First things first: I miscalculated how old the blog is. We’re celebrating its ninth birthday today, not its tenth. (*face turns red*) Sorry about that!
Regardless, a ninth blogoversary is impressive. I launched this site in 2009 mostly because blogging seemed like fun. (Not to mention I was always happy to find a new outlet for writing.) Since then, I’ve grown so much as a writer and as a person, and the blog has evolved as well. So, from a perspective of reflection, it’s appropriate that this year’s blogoversary post centers on all-time favorite writing advice. (Thank you for the suggestion, Zezee!)
It was challenging, but I narrowed it down to nine favorites to coincide with nine years of blogging. I hope you find these tips as motivating and inspiring as I did when I first came upon them.
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Do you listen to music while you write? Has a specific song or music artist ever influenced one of your stories, poems, etc.? This has happened with a number of my published poems. Thus, Poetry & Song is a limited-run series where I share one of my published poems and the song that “helped me write” it. I also offer insights into why I chose that particular piece of music, as well as any other inspirations for the poem.
Some of you might know that I’m a published poet, with several poems accepted for print and online publication between 2012 and 2014. While I’m focusing on novels now, from time to time I’ve entertained ideas about how to discuss poetry (either my own or the poets I admire) here at the blog. Then, during last month’s Iceland Writers Retreat, I took Nadifa Mohamed’s “Music and Literature” workshop, which explored how the music we listen to can influence our writing. It turned out to be my favorite workshop of the event – and it also sparked the idea for this series.
Today I’d like to kick off the Poetry & Song series with “Elegy,” which was published in Soul-Lit’s Summer 2013 issue. And had it not been for a certain piano ballad by one of the most incredibly voices and songwriters in current pop music, I’m not sure “Elegy” would be what it is today. That’s why it’s impossible to talk about the poem without the song, or how that poem changed my feelings toward the song forever.
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I’ve been thinking about compassion lately. It’s impossible not to, with everything that’s going on in our world. Terrorist attacks, increased racial tensions, insensitivity toward other minority groups, and the most vitriolic U.S. presidential election I can remember (notice the timing of this post, fellow Americans?)… From a social perspective, 2016 has been a bleak year, and I’m deeply worried about where we as a society are heading.
But let’s not discuss politics. Instead, let’s focus on a topic that I think many of us will agree on: the power of compassion in literature. By compassion, I mean moments when characters show kindness, mercy, and similar qualities. These actions can draw us closer to those characters, move us to tears, and make those stories all the more memorable. And during these turbulent times in our world, finding – and writing – stories that demonstrate compassion may be more important than ever.
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The 1000 Voices for Compassion Movement (also known as #1000Speak) began in January 2015 as a way for bloggers to spread messages of compassion. Participants may join in on the 20th of each month or as time allows, and either write about the month’s prompt or a related topic of their choice. Regardless, these Voices write with one unified purpose: To remind others that, despite the lack of compassion that rocks our world at times, compassion for ourselves and others does exist.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to do #1000Speak this month. Life offline has been hectic lately; and when your attention is pulled in so many different directions, it’s hard to put in the time and thought that a post like this deserves. However, I can’t get last week’s terrorist shootings in Paris out of my head… which means I need to write about it, one way or another.
This may be shorter and more stream-of-conscious (i.e., “rambling”) than past #1000Speak posts. So, please bear with me as I sort out my thoughts here. Continue reading →
On February 20, 2015, 1000 Voices For Compassion will take to the blogosphere and share their thoughts and stories about compassion in all its forms (love, kindness, understanding, empathy, mercy, etc.). Many of these “Voices” are also posting articles on the subject in advance of the big day. Since I’d been debating between two ideas I like equally, I decided, “Why not pursue both, and make one the lead-in article?” 🙂
As an avid reader and a novelist-in-progress, some of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned have come from literature. So, for my lead-in to #1000Speak, I’m doing a literary “exploration” of compassion that aligns with my DIY MFA column “Theme: A Story’s Soul.” Below are some acts of compassion from books I’ve read over the years. As you read the examples, think about what you can learn from each character, as well as the impact their decisions or actions may have on other characters, their world, and the story’s audience. Maybe you’ll want to add some of these books to your wishlist if you haven’t read them yet. Either way, I hope you’ll find this sampling of literary compassion as inspiring as I do.
NOTE: Some of the following examples contain spoilers (either major and minor) that are necessary for discussing the topic at hand. Continue reading →