding in an attic with her family experiencing the tender chutes and passions of youth only to be discovered and effectively killed.

forgiveness 2

I have always been fascinated by the human condition and what we choose to accept or reject.  We can alter our memories particularly those that are extraordinarily painful. We can press them back and deny them simply because they are too raw and savage.

Human kind has a dark history in this regard.  Through the ages the manner by which we’ve killed our own is truly disturbing.

And it continues.  Atrocities still exist.  I see the intolerance that hate has blossomed into and the false bravado these  men try to wear.  Very sad.

Young people are taken at such a young age and fed a litany of propaganda that they later act upon.

Think about this.

cirillo w dog

We tell our children there is a man named Santa that comes every year and flies about the world in a sleigh pulled by eight magical reindeer and delivers a gift to each and every child.  Mall Santas’ sit listening to each child’s wish list and Canada Post will even send a child a letter back if they’ve written to the North Pole.

This is of course isn’t harmful to them, is it?  There is a sweetness to it.  Oh they will eventually grow up and know that it’s not true and when they have children of their own they too will carry on the myth of Santa.

I am simply using a very base example of how myth can affect the mind of a child as I can well recall laying in bed on Christmas Eve wondering if Santa would come.  For a time I believed.

Now think of how they take young boys in the middle east and feed them fear, conditioning them to close their minds and only accept a ‘truth’ bound in darkness.  Because to raise a child up believing that by forfeiting their life serves their ‘god’ and a higher purpose is truly tragic.

What I took from the meeting this night was more in keeping with free thought, free speech and the responsibility to ensure we always have it.

 

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birth of a Dream


 

 

http://www.amazon.com/This-Mind-Memoir-Nancy-Pilling/dp/0993846025/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424326821&sr=8-1&keywords=With+this+in+Mind

(Above is the link to Amazon.com)

Here I am on the edge about to plunge into the world of publishing.

I’ve crossed over from dreaming about it, to making it real.  The book has now been published.

(See above)

And there is this part of me that still doesn’t quite believe it…pinch me!

There was for a moment that insecure part of me that insisted ‘It’s not good enough.’  These are the demons that have bound me in ‘If only…’ for the majority of my life.

I am past ‘If only…’

I am past ‘I wish I could…’

I am at ‘I can and I will.’

I’ve been thinking about some of the past conversations I’ve had with members of my writing groups.  We’ve discussed success and what it means to each of us.

I can tell you this.  Any one who writes a book and wants to publish it really does want to see their work do well.

We want to reach out to the masses and emote, entertain, touch and inspire.

We want our voice heard, understood in whatever genre we’ve chosen to express our creative self.  We look for acknowledgement.  In all the words we writers’ pen, they hold a part of our soul.

I’ve read obscure books that were brilliant.  I’ve read books so poorly written that were best sellers.

And the difference comes down to marketing.

A  few years back a fellow who attended a couple meetings of our writing group had published a book on Amazon.  Excitedly I asked several questions and then he told us that he’d taken it down after a week as there had been no sales.  I pressed for more information wanting to know what his marketing strategy had been.

There in lay the problem…he didn’t have one.

You can write the best book ever but you still have to market it and let the masses know its there.

Books do not and never will sell themselves.

Nothing will for that matter.

Vince appears on our TV screen and slices and dices his way into our homes convincing us that our lives will be so much better with this little gadget he’s selling.  How we’ve managed to get by without this item in our lives is really quite extraordinary.

I’ve watched infomercials and purchased items believing that I will benefit.

When the Dermawand was being marketed I had just entered into my 50’s.  With the promise of aging skin being tightened I had to at least give it a try, didn’t I?

And I did.

We’ve been inundated with products that will make our lives that much better.

Kitchen, beauty, diet and fitness items top the list.

Take this pill  and lose all the weight you want.  Workout just 15 minutes a day on this machine and you’ll have that six pack you’ve always wanted…guaranteed.

