Detox with The Mad Hatter

John Tenniel- Alice's mad tea party, colour
Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever feel that there is too much demanding your attention? Do you ever wish you could pause and rewind? Do you ever wish you could mute the world? Sometimes your brain can go into overdrive from being over stimulated. This last week felt like that for me. I wanted to power off the time switch and freeze time for just a moment to be able to catch my breath. I had a migraine for over a week that would not disappear and left me in pain and feeling grumpy and frustrated. The migraine was my fault and the fault of modern technology.

You see I was simply doing too much and my mind was overheating which caused the migraine attack. So left with no other choice, I decided to take a day and night off from everything and everyone. I turned off the Macbook which meant that I killed a few birds with one close of my Macbook: Facebook, Twitter, WIP, Blog. I switched off my mobile phone. I did not have music or television playing in the background. Then I holed up with my long overdue books needing to be read. I read in the quiet. Wouldn’t you know? My week-long migraine attack is gone.

Yes I must admit there was a small part of me that felt guilty, ok a large part, and I kept on catching my closed Macbook in my eye line. I could hear the chatter on Facebook and Twitter calling, then there was this blog aching to be updated with a new post. Not to mention my WIP was aching to be molly-coddled. But I resisted. This was the best mental detox for me.

In this world of technology it has become very difficult to just switch off to rest and relax. I am as guilty of this as the next person. I am also a person who tends to pile on things on my plate that just simply have to be done.

I have a little troll on my bedside table. It has a scrunched up face and bright pink punk hair. But the reason I have such a creature on my bedside table is that he is holding up a bright pink sign that says “Nobody is Perfect.”. I need to have that within close viewing distance to remind myself to go easy on myself.

Today I realised that though I am always thinking there is never enough time in a day to get things done let along compartmentalise all my me’s, work me, writer me, daughter me, sister me, friend me, critique partner me; the problem and the fault is my own. I am not the Energiser Bunny as much as I wish I were. Instead lately I have been feeling like the White Rabbit with the clock running around in Alice in Wonderland crying, “It’s late. It’s late. I’m late. I’m late.”.

So today I decided to be like The Mad Hatter, The March Hare and the dormouse and just take a chill pill, let the madness of the world continue around me without me in it for a while. The world did not stop turning, the white rabbit is still running around but for a moment I actually enjoyed a day that did not pass me by in a blur. Best of all I feel refreshed and do not have an aching head.

So your Monday Muscle is to set aside 1 whole day this week for a mental and technological detox. Sit at the table with the Mad Hatter and laugh at his silly nonsensical jokes. Ignore the late white rabbit. Do not turn on the computer. Do not turn on the TV. Do not turn on the stereo system / iPod. Turn off your mobile. Unhook the landline phone. Make an appointment with yourself. Sit outside. Take a walk. Read a book. You have a whole day to do nothing. Believe me you may be looking at this blog post now in abject horror, thinking does this silly girl not know how much I still have to do. I do know but I am saying that it will all still be there tomorrow. Give yourself one day off. Just like the body needs a detox, it is even more vital that your mind needs a detox. Healthy and Rested Mind = Healthy and Refreshed Body.

Now enjoy doing nothing and you can thank me afterwards.

– Kim

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Characters and their secrets

Secret Passageway
Image by Stuck in Customs via Flickr

Have you ever had reticent characters? Many readers and some writers believe that once you have written a book and created characters it gives you an omniscient presence in your character‘s world. For some this may be true. In my experience though, the opposite is true: instead of being creator and puppet master, I – the writer – am the servant and puppet. For me, my characters lead me down the twists and turns of their story. You see they have already walked it and lived it or are right in the thick of it, if anything I am an observer or a recorder of what they want me to tell the reader.

In my interviews on Warrior Wednesdays I always ask the question: What is most important or what comes first in your writing? The Story or the Character. You may wonder why I ask this. I ask this because in my own writing whether I think I get a story idea first or whether a certain character pops into my thoughts and hearing, ultimately it/they come from somewhere. I could say that I am brilliant and have a million and one stories within me but that would be false. I believe that as a writer we are a medium and a vehicle for our characters to tell their stories when, where, how and why they want to.

OK, I hear you say: so are you hearing voices from the deep dark and beyond. This is getting a little loopy! While if your right brain – creativity – rules you then count yourself loopy. Now don’t worry or look all shocked. I mean that yes you are loopy by the definition of a society where left brainers are the majority. I mean you imagine worlds, people, events, places in your head. By left brain definition you are deluded or hallucinatory or in a simple term loopy.

