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Category: Writing

Old Normal or Forge Ahead?

After I finished my sonnet and published it, I was awakened by the Lord shortly afterward. He had a multi-faceted, timed response to what I had written, simultaneously confirming what I was reading and hearing on the radio. I heard to not rush what I write. He reiterated once again that I was using my gift, even if it appeared I was not working at a fast pace, but at a pace that I could handle. And allow time for personal heartaches. He told me months ago writing would save me and it has. And it will.

April is National Poetry Month. The American Academy of Poets has 30 ways of celebrating.

The days ahead are forcing many to make hard choices, with much grief involved, no matter what choices are made. They are not only earthly choices but ones that will determine our eternities. I did an Old Testament Job a few days ago, telling God why was I born during these horrific days? He made it clear, I was born for such a time as this. Twenty years ago when He spoke this to me, He also gave me prophecies that I had no clue as to the scope of them. This is a comfort to me, knowing that He cared enough for me to let me know back then He was in control of not only international events but of me too. As Esther fasted for her people during the possibility of religious extermination, she chose to move forward despite the potential cost to her life.

What is your choice?


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life”

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
     Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
     And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
     And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
     Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
     Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
     Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
     And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
     Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
     In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
     Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
     Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
     Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
     We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
     Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
     Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
     Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
     With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
     Learn to labor and to wait.

FaithPoetryWriting

A Sonnet Odyssey

For the last few years, I said I was going to write a sonnet, so I could check this item off my list. Yet, I kept putting if off, because it is not as easy as writing a 30 minute haiku.

A Bit of History

Sonnets were invented in the 13th century in Italy. The word sonnet derives from the Italian word sonetto, which translated means “little song.” Michelangelo wrote them as well as the sculptures he created. Shakespeare popularized them in English during the turn into the 17th century. Plutarchian and Shakespearian are the two most popular forms of sonnets.

A Bit of Form

Sonnets have a musical quality to them with a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables called feet. An iamb is an unstressed then a stressed syllable equaling one foot. Pentameter is five feet, so there are ten syllables for each of the fourteen lines. Sounds like dancing with a partner who has two left feet! But just as in dancing, practice makes if not perfect, then easier.

Words at the end of the lines have a rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg – same letters rhyme. Lastly, the first twelve lines set up a story, and the last two bring it to a resolution. Shakespearean and Plutarchian sonnets are mostly alike, but do have different rhyme schemes and story approaches.

My Process

Iambic pentameter closely mimics human speech. I dug up this tidbit in my research, making a difference in being able to write one or not. I had stressed over words I chose fitting the pattern by looking them up in the dictionary. The light bulb went off when I realized all I had to do was read it aloud listening for the rhythm and anything sticking out needed correction. I also researched it being a perfect fit, and found out there can be a very small amount of variations to still qualify as a sonnet. I used one slant rhyme, and some variations in the iambic pentameter.

My steps:

  • Wrote a list outline for subject matter,
  • Drafted the fourteen lines close to ten syllables,
  • Picked the end rhymes for each stanza, and
  • Worked on the iambic pentameter.

I decided I could work on it forever, or get somewhat close and chose the latter route. Walt Whitman kept revising his self-published work Leaves of Grass from 1855 to the end of his days. I don’t want to be Walt Whitman. Without further ado –

Arrest

 Her land was robbed in virginal attire:
 A fossil bed in fashion lined hued sand,
 The coastal pines intoned the ocean choir,
 Majestic mountains stood by His own hand.
 The scissor cut directed forest fires,
 Her swatches shorn in blackened forest floor.
 Bound by the gods of Delilah’s hellfire,
 She fought against entrance into her soul.
 The smoke burning darkened the sky by day,
 Air slipped through cracks of doors into twilight.
 Her cloak and dress and her lands were repayed.
 Delilah’s deceits ravished His birthright.  
 The heavens poured rain in His fierce backlash;  
 He washed away the floor plan's lifeless ash. 
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FaithMy poemsPoetryWriting

Poems, Blogging, and Process

Austin Kleon wrote a book, Show Your Work. The premise is creativity is a process, not a product. It allows a public showing of the stages we go through in our art by sharing our process publicly.

