Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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Writing About Plants of the Century

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“Bertha” The Stalk Sprouting Agave Plant, so big I couldn’t fit her in frame.

Writing Inspiration: When you go out into your neighborhood – what do you see that inspires you? Is it the old lady who lives in 446? Is it the garbage cans that never get picked up, or the old tree that looks like it’s going to come crashing through the Wilson’s new garage? Write about it. Here’s something that inspired me over on Istagram, which I’ve copied and pasted here.  

The Agave plant – aka The Century Plant- waits 25 to 80 years to bloom a stalk that flowers seed pods to propagate the next generation. It blooms like this when it knows it’s ready to die. Its death is sped up by putting all its energy and nutrients toward the growth of that stalk which will stand for a year or more until it falls and its seeds penetrate the earth. You can see her flayed open base yellowing in comparison to the other younger, healthier green Agave plants around her base. Once it starts growing, it grows at a rapid pace – 6 inches a day – and can rise more than 20 feet.

I walk by this beauty every day on my way to and from work. Its story is a testimony towards beauty, dignity and legacy. Unfortunately Bertha – as I like to call her, although I’m not sure if a plant like this is male or female (likely male, I mean…look at that stalk!) – will likely come crashing down and shed her seeds on the sun roof of the Range Rover in the neighbors driveway.

Huh… Nature…am I right?


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Writers Be Writing: Join ‘Order of the Good Write’ Community

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“Against Monsanto” -Mural by Pixel Poncho

Hello Writers of WordPress!

The mural in this post by Pixel Poncho inspired me today. His murals turn up around the world and fill in the side walls of buildings, beautifying and colorizing a story for all to observe and interpret. (This one was painted for “Shine on St. Pete”).

It also motivated me to get back to helping and connecting writers. So…

Let’s get down to the gritty of the nitty….

As mentioned a few weeks ago on this blog, I’m  in the midst of building a writing community and would like your help.

I’m bringing ‘The Order of the Good Write’ to another level, and am looking for 15 – 20 writers who would like to help me test out a new writers platform I’m building.

For those first 20 people – I’m offering it for FREE. All I ask in payment is your feedback and continuing participation.

You will be the ‘Mercury Seven’. You will be the highly decorated and sought after test pilots. Your mission will be to create and participate in discussion, share books you’ve read, test out writing challenges and create story lines through exquisite corpse play that will make things interesting. Kick the tires on the Wet.Ink space I’m using and be the first crew members to go forth where no human has gone before. (Well, with the exception of teachers and writers who’ve formed their own groups…this is really an awesome site to carve out private online communities.)

And – I won’t make you sit in a gravity chamber, wait through a battery of tests where you have to hold your bladder or have you break the sound barrier. You will fly and, hopefully, have fun.

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This can be you! If astronauts were writers!

All I ask is that you share your stories, work on gaining confidence and motivation in your writing while using the online tools so I can build the best platform around.

It’s absolutely confidential, and no writing will be copied or shared outside the space.

Please email if you’re interested at drotmil@gmail.com and I will invite you in!

Good writing to you all!

Debi

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How A Rug Illustrates a Story

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Rug as seen at ABC Home, NYC

It hung there, among the colorful faded green and pink rugs. Like a shabby and dazzling bunch of beauties, these gorgeous items of woven thread formed the most intricate patterns of white, greys and blacks. It left me breathless. The finite layers of simple flower shapes, round, small and big. Dabs of pedal shadows that almost look like birds flowing through the delicate wiggly lines depicting an element of motion.

From afar, we see the dazzling story of visual artistry. It’s a tale by what we make of it. The chairs and sofa that would look so good against the color. The pop of black floorboard wood that makes the patterns come alive, contained in the room in which it lives. This rug’s design can tell a story with it’s patterns and cacophony of visuals combines into one big work of floor artistry. Indeed, in one’s home, it will absorb the human life on which it lives.

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Yet, if we zoom in on the details, we see a different emotion. Suddenly the story isn’t so obvious, the tales not so simple. From afar, each duplicate design is created by intricate fibers of color and handmade stitching pulls together to make one big beauty. But when we magnify an inch of the vast work before us, there is a depth we never see.

One can find a laughing family on the front yard enjoying a summer day. Yet, if we take one person aside and study him, much like the details of a rug, we’ll find depth, individuality and a whole other story.

Writing is much like this. You can’t have the overall picture unless you magnify the details of the human spirit.

Look closely at the details of life. Understand more than just what the overall picture is trying to tell you. Write about it.

And boy, would I LOVE to buy this rug!

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For the Writer, Art is the Motivator

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Palm Trees. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

(I wrote this post this morning on MarieForleo.com in reply to a discussion about the importance of art in our lives.  This comment felt like a blog post. I’d like to share it here. I hope you find some good in its message.)