So back to the question: Do I hear voices from the deep, dark and beyond? To be honest, yes sometimes I have and do hear a voice. It pops into my thoughts and starts speaking. I know it is not me because it does not sound like anything I would say. Sometimes the voice is loud and sometimes it is quiet. For me though, I tend to stop and listen. I have tried the ignore button, even tried the mute button but then I end up with sleepless nights and eventually I just learn to respond. All that is usually needed is for me to listen and then a picture forms in my thoughts of who is speaking. Sometimes this is done by showing me a place first and sometimes it is like staring at my reflection in a mirror and slowly see a figure emerge from behind the door that is closed behind me. Then the who of them becomes a basis of their story. They live and breathe so they must have a story. That is when I put the pen to paper or finger to keyboard, whichever is in the closest vicinity, and write. Voila` a story is born and a character is on the page.

But some stories are different. Some characters like to keep secrets. They may even keep their identity a secret. You may be able to picture them but they do not tell you who they are. This may be because they enjoy the game or the control they have over you and your curiosity at this point. It may even be a method they are using to firstly get your interest in a story and then to keep it by leaving you with mysterious threads. For me this is very frustrating. I am a type A personality and like to be the one in control (blame my german roots) and I do not like surprises. If I am being honest here I also struggle with patience. So this character is like a double-dare and a red flag all at once for me.

In my new WIP, new in that I am at the start but not brand new story in that this story and these characters have haunted me for a while now. I knew I had to get this story written no matter how difficult the telling may be but somehow was coming up against a block. Then last weekend I had the epiphany to switch tracks from the German Professor Perfect to the train conducted by the 6-year-old curious and emotional Kimmi. Voila` the flood gates of inspiration started opening. But I still had a major problem. I did not know the identity of the antagonist. I kept on bumping up against this character. I could see the character but could not get a feel for this one like I did for the other characters. So I set it aside for a while and concentrated on talking to my characters in my NaNoWriMo novel and having a lot of fun with them on Facebook.

In the meantime I had also begun work last night on two writing workshops hosted by Savvy Authors. In one of the lessons, I had to write a full-page synopsis/outline via question and answer mode. So I decided to do the synopsis on my difficult WIP. It was late last night when the email had come through with the first lesson. So I looked at it and thought I would sleep on it and write it up first thing this morning. Well, the sleep idea soon turned out to be turned on its head. The synopsis kept on playing over and over in my head like a stuck gramophone. It got to the point that with 2 hours of broken sleep, I decided enough was enough. I would have to get this synopsis out my head and onto the screen. (The Macbook is never far away.) As I started answering the questions and the synopsis started fleshing out, I felt what could only be termed as a CLICK like something had locked into place or been opened. Suddenly as large as standing right in front of me, I met my antagonist. Just by finally knowing who this character was, a myriad of loose ends that had me stumped were tied up and the whole plot revealed itself to me. You see I could not see past the middle to the climax or the end because this story’s antagonist had hidden their identity from me. Suddenly I also knew why the identity had been hidden. This identity is the secret key to the whole story and demystifies both the protagonists as well.

Now I am not saying that I enjoyed meeting this antagonist as the character is the most sadistic and cruel character that I have yet met in my own thoughts. Just by this I know that I have not created this character. I have never actually known someone this… lets call it shadowed  or darkened. But as much as this character scared me to the depths of my soul, I suddenly had the key.

So yes characters keep secrets. Sometimes you find out through clues. But sometimes all of a sudden the secret is unlocked in an instant and it becomes a Pandora’s box. You will not be able to put the secrets back in the box once it is opened. Instead, try to rein in the secrets into one place: Your Characters’ Story. They know who you are. Now it is up to you to find out who they are.

So I ask you now, in light of my character unveiling, what comes first character or story?

Are you – the writer – the creator and puppet master or are you a mere medium and servant?

Ask yourself do you really think you just imagined some of those characters in your head and in your stories? Or are they the Storytellers and you are just a pen and paper?

– Kim

© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

Facebook for your Fiction

Fictional Character
Image by Silver Starre via Flickr

Facebook is everywhere. According to statistics if it was a country it would be the 3rd largest country in the world. Everyone who is everyone has a Facebook profile page. It is a way that you communicate with your friends and meet new friends and form networks or communities. It is a tool that politicians and entertainers use to connect with their fans. I even have some friends on Facebook who have pages set up for their pets.

Do you ever feel that there seems to be a block between you and your character/s? Or maybe you find that your character does not have enough of a voice in your WIP? If this is the case, I may have a solution for you. In one of my online writing groups, a fellow writer has suggested forming a group for our fictional characters to interact. This led to another member suggesting that each character should have their own name.

