Writing Addiction


I would prefer to write than shower.  Seriously.  I know I am gross. I have been ordered to shower by my husband.  I can’t remember the last time I showered, but please know that I have mommy brain so I can’t remember what I had for lunch.  Oh, I didn’t eat lunch because I wrote.  I get so caught up in the creative process that I will take any free moment I have to myself to write, take photos, blog, create, or organize my little create-o-sphere.  I wouldn’t call my create-o-sphere too organized these days as there are so many piles of journals, papers, and junk all over my desk.

I am just going to name ten things on my desk:

1.  A bottle of calamine lotion (I used this recently to make a hand print with my son for his father’s birthday card)

2. A photo of a church door taken in Vermont in 2000

3. A pair of scissors with an orange handle

4. A Little Tikes plastic sander

5. The book:  Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published

6. A Patriots jersey — size 18 months with Brady written on the back, turned inside out,

7. A soup spoon

8. A binder with typewritten journal entries from a summer camp I worked at in 2000, and a journal made of construction paper — knot bracelets and friendship bracelets create a makeshift binding — the entry facing me says, “Dear Meg, I don’t think I know a freer spirit than you.  I admire your intellect and heart of gold.  The world needs more people like you.  Stay sweet & don’t forget about me. Love Always, Madeline.”

9. A roll of Dollar General clear tape

10. One flourescent green sticky note: blank

I am not sure how to get this mess organized. It seems I just put stuff on my desk after taking it out of my toddler’s hands. He recently ripped a photo of my grandmother from the 1920’s.  I am living in a state of chaos.

My Little Wonder Boy and Chaos Creator

I am reading Natalie Goldberg’s, Writing Down the Bones — on page 101 – 102, chapter titled Write Anyplace:

Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write.  In the middle of the world, make one positive step.  In the center of chaos, make one definitive act.  Just write.  Say yes, stay alive, be awake.  Just write.  Just write.  Just write.

Finally, there is no perfection.  If you want to write, you have to cut through and write.  There is no perfect atmosphere, notebook, pen, or desk, so train yourself to be flexible.  Try writing under different circumstances and in different places.  Try trains, buses, at kitchen tables, alone in the woods leaning against a tree, by a stream with your feet in the water, in the desert sitting on a rock, on the curb in front of your house, on a porch, a stoop, in the back seat of a car, in the library…in Texas, Kansas, or Guatemala, while sipping a Coke…

It wasn’t the physical accommodations that were perfect, but when we are in the heart of writing it doesn’t matter where we are: it is perfect.  There is a great sense of automony and security to know we can write anyplace.  If you want to write, finally you’ll find a way no matter what.”

So, here I am writing.  Trying to absorb the chaos as motivation, as muse, and something to get me going.  But really, all I want to do is tell my husband –“Why don’t you take Ben to Grampy and Grammy’s house.  I’ll get cleaned up and meet you over there.”

I love time alone.  I can be surrounded by a million things, and I will make a space of 12 inches by 12 inches and write.  But noise, and toddler tantrums, and splitting my mind in ten second fragments doesn’t work for me.  So I write on the weekends and at night, when my husband can watch our son.  I just am being flexible.  What other choice do I have?

I should really shower — seriously.  But I think I will write some more, since I have the house to myself (the dogs are outside and my boys are at my in-laws) and a fan on my desk in the room I call the Art Room, where I write.  I was once mobile, but my laptop crashed.  The Art Room is not air-conditioned, but I have a fan on my desk.  I think I could place a cat on my desk and it would blend into my desk, which  is such a mess.

What things are you doing to overcome your difficulties to make time and space in your life to write and create?

What doorway do you walk through to overcome your struggle to find space and time to write?  (door metaphor — since I really want to share the photo of the church door in Vermont — #2 in messy desk list)

What difficulties do you walk through to get to your creative space?

In 100 Years, I Want to Know I Gave 100%


Well folks, I’ve reached 100 likes on my blog posts.  Don’t I feel special!