Hmmm  Really?

And now I’m thinking how to market this book…honestly.

Will it change your life?

I don’t know but it changed mine.

I hope that my book will bring some insight into the issue of abuse.  I hope that it will offer comfort on some level to those who’ve experienced this.  I hope they’ll know they have choices and they are not alone.

I want to work toward a day where we move past judgments, move past negative energy and move past living as victims.

And while I’ve mentioned those demons that still haunt, still taunt, I do know that they will never take away what I’ve found.  They are simply echoes from another time.

I hope you’ll read my book and that you’ll take something from the words I’ve written and the memories I’ve shared.

I can’t ask for anything more than that.

Peace.

 

A Blogger’s Life


EC6

Okay, I am feeling decidedly playful tonight. I’ve been editing.  And I must say, despite the topic and issues raised in this work of mine, I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve produced to date.

I’m polishing it up.  Taking those phrases when last I passed through this book of mine, which was a year ago, and defining them in a way that is more conducive to the meaning trying to be conveyed.

A year ago I had read through this work of mine approximately seven times or so.

And truth be told I didn’t want to look at it again.  For two years I’d worked on it and during that tenure, I had been living part of the book.

Emotions were at times volatile.  Behaviours were erupting in a tidal wave that I found myself swept up in with the only hope that when all settled, I would have survived and grown as a result.

Then on the heels of all these momentous changes came the health issues, shifting this life in yet another direction.

Really there was no other choice than to run with it.

Things have settled considerably now after some four years of some rather extreme challenges.

And now as I read back the words, let me tell you, I got it right this time.

Phone Pics July 2014 070

 

I have told  something so very personal that it exposes my vulnerabilities and fears to the world. I put out all my flaws and weakness’ without excuse .  I’m happy with the effort and result.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length, then you’ll know I want more than anything to become a respectable wordsmith.  To take this craft and be able to lend the words to such a favorable position that their meaning might well touch the reader in a manner that is positive and profound, that quite humbly is my only wish.

There is a blogger that I follow on this site with some 70,000 plus followers.  I loved his writings and his depth.

Now it seems every post is requesting finances from his followers for some crisis he seems to be having in his life.

20140816_151541

 

I’ve not reached such popularity, however, I have remained true to the purpose of this blog and shall remain as such.

I will never ask you to donate for my aging computer equipment,  nor I will never ask you fund my online subscriptions, for my health care, my rent, etc.

It has truly saddened me where he’s taken his blog.  This makes me wonder why we are all on this forum.

I, for one, read all the posts I’ve signed on to.  If I am moved to comment then I do.

Still, this morning, when I rose and checked my email and saw the blog from Christian stating ‘Help!” I knew he would again be asking for money.

I sighed wearily.  It’s just such a turn off.  Time to sign off.

For me this forum is where we can all come and express ourselves.  There is no expectation, and hopefully no judgment.

You either like it or you don’t.  It either speaks to you or it doesn’t.  This is a place where we can all share our thoughts and ideas.

But for fifty dollars, I could pay Christan to upload one of my posts!  After all he has some 70,000 plus followers.

Don’t we all wish for that?  And then I saw the posts being re-blogged as he said he would.

In some there was an odd desperation in these writers trying to gain exposure for their work.  Like me they probably don’t know shit about marketing.

He got lucky. What you have to understand in this world, is that sometimes people just get lucky.

There is an old saying that it’s 25% talent, 25% who you know and 50% luck.

I don’t know.  I’m not into statistics.

stories

I see this happen all too often though.  Someone becomes popular in their writing or delivery of words, written or oral.

And the price goes up.

Think of these so called prolific wisdom gurus such as Tony Robbins and the like.  Hell, the fees attached to their seminars are exorbitant.

If you’ve attended any of their seminars, what have you learned?

I can tell you now, they will not disclose any information to you that you’re not already in possession of.  What they’ve become masters at is unveiling such information in a manner that seems new and invigorating.

