On Thursday, July 16, writers around the world were inspired by NaNoInspiredDay. On that day, writers encouraged each other by posting words, quotes and actions meant to inspire: to inspire words, to inspire the completion of works, to inspire turning on the computer or picking up the pen, to inspire the prioritization of writing, etc. I found the inspired postings on Twitter and Facebook did just what they were intended to do–inspire. I was inspired to honor a truth concerning a short story I had been struggling with. I was inspired to write more words. I personally did not post anything on Thursday, but I am today. A friend sent me the link below and I am sharing it with you in an effort to keep the inspiration going. Click on the link and after you’ve read the 25 quotes, let me know the ones that move you. The ones that moved me? #2, #3, #9, #13, #16 and #25. Be inspired! Happy writing!
I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase, “I didn’t choose it, it chose me.” That phrase applies to me and paranormal writing. I grew up reading romance novels—the old school romances with covers that depicted revealing bodices for heroines and exposed chests for heroes. Fast forward to adulthood and my love for reading romance novels continued. So it was quite natural that when I decided to become a novelist, I turned to the romance genre. I wrote three romances and then something unexpected happened…my next love story went dark. Yikes! What happened? I’m trucking along writing about love and eternal bliss and then a stalker, death and violence inserts itself into one of my stories. That story introduced a change.
Oh, I still believed in love, happiness, and all that sugar and spice stuff, but those dark elements forced me to acknowledge the influence that murder mysteries, thrillers, horror and science fiction had had on me as well. I had read just as many Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books as I had romance novels, and that horror/thriller/mystery genre had risen up, demanding to be represented.
So in 1999, I shelved the romance stories I had been developing and turned to paranormal writing. Well not completely. I decided I would write a paranormal then write a romance; write a paranormal, then write a romance. A rotation, you see, but my intuitive creative self said, “no, no, no,” and to prove it meant what it said I started having personal encounters (yes, plural) with spirits. I had my first run-in in 2000 with a spirit. Then in 2011, I had my second spiritual visit and since then I have seen an angel and have been visited by a deceased relative. Needless to say, many of my writings are now devoted to the paranormal genre. Such as my most recent book titled, Lyrical Darkness. I am honored to be one of ten paranormal writers featured in this collection of short stories that are based on dark song lyrics.
I’m curious about you though. What has chosen you? Have you been chosen to take your writing more seriously and work toward publication? Have you received the call to join a book club? Have you felt the urge to sculpt, draw, paint? Maybe thoughts about pursuing a voiceover, design or music career? If so, have you answered the call or turned your back to it? If it chose you and you’re being stubborn, let me reiterate that there’s no escape. Make it easy on yourself and go with it. And always remember, it chose you; hence, all the support you’ll ever need is yours just by asking.
Honor the choosing!
During one of our critique group meetings, the discussion veered off feedback and onto the topic of “what inspires a creative work?” Responses to the question ranged from rain or dreary weather to physical activity (such as mowing the yard or walking) to reading a written work to listening to music to viewing visual art. Well, we eventually got back on track with dishing out feedback but that discussion stayed with me and caused me to wonder if any creative works had inspired other creative works. And following that thought was, I wonder if poetry (what with it being National Poetry Month) had inspired any creative works? When I found myself with a few free minutes, I tinkered around on the Internet in search of answers to my wonderings and discovered that yes, indeed, creativity had inspired creativity and poetry had influenced other art forms.
You may be as surprised as me to learn that some poems have inspired songs, musical compositions, paintings, novels, and more. For example, did you know that The Charlie Daniels Band, influenced by the poem The Mountain Whippoorwill by Stephen Vincent Benet created The Devil Went Down to Georgia, a song that hit number one on the country and pop charts? (See http://www.songfacts.com for a detailed list of more songs inspired by poetry.)
And did you know that many painting and other visual art classes use poetry to jumpstart the creation of visual art works? Favorite poems used in this exercise include works by Dickinson, Shelley, Carroll, Stevenson, and Wordsworth. The famous English painter/artist/illustrator David Hockney openly credits Whitman and Cavafy for inspiring many of his paintings and etchings.
As a novelist, I cannot ignore the influence poetry has had on a long list of novelists and short story writers. And the one poet who has exerted the greatest influence on longer form writers? The original Bard himself, William Shakespeare.
All of the information I discovered on poetry’s influence on other creative works was fascinating and as I signed off the Internet to turn to my own writings, I felt a challenge brewing in me. Dare I read one of my favorite poets’ works (Langston Hughes, perhaps) to see what, if any, creative work it ignites in me? I think I will. What about you? Are you sensing the call to read a few lines by Neruda, Poe, Angelou, Brooks, Yeats, or Cummings to see what jumps off? I dare you.
Christmas, as you know, is a time for people to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to show our appreciation for his saving grace by bestowing gifts, big and small, on loved ones and strangers. Kwanzaa, too, is a time of celebration. From December 26 through January 1, we highlight the seven principles of Kwanzaa, which include: unity; self-determination; collective work and responsibility; cooperative economics; purpose; creativity and faith. I chose to celebrate the spirit of Kwanzaa by sharing the following short story with you. Consider it my Kwanzaa gift; a celebration of my faith, my personal purpose (to write), and creativity (the story is a fictional account of love in action). I hope you enjoy!
