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Message in a Bottle

If you could write a message in a bottle to your former self, what would it be?

For the longest time, I didn’t have a clue.

Now, I know what I’d write to myself when I was in high school or early college.

I’d tell myself to find some career mentoring.  I’d also remind myself to take very good care of my teeth – those things are incredibly expensive to fix!  And I’d tell myself very gently that all this time I was spending in artistic pursuits wouldn’t mean anything if I didn’t push myself to actually improve.  I’d tell myself to get into weight lifting and a high protein diet when I went to college, and spend more time in STEM classes even if it meant getting a tutor.  Last of all, I’d remind myself that clearcut goals would let me go very far, instead of paddling around in low wage jobs for years after I got out.

I’d have quite a few things to say if I could throw a message to my former self.  Maybe she’d even read them and listen.  Who knows?

Now, here’s the more interesting question.  If you could write a message in a bottle to your future self, what would it be?  Put another way, imagine your future self.  What things would they have wanted you to know now?

Everything we do right now is a message to our future self.  How much care we take of ourself, how much money we save, how much we learn every day, what we do in our spare time, everything.

It can be useful and even fun to think about the future self we are creating at this very moment.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bottle/

Sparking Your Creativity

When looking for ideas for drawing, painting, poetry or sculpture, it can be helpful to think outside the crate. Or think outside the corrugated cardboard container. Or the cube. Or the containment device. Or the little space bounded by roughly equal sides and describable by geometry.

It’s not too useful to just say “be creative,” without having some ways to encourage that in your head! Creativity is like a muscle. Once you get your mind warmed up, you will be more creative with your other projects, not just the little exercises listed here.

My mother, who is a writer as well, gave me a great idea so I’ll mention it here. She has been writing poetry and short works with five randomly selected words. That can be a great way to kickstart creativity! You can even close your eyes, open a dictionary, and point. Or find a random word generator and use that. The idea is to cause new, unexpected input to come into your mind and spark new ideas. Creativity often comes when you take two unrelated ideas and play around with how they could be connected. And it’s hard to get new ideas without new input.

Something I frequently like to do is take some object, natural or created, and examine it closely, perhaps even under a magnifying glass or microscope if you have one. Even a pinecone can be a fascinating thing to explore if you really get into examining all the shapes, shadows, ridges and texture of it. Maybe it could become part of a new creature, or an idea for a structural support on a building? This can work for artists, writers, sculptors, or anyone else who wants to rev up their creativity.

Macro photography on the internet can be a fascinating way to look at the world. So can Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” feature. Take a walk and examine something you’ve never looked at before. Read an article about a subject you known nothing about. Pick a word at random and look up websites about it. Read quotes from famous people you’ve never heard of. That can trigger new ideas too.

Creativity requires imagination. If you open your eyes, literally or figuratively, and get interested in the world, great ideas follow.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/create/

Out of Focus – dark skies, flapping, and Mars

This week is a celebration of photos that represent focus.  I liked seeing the example of an out of focus picture that nevertheless communicates.  I must say I have a few photos that re less than sharp.  Okay, more than a few!  I do keep some of them because they are interesting in other ways.  They might make a good abstract background, or sometimes the blurriness helps tell the story.  Here are a few.

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These quail are really in a flap!  The blur makes me think of how active they were.

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This moon, though blurry, made a neat background for a poem about Halloween.

blurred moon 2.JPG

There’s something I really like about this one – blurred, it looks like the eye of a great beast, and has an interesting mood.

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Although, to be fair, this is what it was supposed to look like!

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This last image is probably the best out of focus picture I’ve ever taken.  Not only is it the shaky track created by my trying to take a picture of Mars at extreme zoom, but it starts to spell out my name!

via Photo Challenge: Focus

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/out-of-focus/

Job Interview Revelations

As I go higher into the corporate ranks, I learn that the interview process becomes both longer and less certain.

No longer do I see the exact pay they are offering, they are vague about it till the actual job offer comes.  I have to go through more interviews.  Sometimes I don’t even know where the job is until I get fairly far into the interview process.  Also, I don’t even know if they are passing me farther into the process, except by subtle cues!  However, this is the best way to be paid more, especially if you are currently working in entry level customer service and want to get a better job.

Tips and Revelations to get you through Corporate Interviews:

The people hiring you often want to hire you as much as you want to be hired by them.  Your job is to make them see you’ll be a good person to work with.  So be personable and try to relax as much you can while staying professional.

If you get to the interview and they are already talking about dress code, corporate culture, travel requirements, and where the company is going in the next year or so, that’s a very good sign.  They are interested in you.

It’s especially good if you can get them laughing a bit!  Smiles are good to see.  Keep a gently cheerful expression on your face.  A good thing to do during the wait before the interview is a little deep breathing.  Think about cheerful things that always make you smile.

It’s a bit stressful for the interviewer too, they are just as human as you are.  That’s the number one reason not to be too nervous.

Do a little research on the company – glassdoor.com is pretty good for this – so you know how much salary to ask for in your area.

Wear a conversation piece with your interview clothes.  For instance, I wore a black skirt, black blouse, royal purple jacket, and a simple pendant.  However, the pendant was a piece of opal that grew inside quartz and is captured in a silver setting.  So even though it was understated, it was interesting, and has helped people remember me.  Simple and classic clothes are best whether you’re a man or a woman.

