How the Creative Arts Inspire Me–by Kate McGinn

Music and art transport me to another place and time.  The rhythmic strands of a guitar in the opening stanzas of the passionate melodies from the island of Puerto Rico will transport me to the island in a heartbeat.  The song Despacito that has been so popular this summer evokes the beach, laughter, and camaraderie between my family of gringos and my extended Puerto Rican family through the ties we have with our lovely daughter-in-law.  The caring for each other’s welfare combined with a love of family, music and an openness which couldn’t help but make me wish I had a bit of Puerto Rican blood in my veins.  The music lets me feel for a moment I was part of their rich culture (at least until I tried dancing and let’s just say “sad” describes it perfectly).

 

Irish songs with pipes and the steady beat of the bodhran brings to mind green fields with blue seas crashing against the dark cliffs along the shore all the while white BCAFA67E-E15E-4514-98C2-07051A38CEF2puffy clouds float over the mountains covered with black-faced Connemara sheep.  I tap my feet with the rapid melodies fighting to restrain myself from spinning around the living room to the song (only because of the aforementioned inability to dance–I could hurt someone).  Seriously, you don’t want to see the damage I inflicted upon myself and a metal bucket while dancing to LOCASH’s song, Ring on Every Finger.

 

Visual arts–paintings, sculpture, and photography–have the same effect on me.  I see a story in every work of art.  At Loche Eske Castle, the sculptures of a woman sitting under a tree reading while three children torment each other a short distance away caught my imagination.  My photo of an old church cemetery called out a tale of heartache and loss.

 

I’m reading A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline based on the Andrew Wyeth painting, Christina’s World.  A fictional account of the interactions between Wyeth and his muse, Christina Olson.  I googled Wyeth and found myself looking through his painting several of them are alluded to in the book.

 

Wyeth found beauty in the most austere and everyday items in the Maine home of Alvaro and Christina Olson as described by the following passage from Kline’s novel.

 

“We are more attuned to the beauty of this old house, with its familiar corners, when Andy is here.  More appreciative of the view down the yellow fields to the water, constant and yet ever changing, the black crows on the barn roof, the hawk circling overhead.  A grain bag, a dented pail a rope hanging from a rafter:  these ordinary objects and implements are transformed by Andy’s brush into something timeless and otherworldly.”

 

Just as the musician takes melodies from the sound of the rain and the wind and an artist uses the imperfections, light, and shadows to color and add depth to their works of art, the writer pulls from emotions, sounds, songs, images, memories to type words onto a page.  A single note, the touch of the brush against a canvas and the letters on a page can transform a world, a mind and a heart with their existence.

 

This is what I love about the arts and the part they play in my life.  I might not dance gracefully but I continue to try.  I sing like a frog but sometimes I can’t help myself, I must sing.  My world continues to push me to write and this I strive to do to the best of my ability as long as I still breathe.

 

I mentioned Puerto Rico in this blog and it pains me deeply to see my fellow Americans and military brothers and sisters and their families suffering following the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria within days of each other.  Please keep them in your prayers and if you are able to help during this terrible time please consider donating to the recovery efforts.

Donations for Hurricane Maria Recovery in Puerto Rico


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

On Twitter: @katemcginn6

https://www.katemcginn.com/

Advertisements

On the Nature of Being by John Nedwill

On the Nature of Being by John Nedwill

Alright, it’s a bit of a pretentious title for a blog, but stay with me for the next few hundred words.

Take a look at the biographical details at the bottom of this article. You’ll notice that it is very sparse – almost no personal details beyond my name and a WattPad account. Compare it to some of the others who write blogs for the One Million Project. Lots of details in those. Now, given the current emphasis on social media and accessibility to readers, why would an aspiring author not want to be contacted? Why would they not want their readers to connect with them?

The answer in my case is simple. Privacy.

You see, I lead a double life. One of them is the ordinary life that everybody else leads – the life of work, responsibility and paying the bills. The other life I have is one of imagination, creation and wonder. In one of them, I am virtually unknown beyond the walls that are placed around me. In the other … Well, I’m still pretty much unknown, but there is more freedom to do things.

I try to keep my two lives separate. But there is still one inevitable point of contact between them: me. Although I have different names for my different lives, I am still at heart the same person. Parts of my normal life will creep over into my existence as John Nedwill, and vice-versa. I could reinvent myself totally, or I could create an entirely separate persona from whole cloth and put that out as ‘me’.

Neither of those options particularly appeals to me. The first one would mean giving up too much of the things I like about me that already exist. The second would involve lying on a massive scale, and that would challenge my integrity just as much as the first option would. So, I have decided to remain a cipher. It may not be the best choice, but it is the one I am most comfortable with. Instead, I prefer readers to engage with my works rather than some personality that is itself a work of fiction.

