Write Anywhere 082

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Fall is my favorite time of year. The oppressive bake of summer gives way to the cool morning crispness of autumn that favors hot tea, cinnamon oatmeal, and leisurely walks. It also brings harvest time. In the midwest where I grew up  Continue reading

Write Anywhere #77: Comedy Club

by Kristin Nador/ @KristinNador

The days are new now. The children are grown and flown, and going from a four-bedroom house to an 850 square foot apartment in a different state, life’s pace has changed. It’s the beginning of the second act. I feel like it’s a season for trying new things, for being braver.

I’ve been missing Write Anywhere.

if you’re new to this blog, Write Anywhere is a challenge I give myself as I discover new and unusual places to write and get inspiration. I visit a spot, look for ways it inspires my creativity, and share my thoughts. I invite readers to join the challenge and find their own Write Anywhere places and spaces. Whether it’s writing, photography, painting, music, or any artistic expression, taking yourself out of your regular routine and looking at things in a different way can spark new ideas and take you along creative paths you hadn’t considered before.

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Write Anywhere #66

It’s been a quiet summer here on the blog. I needed to take a break because of carpal tunnel symptoms, so I took a blog vacay through July. I geared up to start again in August, and life slapped me in the face. Instead of working on my blog editorial calendar, I ended up dealing with some sad and serious family events, and traveling across three states alone to do it. So I’ll be devoting my next 10+ Write Anywheres to my strange adventure. I hope you’ll come along and discover like I did, that you can find the fuel for creativity anywhere, in any situation, if you choose to keep your heart open and make room for it.

That Saturday morning started out great. I attended a local writing workshop and learned some great tips on writing, publishing in both traditional and self-publishing formats, and enjoyed hanging out with fellow writers. I even earned second place in a first page contest. I walked out of the workshop and into the hot afternoon feeling somewhat accomplished, so I decided to treat myself to a cool reward that took me back in time.

Write Anywhere #66: Snow Cone Shack

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I drove over to the local snow cone shack for some icy refreshment. The shacks pop up around the area throughout the summer, but there are one or two that take their snow cones very seriously, and because of that they have a strong customer following. The offerings range from traditional to weird, but people stand in line every hot Friday and Saturday night for their favorites. When I showed up on a Saturday at 3 pm, the sun baked the sidewalks and not a soul stood in line. I ordered a simple cherry limeade ice, and made my way to a picnic table under the shade of a lone tree.

Ahhh... snow cone, post-modern style

Ahhh… snow cone, post-modern style

Spooning the sweet ice from a modern styrofoam cup got me thinking about the Snow Cone Man who used to drive around my childhood neighborhood in South St. Louis so many summers ago. Playing in the heat, ignoring the sweat dripping down our necks, we’d take off toward the sound of his musical truck. We’d happily fork over our quarters for a scoop of ice in a paper cone, watching in fascination as the bright white globe took on color from the flavor sprays. The flavors back then were pretty straight forward: cherry, 7-up, and berry, which didn’t really taste like anything but made your lips a deadly blue. If you had the extra coin, you could get a bomb pop-inspired cone and have all three. Then we’d try to slurp the melting concoction down before the majority of it ended up on our hands and legs.

We always tried to catch the Snow Cone Man on Neosho Street, or Nottingham Avenue, but if he got as far as Murdoch Avenue, we didn’t get a snow cone that day. We didn’t go on Murdock Avenue. That’s where the gangsters lived. Yes, real live gangsters that were part of a well-known crime family in the city. I accidentally became friends with the daughter of a gangster. Tina was in my second grade class. We played together at recess and one day she asked me to come to her house to play after school. I asked my mom and she said sure (parents were much more trusting back in the day).

We walked home from school together on Brannon Avenue. When we got to Murdoch Tina said “We turn here for my house.” My heart started racing because I knew the street was filled with gangsters. There was a row of houses no one went near, and that’s directly where we headed. Because I was taught to always be polite, even if being led to a gangster’s house, I said nothing.

