Nancy H. Doyle

Easy reading is damned hard writing. N. Hawthrone


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I’M STILL HERE

I have to brag because this weekend I worked in the yard for the first time in three years!

iris2015 Seriously, it’s been that long since I’ve been strong enough to climb our mostly weed covered slopes. Maintaining a traditional yard in Colorado is a serious labor of love. Our high desert climate makes green carpets almost more work than they are worth. Yesterday, I applied fertilizer and weed killer to our long-suffering grass, trimmed unruly trees, and photographed first flowers of the season. After three years of mowing-only by my overworked husband, the yard, like myself, is a bit worse for wear. But, good news…landscapers will be here in early May to give the yard a modest zeriscape do-over.

Too bad people can’t get a do-over, a la Avatar. I’d love to have my decorative rock replaced, my mulch refreshed, and my stumps removed!

Also, this weekend I’ve had a lot of time to think about my writing. If I wrote as much as I thought and worried about writing, I’d have three or four novels completed. Since many of the physical problems I’ve endured are receding *cheers loudly at top of lungs*, it’s time to start pounding the keyboard again. I’m starting with blogging. I STILL love it. lilac-pen-orange-writing-thThe precise word count and the perfect positioning of art makes me feel as if I’m having high tea with a thesaurus. Four hundred words or less is always a pleasure.

Even though my blog’s been silent I’ve noticed every few weeks someone new follows me. The latest is ireadencyclopedias.wordpress.com. Jay is my first follower from Japan, and his lovely blog inspired me. Thanks, Jay.

So, I’m still here…having survived health problems to numerous to mention along with many other challenges. To quote Robert Brault : “Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha.”

Maybe corny, but it’s true.

Tell me what you’re doing, fellow dancers!


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Slightly Higher in the West

State pot signOne year has passed since Colorado legalized marijuana sales. After a tidal wave of celebration and protest, gloomy predictions and giddy smoke-ins, the Rocky Mountain region has not become the most progressive state in the union or morphed into the back streets  of Amsterdam. The projected $70 million in tax revenue has not yet appeared. At this moment it’s more like $53 million plus or minus. Rest assured the first $40 million will still go to school construction, but I still want to know where the balance, what ever it turns out to be, will end up. Don’t Bogart those excess taxes, Colorado lawmakers…give us new roads or at least fill the Volkswagen-sized pot holes in Northern Colorado.Pot sunglasses

For those of you who care to indulge, know the rules.

1.You must be twenty-one.

2. No pot smoking in public or in vehicles, moving or otherwise. Violation of rule number two can result in stays in our friendly local jails or prisons.

3. Sales to tourists are limited to 1/4 oz. and 1 oz. for locals.

4. You can’t buy pot in every county or city in Colorado.

5. Any attempts to transport pot over state lines by car, rail, bike, plane or levitation can result in a legal search. K9 units and their accompanying peace officers have been spotted on the CO/WYO border.

To me, the most interesting part of all of this is the huge flurry in different counties over sales, profits, and taxes. This is a tremendous untapped resource, folks, and many entrepreneurs want to get in on it. Pot is taxed at 25% or 28% depending on who you ask. Broken down that is 15% excise (sin-tax) and 10% state tax. Wow.pot and bucks To stay competitive with unlicensed sellers, some pot stores are eating the excise tax – to keep the legal businesses in business. It’s complicated. The statistics change daily so don’t hold me to these numbers.

Just for comparison these are excise taxes on other legal items in Colorado:

$2.28 per gallon of liquor or wine

84 cents per pack of cigarettes

8 cents per gallon of beer (still the best value around!)

Right or wrong, we need all the tax revenue we can get because we are experiencing a huge boom in our population.  That’s as close to a pro or con opinion as you’re likely to get from me.

I’m just shaking my head over the irony. Who would have guessed that the Marlboro clutched in my hand as I rolled down highway 34 into Boulder all those years ago would be so reviled and pot would be legal. Life continues to amaze, doesn’t it?