As writers, we have to decide how much we reveal about ourselves to our readers. Some of us are more comfortable sharing than others; others prefer to keep something back. It doesn’t mean that we don’t want to engage, it’s just that we want to choose our grounds to do so.


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer and OMP Network member, who will be blogging on a regular basis on various issues and causes.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the OMP short story anthologies which will be published by Dark Ink Press this fall.

Educational Inferiority Complex by Emma Thomson

On the news segments, we regularly see those victory despite adversity stories. The latest story was regarding those achieving high A level results despite her brother having been one of those that lost their lives in the Manchester bombings. There have been similar stories throughout the years of Cancer survivors obtaining high grades and all other kinds of physical disabilities. This article isn’t written to discredit those individuals. They’ve worked hard and deserve the praise and recognition that these news stories have given them. On the other hand, if you happen to be from a background or have a disability that isn’t widely understood, then, more often than not, you do not receive the support to be successful and achieve your highest potential.

I am going to focus on behavioural issues in this article. I am an adult diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and have been suspected of PDA (a part of the Autistic Spectrum which the public do not understand). There is a wide belief within society that those of us with behavioural conditions have the help available to us which we need in our everyday life. Sadly, this isn’t true. There may be help out there, but it is far from appropriate and, in most cases, not helpful to the conditions whatsoever. Most of the ‘so-called’ help is punishment based. This isn’t constructive with someone who has a behavioural issue. Recently, research has released the shocking finding that those on the Autistic Spectrum are one of the most likely groups to take their own lives. There are those on the spectrum who are successful, but for each of them, there are most likely hundreds across the UK alone, which are not able to have satisfying full lives because they aren’t given adequate support for their Autism.

 

This year I tried to take my own life because of literally having everyone and everywhere I went turn their back on me and, alongside that, I had a legal case for harassment (caused my lack of support and mishandling of my case) active against me. There was no attempt to work with my ASC traits. I was given a restraining order, which I broke and I even told the court I couldn’t stick to it when they made it. That was made indefinite, so I felt like I’ve been given a life sentence. That will always keep my record current. I was labeled a criminal as soon as I reached adulthood. I wasn’t diagnosed until 16. This has resulted in me never being able to gain employment and my baby son being removed from me, then placed for adoption. I do not feel that it is fair to label those with behavioural or intellectual conditions in a negative way. There has never been any attempt to meet me half way in regards to supporting me and attempting to understand my condition.

 

In all honesty, most of the education I’ve managed to get has been purely down to my sheer determination. I have got very little support. I get asked to leave places (eg. Colleges and Universities) before others have the chance to get to know me. This is due to the label that has been placed on me for my disability problems. I’ve had to save up and pay for some of the qualifications that I need to study Psychology at degree level. I was completely failed by school. I’ve had to go back as an adult to GCSEs. I’m still behind because I do not have A Levels. I get extremely disheartened because I feel left out of life. Those like myself will never get the stories giving us praise and recognition because everyone assumes that behaviour problems are a choice. It is certainly not a choice. I wish that it was because it would be possible for me to lose my issues like people seem to think they can demand by clicking their fingers and threatening me with punishment or sanctions if I can’t do it. I just want society to see that they certainly aren’t a choice. I just wanted love and acceptance. The things that have been done to me have triggered my problems to get worse because I wasn’t getting that. Instead, all my care plans have been completely inappropriate and made me feel like I was being treated unfavourably, placed below other people. This needs to change before it causes many other suicides or other negative situations that can be avoided by changing how behaviour problems are seen by professionals and managed.


OMP Admin Note:  Emma Thomson is a guest blogger for the #OneMillionProject.  Her writing is straightforward and enlightening as she offers insight into her life.  Emma was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, undiagnosed but suspected of PDA and some form of Personality Disorder. She was born in the Midlands on the week of the hurricane of 1987.  She has her own blog where she reveals the everyday struggles of living with Asperger Syndrome.

Link to blog: https://diaryofapainfullyshyinterovert.wordpress.com/

Harvey

Harvey

My heart goes out to the men, women, and children in the Texas Gulf coast area in the aftermath or should I say continued assault of Hurricane Harvey.  The destruction of property and life is devastating, and my thoughts and prayers are with them and the volunteers, National Guard/military, and first-responders working so hard to help rescue the thousands of people stranded by Harvey’s wrath.

I always thought the fact hurricanes can be predicted and the people had time to get out of the way made them less scary than a tornado which can come out of nowhere in a matter of minutes and destroy everything in its path.  Of course, that was before I moved to Corpus Christi, Texas as a brand-new Navy wife.

