six word story no. 127

She lit a candle to Kali.

kali-15

Brought to you with fierce justice by Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery.  Available to Goddesses and Santas now on Amazon.

 

 

six word story no. 124

He kept the koi for conversation.

koi

Brought to you with scaly incandescence and deep truth by Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery.  Available for Crafty Santas now on Amazon.

birth of a book

We are super pleased to report that Green Tara Press has just released Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery, by award-winning author, Cynthia Gregory. Om, Ah, and well done!

Support the Arts::Buy the book

journaling

killer weekend

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD

::REVIEW::

dark dark

Ruth Ware’s debut novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood, possesses all the best elements of a thriller: a remote country estate, a bachelorette party, and a group of frenemies that really, really should have scrubbed their email lists and left each other well enough alone after those terrible school days. But then, where’s the pleasure in that?

The story is narrated by Nora, an author who specializes in crime thrillers. Back in school, she was called Lee, short for Leonora. Only one person ever called her Leo, and it was her first love, James.  But then he broke up with her. . .via text. . .and she moved on. Ten years later, Nora is mostly okay, writing novels and living a fine, urban single life.

Then one day out of the blue, she receives an invitation to an old friend’s wedding. Surprised, she feels a little sorry for Clare, thinking that maybe she has no other girls to invite, having to dredge back ten years for her bachelorette do. Nora is undecided about whether or not to attend the hen, but her invite is followed quickly by an email from Nina, who is also wary of Clare’s motives. “If you go, I will,” she says. Nora agrees and they somehow wind up traveling to the remote English countryside together.

Nina hates the country and misses her girlfriend, and Nora is straightway filled with dread by their accommodations: a modern glass box dropped unceremoniously in a meadow at the edge of a dark and menacing wood. The house belongs to Flo’s aunt and feels to Nora like a dangerous cage, though it is only a country estate, complete with a shotgun hung over the living room fireplace.

Miles from anywhere, cell reception is sketchy and the revelers are coolly irritable. When Clare announces to Nora that the reason she was invited to the hen and not the wedding is because the groom-to-be is the infamous James, the weekend really takes a turn. It doesn’t help that Flo’s hen party games involve embarrassing details about the bride and groom, shaming and humiliating Nora repeatedly. And then it snows. And then the land lines go out and the hen fete devolves into a churlish clutch of drunken, paranoid hostages. Fun!

When the phones go down, Melanie decides to bail, a welcome excuse to return home to her infant son. Flo is alternately weepy and aggressive toward anyone who isn’t into the spirit of the weekend. Tom would rather be home with his husband but stays on, drinking gin and taking well-aimed shots at Nina and Nora. Clare plays referee, keeping anyone from coming to actual blows.

After two days of slowly escalating hell, Nora wakes up in a hospital confused, horribly bruised, and under police watch. She is suspected of murder, but she can’t remember what happened. The harder she tries to recall, the more the truth evades her.

Novelist Ware has created a deft and ominous page turner in this fabulous thriller, replete with plot twists, red herrings, and a truly scary villain. If you’re still looking for provocative poolside reading to finish the summer, this novel should do nicely.

orange you glad

orange rugJournal THAT

a guide to writing

Cynthia Gregory

The beauty of the journaling process is that it can be simple or it can be complex in a way that reveals itself as a personal, daily, moment-by-moment choice. What enriches the journaling experience (if you’re willing), is variety, is texture.

Imagine eating the same salad every day of your life. You can argue that rich, leafy greens provide minerals and nutrients essential to optimum health. You can also argue that periodically a bowl of thick, smooth, mocha fudge ripple ice cream has the capacity to transport you to your happy place, to a time when summer afternoons sprawled under the shade of a leafy maple counting squirrels in the branches above was the most important assignment of the day. Variety. Texture. Sometimes the best you can do is bolt down a protein bar on the run. Other times, you want to immerse yourself in the sensual, primitive pleasure of a feast of market fresh produce, a plate of pasta cooked perfectly al dente and smothered in an aromatic sauce of eggplant and basil and roasted peppers.