After the process of importing my data from my old blog into my new one, I read through all my posts. Deciding which ones to keep and which ones to toss. Over the last year, I saw a progression of style and subject matter. I also did some deep thinking about the direction I wanted to take my new blog.

I desire to write more in-depth posts and return to writing poems, which went by the wayside. No more posting quote graphics and public domain poetry – for that I have started a Tumblr blog to complement this one. I will post once a week, Saturday, all prayer concerns for my readers to read and pray over as the Lord leads, called Prayer Points. I will be posting twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. And I plan on expanding my newsletter beyond just sending the last post via email. Finally, I am adding more graphics to my posts to make them more visually appealing.

It was an act of faith for me to start again. National news made me want to throw up my hands and say, “Lord, what is the point if censorship is rolling ahead full steam?” But I have learned to hear His voice over the years, and have seen His faithfulness. I know if He says, “Write!” then I need to honor this process and write, not only for Him but for my readers and for me too.

FaithPoetryWriting

What Is Public Domain?

Surprisingly, some of my most liked posts are public domain poems. I’ll admit, I post them to keep myself from infringing copyright, but I also believe it is important to read from an historical standpoint. And I try to pick ones that have bearing on current events. Poetry is truly timeless.

So what exactly is the public domain? According to Copyright.laws.com, “they are works that are considered to be in the public domain are not protected by copyright. To be in the public domain means that the works can be used, copied, and distributed without any particular authorization from the copyright holder. This situation occurs when a copyright term expires or the rights themselves have been forfeited.”

In United States copyright law – each country and jurisdiction has its own – it is not a cut and dry date for all conditions of how and when a work is produced. Anonymous works can even be copyrighted. Cornell University hosts a downloadable PDF to explain conditions and dates. (Make sure to figure correct dates, based on the date of the PDF.)

Public Domain Day starts on January 1 of every year for all countries/jurisdictions depending on their own laws, and determines what goes into the public domain. Oregon has its own special case regarding unpublished works.

At the beginning of every year, you can surf the internet and usually find a list of works that enter the public domain. For 2021, The Mary Sue entertains us with its list, along with the basics of when a work enters the public domain.

Creative Commons explains two different ways artists can choose to release their works into the public.

Copyright law protects an artist’s ability to receive recognition and financial reward from work that is created. But at some time in the future, they are released into the public for everyone’s benefit.

ReadingWriting

To Be Continued…

Several weeks ago, I felt the Lord say to me, my writing would save me. And it already has – the one good thing that came out of lockdowns was my learning discipline to blog and enjoying the likes and occasional comments. You really kept me going.

Many years ago I saved articles that decried the Church not meeting the needs of Christian artists.

I have held for a long-time desire to belong to a regular Christian writing community. I have pondered what that means specifically, or how it would play out. Not a how-to, marketing, or anything similar, but a place of support for Christian artists.

As they say, anything new begins with the first step, or in my case, the first blog post.

To be continued…

FaithWriting

Feeds for a New Era

My blog post today may be old-hat to some, but because of the censorship issues today, I am revisiting it.

The technology of RSS feeds some consider to be old-hat, and they have been since the rise of social media. But they have been under the radar, not obsolete like others have proclaimed over the years. Twitter had a feed many years ago.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Netscape created it in 1999 under the different name of RDF Site Summary, and through the years it morphed into the current name.

The format is in XML language, which is a plain text file. Another file associated with RSS is OPML, which is XML’s outline format for exporting the feeds you have created in a feed reader for backup.

Feed readers consolidate feeds from websites that use this form of syndication. Blogs, podcasts, emails, websites, and news sites (this is not an exhaustive list) publish the XML files to their sites so that feed readers can pull in articles that are newly published. Most feed readers are free. Another file form of aggregating websites is called Atom. Most feed readers support both.