Art is essential in allowing humanity to connect spiritually.

I use art to motivate my writing and the writing of others. Each facet of art, especially painting and sculpture (for me), can ignite a bevvy of stories for the world to see. It can inspires other and can change lives. It can shift a mind.

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Street Art/Berlin Wall. Wende Museum. Los Angeles.

Music is also a profound inspiration. Artists who write life affirming and soul searching lyrics have made me the writer I am today. They connect feelings into words. Music and art makes us feel less alone in this world.

I think the one piece of art that changed my life (other than music), was Georges Seurat’s painting “Sunday on the Island of Grande Jatte” and the musical play it inspired. James Lapine wrote the book for “Sunday in the Park with George” and Stephen Sondheim created the most glorious, heart wrenching, moving score to reflect the concept of how a painting can tell a story. How each visage, each person painted were really humans with beating hearts and broken lives painted in dabs of light. The way the painting comes to life with humanity and the love story woven in – showed me how art can be a powerful reflection of our lives. In fact, the entire show has specific lyrics that support this entire theme.

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‘Sunday in the Park with George’

 

Add the wonderful musical ‘Fun Home’ – which shows painful, universal themes in a beautiful, touching way – and we have continued proof that the arts tell the story of our lives.

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Cast of ‘Fun Home’. Photo by Christaan Felber. The New Yorker.

Don’t let anybody, or any negative voice in your head tell you otherwise. We need more art. We need creation.

As good ol’ Steve wrote in “Sunday…”

“Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be-
Look at all the things you’ve done for me
Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree…”

Just keep moving on. 🙂


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Monday Writing Prompt

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This picture was taken early last year at Bronson Canyon, a trail I usually hike with my dog Baxter. The shot was taken before the effects of the Los Angeles drought took hold. About four months later, in August of 2015, I took an (almost) mirror photo of this area, and the long blades of thick green grass had turned brown. The rolling lush hill was overgrown with dead branches. The depth of distance overturned to summer overgrowth despite the lack of moisture.

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Very sad. Perhaps the latest El Nino rains have allowed this area to return to green. I haven’t been back since the “brown” photo was taken.

The hillside respite was off the beaten track from a trail where hikers were trailing and talking about their lives in great volume. Loud. Self absorbed, as we all tend to be –  perhaps some more than others –  in this Hollywood life.

In this space,  hawks fly overhead, cutting dark against the bluest skies you can image. I’ll give California it’s due. It does sky like no body else. Daytime blueness, deep with heavily wisps of clouds intermingle with curious chem trails. Night, dark blue with the largest moon I’ve ever seen sitting quietly among twinkling stars beyond atmosphere disturbance.

No wonder Woody Guthrie once described California stars and how they “hang like grapes”.

In some canyon enclaves, there is so much silence, your ears feel like there are sucked in by the pressure of it. Until the sound of a voice speaking about how their job at the hair salon sucks because someone keeps stealing their product cuts through the meditative peace.

So, that day, I left the trails that lead to the Hollywood sign, and the girls in perfectly fitting yoga attire, and shirtless men and joggers huffing behind and beyond me, and found myself in this private nook on a hill…

…across a deep trench carved out by a running stream that had long dried out.

…beyond dried brambles and  bracken padded down by ghost hiker’s feet restless to leave the conventional path.

…up the steep and grassy hill near a tree with a view of what looks like wallpaper for a Microsoft OS program.

Just me and my dog, leaving the noise of people chatting about their small problems, about themselves, about me, me, and look what this person did to me.

This area of grass and beauty, that turned brown and likely green again, is my only hope. The rest is all fluff. I’d take a snowstorm any day if I could wake up on a Chelsea NYC morning and call it my home again.

As Bob Dylan once said, “I’m going back to New York City, I do believe I’ve had enough.”

What does this photo inspire in you? Have a look. What does it provoke? Dream a little. What writing can you create from this image?

Write, write, write away. Give Monday something to brag about.


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Writing Inspiration: Airports

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Photo by Erez Attias via Unsplash

Perhaps this is the talk of someone who doesn’t travel more than three times a year, but I love airports. I also love to fly. Once I pass the nerve-racking process of security, I put my shoes on,  grab my bags to head to my gate and the flutter of freedom and adventure settles in.

Although airports tend to be hermetically sealed environments that are almost indistinguishable from city to city, there is something beautiful about them, despite their dysfunction (I’m looking at you LAX. One decent sit down restaurant at the Jet Blue/Virgin terminal? Come on.)

They are large microcosms unto themselves. They house people in transit – a subset of humans waiting for the next motion – they are a temporary city onto themselves.

The smell of the jet fuel. The hissing sound of plane engines, the hustle of luggage carts and maintenance men, running along a stretched out runway that blinks dreamy lights outlining the various runways. Taxing planes coming in from other cities, carry people with things to do, lives to live, places to see.