Stand up straight, look people in the eye, and act like you are comfortable there.  Don’t be informal but at the same time tell yourself “I belong here.  I will work here.”  It helps.

I am writing these tips because I have just gotten through several successful interviews and have gotten myself a $3.50 an hour raise with at least three companies wanting me to work for them.  If you have other tips for potential interviews, post them here!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/revelation/

Making your stories tender, not tough

Using Metaphor and Simile

Both metaphors and similes are great tools for livening up your writing. Stories without them are dry as baked parchment, yet having too many makes a narrative tough to read and enjoy.  Having the right amount makes the story interesting and readable and pulls your reader deeper into it.

The best way to use them is to think of them like spices. The right amount makes a tasty dish. By the way, the difference between a metaphor and a simile is simple – similes use like or as, metaphors do not. Here are some examples.

Metaphors:

The sky is a blue pottery bowl gleaming in the sun.

I slogged through the wordy, simile laden book. (Slogging implies walking through thick mud or snow, likening the book to that substance)

Her hair was spun gold.

Similes:

Her hair was like spun gold.

The sky was blue as a cornflower.

Reading the book was like slogging through muddy snowbanks.

As I said, a few of these are great. They enliven the text and give the reader a sense of being in the scenario. They are especially helpful for making an unfamiliar situation seem familiar, by likening it to something the reader has seen. For instance, say you are describing an alien creature. You might say “Its green skin was glossy and rubbery and its eyes were two gold-flecked marbles that stared out of an elongated, horse-like face.”

Some authors think that more is better when it comes to metaphors/similes. It’s usually best to only use those that give new information about the situation or story. Sometimes it’s fun to keep whimsical ones in as well, however always avoid cliches!

Why no cliches?
The best reason not to use cliches is because they turn the reader’s brain off. They disengage the reader from the story. Sometimes they also make the reader think the author is uninspired, and sometimes the reader is right. Cliches are used when the writer isn’t being creative. Generally, a sentence is cliched when you can hear the first part and finish the sentence without really thinking about it.

“She jumped for joy.”

“As cold as ice.”

“Hot as Hell.”

Though being too clever can be a danger, a more descriptive comparison is usually better, and engages the mind. An engaged mind usually means a happy reader!

Instead, try something like

“Her mood soared like a balloon.”

“As cold as those first drops of water in the shower.”

“Hot as a bed of coals, ready for a steak.”

If you have trouble thinking of metaphors, it can be a fun exercise to take a sheet of paper and write down as many similes and metaphors as you can think of, using your surroundings as inspiration. This is a great workout for the imagination.

Good metaphors and similes engage the senses and imagination, avoid cliche, and are used only when needed. Happy describing!

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Tender

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tender/

A polished beetle shell

I saw my first Palo Verde beetle for the year.

These are large, glossy black, spiky looking insects, about three inches long not including their formidable antennae. They are gentle creatures, though, despite their looks, and rarely eat anything besides a bit of fruit nectar during their roughly month-long adult lives.

When Palo Verde Beetles hatch, they start out as large, six inch or longer larvae that live and burrow inside tree roots. Once they pupate, they emerge from their root burrows and bumble around looking for a partner, laying their eggs just before monsoon season, to start the whole cycle again.

My sighting occurred outside the laundromat. It was about midnight, and I saw a shiny black beetle trundling along the gritty pavement, occasionally trying to fly. She wasn’t hard to miss, being about the length of my thumb. Every time she took off the breeze would knock her down again, usually into a solid object like a window. Undeterred, she kept going. By the time I came out with my laundry, I saw she’d made it quite a ways – farther than I’d expected. I paused a moment, watching her run her beetle errands, wishing I could communicate with her so I could give her a free lift.

Making that wish gave me a thought. What if there were other beings observing me that were as much more advanced from me as I am from this beetle? What if they understood something of my life, as I do with this beetle, but couldn’t communicate? What if they in fact wished to help me out but there was no common ground between us? It made me think about myself, the value of persistence, and what purpose meant to me. It was a lot to get from watching a beetle.

Palo verde beetles may look scary but there’s a lot to learn by watching these silly, bumbling creatures. It’s amazing that they’ve been around for this many millions of years.

I guess they’re doing something right!

 

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via Daily Prompt: Polish

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/polish/

What would you be before your distant end?

One of my favorite bloggers just posed an interesting question.  Rather than listing five things you would like to do before you die, what are five things you would like to be before you die?

Here’s the post, if you’re curious:

https://minimalistgunluk.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/5-things-to-be-before-you-die/

I thought this sounded like an excellent writing prompt.  Thinking of things to do can be useful and great, however actions and tasks usually have an ending and being something doesn’t have to.  I’ve been thinking a lot about who I really am lately, and I’ve been disappointed with the results.  So who would I like to be?  Setting my course toward that so that I can become a better version of me is something I’m working on.

 

5 things I’d like to be before I die

To be known as a writer and make a good portion of my income from it

To be a far better artist than I am, as good as some of my favorite artists

To be someone who lives mindfully and thinks before every action

To be someone who contains both compassion and strength

To be fit in both mind and body – meditating and exercising daily

 

 

There are my five.  Do you have any you’d like to share?

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Distant

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/distant/