Headlines Saga

Freewriting

I am heading to Iceland to present at the Nonfiction Now Conference in Reykjavik. To prepare for my international travel, I set up a Google alert for headlines about Iceland. Here is the last month in headlines:

The miraculous story of Iceland

Iceland’s Water Cure

Outside Of Reykjavík: Mountains, Sagas And… Goats

Why Is Iceland So in Love With Licorice?

Icelandic Language At Risk Of Extinction As Robots And Computers Struggle To Understand It

Leiðarendi Lava Tube

The beauty of baking ‘volcano bread’ underground in Iceland

Iceland begins ‘Thor’ magma energy experiment

Hekla Volcano ready to erupt as a large earthquake rocks south Iceland

Glacier river floods over fields in North Iceland

Beer Baths to Open in North Iceland in June

How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes: Rude, Drunk and Boundlessly Optimistic

Iceland’s “unicorn” not the only unicorn found in Iceland

Two trolls are Iceland’s contribution to the Venice Biennale

Icelandic skincare made from sheep placenta on the market

Winter storms still raging in Iceland – Road closures and warnings around the island

Endless Summer in Iceland

Iceland Is Beautiful Except for the 2 Million Tourists

Fences put up at Skógafoss waterfall

A Plane Crash, A Glacier, And An Entrepreneur: How Icelandair Opened Up Air Travel For Everyone

Seagull flies from Iceland and back with an arrow in its chest

Iceland’s second oldest person: No key to longevity

Iceland’s ice bathing champion beats record

Why the constant earthquakes? Iceland is slowly being torn apart

Iceland’s president takes home “message in bottle” set adrift to show the movement of marine litter

Millions needed to save priceless archeological remains from coastal erosion

Writing Horoscopes

Freewriting, On Writing

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)
Set aside some time this week to watch people at the park, the café, or the doctor’s office waiting room. Go wherever your current tale is set. Pay attention to the movements, appearances, and conversations that make these people real. “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature,” Cancer Ernest Hemingway reminds us.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)
Leo, your comedic timing will be spot on this week. Make sure that every pun leaving your fingertips is working in service of its larger meaning this week. As lioness Dorothy Parker said, “Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.”

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Virgo Roald Dahl once said, “A writer of fiction lives in fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not.” Don’t let that fear stall you this week, Virgo. Instead of opening your Word document and experiencing stage fright, tackle that electric white page like a gardener would as he tilled his spring beds. Seize the opportunity to plant, grow, weed, and nurture your ideas.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)
“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil,” admitted fellow Libra Truman Capote. He was speaking of revision. Libra, this week the scales have tipped in favor of cutting, adding, and rewording rather than creating new material. Work through your past drafts dramatically on the first pass and judiciously on the second.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant,”
counsels Robert Louis Stevenson. If you haven’t sent out any material in a few months, don’t fret, Scorpio. Sometimes it’s more important to soak up new experiences, sometimes to sow and sometimes to reap. Focus your creative energies now on generating more new material.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

According to Sagittarian Mark Twain, “The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.” My advice to you this week: chat with that twelve year-old down the block. She knows more than you think she does, and won’t hold back. There’s great material in what she has to say, and perhaps you’ll find the answer to your current writing problem.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)
This week you will have a knack for picking up on vocal rhythms, dialects, and rural poetics. Take advantage of Mercury in cross-alignment by getting out of your apartment, your neighborhood, your town—step out of the familiar. Follow, pause, and listen, listen, listen. Open yourself to the mystery and let it in. As fellow Capricorn, Edgar Allan Poe said, “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)
Aquarius, you are about to enter a period of writing that demonstrates a lyrical clarity marked by charm and gracefulness. Run with it. Let every quirk stay, mingle, and merge with your current project. You never know what you’ll keep in the next draft, but you know it’ll come from this one. Aquarian James Joyce one remarked, “I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.”

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Pisces, your legacy of flexibility is both a blessing and a curse this week. While you may enjoy a self-styled world, you may feel as if you orbit too far outside of the literary mainstream. Piscean Jack Kerouac advises you to “write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” Take his advice to heart and continue to write for yourself before bending your voice for someone else.

Aries (March 21 – April 20)
Revise, revise, revise, Aries. With Mars in retrograde and Mercury cross-aligned, your creative juices are best suited by picking up that red pen. Find the heart of your project, then, as fellow Aries Samuel Beckett says, “To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.” Do not be afraid to try a different form as you revise—ask yourself if your mess will work best as a narrative or a catalogue, and on and on, until you find the best form.

Taurus (April 21 – May 20)
Taurus Vladimir Nabokov once suggested, “A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.” Don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees while you work with your line level to be exact and detailed. Work with your language while allowing your imagination to break through plots with commonplace emotional truths. Turn your mind toward creating the kind of conflict that will have you leaping out of the bathtub shouting, “Eureka!”

Gemini (May 21 – June 21)
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn, ” Harriet Beecher Stowe reminds her fellow Gemini. This writing fatigue will soon pass and you’ll be losing yourself to the beauty and elegance of your sentences once more.

Stopping by the foothills on a sunny morning

Freewriting

Whose trails these are I think I know.
His house is in the gated village though;
he will not see me stopping here
to watch these hills cast long shadows.

My dog must think it queer
to stop without a cafe near
between the cactus and juniper tree
the sunniest morning of the year

He gives his leash a gentle shake
to ask if there is some mistake
the only other sound’s the sweep
of easy wind and rattlesnake.

The foothills are lovely, wide and bright,
But I have formative comments to write,
And papers to grade before I hike
And papers to grade before I hike.

My Cat (the Artful) Dodger

Freewriting

after Christopher Smart’s “My Cat Jeoffry”

 

For I will consider my cat (the Artful) Dodger.

For he was named so as a stray kitten coming ‘round the back porch.

For he enters and exits of his own volition through the cat door.

For everything he does is of his own volition.

For I cannot make him act against his own volition. For he will not cuddle when there is prowling to be done; he will not sit in my lap when through the office window, he can see a ruckus in the street.

For he purrs, rubs, and kneads of his own volition. For he loves of his own volition.

(For by stroking him I have found out electricity.)

For he begs for scraps while I am cooking by clawing my calf and throwing all of his weight into the pleading attack.

For he knows I will surrender to deep scratches.

For he grows oh so heavy in winter and cuts that much deeper.

For he struts across the keyboard and types his own sayings.

(For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.)

For at night he disappears; his sandy orange coat indistinguishable from the tall grass or the wood floorboards. For sometimes I trip over him.

(For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.)

For he studies the mourning doves. For he knows peace.

For all summer he eats doves using the bathmat as a placemat.

For all winter he eats brown mice.

(For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance. For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.)

For this is the 3 a.m. mouse who wakes everyone in the house to give chase. For Dodger wants everyone be involved. For—I think—he is trying to teach us to hunt.

(For he is of the Lord’s poor and so indeed he is called by benevolence perpetually—poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bitten thy throat!

For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.)

For he grows frustrated when we finally catch the mouse hidden behind the dresser and toss it outside; for I prove that I have not yet learned to kill.

For he is of free will, and of this will forgives my blunders.