A year later, I was pregnant with my first child when Hurricane Gilbert was projected to make landfall in Corpus.  We lived in an area called Flour Bluff.  It was close to the base, Padre Island, and the water.  We planned on evacuating to somewhere inland.  We called a phone number of a company that would board up your windows for a fee if you called them.  We did, they said they’d come by, they ran out of plywood, so we ended up taping our windows instead.  The hours waiting knowing a hurricane was heading our direction were nerve-wracking.

Losing a bit of time on the road meant we would have to drive further to find lodging especially with a puppy along for the ride.  Everyone we knew headed for San Antonio–the closest large city near us–so we headed west paralleling the Rio Grande to the Big Bend National Park area.  After calling every motel in our AAA Road Guide (printed version, because this was before the internet), we found a sturdy looking two-story cinder block hotel fashioned in an “L” shape with its balcony walkways, room entrance doors, and windows on the inner angle of the “L”.

We checked in and were getting settled in our room when the power went out.  We and our motel neighbors all exited our rooms to see what was happening.  The sky over the hotel was blackened by swirling clouds that hadn’t been there when we arrived.  A storm was barreling down on us.

“Y’all get back in your rooms!  A twister is coming!”  These words came from the nice lady in the motel office who had run out to yell at us before running back into the office.  We bolted into our room.

“No, this can’t be.  We’re on the second floor.  We should be underground!”  I grew up in the Midwest and had hurried to the basement on countless nights when tornadoes threatened our area.  We headed to the bathroom.  It didn’t have windows, and the plumbing would maybe supply more security.

During the time it took for the twister to pass, we saw daylight twice in our windowless bathroom.  Our puppy wet all over the floor, and I said more Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s than I had in my twenty plus years of being a practicing CatholiIMG_3104c.  I seriously thought I wouldn’t live to see our child born.

The tornado lifted back up into the clouds as it hopped over the motel only to descend again and destroy a trailer park right next door.  The hurricane made landfall south of Corpus Christi spawning multiple tornadoes across the region.  San Antonio had over twenty twisters reported that same day.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Corpus Christi, and the news has been inundated with the damage a Category 4 hurricane can inflict on a huge area.  Flooding, tornadoes, storm surge, winds strong enough to topple homes, trees, and turn steel girders into pretzels are examples of what a hurricane brings as it hits the shore.

Many times when the hurricane makes landfall it will lessen in severity, but Harvey is in a holding pattern and dumping fifty-plus inches of rain on the area.  Floating colonies of fire ants, alligators and snakes infest the waters, these brave people are traversing to get to safety.

No electricity, no air conditioning, or water for days paired with tearing out wet carpet, drywall, and furniture for days. Insurance or lack of flood insurance is only one headache.  Groceries and basic needs are cut off by the severe conditions and in a large urban area like Houston, the stores’ shelves may be bare of items we typically take for granted–diapers, formula, water for example.

My life wasn’t changed irreparably by my encounter with the first hurricane I would experience, but this week tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people will have to live with the repercussions of Harvey.  Remember them in your prayers, make a donation to the American Red Cross or volunteer at volunteerhou.org

LOSS OF A LOVED ONE

Losing a loved does not just relate to the physical death of the body. It is also watching loved ones live through illness all the way up until they finally depart. During these times, we may cling to hope whilst at the same time knowing the inevitable could someday happen.

I lost a loved one to cancer in 2004 after 10 years living with it. I found the whole ordeal frustrating, found myself questioning God and even now in 2017 I still feel like I could not save him and often ask myself what if anything I did wrong? I don’t feel as much pain as I used to and though it may sound weird to say this, it was one of the best experiences of my life in terms of how it has helped to shape me and my views. I still cry sometimes but learned a lot from my friend during his time living with cancer, he never once complained and seemed to accept the situation more than I did. I often wondered what was going through his mind but he was always happy in my company and we never really talked much about the illness but rather thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

After he passed I wallowed in self-pity for two long years and then in 2006 I decided he would not want me to live this way and also that I had to find the strength to make my life worthwhile for both of us otherwise where was my gratitude. So I wrote my first poem and have been writing ever since. My first poetry book series ‘For The Love Of I: Inspirational Poetry’ is now published and I also perform spoken word as well as write poetry for commercial brands. I even do motivational talks and recently got an offer to do spoken word in New York!

This all came out of what seemed like a hopeless situation and is far more beautiful than anything I ever imagined. Not because I’m now a published author, but that accepting life situations, finding ways to embrace them and acting on the inspiration that spews forth from loss, mourning and death can be what actually helps make life worth living for us again.

That said one never gets used to attending funerals and loss has a way of reminding us of every other loss we experienced. Whatever your situation be sure to take one day at a time, be as strong as you can, let the pain and tears flow as required, forgive yourself for the days you feel distraught and above all show yourself love, care and consideration because you’re going through a tough life changing event.

Some words you hear will be kind and encouraging; others will shake you to your core and make you feel resentment. Whatever the case, remember it is never yours or anyone else’s fault! Because people living with cancer do not choose that path knowingly or to hurt us.