And I feel like that with a many of bloggers whom I’ve followed.

Then you have the ones that seem to be buying into their own ‘greatness’ after all, how could 70,000 plus followers be wrong?

And admittedly for a time, this confused me. I blogged about it.  Why were the words and thoughts I was expressing not being acknowledged by WordPress?  Why had I never been ‘Freshly Pressed’?

Then it came to me.  I am here only to practice the craft I love.  I will never ask for any compensation other than you like what you’ve read.

It’s just that simple.  I have no agenda to separate you from your hard earned cash.

If, what I’ve written, brings an emotional connection to you in any way, then I’ve done my job.

It’s just that simple.

bateman-batol6

 

If we cannot share our words and expressions with honesty, then what?

Last evening, as I have done for the last six years, I boarded the Britannia here in Vancouver as a staff volunteer to kick off a cruise for the Pride weekend in Vancouver.

I have many friends who are gay, and you know, I learned a long time ago to judge people by what was in their heart.

So if I can assist my friends’ and make this celebration that much more exceptional, then I will.

I took my camera and snapped some 300 photographs on the cruise last night.

I spent another three hours today reviewing and correcting any inconsistencies then uploading onto my friends Facebook page, along with mine.

And as I did this, I felt blessed for the people I have in my life and even more so that I can write the things that I do.

Enjoy your day and thank you for stopping by.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I\

Sirens & Crows


stones

A thought begins to form and with it that intoxicating rush of what it may become.  Now the idea takes shape and I’m itching to get my hands on a pen and paper to jot down the rudimentary plot.

Fabulous words and phrases are slipping through the grey matter and I feel the panic rise. I’m in transit…still in my car.  Even upon entering the office, I can’t just commit to writing everything down but I can punch out a few key words.

My head is still a foggy, not quite awake.  I didn’t sleep well last evening.  The world outside my walls kept invading my nirvana.

At 3:50 AM crows were plaintively screaming an injustice outside my window.  Sleepily, with eyes still closed, I tried to reason with them.

You’ll find a more responsive and sympathetic audience if you just let us sleep!” I whispered to the cacophony. They failed to listen.

I had hoped to double up today.  Workout in the morning and run after work.  Sirens and crows played a major hand in convincing me to listen to the bed this morning and steal another hour of what had been sadly lacking during the night.

Strange things play out in my head on the cusp between these two realms.  Dreams invite the outside world in to dance with the images already engaged.

A drama is unfolding, though I seem to just be observing at this point.  A crow glides in beside me.  With an air of petulance he shakes his glistening black head.

clouds

“You just don’t understand, you’ll never understand.”  Then he makes to fly away.

“Stop this!  I hate that when you do this.  Always you make your accusations then just fly away.”

I reach out and take hold of one of his legs.

“This is not the time.” he warns ominously.

“And when will be the time?” I insist.

“When the playoffs are over.” he hisses at me then flies away.

I woke then with a question mark etched on my face and in my mind.

Finally, I just gave up trying to go back to sleep.  I slipped from bed and prepared for the day.  I’ll run tonight after work.

My training needs to build gradually so I will keep at it.

As I was driving in to work I pondered dreams.  I thought about technology.  Wondered if they would ever develop a dream recorder.  Wondered if I would ever want to use it.  I don’t know that I would want to share such an intimate side of myself with the rest of this world.

Oh, I can talk about them.  Tell you bits and pieces or lay out the complete story.  That is my choice though. Still, you’ll never see exactly what I have.

Would there be benefits be of being able to record the images in your head?  For those who claim to ‘never dream’ would it shock or surprise them at what actually does go on in their grey matter?

It was recently noted that taking ‘selfies’ on a continuous, almost obsessive basis is now considered a mental illness.  Narcissism seems to be on the rise.  The desire to appear perfect is a multi-billion dollar industry.