 

What cool, awful, or amazing things has your home state done lately?

 

Statistics and art from: Huffington Post, KUNC, CNN, and others known and unknown

 


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Loved One of My Inspiration

Yes, I’m still here, blog friends! I was going to do a #weekendcoffeeshare, but since the link-up is closed I’m posting this anyway. If you’re not familiar with #weekendcoffeeshare go to part time monster and investigate this fascinating phenomena. 

coffee

If we were having coffee I would tell you this isn’t your average writer’s block. And, it’s probably going to take more than a huge jolt of java to break through the monster stall in my brain. But, thanks in advance for the listen.

The urge for words seems distant now, almost as far away as the stars, disguised by uneasiness and cloaked in acute sadness. I tell myself that I will want to write again, that I haven’t come full circle and I believe I haven’t but, I admit, this is different. This is loss of mind power, of inspiration, of physical confidence.

Some days it feels like grief, like the of loss of a love, of a family member, or a cherished animal companion. The worst of it is, I know I’ll never see the loved one of my inspiration again…at least not in it’s prior form.

Honestly though, I don’t want my creativity to return in it’s old form – not really. When you’re truly obsessed with a thing, like writing or painting, I’m not sure you can be objective enough to see what you’re doing. I know I wore the first-timer rookie blinders with every keystroke.  Perhaps I should think of this change as a new range of vision. When I begin again, my view will be a wider angle, a panorama of words, paragraphs, chapters. I’ll see the timeline of my novel clearly and watch as the story flows and weaves itself from year to year, encompassing two generations of my world and the people who live there.

There are still holes in the story line, of course. Some of them are big enough to swallow a tank, but I know where they are now. I have time to fill them or erase them completely. Now that this pesky publishing thing is no longer an issue, I can do whatever I want and write whatever I want. In a way, that’s liberating.

At this moment my mind is only fit to read other people’s novels because they have already done the hard work. I don’t have to suffer and sweat over a hot keyboard, I have only to open the pages of their hard labor and be amazed. They created these stories just for me, for my amusement and inspiration. In the next weeks and months I’ll read for enjoyment with the knowledge that among these words is the spark I need.

Read. That’s one of Stephen King’s rules for writers. And, speaking of The King, I’d love to talk to him about long medical recoveries and its effects on creativity:) Anybody have his cell number?

How is your writing adventure going?

 

Photo credit: ultrakml / Foter / CC BY


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BE NICE…Advice from Roadhouse

Happy New Year!

Christmas 2014 was the best Christmas for our little family in a while. Finally, the chaos of the last few years receded noticeably, washing us up on happier shores. Mother nature graced us with a white Christmas. Things were glittery, fragrant, comforting. We smiled a lot. Held hands. Toasted one another in restaurants. Shopped, read, played games. fireworks 2A delightful holiday buzz permeated the house and, when the time finally came, I didn’t want to take the tree down, put away the ornaments, or turn out the lights.

In honor of our wonderful festive week I decided to make a SINGLE New Year’s resolution and that is: Be Nice. Be nice to myself.

The moment Be Nice wriggled to the surface of my brain, Patrick Swayze’s speech in the best B-movie ever, Roadhouse, lit up my synapses. RoadhouseWho knew a cooler’s advice to his bouncers  made such an impression on me? I revisited his classic lesson on the following blog: How Do You Handle Angry Customers? Patrick Swayze Style! This link contains great advice about dealing with anger and providing good customer service. However,  it also works on a personal level when doing battle with powerful insecurities about writing or anything else.