Italicized writing from this website: Within My Power – The Power of One Man Print E-mail

The following was written by Forest E. Witcraft (1894 – 1967), a scholar, teacher, and Boy Scout administrator and first published in the October 1950 issue of Scouting magazine.

Forest E. WitcraftI am not a Very Important Man, as importance is commonly rated. I do not have great wealth, control a big business, or occupy a position of great honor or authority.

Yet I may someday mould destiny. For it is within my power to become the most important man in the world in the life of a boy. And every boy is a potential atom bomb in human history.

A humble citizen like myself might have been the Scoutmaster of a Troop in which an undersized unhappy Austrian lad by the name of Adolph might have found a joyous boyhood, full of the ideals of brotherhood, goodwill, and kindness. And the world would have been different.

A humble citizen like myself might have been the organizer of a Scout Troop in which a Russian boy called Joe might have learned the lessons of democratic cooperation.

These men would never have known that they had averted world tragedy, yet actually they would have been among the most important men who ever lived.

All about me are boys. They are the makers of history, the builders of tomorrow. If I can have some part in guiding them up the trails of Scouting, on to the high road of noble character and constructive citizenship, I may prove to be the most important man in their lives, the most important man in my community.

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a boy.

***

I find this interesting that when you search for this poem, some sites recognize it as anonymous.

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.

  – Anonymous

The above text quote is from this website.

You would think they would credit the author, Forest Whitcraft.  Someone changed the last word from “boy” to “child” and now Forest Whitcraft loses credit for profound statement.  He seems like the type that wouldn’t care too much about that.  Well me, I am not that evolved.  I work hard as an artist (photographer and writer) and I want credit for my work. I also like validation.  You’ll have to buy my memoir to find out about the deep seeded reason for that! But I think everyone loves validation.

I have been using Pinterest and I am still so new to the site, that I am not sure how I feel about it.  I worked really hard to upload watermarked images, but I am still finding people using my photos that do not have the watermark on them.  I am reporting people to Pinterest that do that.  I feel bad about it though, like “Oh, how can I be your friend still, even though you are stealing my photos and not crediting me?”  Like, I ‘ll lose a precious fan or potential customer.  News flash — if people steal the photos and don’t credit me, it is safe to say, they are not going to buy a photo. Dah! I am also looking out for other photographers.

I had a mini discussion with a photographer about photo piracy on Twitter, when he posted that this photo had been pirated. This is what he said,

@memomuse1 Sorry I didn’t get back sooner but I once heard this: once you put a photo on the web you no longer control it. You can always control how put it there but once it’s up assume it can and will be taken.

@memomuse1 I do post on Flickr & on my site & a few other places that people can see my stuff. I don’t watermark anymore & just accept fate.

@memomuse1 Not a big fan of watermarks because they detract from the pic. Flickr has some protection at least. So I roll mostly w/Flickr
 
@PositivePauly You are an artist Paul and I agree with you on watermarks, but I guess it is part of the dealio these days as a photographer
 
@memomuse1 I do post on Flickr & on my site & a few other places that people can see my stuff. I don’t watermark anymore & just accept fate.

Why does this have to be the case?  Should we just give into plagiarism and photo piracy?  I have come to the conclusion, I will make a living as a teacher, educator, and hopefully someday, as a writer.  Now, as a stay-at-home mom, I am not bringing in an income.  I do have assignments that pay as a freelance writer and photographer, but as far as my art goes, I do it because I love it.  An old friend of mine, asked me recently, “Are you making money with your art?”  I responded, “Well, it depends on what you define as making money.”  This bothered me, mostly because, it reinforced the fact I am not making money.  But that is not my incentive.  I guess what fuels me most is when someone appreciates the art in a photo or one of my blog posts moves someone enough to take extra time to comment on my blog.