This has led me to creating a page for my MC in my NaNoWriMo Novel. At first I created a public page for her but realised that she would be speaking through me. She is a very forthright and a strong individual so I have now shown her how to set up her own page.

So I have created her own profile. Now at times I may still guide her in this Facebook adventure. She does not come from our time. She comes from 1862 and believes that it is 1862 now.

I have allowed her to have her own page to help her in her task. She believes that I am her guide although I hesitate to tell her I have imagined her. Actually now that I think of it, I am not sure that I imagined her at all. You see I would like to get to know her more. She can be quite reticent and stubborn and I am hoping to increase her social network as she does tend to be a bit of a loner.

So your Monday lesson is to create a Facebook page for your fictional character or even a blog. You can either create a page and be an administrator on this page. Through here you can switch identities from your actual identity to your fictional character.

Here are some instructions for creating a page for your fictional character on Facebook:

  1. Go here: Facebook Pages
  2. Choose the “Entertainment” option
  3. Then choose to set up the “Fictional Character“. This will be one of the choices in the drop down list for categories.
  4. Enter a name for your fictional character.
  5. After agreeing to Facebook terms, you will have a page set up.
  6. You can then suggest this page to any contacts you wish.
  7. Add your characters bio and personal info.
  8. You will now be the admin for this page.
  9. On the right hand side of the page, you will see an option to switch identity. This means that you could post as yourself or virtually through your character’s page.
  10. Just like any Facebook page, you can add photos, post statuses or links and start discussions.

Another way for you to create a real Facebook presence for your fictional character would be to create a brand new account under a separate email address from your own.

The advantages of giving your character their own Facebook account is enormous as a tool to get to know your character. She/He can also then have their own friends on Facebook and maybe meet up with other fictional characters.

Enjoy creating an online identity for your character. You never know, you may just find out things about your character by peeking into her virtual world. Enjoy hearing your character speak for her/himself. It may open even more avenues for your WIP.

-Kim

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.


 

Cutting the stone into a diamond

A scattering of "brilliant" cut diam...
Image via Wikipedia

I have just finished reading the full first draft of my critique partner’s MS. The story had me riveted and I finished it in an afternoon’s setting. I realised how much work and energy goes into a first draft and how close a writer can be to that first draft. It takes great courage to release that first draft from your safe hand to the hands of a critique partner or beta reader. I think it must feel something like dropping off your child at nursery school or hiring a baby sitter to look after your child for the first time. We writers have the same attachment to our stories as a mother to a child. There is that same protective streak and a sense of pride and love when we think of our WIP. This is even more the case with the first draft.

Why?

I think the first draft is the closest to the writer’s heart because it is written not only with ink but with emotional angst, blood, sweat and tears. It is written alone and maybe even in secret. It is actually just like a secret. The writer may have spent months with it, maybe even years, and then the point comes that someone else has to read it. At this point I am sure there are writers out there that fail to show it to someone else, instead they keep this first draft a secret. But for those who do need someone to read it to tell them if it is any good, it takes the courage of a warrior to take that first step and let someone else read it and then judge both them as a writer and the work on its own merit.

So if you are a writer who has just finished their first draft or perhaps you have buried it for a while; take it out and air it. Remember why you wrote this first draft in the first place. What drove you? Was this story begging to be told? Now you could bury it right back again but then you would not know whether your first draft was the bones of a great story that needed to be told or whether it is indeed just a story.

For me writing a story in first draft is like deciding to mine some soil. You don’t know whether there is anything under that soil. You could just dig deep down and find nothing but sand. But you could dig and find a vein of gold or silver. You could dig deep and find oil or water. You could dig deep down and find precious stones. You could dig deep down and find that most precious of gems: a diamond in the rough. The point is that you do not know what you are going to find, you know only that you have to dig. So you spend every precious moment you can spare to dig and dig, all the while writing down the bones of something that is becoming bigger than just a faint idea. Everyone around you at this point may be cheering for you or you may be doing it furtively. You could be that miner who is going out in the dark of night digging up the land behind your house and then covering your tracks. You might be that miner who is digging in plain sight of all your neighbours and friends and people are tut-tutting at the suspicion that you may be mentally unstable at the worst or fanciful with your head in the clouds at best. Either way, you keep on digging. Slowly you start striking a few things, you decide you have to write further and dig deeper to find out if there is a treasure at the end of all your digging. You get to the end of your first draft and you have struck something. You peer at it intently and wonder if this is it, you dug and dug for a dirty stone?

Now you are faced with a choice: You can either decide this was pointless and re-bury the stone, fill up the mine again and walk away. Or you can decide to see if there is something more to this stone, maybe it just needs to be washed clean of its crust of dirt?