So, here it is – tailored for the individual:

Picture yourself in a rowdy bar filled with your personal demons. No, you can’t party with them because while some of them may be attractive, they are not your friends.  (Actually, this isn’t a bad premise for a story…)

Patrick, RIP, is your very own mental bouncer, and he tells you how to kick these monsters to the curb…

  • Never underestimate your opponent; always expect the unexpected. (Your thoughts can manifest themselves in any form so be ready to deal with negative emotions and accept them without judgement. Ask for help if you need to.)
  • Never start anything inside the bar. (Don’t let your insecurities take over your thoughts. Take a break and step away. Ask for help. Your friends will help and encourage you.)
  • Be Nice. (To yourself.)

He continues on in graphic detail, of course, but you get the idea. Being nice is better…usually.

So,  what are you doing this year to be nice to yourself?

 

Thanks, BS, for the inspiration for this blog.

(Warning: Rating on Roadhouse is R.)

 

 

 


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Winter Solstice Analemma

analemmaDefinition of ANALEMMA

:  a plot or graph of the position of the sun in the sky at a certain time of day (as noon) at one locale measured throughout the year that has the shape of a figure 8; also :  a scale (as on a globe or sundial) based on such a plot that shows the sun’s position for each day of the year or that allows local mean time to be determined
an·a·lem·mat·ic adjective – Webster’s Dictionary
Beautiful photo, huh? The definition doesn’t do it justice.
The winter solstice makes me wonder…does the lowest dot on the analemma represent the shortest day of the year? (That would be just left of the center of the fluffy cloud, by the way.) As a non-scientist, the idea of photographing the position of the sun intrigues me for reasons I can’t fathom. Perhaps it’s the daily routine, the high-tech camera equipment required, or perhaps the end result…a gorgeous figure eight framing the graceful twist of infinity. My fascination with the analemma reminds me of the ancients’ creation of Stonehenge and the Anasazi’s pilgrimages to local formations which captured the sun as it rose, flooding the Earth with information and omens. The movements of the sun are still important to us because, like the Anasazi, we still seek signs from the sky, knowledge from the sun, anything to guide us through the universe.
This time of year, with its many religious and secular celebrations, I always feel a bit like these ancient folks. I’m confounded by the events of our world and in need of explanation of the mysteries of life. But, as a realist, I know these annual events are just that: beautiful, predictable, undeniable.
All the same, deep in there somewhere, mystery and hope overrides rationality. Maybe people long ago tapped the conduit to the heavens; maybe they were closer to the truth than we can ever be.
bokeh-kiss_l
Wonderful Solstice and Happy Holidays greetings, blogging friends:)
What mystical feelings do you ponder?
Analemma – NASA


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Writer’s Laryngitis

It’s rare my surly muse visits, and my writing has suffered in his absence. But, since I’ve reminded myself sucess is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, I’ve resisted the impulse to press the M key. Until now.

Alive or dead, Juan Reyes really is one of the most extraordinary characters I created. In case you don’t know, he was a videographer in my first novel. I killed him off so, in tribute to his stunning journalistic talent, good looks, irrepressible humor and selfishness, I resurrected him as my muse.

Tonight, in a gesture to the holidays, he wears new clothes, a black leather duster and broad-brimmed hat instead of his usual blood-stained fatigues. The overall effect is a bizarre combination of  western bad-guy and 1970s pimp. While I don’t comment on his clothes, I know he wouldn’t mind the comparison.Black leather jacket

Concern flickers in his eyes but, never given to sentimentality, a flirtatious grin immediately replaces worry.

“Been a long time since you summoned me,” he says, flashing his lighter and inhaling rapturously. Smoke wreaths my keyboard and while I can’t smell it, I remember the feeling.

I glance at him. He’s standing closer than usual tonight, almost within reach. Although he can’t enter the corporeal world, I have the strong feeling he wants to hug me.

“Laryngitis,” I say, turning to face him. “You know, my voice is gone.”

“Your voice sounds fine to me, but if it’s really a problem, try gargling with Jack Daniels twice a day.” In spite of his irreverent comment, he looks down at me, his dark face serious.