Until next time, it’s your #divineloveagent checking out with best wishes for your health, wealth, and happiness. Look after yourselves.


OMP Admin Note:  Patsy Jawo lives in London in the UK, is a Writer, Spoken Word Artist and Author of ‘For The Love Of I: Inspirational Poetry’ Series which has 5 volumes:

Vol.1 Gratitude; Vol.2 Peace; Vol.3 Freedom; Vol.4 Truth; Vol.5 Destiny.

Enjoy poems, spoken word free and buy copies of Patsy’s books @: www.vewbooks.com

Connect with Patsy: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @patsyjawo

Like Patsy’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/patsyjawox/

Subscribe to Patsy’s YouTube channel: Poetic Vews

Paying Homage

Paying Homage

By John Nedwill

There is a saying I come across with regards to writing:

“Bad writers plagiarize.

“Good writers pay homage.

“Great writers steal.”

At first, I thought it was one of those irregular verbs. After all, it is just the same thing said in three different ways; the sort of thing that is intended as a comment on writers and how they are regarded. But, more and more, I am convinced that it is valid advice for any writer.

When I started writing, I copied the styles and themes of the writers I was familiar with. After all, we are meant to learn how to write from good examples; and surely a published writer must be one of the best exemplars? However, if someone way back then had confronted me with the statement, “Hey! Your story is exactly like X!”, I would have felt as if I had been caught cheating and changed the subject.

Later, as I became more skilled at writing, I learnt what was good about an author’s work. So, instead of copying an author wholesale, I would consciously select a piece of work that I wanted to emulate the style of. I would pick out what I thought were the key pieces. Was it the way the author constructed their sentences? Perhaps it was the dialogue. Maybe it was the plot structure that I was interested in. Whatever it was, I would take what I wanted and use it to improve my work. Then, if anybody said, “Hey! You’re just like Y!”, I would smile and say,”Exactly.”

Now that I am a more confident writer, if I see something that I like about an author’s style or a story, I have no qualms about lifting it. The difference is that now I make it my own, twisting it to my needs, and hopefully producing something that is new and uniquely mine.

So, what’s the lesson from this? If you’re a writer, then you should not be afraid to admit your influences. You are a part of the culture. Even better – you are someone who expands that culture, adding to it with every word you write. Do not be afraid to embrace that culture and take what you want from it.


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer and OMP Network member, who will be blogging on a regular basis on various issues and causes.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the OMP short story anthologies which will be published by Dark Ink Press this fall.

Crickets

Crickets

Silence is golden.  Right?  Not so much if you are a writer whose characters and plot ideas roll around inside your noggin.  It’s gotten so quiet in my head right now; I can hear crickets chirping.  I know I sound crazy, but I was the book worm who lived her early life through the pages of books.  My imagination was a constant companion, and sometimes it got me into a bit of trouble as I drifted into my made-up world.  My parents would get so frustrated with me.

I love to tease and tell people I have a split personality disorder and hear voices in my head.  Then I smile.  I love freaking people out!

Yoga and 5-7 mile walks tend to bring out the creative voices within me.  I’m still getting some material I like out on paper, but the raging river is a drip, drip, drip right at present.  I’ve retreated to the library to write, hoping Clare and Wyatt or crazy Natalie and her buddies will wander out of the dark recesses of my cobweb-strewn attic of a brain.

So far, not even a mouse skittering across the dusty floorboards…

One beautiful thing about being part of a writing network like the One Million Project, in addition to the charitable aspects at the core of our group, is the camaraderie between the members.  A simple post about a writing issue, etc. and one or more fellow writers will be there to support and offer advice.

You discover you aren’t alone.

Writers can be introverted.  I know I am.  I love people and spending time with friends, but I don’t necessarily search them out.  I’m comfortable being alone.  And with the typical Grand Central Station chaos in my head, that might be for the best (LOL!), but when my mind is an echoing canyon and the only voice is my own yelling, “Where is everybody, everybody, everybody…”

Instead, Keith Urban sings sweet, sad songs through my ear buds while I look through the decades of pain, heartaches, love, joy, and passion I’ve collected over the past 56 years.  I pull at the memory strands belonging to my 26-year-old self.  At that stage of my life, I had more in common with my female protagonists and a little sliver of me lies at the heart of those characters.  How would I deal with the issues facing these young women?

If the younger me pined for the man who’d left me behind, would I move on or attempt to find my absent love?  If I was heading off to Columbia University, what would I be feeling?  Would I love The Big Apple or wish I was home in Corpus Christi, Texas enjoying the beaches and sailing on the Gulf of Mexico?

Is that a little stirring of response?  Lordy, I hope so.  It’s lonely in here with only the crickets for company.