If you take the second option, you take your stone and go to wash it. It still looks like a stone. You look at it under a magnifying glass. You cannot see anything but then again you are not an expert miner. What would you know? This is when you need to have some advice or another set of eyes. So you take it to someone you trust. It has to be someone you trust because in your heart of hearts you are hoping that they will tell you, “Job well done. Wow You have found a true diamond.” and all your work will not be in vain.

You find your person you trust. This may be a partner, a friend, a writing partner or a beta reader. You ask them politely and with your heart in your hand that they read this and give you their honest opinion. Is this just a stone or could it be a diamond in the rough? You ask for them to be gentle with it as you have spent months maybe even years mining at it.

You wait anxiously as they read your precious first draft. You know that they will try to be gentle but that they will be honest. It is this honesty that you fear the most. Will everyone be right, are you mentally unstable and just fooling yourself? Or even worse what if it is a diamond, what do you do then, the pressure would increase exponentially?

Finally they come back to you with the read story in hand. They look at you and give you their opinion. They tell you that they enjoyed the story but that there are some issues. They don’t understand certain things and some parts you put too much detail in and lost their interest. With each of these words, you feel like something is piercing you. You now know you were hoping they would say it was perfect. It is a diamond already cut, shaped and gleaming. Instead they are telling you it needs more work. Then you realise that this may not be a bad thing. They are saying this is a diamond but it has to be cut into a shape. The cuts may shave quite a lot from the stone, it may even cut it to half its shape. Then it needs to be polished. After all a diamond in the rough looks just like a dirty misshapen stone. You listen and then thank them because you realise they are trying to help you. They have taken time to critique your find, your work. You need to take the time to listen.

Now the hard work begins. You need to cut at the stone to get its true shape. There are a few external flaws that even you can see and then there are finer flaws that your expert pointed out. So you begin the process of the second draft and this is the cutting, the shaping. You know this will also not be the end. You will need to polish once you have the stone cut. Then you will have your true reward: a diamond. Sparkling, precious, flawless and a stone to be admired and coveted.

Remember the choice you had after finding the stone: if you are still at that crossroads, I urge you to not re-bury the stone. You may just have a stone in the end but you may also have a diamond. If your courage fails you and you don’t show it to someone else and don’t do a second draft, you will never know. Many writers have tried and tried many times and failed many times before their first success. But think if these writers had not made the choice to take the stone from the ground. Their diamonds, the books and stories we now love and learn from, would be lost forever. That would be a tragedy. So take courage. Remember why you wanted or needed to write this story or start digging in the first place. Let’s see if you have found a stone or a diamond mine?

– Kim

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.


 

Perfectionism is the great Oppressor

Train tracks HDR edit
Image by Zach Bonnell via Flickr

I am the daughter of a german mother. This means that I cook and bake well. But it also means that I have the roots of perfectionism planted into my foundations. Now usually most people who are not perfectionists would think that being a perfectionist is something that will push you higher and higher along the ladder of success.

Perfectionism is a gift and a curse. It is also unattainable. But for a perfectionist this very unattainability makes it the apple in the Garden of Eden. You just want to bite into it.

As a perfectionist my competition and my critic and judge is myself. This perfectionism also has another word in my world: procrastination by perfectionism.

For me there is always the hunt for the perfect story then building the perfect character then writing the perfect first line then writing the perfect ending. I can sit for hours breaking apart every word, throwing it out, twisting it into origami and then putting it back in. I will not even go into the area of Grammar. That would take up 10 blog posts. I am sure you get the picture.

However there is one form of my writing where I do not have the gloom of perfectionism hanging over my shoulder. That is my poetry. When I write my poetry, it is visceral and primal. My mind and thoughts do not come into any of my poems. It is the seat of my soul, my heart and my emotions. It is the base instincts that make me, me which is at the heart of my poetry.

This has led me to an epiphany today: a true A-Ha moment.

If my poetry and my thoughts are two parallel tracks at a train station, then I need to switch tracks when working on my prose or fiction. I need to switch tracks because the conductor of my poetry train is not a perfectionist. This conductor is the inner workings of me before cynicism and realism took hold. This conductor is my 6-year-old self who is wide-eyed and curious at everything new and always full of questions. She has two black pig tails slightly skew because she is learning to put her own hair  up in the mornings. She has wide green eyes that seem to swallow in the world and everything she looks at. She is dressed in jeans and a red t-shirt. She has slight smudges on her hands from climbing her favourite tree and reading her favourite book, her dog waiting faithfully at the foot of the tree. Her favourite word is Hoppergrass. This is her name for grasshoppers because sometimes when she squints her eyes just right a hopping grasshopper looks like a piece of hopping grass. This child is not concerned with finding what is wrong. She is just concerned with “finding”.