I don’t really have a plan yet on what I am exactly trying to do.  Yes, it would nice if I sold some photos at my art online gallery at Artflakes.com and yes, it would super awesome to go viral on Pinterest as the awesome cowboy and rodeo photographer lady. But the truth is, I am slowly building a platform, of real people (like you who actually read my blog) who actually like my blog because they really do like it.  I have been caught up in forcing all my work out there that is even annoys me how I am marketing myself.  Little known secret — I was an elementary and special education major in college and I have a Master’s in English (Creative Writing), so I have no idea what I am doing on the business/marketing side.  I just am feeling the intensity of the NOW of the internet and social media, especially along the lines of platform.  But I have so much to learn still.  My good friend sent me this article, which might be of help to you if you are trying to build a platform, as well.

I feel the internet makes me fall into old mind traps of how I will get discovered instantly and then I can write thank you notes to all my people. Ha.  It’s so funny, sometimes I really think I have nailed it.  Like this attempt I had last night to channel Don Draper and write copy on Pinterest to get some traffic to my Talenthouse portfolio, ultimately to get more supporters to vote for my photo of Chris LeDoux.  Ha.  I guess nobody wants my ugly mug sitting on their pretty Pinterest boards (I would have uploaded an image of an attractive cowboy, cowgirl, or horse if I could have, but Pinterest only found the image of me sitting in a barn with my typewriter on my lap).

Yep, that's Memomuse, with her typewriter and a whole lot of hay! Photo by Sara Turner http://www.sturnerphotos.com

This was my advertising copy:

There’s a whole barn full of cowboys here in my portfolio at Talenthouse (click on my photo). And they all tell a story — hop in the truck and let’s take a ride to Wyoming to see the largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration in the United States! Hell yeah, hop in and let’s put some gravel in our travels.

×Thumbnail of Megan OteriMegan Oteri
Photos of Willie Nelson, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Chris LeDoux, JB Mauney, Clint Craig, Brian Canter, cowboys, cowgirls, and broncs and bulls, and scenic Wyoming. Black and white photos with an artistic perspective. I’d love to get your feedback, so be sure to leave a comment if you have time. Thanks for stopping by my photo ranch!So, there you have it — I am really good at photography, writing, and teaching.  Advertising and marketing — well, I think Don Draper would take pleasure in firing me.I changed the Pinterest photo and copy (my husband helped me rewrite it).  He has more sense than me.It now reads: There’s a whole lot of cowboys here at my ranch. Visit them at my portfolio at Talenthouse (click on photo). And they all tell a story — hop in the truck and let’s kick up some dust and take a ride to Wyoming to see the largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration in the United States! Let’s go to the Daddy of em’ All!And I put this photo in instead of my ugly mug!

FYI:  To make the © symbol: Press the Alt key and “0169” at the same time.  My husband helped me with that.  I do an inner “high-five” via my left brain every time I execute that simple, but at one time, completely foreign and unreachable to my right brain mind.

Photo by my Awesome husband (my #1 cowboy) © Awesome husband All Rights Reserved
Memomuse's hand - high fiving all you right brains (and left brains and whole brains)

I actually met with a literary agent at the 2011 South Carolina Writer’s Workshop, and after two rejections of my gift book, The Original Journal (see tab above if you are not familiar with that project), I decided the third pitch needed to be something else, or my ego would literally strangle me with its wounded limbs.  So, I pitched my memoir.  The agent put her business card on the table.  I had no idea what that meant, having suffered (cue ego sad music) two rejections from other agents.

She said, “My next appointment has cancelled, so do you have questions about the publishing business and process?”

I searched my mind and had one thing on my mind, “How did my pitch go?”

She smiled, she is from the Mid-West, and so down to earth and said, “I gave you my card.”

I was like, “Yeah, OK, what does that mean?”

She laughed kindly and looked me dead in the eye (this time I wasn’t about to cry like after the rejection from the last two agents), and said, “I want to see the first 30 pages.”