With knees knocking, I walked up the steps and went inside, maybe to never see the light of day again. Who knew what happened in gangsters’ houses?

Well, I lived to tell about it. Turns out gangster’s kids play Barbies, have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and watch Tennessee Tuxedo on television. No gun battles, tough guys, or  fights. Tina was a nice girl. Her older brother was a little creepy, though.

After I told my mom what happened, I never got to play at Tina’s house again, but we still remained friends through the second and third grade. As for the gangsters, Tina’s uncle, who lived next door to her on Murdoch Avenue, was arrested and convicted for a car bombing that killed another gangster. Real live gangsters.

As I finished up my shaved ice, I got out my notebook and wrote down a few of the memories the refreshment had brought back to my mind. With a little research, it might make a pretty good short story. Then my cell phone rang.

I slurped up the last of the snow cone, and the sad news on the other end erased all thoughts of snow cones and musical trucks and Murdock Avenue, and started me on a journey full of grief, joy, discovery, hard work, and traveling mercies.

Where did you write this week?

Do you have any interesting memories of the neighborhood where you grew up?

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Write Anywhere #56

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Write Anywhere Venues have been a great way to continue to challenge myself to find creativity in all kinds of places, both mundane and unusual. For me, it has helped with my sometimes crushing procrastination by helping me to realize I don’t have to have ‘just perfect’ conditions to write. It’s also shown me that I am creative even when I don’t feel it so much. I love how being intentional about finding different places to write has helped me to mine my own emotional and creative depths.

I found myself experiencing a lot of emotion at this week’s Write Anywhere venue. In honor of Veteran’s Day, I wanted to find a place that symbolized the honor and appreciation we as a country feel for our veterans. I didn’t realize how it would affect me personally.

Write Anywhere#56: Submarine

U.S.S. Batfish

A half hour’s drive south on the turnpike brought me to one of the most unusual attractions in Oklahoma and the most unusual place I’ve written thus far. Right after you cross over the Arkansas River heading towards Muskogee is the War Memorial Park and Military Museum featuring the U.S.S. Batfish, a World War II submarine.

Memorial plaques for submarines that never made it home leading to the U.S.S. Batfish

The museum is a great collection of memorabilia from virtually all the wars the U.S. has been involved with, from the Revolutionary War to San Juan Hill to Afghanistan.

On the grounds you can see the rusted mast of the U.S.S. Oklahoma. The Oklahoma was one of three battleships, along with the U.S.S. Arizona and U.S.S. Utah that were sunk at Pearl Harbor and never returned to sea duty.

It’s an interesting story how a submarine came to settle in landlocked Oklahoma. After veterans worked with the government to sponsor a decommissioned submarine to bring to Oklahoma for memorial/educational purposes, they had to tow it from New Orleans up the Mississippi River through the McClellan-Kerr Navigation Channel to the Arkansas River to the Port of Muskogee and flood the field where it now sits. It’s still near the river and it’s moored, I suppose in case the river rises.

The U.S.S. Batfish is a Baleo-class submarine over 300 feet long, weighing in at just about 700 tons, and fully armed carried 24 torpedoes. She had a proud history serving in the World War II Pacific theatre and brought her crew home.

Many other submarines were not as fortunate. The war memorial features a bronze plaque for each of the 52 submarines lost at sea during World War II, listing its accomplishments, the circumstances of its sinking, and those that know eternally stand duty. I decided to read the majority of them, and it was a sobering experience.

Especially poignant were several stories of subs blown out of the water, a group of sailors somehow surviving that, only to find themselves floating in the middle of the Pacific with no supplies and no way of contact. Of those sailors, a scant few survived to be picked up by the enemy and put in prisoner of war camps. Of those only one or two lived to tell the tale.

After reading about all these brave men, I boarded the Batfish. What is so unique about the sub is that they have kept it pretty much the way it was. There are no signs telling you about what things are or what occurred in which area. (You can take a virtual tour on their website to get more detailed information.) No video mini-documentaries like they have in many museums. It’s just the sub. It still smells of machine oil.