The conductor of my fiction train has had too much control over my writing. He is a grumpy old man dressed in a pin stripe suit and starched white shirt. His hair is flattened and smoothed to an inch within its life. There are no laugh lines around his mouth but his temple has become a road map of discontent and disapproval. He goes only by the title of professor. He has rimless round spectacles that are always perched on the bridge of his nose. He talks in a clipped german accent and all that he says is that he expects more, I could have done better, it is not good enough and worst crime of all it is not yet perfect therefore not yet ready.

So today I have decided that I am switching trains and taking a different track with my WIP. I have been letting Professor Perfect be the conductor of my words. I need to let the 6-year-old child, Kimmi, be the new conductor. I need to write without stopping to think. When I stop to think during writing, I do not get very far beyond going over and over trying to make things perfect for the Professor. I need to allow the peals of  6-year-old Kimmi’s laughter to drown out the words and thoughts of Professor Perfect. I will need him at the end of this draft when I need to edit. But for now, he needs to go and bother someone else and take the train on the parallel track from me.

So from today, Professor Perfect gets to clip someone else’s ticket stub. I am boarding the train conducted by my 6-year-old self and I am taking the track of emotion. This WIP is a difficult one for me to write but I realise now in the light of today’s epiphany that it has only been difficult because I was over-thinking Professor Perfect’s thoughts. Instead I need to let the child of emotion run riot. She needs to play cowboys and indians and hide and seek. She needs to ask questions all the time. She needs to remind me that the purest part of me, the most elemental core is what will make this writing fluid. This is a WIP where I need to feel, experience, question, go off kilter, climb trees, laugh out loud and weep crocodile tears.

Eureka!

The Road not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost


© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

Writers on Writing ~ Bird by Bird

8.22.09
Image by aprilzosia via Flickr

Bird by Bird ~ Anne La Mott

This week I started reading this amazing book on the craft of writing. I am already half way through and still going back and rereading many parts. This is a book that is a must for writers. It is a book that will resonate with both novice writers and professional writers. She writes from her own experiences and this comes through in the ease of reading. The pages seem to turn themselves. We writers are generous types: we always want to share what is on our minds and what inspires us. So today I am going to share a couple of tips that I am learning so far from Bird by Bird with you:

  1. “Good  writing is about telling the truth.”
  2. “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow
  3. “…the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.”
  4. “Very few writers know what they are doing until they’ve done it.”
  5. “The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later….Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you’re supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go – but there was no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.”
  6. “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper…the first draft is the down draft – you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft – you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.”
  7. “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”
  8. “Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground – you can still find new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get. Tidiness makes me thing of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”
  9. “Writing a first draft is very much like watching a polaroid develop. You can’t – and, in fact, you are not supposed to – know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.”
  10. “The evidence is in and you are the verdict. This will be true for each of your characters.”
  11. ” Nothing is as important as a likable narrator. Nothing holds a story together better.” –Ethan Canin
  12. “Another thing: we want a sense than an important character , like a narrator, is reliable. We want to believe that a character is not playing games or being coy or manipulative, but is telling the truth to the best of his or her ability. (Unless a major characteristic of his or hers is coyness or manipulation or lying.).”
  13. “Just don;t pretend you know more about your characters than they do, because you don’t. Stay open to them. It’s teatime and all the dolls are at the table. Listen. It’s that simple.”
  14. “Plot grows out of character. If you focus on who the people in your story are, if you sit and write about two people you know and are getting to know better and better day by day, something is bound to happen.”
  15. “Worry about the characters. Let what they say or do reveal who they are, and be involved in their lives, and keep asking yourself, Now what happens? The development of relationship creates plot.”
  16. “Life is not a submarine. There are no plans. Find out what each character cares most about in the world because then you will have discovered what’s at stake.”
  17. “There must be movement.”
  18. “Let your human beings follow the music they hear, and let it take them where it will.
  19. “So aim but not too hard, and when you finally see the climax forming in front of you, then you can race toward it.”
  20. “She said that sometimes she uses a formula when writing a short story, which goes ABDCE, for Action, Background, Development, Climax and Ending You begin with action that is compelling enough to draw us in, make us want to know more. Background is where you let us see and know who these people are, how they’ve come to be together, what was going on before the opening of the story. Then you develop these people, so that we learn what they care most about. The plot – the dram, the actions, the tension -will grow out of that. You move them along until everything comes together in the climax, after which things are different for the main characters, different in some real way. And then there is the ending: what is our sense of who these people are now, what are they left with, what happened, and what did it mean.” – Alice Adams

All of these lessons and tips are like gold veins through the murky clay of a writer’s craft. There are so many more tips and tools that I have read but I will leave that for my next post next week.

