On Writing: Why Prewriting Matters

deskIn the past, my writing style typically leaves out the all important first stage of writing—pre-writing.  When I write, I tend to write and then rewrite but rarely ever do I engage in pre-writing.

Needless to say, when I started taking creative writing classes at UMass Amherst UWW, I learned that I was cutting out an integral part of the writing process. Jumping right into the writing phase works if you know what you are going to write about, but when you’re stuck pre-writing frees up space and opens up the creative channels.

Reading Chapter 1 of Connie Griffin’s text, To Tell The Truth in my Magazine Writing class gave me a keener understanding of how to use pre-writing as a strategy to break free from writer’s block. The creative process needs the freedom to be expressive, and pre-writing can be seen as a fun exercise in letting go, while also trusting one’s subconscious in a “nonjudgmental and forgiving” way. (p. 5)

The Getting Started (p. 6 – 7) section in Chapter 1, helped me to understand that pre-writing is comparable to a dancer warming up with exercise and practice, or a painter sketching in a rough outline on his canvas in preparation for creating his painting using the tools of his craft. When seen in that light, I suddenly found how pre-writing should and could fit into my process. Continue reading

On the River: Reflections and Motion

As a visual spatial person, I see most everything within the boundaries of a frame. That said, I feel that photography comes naturally to me. Many, many years ago I painted, oils, but I love the fact that with my camera I can instantly create art and channel what I see into something tangible to share with others.

Here in the photos below, I was fascinated by the patterns created by the colors and shapes, mixed with reflection of the building and the motion of both the Mallard ducks and the waters of the Merrimack River at the historic Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury, Massachusetts.

New Hampshire Mother Uses Art Therapy to Raise Heroin Addiction Awareness

13450033_10153852229215345_6907428901319467035_nAnne Marie Zanfagna’s gregarious nature is evident from the moment you start talking with her. One would be hard pressed to see the pain hidden behind her outgoing demeanor. Even as a life long friend, I do not always see the sadness Anne Marie carries with her.

When I sat down with her for an interview about her Angels of Addictions project, it quickly became evident that her sadness was what motivates her to paint the portraits of young heroin overdose victims. Anne Marie feels this work, painting portraits and talking about heroin addiction is now her life’s work, her mission.

Through her 501c3 non-profit organization, Angels Of Addictions, Anne Marie and her husband Jim work to raise awareness about heroin addiction, the stigma of heroin addiction and to help raise money for recovery services and a scholarship in their daughter Jackie’s name. Jackie died of a heroin overdose in October 2014.  Continue reading

Ansel Adams: Visionary

anseladamsAnsel Adams was an only child, born to old parents in San Francisco on February 20, 1902. He was the only child of businessman Charles Hitchcock Adams and Olive Bray, and the grandson of a timber baron. Adams’ family home was in located in the coastal Golden Gate area of San Francisco. It was there that Adams developed an early appreciation for nature.

He was a shy child, possibly dyslexic, and subsequently he did not do well in school. He was ultimately home schooled, which led to solitary time spent walking along the still undeveloped and wild coastline. At twelve years old Ansel Adams learned piano on his own, and went on to pursue piano as his career. However, in 1916 Adams first visited Yosemite, which changed his passion from piano to photography. It was there in Yosemite that he would take up the camera, a Kodak No. 1 Box Brownie, which was a gift from his parents. Ansel Adams would ultimately spend quite a bit of time yearly at Yosemite, until he passed away on April 22, 1984.

Adams joined the Sierra Club in 1919 and subsequently spent the next “four summers in Yosemite Valley, as “keeper” of the club’s LeConte Memorial Lodge.”[1] This would prove to be quite opportune for Adams, as he became friends with many of the leaders of the Sierra Club and became involved with the early conservation movement. It was here at Yosemite that Adams would also meet his wife, Virginia Best. Adams involvement with the Sierra Club was pivotal to his early career as a photographer, with publication of his both his writings and photographs in their 1922 Bulletin and then a “his first one man exhibition in 1928 at the club’s San Francisco headquarters.”[2] Adams began to see the potential to make a modest living as a photographer through his continued involvement with the Sierra Club. Continue reading

Be Just Woman

Decades ago when I started my personal foray into women’s studies, the field was still quite new. A feminist at heart, I was raised by a mother who also felt the tug of women’s rights strongly, as she came of age in the time of the early women’s rights movement in America. It is fear that causes men to still thwart women’s rights. It is fear that keeps some women from speaking up and claiming their own. Yet, we women are strong, powerful, “brilliant beings,” and many still long for the rights of simply be themselves.

The Temple of Five by Lisa Marquis BradburyBe Just Woman

In the brilliance
Of my madness,
Only then can I see
The sadness,
That walks,
And talks
In a million
Brilliant beings.
I see it on the corner,
In every face
Of every woman,
In the shops,
On the bus,
Every one,
They are all us.
We have long to speak
Our voice,
To tell our feelings,
Be just women.
We have long to walk
Our walk,
To talk
Our talk,
Be just women.
We are mothers
To our children,
Fierce and docile
Both by nature.
We are friends
To our sisters,
And lovers,
To our men.
We are feminists,
Who want to be
Feminine,
Honored and revered,
But instead
In our passing,
We are often not loved,
Only feared.
© Pamela Leavey
Temple of the Five by Lisa Marquis Bradbury ©