I will use mine to illustrate. I use the Linux program named QuiteRSS. It allows you to add folders to organize subject matter. For example, I have folders called Oregon, News, Church, Writing, and Personal. I can update all at once, only certain folders, or certain sites. There is a rudimentary browser so that you can read the feeds on their home website. Or you can open an external browser to read articles. Filters are available to further help sort information. And the articles can be labeled or deleted as needed. I clean mine daily so I am not overwhelmed.

The fall of popularity of RSS, a decentralized form of gathering data for the user, instead traveled to companies centralizing data on us users, was planned? If so, it is time to stake our claims on the World Wide Web and raise the flag of our RSS mailboxes.

ReadingWriting

The Breath of God

I have on my bookshelf several writing-to-inspire books. I refer to them occasionally for encouragement.

  • If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland
  • A Writer’s Paris by Eric Maisel
  • Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Ranier Maria Rilke
  • Unless It Moves the Human Heart by Roger Rosenblatt
  • Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson

In the same vein, I have read The Creative Call: An Artist’s Response to the Way of the Spirit by Janice Elsheimer. She teaches about the Greek word pneuma and the Hebrew equivalent word rûach (both share the same meanings in Strong’s Concordance #4151). Both refer to God’s breath or His wind as the creative empowerment that inspires us to create.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 is the story of God raising up an army from a valley of very dry bones, so dry that they had no life force left in them. The Lord God told Ezekiel to prophesy over the dry bones, and “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”

Sometimes I do have divinely sent ideas for blog posts and writing projects, and sometimes I sit in front of my blank laptop screen, racking my head for ideas (like today). But that is the essence of co-creation with God. We do our part and He does His.

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FaithWriting

Setting Sail for 2021

Now that the festivities of the Christmas season are over, I have amassed a list of projects to keep me busy, and writing more blog posts. I want to make a spreadsheet of commonly used Linux terminal commands, reorganize my planner, and as stated before, one of the biggest is revamping my blog.

My New Year Resolutions get written on New Year’s Eve, sealed and read the next New Year’s Eve. They, over the last few years, have morphed more into a letter to the Lord and what I feel He wants me to do. Plus a few of my own desires thrown in.

Ordered three new books today. One in response to a follower: 1984 by George Orwell. It will be interesting to see how current events line up with the book.

Next two in line: Blogging for God’s Glory in a Clickbait World by Benjamin Vrbicek and John Beeson, and To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction by Phillip Lopate. I have a weakness for writing books; most of my bookshelf is crowded with them.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

This verse – read in context – is during the time of Israel’s captivity, with promises from God that He will someday return them to their homeland. I think it is a key verse for 2021.

FaithReadingWriting

All Things Oregon

When I moved here in 2013, many others were moving to Oregon too. It was the number one state to move to and I was proud to be one of the statistics. I came from Missouri, and for the most part followed the Oregon Trail all the way here.

My father passed here, so I decided to “go west, young man (older woman in my case)” and start a new life. And I have.

I have grown to love Oregon much more than Missouri: mild weather, beautiful shorelines, quiet community for the most part, the arts, the wide open spaces further east. No more tornado alley, however, I lived near the New Madrid fault line so that did not change here.

Many writing ideas came walking the beach with my portable radio and headphones on. Most of them haikus.

Politically, Oregon is not as liberal as many think. It is the same in most other states, the metropolitan areas are largely liberal and the rural areas are largely conservative. But I see much potential here in the days ahead. Dreams can come true here.


Have a blessed weekend!

Writing

Orwell’s Writing Advice

References to 1984 abound on the Internet today, with political and cultural turmoil and our surveillance society. I admit I have not read it, but it is on my classical novels to be read bucket list.

Popular writing advice includes to write what you do not know. To just start writing and you will find how you believe or feel about a topic while you writing. That writing what you really believe can lead to propaganda or didactic writing. Sometimes this can be helpful or even desired.

However, this advice has always made me chafe. A pencil, pen, or keyboard in the hands of an experienced writer can write the novel or short story subtly, co-creating with the reader’s own thoughts. But the the bigger issue to me is if, as a writer, you have something to say from the beginning.

As a writer, you need a secure foundation from which to write.

When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.

George Orwell

I believe Mr. Orwell has succeeded.


Have a blessed weekend!

Writing

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