Until then remember to just ” take it bird by bird…”.

– Kim


 

Step into a space between time…


This week I read a blog post of a good friend’s about her dream writing retreat if she won lotto. It did not take me long to figure out my dream writing retreat. I have already been there and was entranced and charmed. My dream writing retreat is Greece. There are many reasons why this is my dream retreat. Let me tell you about why of all the places in the world, this would be my dream and will be my future writing retreat.

For me Greece is a magical blending of the Ancient and the Modern. It is a place where you can walk with closed eyes and hear the thundering of the chariots. It is a place of spiritual power and a place that has more stories than can be told in a lifetime at the foundation of its heart. I went to Greece and I fell in love with the country, the people and the culture. There is a timeless essence to being in Greece that lends itself to the timelessness of creativity. Inspiration does not have an era or a timeline. It is as old as time itself.

My strongest memories of Greece are the scent of oranges and lemons. Wherever you go in Greece you will be assailed by the sweet and tangy scents of oranges and lemons. It is a place of donkeys and motorbikes. It is a place of ancient ruins and modern luxury resorts. It is a place where the great Philosophers of time called home and found their inspiration. It is a place of mathematics and poetry.

When you are in Greece, time seems to be suspended and you enter a place where both the Ancient and the New can be together in one place and transcending the element of time. This is a place where life and living is revered. This is a place where a simple meal is appreciated and relished over 3 hours. This is a place where love and lore come home to rest. This is a place where every moment of life is appreciated and time is worshipped. This is place where you do take a moment to enjoy the simpler things in life. This is a place where family is revered and where fierce loyalty binds all.

I remember when I left Greece, I wept bitterly. For here I had found my true home. It is a place that sings to my soul. I still travel there at night in my dreams. It is the place in my mind that I escape to when I need a respite from daily life. My heart and soul belong to this ancient home of Philosophy and Inspiration. I made a vow to Greece when I left that I would come home to her. I would come home to this place of beauty and power.

I want to feel the power of magic coursing through my veins as I stand once more in the ancient ruins of The Acropolis.  I want to view the horizon from her rugged cliff-tops. I want to ride on the back of a donkey, that most humble of creatures integral to Greek culture, up a mountain side to my blue-doored and white-walled home. My view will be that of the brilliant blues and greens of the magical Mediterranean sea. I want to taste fresh seafood caught that day in the bounty of this sea. I want to know that here I am finally at home. This is the place that my gypsy heart calls home.

I believe that there is a certain place in the world where your heart,soul,mind and body just feel enriched and feel “at home”. My place is Greece. The land of the legends and myths, land of Eros and Romance. The land where love and poetry are the cornerstones of this culture. Step into the home of democracy and freedom. Walk in the pathways of Socrates and Homer. Let the grandeur of the ancients seep into your veins. Swim in the fountains of the ancient nymphs and play in the playgrounds of the Ancients.

Come join me in Greece and be inspired by the rugged beauty of cliff tops, the endless orchards of Olive trees, the traversing of goats and donkeys, the magical blues and greens of the Mediterranean, the sweet and tangy blended scents of oranges and lemons. Take a seat on the roof of my cerulean blue-doored and blue shuttered, white-walled home and forget time and the rush to squander time. Watch the fishing boats come in as you take in a magnificent sunset that has seen the passing and stilling of time as the centuries roll by. Be taken in and charmed by the many superstitions that these lyrical people believe in. Step into the land of the Olympians and take your lessons for living from the rich spirit of this culture.

Greece – My True Home.

The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece! Where burning Sappho loved and sung. Where grew the arts of war and peace,– Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung! Eternal summer gilds them yet, But all, except their sun, is set.
Author: Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron)
Source: Don Juan (canto III, st. 86)

Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts And eloquence.
Author: John Milton
Source: Paradise Regained (bk. IV, l. 240)

To Greece we give our shining blades.

Author: Thomas Moore
Source: Evenings in Greece–First Evening

If noble death be virtue`s chiefest part, We above all men are by Fortune blest, Striving with freedom`s crown to honor Greece, we died, and here in endless glory rest – Simonides

Greece is like a mirror. It makes you suffer. Then you learn. To live alone? To live. With what you are.”

— John Fowles.

In many ways we are all sons and daughters of Ancient Greece.

-Nia Vardolos

To describe Greece I would share with you a tomato on the sandy beaches of Skopellos, open a sea urchin with my penknife and serve you the scarlet eggs inside while the salt stretches the skin on our backs. – Nicholas Papandreou

© All Rights reserved Kim Koning.

