Monday coffee: Writing “happy”

Mahlzeit für einen Binturong

By 4028mdk09 CC-BY-SA-3.0

This silly looking beast is a Southeast Asian Bear-Cat. Otherwise known as a binturong.

Binturongs are distant relatives of civets. They walk low to the ground, have prehensile tails and are the size of a very large dog. They waddle like raccoons, except when they leap straight up in the air (all four paws off the ground) to jump on ducks. No, not kidding. I had the pleasure of meeting one at the San Diego Zoo – he was one of their “Animal Ambassadors.” He did, as binturongs are reputed to do, smell exactly like Fritos.

20130311-150354.jpgI often hope that Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) got to meet a binturong. With their funny tufty ears, their habit of hanging upside down from tree branches to sleep, and their spray of whiskers, they are as close to a Dr. Seuss animal come to life as anything on Earth.

Our friend, Linda, is having a terrific contest in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The contest ends on the 16th of March. If you haven’t joined in yet, please do – even if you’re not “a real poet.” Dr. Seuss is for everyone.

I haven’t, myself, written a poem for the contest yet. My six year old has, but I haven’t been able to. Why? Partly because I’ve been overworked, but mostly because I’ve been a bit blue – a delayed effect of a lot of kind of yucky stuff from the past couple of months finally sitting down on my head.

Young pet bear cat in Taman Negara Malaysia

By Bart Van den Bosch CC-BY-SA-2.5

Until today, I have been waiting to “feel happier” before trying to write my Seussian poem. Which is why I ended up looking up pictures of binturongs. And it was when I found this little guy that I realized that…as a writer, you can’t always wait to be happy before you write. Because sometimes it’s the act of writing, the being at one with your creative nature, that is happiness. I’m happy when I’m writing – even when I’m grumpy about what I’m writing or even just bored. So instead of waiting to write until I am happy, or trying to jolly myself into happiness, I’m going to write myself happy. In fact, I’m going to do it now. This post is just by way of thank you to Linda H., and all the other writers I know (at PA friends, and HMPDYWT, and Posted Asides), for reminding me, however indirectly, that to be happy, writers…we write.

Monday coffee: Glorious words, or The Secret Life of Twitter

Blue Dacnis, Dacnis cayana - Flickr - Lip Kee (1)

by Lip Kee cc2.0

First, a note, and then, a sort of confession. The note: Linda, one of our writing friends, posted a great question (as in, really great question) for those of us who participated or followed along in the Brighter Light Challenge. Please stop by so we can share our experiences!

And  now, pleasant duty over, it’s time for that little confession. For someone who lives right in the heart of Silicon Valley – like 10 minutes north of Adobe and 15 minutes south of Facebook – I was very slow to create a Twitter account. I just could not see the point of it. Sometimes, people described Twitter in a way that made it seem like being mute witness to lonely shipwrecked folk helplessly throwing messages in bottles out to sea from millions of individual deserted islands. Other times, I imagined that it was like standing in the middle of Grand Central Station yelling at every passing patron while each of them yells their thoughts into the big, echoing chamber as we passed one another. Either way, it sounded less than appealing.

What finally forced me to get a Twitter account was an acceptance of a  poem by an online magazine that asked authors to include in the bio 1) a web address and 2) Twitter “handle” (what you’re called on Twitter). Well, then. So I gritted my teeth and did it.

And…like most things I balk at, I am enjoying Twitter immensely (this willingness to balk at enjoyable things is, I’m told by those who know, related to my astrological sun sign). There is lots of great get-started advice for writers on creating a Twitter platform for yourself (among the ones I can recommend: Robert Lee Brewer’s starter advice, Debbie Ohi’s writer’s guides, Nathan Branford’s how-to which makes me wish he was still with a lit agency so I could write something he’d want to agent). But what can get lost in all the technicalities (though all 3 blogs mention it) is how RELAXING Twitter is.

Déferlement St-TugenRelaxing? Yes, actually When I first created my Twitter account, I found people I love to read (Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Richard Blanco, Steve Martin, Eric Idle, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Fry  to name a few) and signed up for their tweets. And now, when I need a break, I just log onto Twitter and read. It’s not like being overwhelmed by random people yelling at you. It’s more like standing at the edge of a cool ocean of WORDS as the tide’s coming in, feeling clean air and fresh, blue water, washing over you. These are people I chose, for their wit, intelligence, and vocabularies, with interests and causes and I get to just…listen. As Humpty Dumpty says, “That’s Glory for you.” And it is – it’s glorious. It’s like a private word-concert. If you’re on twitter, or if you’re about to give it a try, and if you are/do please let me know – I’d love to follow your wonderful words, too.