I think I could have hugged her.  I really wanted to.  I was on top of the world.

I have several drafts, and as Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird, I certainly have a shitty first draft.  And a shitty second draft.  I am working on the second two chapters. I finished the first chapter.

So I have a tangible lead — but I get caught up in the get-discovered-via-the-all-mighty-internet scheme very easily. I know it happens — Julie and Julia, the lady who makes stuffed animals from children’s illustrations, and Justin Bieber.  Granted I don’t have a YouTube channel and I don’t write about food (hell, I hardly cook) and I couldn’t sew a button on a jacket to save my life.  I write. I take photographs. I am memomuse.  That should be enough.  But I really do want to get discovered.  Fast. Like now.  But I am doing what I do and eventually it will take where I’m supposed to go.

“Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.”
― Natalie Goldberg

And I am taking baby steps to figure out the rest, or sometimes I jump into the internet pool and Cannonball!  Sorry if I have splashed you while you were relaxing and sunbathing quietly.  I just have no idea what I am doing.

In 100 years, I want to know I gave it 100%.

Have a great weekend.  Voting starts for the photo of Chris LeDoux on Talenthouse on Monday.  I will put a link in the Monday Museletter.  I will also be posting a story about meeting Chris LeDoux at Cheyenne Frontier Days.  Those sparkly Wyoming cowboy eyes sure can make a cowgirl blush!

Morning Light


morning light

birds chirping

spring in North Carolina

nestles in my palm quietly

gentle breeze

tells me to just be

quiet is how I am today

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"Bird" (c) Megan Oteri- You can share this just credit my name and website please.

I woke this morning to the comfort of Saturday.  My son called out, “Daddy! Daddy!”

The gorgeous attentive voice of my husband responds rhythmically, “Benjamin.”  There is talk of making pancakes and breakfast.  “Oh no, there is no milk. We have to go to the store. Benjamin, do you want to be my helper and go get milk with me?”

I laid in bed, reached over to Ben’s toddler bed that is filled with stuffed animals, clothes, books, debris from the fact Ben sleeps in our bed, right next to his.  I reached for Natalie Goldberg, and the crisp white glossy cover of Writing Down the Bones.  I read three short chapters that filled me with peace, with recognition — I am an artist, a writer, a human.  Her words percolated and dripped into my mind, as the coffee pot hiccuped its brew.  The birds chirped outside the navy blue curtains, light peeked through, dancing a tango with the world outside.

I am filled with peace today.  The church bells chime in the distance.  Saturday’s calm greets me with open arms as I sit on the porch this morning and write.

As I walked through the house after making a choice to read first thing this morning, I realized I am hungry for detail.  I have always been hungry, and just as Natalie Godlberg says, writers stalk their prey, they observe the world around them and eat up every detail, I gobbled up morning light and shadows as they danced on the bathroom wall. I saw the light peeking through my artroom/writing studio/office I share with my husband that is destroyed according to Martha Stewart cleaning standards (really anyone’s standards), and accepted this is my ordinary extraordinary detail Goldberg talks about.

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"Porch Detail" (c) Megan Oteri- You can share this just credit my name and website please.

The extraordinary, a red cardinal peeks at me in the now petal-less Dogwood.  And then takes off in flight at an angle so close to my front porch.

A female cardinal calls to him, like the words call to me.  And the cardinal is gone. A squirrel hippety hops across the telephone lines, horizontal on the thin cable. Now I look up and the squirrel in on top of the telephone pole, looking right at me. Eye contact if I had a zoom lens. The blue Carolina sky is a backdrop behind us.  The squirrel’s bushy tail swishing, twirling.  A bird flies across this natural plane, splitting the angle perpendicular.

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Photo by Megan Oteri (c) (A photo on my cell phone camera – share it if you want it)

Beauty is everywhere today, but most importantly, it calls to me and I listen.

 “Every moment is enormous and it is all we have.”
― Natalie GoldbergLong Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America