Celebrating Prolific Bloggers

awards

Since January I have been taking part in a blogging challenge called: Postaday2011. This challenge is being held by WordPress. The gist of this challenge is to post at least once a day, every day of the year in 2011. For those who find this a little too challenging, there is the challenging Postaweek2011.

Since I have started doing this I have met many different bloggers I usually would not have and my online network has grown. I had not been doing this challenge for long and I came across a FB group called Post A Day (Week) Challenge. Through this site, I find that my knowledge basis on music. gardening, crafting, house renovations, art and writing has increased. This is a direct result of joining this Facebook group.

So today, I would like to award, acknowledge and celebrate my Postday / Week 2011 bloggers. The award I am giving them is very apt for what they are: It is the Prolific Blogger Award. This is an award given to Bloggers who blog, comment and follow to a prolific degree irregardless of the stresses or time constraints of daily life.

The Prolific Blogger Award

These are the Postaday 2011 Bloggers who are this year’s Prolific Bloggers:

http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/

http://mybeautifulnewyork.wordpress.com/

http://runningaground.wordpress.com/

http://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/

http://oraclejuice.wordpress.com/

http://lookingatlyrics.wordpress.com/

http://adamdbird.blogspot.com/

http://eof737.wordpress.com/

http://OliviaTejeda.com/

http://adobecolors.wordpress.com/

http://twilightreadings.wordpress.com/

http://socialkonnect.wordpress.com/

http://therunninggarlic.wordpress.com/

http://djbs2011inmusic.wordpress.com/

http://POPembroidery.wordpress.com/

http://mollyandtheprincess.wordpress.com/

http://gradinggirl.com/

http://homeonlagrange.wordpress.com/

http://bluenote84149.wordpress.com/

http://www.geldo.de/wordpress/

www.somegosoftly.com

http://clairewade.wordpress.com/

http://donnahuebsch.wordpress.com/

http://pennilesstim.wordpress.com/

http://jonandphyllis.wordpress.com/

http://paulasstory.wordpress.com/

http://tndzulo.wordpress.com/ (moving to http://joendzulo.info/blog )

http://www.peterweis.com/tag/today/

http://webgrrrl.net/

http://justalittlesnarky.com/

http://www.bohemianchick.com/

http://amusingconfusing.wordpress.com/

http://amaravadee.com/blog

http://geewhiz.wordpress.com/

http://cosmobong.wordpress.com/

http://seycen.wordpress.com/

http://amoderngirl.wordpress.com/

http://notejar.wordpress.com/

I would also like to award the founder of the Face Book group for this challenge her very own award: The Versatile Award. This perfectly sums up Debbie’s blog where she has a daily theme to every day of the week. These themes range from Photography, to gardening, to crafting, to cooking, to business advice to technology advice and many more on top of that. So today help me in celebrating Debbie’s Running Garlic WordPress blog and applaud her as she accepts:

The Versatile Blogger Award

Congratulations to these Bloggers who do not baulk at a challenge. Well done on already posting so prolifically and Good Luck on the continued success of your challenge.

If you are blogging every day or every week of the year and find you need some support then join our Facebook group. You will find a very supportive environment and may even find some new friends.

Happy Blogging…

– Kim

Bloglovin’

Monkeys Blogging
Image via Wikipedia

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/2325270/dragonfly-scrolls?claim=hvphwbr4ara”>Follow my blog with bloglovin</a>

I have just signed up at Bloglovin. I was directed to this site through a blog that I have just started following. From what I can see, this is another great way to increase your blogging network as well as publicise your own blog.

It is very simple to sign up. It is a fantastic site to have if you follow many blogs and cannot seem to keep track of all your subscriptions.

Try it out. You may just meet many more bloggers out there.

Kim

Thursday Tips – Be an Imaginer

Rendering of human brain.
Image via Wikipedia

It’s that time of week again: Thursday. Which means it must be time for Thursday Tips. This week this blog has been focused on creativity. Today’s tips will be no different.

How to develop your creativity?

Firstly before we work on how to develop your creativity, you need to understand creativity. What the word, the concept and the action of creativity actually are.

creativity |ˌkrē-āˈtivitē|

noun

the use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.


imagination |iˌmajəˈnā sh ən|

noun

the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses : she’d never been blessed with a vivid imagination.• the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful : technology gives workers the chance to use their imagination.• the part of the mind that imagines things : a girl who existed only in my imagination.ORIGIN Middle English : via Old French from Latin imaginatio(n-), from the verb imaginari ‘picture to oneself,’ from imago, imagin- ‘image.’


idea |īˈdēə|

noun

1 a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action : they don’t think it’s a very good idea.• a concept or mental impression : our menu list will give you some idea of how interesting a low-fat diet can be.• an opinion or belief : nineteenth-century ideas about drinking.• a feeling that something is probable or possible : he had an idea that she must feel the same.