I go through various stages of beautiful.  At the moment I resemble a fish called Wanda with a bit of Sebastian the crab tossed in for good measure.

How’s that for a visual?  A reggae singing crab crossed with an angel fish.  And you know, I think if I could just talk like a Jamacian, it wouldn’t matter what I looked like because I would sound so cool!

I seldom take my picture.  There are far more interesting things to look at than me. Everyone knows what I look like.  I update it from time to time.  For example, when my hair fell out during chemo and I had it shaved by my daughter.

What was funny about that was the concern my head would be mishapen.  I am sure I would have known this with the hair still on my head.  But again, there is that desire to look normal, to be attractive.

Like many of you, I want to feel beautiful.  And I guess that’s the key.  Feeling it is much different than just the visual.

For those who take selfies of themselves gyrating in front of a mirror with next to nothing on, who display their cleavage or who take pics of their penis’ I wonder at the reasoning for this.

It has gotten boring fast.  It has become vulgar.  There really isn’t anything mysteriously senuous about anything that the multitude of people doing this can offer.  Perhaps they think that they look better than anyone else.  I don’t know.  And if so, what does the idea of this notion do for you?

Let me ask you this.

Does the idea of a woman of 56 that looks half crab and half angel fish dancing with mop excite you?

Hmm!  I could be on to a whole new avenue of erotica here, folks.

My point being is that none of us has something that has never been seen before.  They are assembled slightly different on all of us which is rather cool in a way.  We all have assembled bits that are uniquely ours and we should celebrate this.

I shall go now and muscle through this day with the neurons that are fully functioning.

Peace out and enjoy.

 

 

The Whisper ( A Poem)


Queens Park August 24 699Another world....

At one time all I wrote was verse.  And I did it very badly.  Convinced that everything needed to rhyme I took my limited vocabulary and tried my damnedest to convey my feelings in this odd little box of adjectives, nouns and verbs.  I can’t remember where I heard this or perhaps I read it somewhere.  It was one of those obscure little tidbits that became a rather foolish thorn in my side. 

“Nothing rhymes with orange.”

How many nights did I lay in bed trying to find a word that would compliment it.  Talk about a fast track to a padded cell somewhere.  I don’t know why, for a time, I was like this.  The oddest things would catch and hold. 

In fact, I stopped eating oranges for a time because of that odd little niggling I would get.

Thankfully I finally let it go. Stopped obsessing over trivial matters that had no bearing on anything really. 

If you’re wondering where all of this is leading to it is this.  I am going to attempt to write at least one good poem per month.  Perhaps its time I added a challenge to the mix.  I’ve posted a few poems on here.  I think the last one was ‘I Wonder’. 

The challenge with this form of prose is really capturing a mood, a moment, a feeling and in brief summation getting right down to the heart of the matter.  Like any other form of writing, there are certain things that appeal to me and others that repel. 

Every art form is like that though.  In any case, I am babbling here.  Time to get on with it.  I present…

The Whisper

In night visions it came,

This frightening specter,

So succinct and subtle, deliberate in its intent.

No pain, none at all,

Just a whisper,

“Something’s not right.”

And how do you diagnose a feeling?

How do you get an odd foreboding checked out?

It was in my dreams though,

A darkness had settled…a weight,

With velvet grace it embraced me,

And a storm began to brew within,

Throughout my womb the darkness spread,

Tentacles leaching into the reservoir of my life source,

Tugging, pulling…gently at first,

Then more demanding…sinister,

The whisper became a shout,

“Something is wrong!”

Encapsulated in the comfort of quick sand,

The weight now leaden,

In my head, in my heart, in my womb,

The whisper was now a scream,

“Something is very wrong!”

A rising tide of fear,

A rising tide of panic,

“Don’t go there!”