Nothing new in hashing out the hubbub of airports. But there’s something lovely about waking up in the middle of the night and taking to the spotless roadways to catch a flight. When you enter an airport drive, it’s as if you’ve entered a secret society of people awake and bustling to get their flights in what seems like the still of the night. Voyagers getting a fresh start to the day, as the sky lightens and the sun is flashing its rays on the horizon. They stand in line at McDonalds. They grab their coffee at Dunkin Donuts. They buy water, aspirin, munchies – and await the announcement of boarding.

What is on their minds? What lives are rushing through those shiny floors and up those escalators? What memories do you have of travel and airports and missed connections and those found?

What travels are on your horizon, and how will you transcribe those into words?

Write it down.


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Writing is all “Up in the Air”

“Writers and travelers alike do their best work when they don’t know what they’re looking for; disorientation requires problem-solving, and a new landscape holds secrets still.” ~Nathan Heller, The New Yorker Magazine, February 1, 2016 issue.

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A little morsel of wisdom from Nathan Heller, who writes an incredibly fascinating article about the culture of airports and the future of commercial flight. He sites Christopher Shaberg’s book, “The End of Airports” as a thesis on how travel by air has become more commerce and retail rather than experience and excitement. It’s beautifully written and provides some thought into the strange hermetically sealed, other-world air passengers find themselves in while committed to the tightly controlled world of flight.

I highly recommend this article, not just for the subject matter, but as a sample of truly tight, well organized and fluid writing. The expression, the structure, the fluidity of words and thought is inspiring.

If you don’t have a subscription to the New Yorker Magazine, you might be allowed ten free viewings.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/02/01/air-head

The New Yorker. The magazine is either your holy grail, your bible or your enemy; yet, there’s treasure in them thar pages.

Happy Sunday!

 


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Martin Luther King, Jr. Wisdom

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“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you are a writer who believes your words aren’t worth reading, remember the power of Reverend King’s wisdom.  His quote above is one in hundreds of life affirming, soul strengthening edicts honed through his own adversity, love of mankind, human frailty and his ability to overcome.

It’s my belief that we are all born into this world with a specific talent to contribute in this world. We are poised to give something of ourselves in order to better the lives of others.

We all need to lead by example. We must all concur fear and adversity to be the person we are destined to be so others may do the same.

Write your words. Tell your story. Allow others to learn by you. You’ll never know how many people you will positively touch unless you write that first word.

Check out Adam Braun’s ‘Pencils of Promise’ website, and see how his desire to help children of third world countries gain the education they need by raising funds and resources to build schools where school no longer existed. In his own way,  Adam is following MLK’s spirit in making this place a better world for those less fortunate, for those wronged and for those with fertile minds ready to bring forth their abilities into this world.

Or look at Malala Yousafzai. Her own story, strength and defiance against injustice, oppression and hatred illustrates the spirit of MLK. Her words, both spoken and written are beacons toward change and inspiration for others to take her example and use it toward their own cause, their own story.

Although their circumstances are vastly different, in doing their work, both Adam and Malala are just two of many people in this world who emulate MLK’s humanitarian drive. In Malala’s case, it was through her own adversity, one that made her face a violent act that almost killed her. In Adam’s case, it was an affluent young man on a student trip, moved by the simple want of a child who only asked for a pencil.

As a writer, you can bring forth the same power in your own way, with your own experience. You can change the world with the written word.

Don’t let negative thoughts cloud your talent. Be an MLK. Create to inspire, teach and enlighten. You never know who you will reach.

Perhaps you’ll inspire a future Adam Braun or stimulate someone to open the minds of others, to speak of the human condition like Malala.

And his or her word will inspire another…and another…and another. In in doing so, we fulfill Reverend King’s essence – the man he sought to be.

And so on and so on…

A dream fulfilled.

 

 

 

 

 


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Writing Inspiration From Bowie & Rickman

As someone said online the other day, the planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Aren’t we lucky to have lived in the age of Bowie?

The same can be said for Alan Rickman, a supreme talent who, like Bowie, also left this world, from cancer at the age of 69.  Strange how two beloved creatives, both British, both 69 years old, died in the same week.  And it seemed, within the similar stance of their booming voices, both toiled and created within darkness and light.

Two sucker punches in the second week of 2016. May we, as writers who daily fight and struggle to overcome the negative to tell our story, keep their creative work and words in mind. They left this world a little better for us all.

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“It is a human need to be told stories. And the more we are governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are and where we come from,and what might be possible.” ~Alan Rickman

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“Once I’ve written something it does tend to run away from me.  I don’t seem to have any part of it – it’s no longer my piece of writing.” ~David Bowie

“Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.” ~David Bowie