2 ( the idea) the aim or purpose : I took a job with the idea of getting some money together.

3 Philosophy (in Platonic thought) an eternally existing pattern of which individual things in any class are imperfect copies.• (in Kantian thought) a concept of pure reason, not empirically based in experience.

___________________________________________________

create |krēˈāt|

verb

[ trans. ]bring (something) into existence : he created a thirty-acre lake | over 170 jobs were created.• cause (something) to happen as a result of one’s actions : divorce only created problems for children.• (of an actor) originate (a role) by playing a character for the first time.• invest (someone) with a new rank or title : he was created a baronet.

ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [form out of nothing,] used of a divine or supernatural being): from Latin creat- ‘produced,’ from the verb creare.


imagine |iˈmajən|

verb

[ trans. ]1 form a mental image or concept of : imagine a road trip from Philadelphia to Chicago | [with clause ] I couldn’t imagine what she expected to tell them.• [often as adj. ] ( imagined) believe (something unreal or untrue) to exist or be so : they suffered from ill health, real or imagined, throughout their lives.

2 [with clause ] suppose or assume : after Ned died, everyone imagined that Mabel would move away.• [as exclam. ] just suppose : imagine! to outwit Heydrich!DERIVATIVESimaginer |1ˈmødʒənər| nounORIGIN Middle English : from Old French imaginer, from Latin imaginare ‘form an image of, represent’ and imaginari ‘picture to oneself,’ both from imago, imagin- ‘image.’

Above are 3 nouns that make up the definition of creativity. These define what creativity means. It is the innate ability of the human brain. Creativity is what separates us from the other mammals. We have the unique ability to create, imagine and think. Our ideas make us creative. Our creativity is fostered by our imagination.

For me though I disagree with the one of the above definitions. Creativity is grammatically speaking a noun. However for Creativity to be fostered an action is needed: The action of creating and imagining.

For creativity to be successful, it needs to be a verb. I know that I may be throwing a spanner in the grammatical works and right now my inner editor is attempting to bite her tongue but I am sticking to my guns on this one.

Creativity must be a verb. It is an action word. What is more active than the art of creating something. For me creativity is also the opposite of destruction. Creativity is a tool we are able to use to fuel emotion. Through creativity you can make someone feel something or see something using the tool of your imagination. Creativity is a gift.

This brings me to Imagination. Imagination derives from an old french word: Imaginer.

Imaginer Meaning and Definition from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

    Imaginer Im*ag”in*er, n. One who forms ideas or conceptions; one who contrives. –Bacon.

What a stunning concept! What a creative concept! What better calling than to be an Imaginer?

So today’s Thursday tips are:

  1. Become an Imaginer.
  2. Use your mind as a fountain for ideas.
  3. Let no idea escape: Keep a journal just for ideas. No matter how random an idea may seem, do not throw away the seed. Write it down and see what germinates. you may be surprised.
  4. Nurture your curiosity: This will fuel even more ideas.
  5. Nurture your right-brain thinking.
  6. Exercise your most important muscle: Your brain.
  7. Think outside the square: Stretch your horizons of what is possible. This is called imagination. If it has not been done, imagine how it could be done.
  8. Learn at least 1 new creative or artistic skill every week.
  9. Teach someone at least 1 new creative or artistic skill every month.
  10. Most important make Creativity an Action in your daily life.

May you have a creatively rich week.

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.



Warrior Wednesday Drum Roll

Announcing my 3rd interview in the new series: Warrior Wednesdays.

This evening I will be posting the successful interview I had with YA and Children’s author Dee White. This is one not to be missed. I met Dee through Word Warriors – the online FB group started for NaNoWriMo20101 – and Scribblerati – the writing ning I belong to. I have gotten to know Dee very well through both these groups. From a stranger who writes as well, to a colleague and finally to a friend.

She is an avid supporter of any writers both published and pre-published. Dee herself is a published author. She blogs regularly with very useful writing tips.

I will not tell you anymore about Dee but watch this space for the interview. She will tell you more about herself as we sit down and have a cyber chat.

In this interview you will learn why I admire Dee so much. You will also learn the tricks and tools of being a YA and Children’s author. You will be as charmed and disarmed by Dee’s honesty and humility as I have been. This is one talented lady and more than that: a true Warrior of Words.

Join me in a few hours for our interview.

girl with a quill…