And the heaviness…now it’s becoming unbearable,

I’m being strangled,

A war is being waged in my physical body,

In my emotion core,

In my sexual divinity,

In my spiritual realm,

“Show yourself, coward!” I screamed into the night,

The face revealed, uglier than any seen before,

And this parasitic bastard had set up shop,

The intent was clear…I knew what was on the line,

It was my life,

This cancer had invaded me,

Whispered its way into my being,

I don’t know how,

Nor why.

A beautiful life was unfolding before me,

All the haunts and pains from the past were being laid to rest,

With gentle ministrations I’d calmed the hysteria of years past,

Soothed the spirit, the mind, the heart…

Wanted only to know love, to be loved,

But into battle I did go.

The cost I would not negotiate,

A pound of flesh now forfeit,

Close to a year of battle has left it’s scars,

I drank their poison believing the necessity of this madness,

Are you gone?

Have I rid myself of you?

There is an anger, a residue effect,

I’ve been robbed, maligned, beaten,

But never defeated,

And in the dark of night the whisper comes,

“Is everything okay?”

 

 

Characters


 

hair

She struts into the room with an air of confidence that cannot be beat.  Her smile rivals the sun and some might say her mannerisms are at times somewhat exaggerated. 

She can’t help it. It’s just her way.

The other day an elderly woman struggled with the door to a cafe.  Our heroine bound up from her seat in a mad dash to offer her assistance.  In the course of her efforts, however, she managed to upset another patron’s drink and knock a plant over.  

Ah, yes, the eccentric blonde.  Always so willing, not always so able.  

Of course she purchased a drink for the person whose drink she had maligned.  He turned out to be quite fetching in appearance, so she offered her phone number as well.  Never know, there just might be a stain on those pants that she would be happy to remove.  

He was of course enraptured by her golly gee good nature and assured her that he would indeed take his pants off for her should the need arise.  

And the plant?  Amazing what a little duct tape will do.’

The eccentric blonde is a character I created about twenty-five years ago, if not longer.  I took a creative writing class and one of the assignments was to come up with a character that could be used in a variety of scenes and settings.

And this was the birth of a character who has indeed endured the test of time.  I have written some really silly scenes such as the one noted above. The premise of the character is her well meaning and somewhat clueless personality. No matter how much she screws up, no one ever gets angry or upset with her.

The creation of this character also allowed me to try my hand writing light, comedic sketches.

I’ve been thinking about the confidence lately and oddly enough the eccentric blonde character popped into my head.  Confidence is an attribute she always possessed.  There is no ‘wrong’ in her world.  Everything always works out for her and she expects nothing less.

I wonder if the characters I create hold some ideals that I would like to exhibit?  Perhaps its just a way to emote various expressions.  I enjoy how characters come to life in my mind’s eye.  Quite often it occurs from simply seeing someone on the street.  They may come across as being removed from their surroundings.  They may be someone of high energy.  It could just be the way they walk, the fluidity of it or even an awkward gait.

Once cataloged, when I have an idea that flashes in my head for a story, this bank of characters and their mannerisms that is tucked away in my grey matter is accessed and one of them is brought to life.  Sometimes it evolves into a first chapter with the basic story line posted in point form to come back to at a later date.  More often though, the character is shelved as the idea doesn’t merit further development at the time.

When I think of guys like Steven King and the genre that he writes in, I wonder how he develops his characters and where they come from.  I don’t think I could ever write horror novels on a consistent basis. It would be a very dark a place to have go to and ‘create’ on a daily basis.  I can see the interest in wanting to explore the depths of human depravity and our ill-begotten ways.  There is s an odd fascination with the dark side to humanity.

I do have disturbing characters tucked away that shall otherwise remain nameless but will likely turn up as a foil or the end to a tragic means in a book waiting to be written.

Writing gives us license to do just that.  We create stories and explore the outcome for our characters.  Impossible odds are meted out in circumstances that are nothing less than extraordinary.

godzilla 2

We flock to movie theatres to watch Godzilla trample a City such as San Francisco.  I’ve been watching these movies since I was a kid and I’ve forgotten why he is so pissed off and for reasons I can’t explain, I have always felt sorry for the big guy.