Me, Baby Jesus & Red Rover
by Ann Fields
Christmas starts early in the Andrews household and this Christmas was no different. Just before the sun rose, three sets of feet came stomping down the stairs. The echoes of those treads bounced off the hallway walls and came to rest in the living room where the owners of said feet had stumbled to a halt. In this room, the noise came not from stomps but from exclamations of joy as the brothers examined with greedy eyes the bounty of decorated packages heaped under the tree.
The boys had enjoyed enough Christmases to know that the opening of those enticing boxes and bags didn’t start until Mama and Daddy showed—Mama with her cup of coffee and Daddy with his video recorder for capturing memories the couple would enjoy many years from now when the boys were away celebrating Christmas with their own families.
On this particular Christmas morn though, Mama and Daddy did not arrive with drink or recorder but with a large box that made whining and scratching noises.
“Oh boys…” the parents called over the boys’ loud, excited chatter about what possible treasures lay under the tree.
Nearly in unison, the boys turned and watched in perplexed surprise as their parents sat the box down, oh so carefully, and beckoned the boys, come. The invitation was unnecessary for it took little time for the boys to identify the sounds coming from the box, and once that happened, they scrambled over each other, rushing to the box. And what did they see when they peered inside? The one present they had been begging Santa for for years…a puppy.
A collective shout of glee filled the house, almost raising the roof so great was its intensity. Three sets of arms plunged inside the box eager to hold, pet and play. Jim, the oldest of the three and the one with the longest reach, scooped up the puppy first. He stood with the prize forcing the other two to gather by his side. All joined in in stroking the dog’s coat, staring into its clear brown eyes, and inspecting its tiny ears, paws and tail. In return, the tiny pup wiggled and licked the boys like crazy. During this time of introduction, the boys all thought the same thought but it was little Marty who voiced it out loud, “This is the best Christmas ever.”
With joy on their faces and love in their hearts, Mama and Daddy stood looking at the scene. Reluctant to interrupt but needing to just the same, Daddy instructed, “He’ll need a name,” and Mama piped in, “Something that’ll fit the Andrews last name.”
This too was an unnecessary prompt. Because the boys had dreamt long of this day, they had previously convened and settled on a name. Now all three happily exclaimed, “Red Rover.” And again, “Red Rover.”
Mama and Daddy, in pride-filled surprise, looked at each other and smiled with glad eyes. They could imagine no better name than that which bespoke of their sons’ favorite backyard game.
Across the room, at the base of the fire sat a lovely handcrafted nativity scene. In his cradle of wood, cloth and straw, I could clearly see the Messiah’s glowing smile. Over the years, I had learned him quite well and knew that this smile conveyed his blessing as well. Not just for the pup’s name as bestowed by the boys but also for the love that already adorned the hearts of both—both puppy and boys.
And who am I? you may want to know. Why, I am Mary, the Christmas tree angel perched high atop the Andrews’s tree.
April is National Poetry Month and to celebrate both poets and poetry, I pulled from my bookshelves some of my favorite local or regional poets’ volumes of poetry to share with you. You may not have heard of some of these poets because many do not have the notoriety of Sonia Sanchez or Nikki Giovanni. But in the southwest region, they are loved. So I present to you (drum roll please) “One Poet — One Line,” poets and one line from one of their treasured poems. Enjoy!
My hair has many blues like inner city streets, yet it thrives like ghetto hymns, never facing defeat” —Che’
“I am that which is good and positive tempered with my own humanity” — Herman Wilson II
“Down in the dumps is not my home Good-bye old friend; I’m moving on” — Doris House Rice
“Death came to remind me that earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal” — Evelyn Dees Kelly
“With strings and borrowed trumpets their genius reigned despite denial, bringing the world jazz” — Lisa Brown Ross
“The forecast in my eyes is rain pouring, from seeing the blue oceans through the lens of past happy days” —Pari Danian
“Life is a canvas waiting to be painted by the colors of our own choosing” — Irene P. Zucker
“Thank God it’s not just me, or eventually I would fall” — Pam Fields
“The beauty of giving Is to give from the heart” — Le’Juana Searcy
“Set your Self and your Spirit free; Give your Self permission just to ‘be'” — Martha Switzer
“If my tears can wash away your ignorance, I’ll cry you a river!” — Nichole L. Shields
“It’s past time We live past our feelings…Put aside our petty differences Reach out to each other in love.” — Jeanetta Britt
“With each morning comes a new day – a new chance to make peace with the world and all its people.” — Hugh M. Bouvier
“Pain wore her face like a road map…” — Quraysh Ali
“Put faith before doubt. For everything in life will work out.” — Sharon Jones-Scaife
“I am of no color For in many eyes I do not exist” — Katherine Smith
“How ya livin’, depends on the choices you make, how ya livin’, depends on what you ask for when you pray.” —Rudy V