“Juan, I didn’t call you because…it took a while to figure out what was wrong with my book. My writer’s voice is gone, lost.”

dreadlocks 2He shakes his head, black dreads swirling over his shoulders. “I knew it was serious. I thought it was just my equipment when your words stopped coming. You put your WIP away, didn’t you?”

I nod.

“Don’t worry, girl,” Juan says, moving closer. I almost feel a rush of air as he brushes his hand over my keyboard and a single sentence appears on the monitor:

AN HONEST WRITER KNOWS WHEN TO MOVE ON.

“There’s no shame in quitting,” he whispers.  “Keep in mind the world you created will serve you well in the next novel. You have a character who’s so powerful, wise and relentless, I’m almost jealous. You’ll use him again. You have lyricism you’ll repeat while you fold it in with new inspiration.”

He crosses his arms. “When you blog about me, that’s your voice. That’s the way your world is. Remember: the definition of writer’s voice is the intangible power you use to make the reader wish he could live in your book or make him damned glad he doesn’t. It’s a sensibility; it’s like me. Always there in the background, adding all three dimensions, running like illegal software in the reader’s mind. He’s not even aware what’s happening, but you’re seducing him while he reads.”

We’re silent for a moment, and then he says, “I think we should watch a Christmas movie, don’t you?”

“Anything for you, muse. Which one did you have in mind?” I ask, my cursor hesitating over Netflix.

DIEHARD! Love all that 20th century American cursing,” he laughs.

“One of my personal favorites,” I agree and, as a young Bruce Willis fills the screen, my muse fades into the starlight of my office window.window stars

Have you ever misplaced your writer’s voice, if so, what did you do to regain it?

 

Photos: Foter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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We were Future Retro…

future retro woman

Warning: Blatantly sentimental blog ahead!

During a gigantic stall in revision I’ve been looking inspiration. Every time I think I’ve found a new source, I’m disappointed. My bad-boy muse is vacationing on stellar shores far from here, so I can’t count on him. Sometimes though, inspiration is right under your nose or, in my case, right under the stairway.

When my husband suggested we clean out the boxes from under the stairs, I was excited. We don’t collect much stuff and we didn’t bring a great deal of junk from our former lives, but what we do have has lurked under the carpeted treads… for the last twenty years. Filled with enthusiasm, he lugged the crumbling containers out, piling them in the middle of our walkout basement.Nikon

“OK, tell  Harry Potter his room is ready now,” he called, grinning at me as I stared down at the huge mountain of cardboard artifacts. Suddenly, I was Indian Jones unearthing relics from an ancient life – my own.  How will I feel when I open the photo albums, I wondered. Inside there might be dragons…or so I thought.

Instead I found inspiration.

As I looked into the faces of dear friends and an ex-husband, a lost lover and a sweet child named for me, my wonderful co-workers still living or long dead, I was amazed.  How could people who sucked the air from the room then appear so human and normal now? Apparently my eyes were dazzled by what was in front of them at the time, leaving my mind to expand moments of the past into infinite size.

The second those photos were snapped we all became Future Retro; we just didn’t know it yet.baby photo

So, after dashing away a tear, I decided to wrangle all that sentiment into something useful – Word fodder. Opening the door to the past sometimes tests our nerves but, even if we laugh or blush, nothing more can happen to those Future Retro days. Now they are strictly under our control, highly charged emotional clay we can mold into fiction.

Imagination is, after all,  the sum total of our memory and experience. Our fears and hopes, humor and chaos invade our writing resulting in characters who are fearless or weak, compassionate or wrathful. These people  are bold, they accomplish what we were unable to accomplish…maybe.  They succeed where we failed…or the other way around:)

Do memories inspire you? Have you tapped the aquifer of memory in your own mind?

 

Future Retro is a fantastic 80’s compilation remix released in 2006 by Rhino Records. Check it out on Wikipedia and, while you’re there, contribute to keep Wikipedia commercial free.

Photos: Foter

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