Then again if you’ve been blown up, set on fire, shot at, etc. as many times as he has then you’d probably have a chip on your shoulder as well.

We have the action hero movies where one guy saves the world and always quite selflessly.  And sometimes I’ll think, what if they changed the ending and our hero didn’t save the day or what if he died in order to be successful?  I do get tired of cliched endings that have a happily-ever-after tone to them.  

Then we have superheros.  Would we really embrace a guy in tights and a cape who could fly?  Somehow I think if I saw a guy spinning a web from his arms and swinging down main street I may just call the authorities.

These movies always have the ultimate evil to offset the ultimate good.  Of course ultimate good wins out every time.

I have a few characters that I’ve created over the years.  Some are timeless such as the Eccentric Blonde.  I can take that character and put her into anything and make it work.  Other characters are on the shelf waiting to be dusted off and featured in a story at some point.

I would love to hear how other writer’s develop their characters.  What’s your inspiration?  Also, I would love to hear from everyone on what some of your favourite characters are and why?

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For example, now that “Lord of the Rings” has been made into a movie will we always think of Frodo as he was cast by Peter Jackson?

The movie is one man’s vision of the book.  When I read the book years before the characters spun in my mind’s eye were very different from Peter’s.

Thanks for stopping by!

Just Thinking…Am I Happy?


winnie_the_pooh_poohgroup_001_50121If you’ve noted that I’ve been a little quiet lately, you would be correct in your assumption.  I’ve been giving some serious consideration on which direction I want to take this little blog of mine in.

I’ve been reading several other blogs and much has been written with regard to New Year’s resolutions.  I took a look back at the year that we are leaving behind and the unwanted surprise that pretty much derailed many of the plans and ambitions that  I had begun the year with.

This is simply the way life goes sometimes.  For the most part I held steady throughout the course of the year.  Now I’m once again looking at the things I want to achieve with the promise of the year ahead.

One thing I do know, I won’t be putting things off.

Regarding this blog I have decided to review some issues that I’ve been struggling with.  I wonder at times if I in fact dissecting things to the point that they appear as a jigsaw puzzle on the floor with a 1,000 pieces then waiting to be put back together is the best execution of dealing with certain issues.

My reason for taking the puzzle apart in the first place is to find the piece that doesn’t fit.  More often than not, however, with this exercise I end up getting sidetracked.  So perhaps I just need to step back and look at the big picture and decide what it is that is out of sync then extract it.  If it were only that easy.

I am, if you are wondering just what it is I am yammering on about, thinking of personal growth.

In 2010 and 2011 I tackled some deep emotional issues.  Expansion and growth were prominent in those two years.  2012 and 2013 found me dealing with physical health issues.

As 2014 kicks off I’m wanting to be in a place where physically, emotionally, sexually, spiritually, intellectually and all other realms of my being are balanced….once and for all.

If someone asked you this simple question, how would you answer?

“Are you happy?”

When I asked myself this question my immediate response was to say ‘Yes!’

I paused, however, and really thought about this statement.  Happiness is to me a state of mind.  It is a balance.  None of us can be happy all the time. The world doesn’t quite work that way.  We need to know and experience sadness in order to appreciate and nurture the good things in our life that make us happy.

My answer to that question on this day would be this.  I am generally a very positive individual.  Each day that I am granted I really try to stay within the confines of being content.  But in truth, I’m not happy.  If happiness could be dictated on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give myself a 4.

winnie_the_pooh_eeyo_003_51310I am not dragging myself about like Eeyore with his doom and gloom attitude.  No, at this moment I’d liken myself to Winnie the Pooh with a honey jar stuck on my nose.  I want the honey, but I just can’t get to it.

Wouldn’t it be fun to be like Tigger and just bounce around on your tail on day long? There is a certain delight in such simplicity.