I was the only one on the sub for the majority of my visit. Hauntingly quiet but for the creaks of your own footsteps and the groaning of the metal in the Oklahoma wind, it was like descending to another world.

view as you begin your descent into the submarine

I have trouble imagining how a crew of a hundred+ men lived and worked in such a small and poorly-lit space. It must have been perpetually hot and stuffy.

cramped quarters

Stepping through a hatch, I had to duck and in some of the spaces I couldn’t hold my purse next to me and make it through.

sleep tight

The men must have become so close, counting on one another for survival, for literally the air they breathed.

It is quiet now but there must have never been a lack of noise with the engines, the instruments, and the men themselves. Men worked in shifts and many of them shared the same bunk, but at different shift times, because there was not enough room for a bed for every sailor.

Every moment was shared, there was no helping it, even the most private ones.

One of the biggest spaces was the galley and the crew’s mess. The tables and benches were built-in, as well as the checker boards.

galley

crew’s mess hall

Something I wouldn’t have thought of had a place of its own.

songs of home

What songs played on that record player? Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, The Andrews Sisters?  What did the sailors, deep in the depths of the ocean, far away from all they knew, waiting for confrontation with the enemy, think of when they listened to songs from home?

maneuvering room

aft torpedo bay

I sat down at one of the galley tables. I imagined sailors writing to their sweethearts or their mothers or their children at these tables. Writing lines to loved ones they might never see again. It seemed like a sacred place as I scribbled some lines in my notebook:

Patrolling the black ocean night
Both predator and prey
Alert to the sounds of war
Sharing the sweat of their brow
Prepared to sacrifice blood
Secret tears shed for heart’s sorrow
While patrolling the black ocean night

If you want to read some poignant words from soldiers, I suggest this article:

If You’re Reading This…

My grandfather served in World War II as an aviation mechanic aboard the U.S.S. San Jacinto. Visiting the U.S.S. Batfish helped me gain a greater appreciation for him, my Keeper Hubby Marine and all those who have served our country. I hope it’s inspired you as well.

Thank you to all veterans.

Where did you write this week?

Question: Did you or a relative serve our country in the military? Tell us about it.

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Start Your Week Off Write: 5 Steps To Squeeze More Creativity Margin Out of Your Day

image courtesy Colin Craig, Creative Commons

I start a new job today. Yay! Actually it’s my first paying job (besides a magazine article I wrote about a year ago) in many years. I say paying job because up until this time I’ve had many jobs: mother, wife (yes, it is a job because you must work at it to be successful), homeschooler, caregiver, ministry volunteer, animal rescuer. None of those came with a paycheck that translated to dollars but they were jobs nonetheless. Add to that list aspiring author. Now there’s a new priority that could force writing to the back burner.

Many artists and writers have ‘day jobs’ to pay the bills. We have to be intentional about leaving space to create. Do you have a plan to squeeze more margin for creativity out of your day?

Here’s my five step plan:

  1. Continue with my Write Anywhere venues – making a date to write in a different place makes me set that time aside for writing
  2. Simplify some of my daily chores – Being intentional about getting other things done so I don’t get overwhelmed and allow them to eat bigger chunks of time Example: load the dishwasher each night even if I don’t feel like it so the chore doesn’t multiply exponentially
  3. Use any break time I might have at the new job to indulge in mini-creative writing prompts to keep from getting rusty.
  4. Turn off the TV and let my brain percolate in the silence – downtime for your brain helps creativity
  5.  Ask friends and family for help and understanding – Keeper Hubby is my biggest cheerleading and will help out with chores and shoo me off to write. That’s why he’s a keeper. 😉

That’s my plan. Do you need to make margin for your creativity? Check out these links for some great ideas:

and some deep food for thought with A Minute of Margin

Question: How do you make intentional time for writing and general creativity? 

Write Anywhere #15

It’s that time of year. Pumpkins, candy and things that go bump in the night. So of course I had to find somewhere to write that fit the mood.

