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

Food for Thought: Walk On

No matter how difficult life gets, walk on…

Chickadee walking on a stick

We’re here to learn the many lessons of life and to do so we must follow our path no matter how much of an uphill battle it seems to be some times.

Birds tend to be very tenacious creatures. The spend a lot of busy time finding materials to build their nests, shaping and fashioning there nests, and foraging for food. Then when they have found their food they begin their journey back to the nest to feed their little ones.

We humans, do of course follow many of the same patterns in life, on a larger scale.  But sometimes we human tend to get caught up in our woes and then self pity and we shut down rather than walking on despite the obstacles in our path.

In those times when we feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of troubles weighting us down, remember the little chickadee, forging ahead, seed in its beak, heading for its nest. It never stops and thinks I can not do this. It walks… or flies on. Be that tenacious bird on a branch.

Photo: Chickadee on a Branch: Walk On

Musings: The Golden Light Shining Through the Trees

Today as the rain falls outside my desk window, I think of the beautiful golden sunlight often seen shining through the trees when walking in the woods.

Light Through the Trees Shackford Head in Eastport, ME

This is the light of redemption and renewal. This is the light that draws us into our center, our core, and reflects back through us when we are open to the beauty that surrounds us and is within us. This is the force that feeds us, body and soul. This is the forces that fills our psyche with unlimited love. Continue reading

Quote Of The Day: Anais Nin

When we are young girls we often dream of being a mermaid, as grown women we realize that shallow living holds nothing for us, it is the depths that drive us…

Mermaid Quote Anais Nin

From Anaïs Nin’s 1950 novel, The Four-Chambered Heart, based on her life: “I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

The Eastport Mermaid: Photo by Pamela J. Leavey

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

Quote of the Day: Terry Tempest Williams

Today’s Quote of the Day is from one of my favorite memoir and nature writers, Terry Tempest Williams:

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.” ― Terry Tempest Williams

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.” ― Terry Tempest Williams: When The Women Were Birds

 

*Lesser Goldfinches photo by Pamela J. Leavey