But at least I am in the happy zone. Still, what I want to tackle in the next few weeks regarding this blog of mine is to visit the areas of my life where blockages still exist and explore them.

So that will begin very soon.  There are three categories that are really tough for me.

1.) Love & Intimacy

2.) Confidence

3.) Self-Expression

The third one may surprise you.  After all, I pour my heart and soul out at times in my posts.  Writing things down has always been my saving grace and likely kept me relatively sane at times. But when it comes speaking these feeling of mine, quite another matter.

In confrontations I usually collapse and become a child.  Shrill and nonsensical rebuttals with a propensity to cry uncontrollably.  To say I’ve become very good at avoiding confrontations would be an understatement.

I can counsel people beautifully but can I take my own advice?  Nah. Too easy.

That’s what I will be focusing over the next month.  As always your thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Enjoy your day.

The Lost Art of Hand Writing?


How many of you are aware that cursive writing is no longer being taught in schools here in British Columbia?
I am not certain when they began to phase this out of the public school system but I have spoken with teachers recently that  have stated sadly their Grade 9 and 10 students didn’t know how to read their handwritten notes on the chalk board.
I am devastated that soon a generation is going to graduate from school never being taught the art of handwriting.  Furthermore, they don’t know and won’t know how to read the script.
There is insurmountable evidence of what happens in the right side of the brain regarding the correlation between the scientific and creative synapsis of our grey matter and the importance this plays to our development.
We are robbing our children.  When did technology become the master?  Computers are a tool…nothing more, yet in a very short period of time they have infiltrated every aspect of our lives.  I believe that computers should not be in elementary schools, that students should learn how read and write in the tried and true tradition that we were blessed with.
Being a writer, the majority of my ideas are developed through the process of what I affectionately term ‘the emotional write’.  This is pen to paper and just letting the idea pour onto the page.  I move into the zone and I cannot describe the sensation that occurs as I am often not even aware of what I am writing until I have finished it.  Yes, it is often crude and choppy but always I am blown away by the process and it is also extremely liberating.
I am deeply saddened that a generation will never know the joy, the pain the euphoria, the loneliness…all the rich emotions and creative dynamics that come with writing.  And I can’t help but wonder what the trade off will be?
I saw some statistics regarding the exposure of iPads to those under the age of 2 years.  It is dramatically high.  Yesterday while at a local diner with my daughter a small girl, likely no more than two had a computer set up for her flashing images of animals and shapes while the parents chatted with each other.
It struck me as being exclusionary.  They wanted to keep the child ‘busy’ so that they wouldn’t have to fuss over her.  Yet is there not importance in interacting with your child in a public place?  Shouldn’t the child be initiated into family gatherings of this type as a participant?
Oddly enough while communications seemingly make us appear continually connected, I am witnessing an isolation creeping into the human experience of mammoth proportions.
Tables of teenagers will sit in café texting one another.  People walk down the street glued to their iPhones.  Dating is now done online.  God help you if you’re not photogenic.
If I were to post a current image of myself with no hair, no lashes or brows would anyone perusing the site see the beauty that truly resides in my being?  Would they see my strength, my vulnerability?
I took my profile down over a year ago.  It seemed that I continually saw the same faces up there and decided that I really didn’t quite know how to do the online thing.
In any case I do know that in the last 25 years the technological changes that have occurred in our world have been moving at light-speed.  Yet, in so many ways, we haven’t changed at all.
Poverty, racism and war still exist.  I still see several ads each evening for children who are starving in what we term ‘3rd world countries’.  For the record it is all one world.  Yet we power ahead not even taking into consideration the cause and effect of removing something such a cursive writing from the classroom.  Somehow that has become too inconvenient and time consuming to teach.
It’s value now deemed unworthy.
And what will be left when we’ve raped this planet of all her resources to feed this insatiable hunger for what, I don’t know.
Education is one of the greatest gifts that can be given to a child.  Sadly, we now have people deciding what they should learn rather than giving them skills to decide that for themselves as they grow.
And that is what is being lost here.
Today I grieve.