Write Anywhere #15: Cemetery

There weren’t any benches or gazebos to sit in at this small cemetery so I stayed in my car looking at the stones. Instead of Halloween spookiness, it got me thinking along eternal perspectives and spiritual possibilities.

To see the world in a grain of sand and to see heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.   – William Blake

Every stone represented a person with a story and a unique spiritual fingerprint. The physical bodies had faded, but like the stones the spirits endure. As long as there are people to tell stories, the stories continue. To uncover or imagine the story that people leave behind fascinates me. I guess that’s why historical fiction is one of my favorites.

Where did you write this week?

Question: Will you dress up for Halloween? What will you be?

Write Anywhere #14

The air was chilly this morning after our first frost of the season. I had to bundle up to take my walk on a local gravel path. I’ve worked my way up to three miles at a time, and I wasn’t going to let the cold steal my streak. Once I got out there it stole my breath away. Brrr! I took a mid-mile break at a picnic bench to get in some Morning Pages.

Write Anywhere #14: Under A Tree

Why are there never trees I walk under
But large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1892
 

The abrupt weather change had the red-tailed squirrels scurrying from tree to tree looking for the last pecans to store away. A western bluebird stood out among the yellowing leaves swaying above me. I scribbled in my little pocket notebook and came up with the outline for a short story to enter in a local contest. The story had nothing to do with squirrels, bluebirds or trees, but it was a refreshing place to get a new idea.

Where did you write this week?

Question: When the weather turns cold, do you try to tough it out for a while or turn your heat on right away?

Write Anywhere #13

I took a trip this week. I didn’t go to NYC and I didn’t go to Paris. Darn. But I met a lot of people, did some sightseeing and was driven by a chauffeur. It was a great time to write as well and it only cost me $1.50 for a 2-hour tour.

Write Anywhere #13: Bus Ride

I hopped aboard the 471, a transit route that runs the width of the city for an afternoon change of scenery. I made a round trip: no stops, no transfers to the astonishment of my bus driver, a man full of fascinating stories told in a smooth worldly-wise voice that sounded exactly like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. He told tales of strange rider-folk and was a bit of a philosopher.

“The thing about driving a bus is you learn about people, but I learn about me. I can’t change them, but I can change me.”  

He was shocked that I didn’t have a destination but only wanted to ride. I wanted to give him a philosophic retort: “Sometimes the ride is the destination.” He was too busy trying to help a woman find the stop that would get her to Silver Dollar Jewelry and Pawn.

We made a lot of stops for college students, nurses on the 3 to 11 shift, tattooed pizza makers and elderly couples headed for their daily mall walk. A woman in tiger print velvet pajama pants bursting at the seams refused to acknowledge the driver as she sat waiting at a stop. “I always ask them if they want this bus, because a lot of people decide after I drive off, then chase the bus and cuss me out cause they couldn’t decide in time. I don’t know why they don’t know where they’re going.”

The driver kept track of every passenger’s stop, avoided smashing reckless drivers swerving in front of the bus while spinning his yarns like a village elder. At one harrowing downhill race, while the cars zoomed by, a butterfly floated past the windshield in a slow-motion flight. Strange.

I got off at my starting point with note pages full of ideas, albeit in a chicken scratch scribble. If you want to get some ideas for characters in your writing, take some time to get on your local mass transit system. You’ll meet some wonderful characters.

Question: Where did you write this week?

Write Anywhere #12

With all the crazy extreme weather this year, we’ve been given a reprieve here in Oklahoma for the last two weeks. Usually its blazing heat straight into winter cold, but we’ve been deemed worthy of autumn this year. I’ve been taking advantage of the mild September days and this week I found a relaxing place to write.

Write Anywhere #12: Playground

take a break from the regular routine

The playground is within walking distance so I got a good two mile walk as well as about an hour of writing time. I was disappointed there weren’t any families or children to offer inspiration but it was very peaceful.

Where did you write this week?

Want to banish writer’s insecurity? It’s the theme in this week’s collection of Sparkling Gems. Check them out:

Question: What gets you through when you second-guess yourself as a writer?