The Back-up Plan


??????????????Okay, so I said that ‘unofficially’ I was going to take a shot at NaNoWriMo.  The idea, of course, is to write 50,000 words of a novel in the course of a month and see where it leads to.

I sat down dutifully on Tuesday evening at the computer to get a few hours of writing in.  So I began Chapter Six of the new book tentatively titled ‘Insomnia’s Dream’.  Just over an hour later I stared at three paragraphs and decided I didn’t like them. I was at a loss for words.

I AM NEVER AT A LOSS FOR WORDS!

Then an odd little thought crept in and panic hit.  I don’t have, dare I say it….’Writer’s Block’ do I?!

I’ll just whip up a post on my blog I decided.  Sure shootin’ I was indeed at a loss for words.  There has been any number of topics that had presented themselves to chat about.  Thoughts were certainly tumbling about in my grey matter, and yet, I could not quite articulate what I wanted to say.

On Tuesday night, feeling defeated, I crawled into bed thinking about the hang-up I had with the chapter.

Last night was very much the same exercise but when I went to bed, I had something of an epiphany.  I discovered something about myself as a writer.  I can’t really get the flow going unless I have the scene I am writing about worked out in my head.  Typically I have the entire chapter figured out then purge it onto the page.

Chapter six will begin with a really hot sex scene that involves food.  I have not been satisfied with the presentations I have thought up.  The preparation for the sex scene was coming off far too laborious. I really had to think about my characters and who they were and how I had presented them thus far.

Sex scenes shouldn’t be tedious.  First, I was going to have the couple ‘do it’ on an ornate dining table.  The male, Craig, who is a chef and few other things by trade, prepares the table with a rubber sleeve made specifically for the table.

Upon reading it back I screamed ‘No!’

Hell, if you’re going to have sex on a table top, you wouldn’t be concerned about getting food and other fluids on the table, now would you?  And if the table is really that valuable…then you wouldn’t bother at all, would you?

I went through a few different scenarios before I found the sex play I wanted to explore.  One that is fun, exciting and hopefully, a delight to read.

I thought back to a conversation I had at my writer’s group meeting last Friday.  We were discussing NaNoWriMo and the idea of just pouring everything onto the page without stopping, without review.  The idea is to just get the first draft out.  Don’t worry about punctuation, don’t worry grammar, don’t worry about structure.  Just get the idea, the bones of the story, out onto the page.

Reflecting on my style of writing, it occurred to me then that I have to have more than just the bones of the story in order to write.  I need to see it, visualize it and then attempt to convey this vision to the reading public.

This will be the first fictional novel that I’ve written.  Oh, I have had many ideas and begun various projects over the years that have found their way to the shelf. One day I will dust them off and breathe new life into them.

On this particular writing, however,  I am losing my fictional virginity.  What better way than to explore the complexities of how we become the sexual being that we do?

I am really enjoying this process of developing the characters. I want them to have depth and definition.  I also want the reader to develop a relationship with the characters.  My hope is that the reader will experience a variety of emotions as the story unfolds.

So I decided that I will indeed just write and total up the number of words at the end of the month and see where I end up.  I won’t compromise the style by which I write.  I looked at the average number of words in each chapter thus far and it ranges between 2,500 and 4,000 words.  So I would have to write between 15 to 17 chapters in order to meet the 50,000 word goal.

Can’t say that’s going to happen but I will let you know how many words I managed to exhale in the telling of this tale over the month of November.  That’s the back up plan.

It’s funny the pressure we put on ourselves, yes?  I am glad that I opted to do this, albeit unofficially.  I have already learned an important lesson and that is how I write.  I need to develop the vision and the words will come.

As of today I’ve written 946 words…just 49,054 to go!

Enjoy your day!