Sometimes your journal is where you lock in and unload your thoughts of the day, the dramas of your life, your hopes for your lover, your future, your Self. Sometimes your journal is a train and each entry is a station. Sometimes the station is the destination, sometimes it’s the jumping off place, the place where adventure begins. Neither place is superior to the other, it is enough that they are what they are. However, this journaling assignment is about the jumping off place, about getting to the end of everything you know, standing poised on the edge with your toes hanging over, a yawning expanse of never­ been-there-but-open-to-the-possibility. This is the station where you disembark the train and immediately jump into a waiting cab and vanish into the landscape.

This drill can be accomplished using any number of ordinary household items, a hammer, a clothes pin, a plum, or in this case; an orange. Choose any orange you like; choose a sweet as candy Clementine, sometime that rests in the palm of your hand like a tiny jeweled box. Or select a bouncy navel with its nubby button and thick peel. A secretive blood orange, interior cloaked in a plain wrapper. Don’t agonize over the choice; one is as good as the other. Remember, this isn’t about the orange. The orange is only the station platform, the way in.

Remember before, when I suggested that you enter a room and stay there until you’ve achieved the mission of full emotional disclosure? Of going to that place where you blink into the darkness, open your ears to the music of the silence, of letting the air move over the surface of your skin and registering the sensation with words on a page? This is more of that. It is probably easier to make this a timed writing, because the level of difficulty might otherwise persuade you to pitch in the towel long before you get to the juicy bits, the place where you discover something new. With a timed writing, you are not focused so much on the content of the writing, as in the endurance of the time.

A funny thing happens with the timed writing exercise. Generally, you take off with great alacrity, writing everything you know about a subject. Interestingly however, if the time is of a challenging length, the writer finds that she runs out of known material in a relatively short period of time. She finds she has a surplus of minutes, and a surfeit of words. How does this happen? It is a trick of the mind. No matter, this is where it gets interesting.

Find a quiet place to write, free of distraction. Set a timer and begin. First, pick up your orange, close your eyes and inhale its tart-sweet fragrance. Really smell it. Roll it over the skin of your throat, across your chest. Toss it from one hand to the other, examine the surface of the peel, each dimple, every blemish. Experience the orange with your senses as fully as possible, then set it down nearby and begin to write. You may begin with a literal description, and you may actually get a paragraph or two from the physical presence of the fruit, the weight of it. Then what? Then we meet the cousins of “reality” namely imagination, and memory, we are about to move beyond what is and approach what if.

Here are possible ways to go from here. Write about:

  • Your first memory of citrus fruit
  • The girl you knew who smelled like orange blossoms
  • The texture of the creamy white pith beneath your fingernails when you peel it
  • the camping trip you took where after three hours of steady hiking you stopped by a creek and tore the flesh of a tangerine and drank the pulpy juice with absolute gratitude for the miracle of orange-ness the way the skin split, revealing the color of a ripe sunset on a honeymoon cruise and dancing under a full moon and the feel of sin on skin, of succulent, sweet juice dripping down your chin at dawn

You see -it’s not really about the orange. At least, not necessarily so. The orange is a trigger; it is the beginning place that has the power to transport you to another time and place for the duration of whatever time you establish at the beginning of the writing.

It’s important in a timed writing to stick with the intended time. If you establish a fifteen or twenty minute limit, stick with it. If you find you run out of preconceived ideas of what you think you should be writing about, stick with it. Let go of the idea that you choose the words to commit to the page. Let the words choose you. Let the idea pick you up and shake you loose of everything you thought it should be. When you come to the place where your treasure chest of “good” ideas is empty, be patient. Be calm. Wait. Let the ideas float into your mind and don’t judge them, don’t try to shape them. Write them down. Let the ideas flow and allow the gentle waves of the stream of consciousness lap gently at the shores of your mind. This is the place where new ideas are birthed. This is the place where imagination and memory merge, form something new, and your job is to write it down. It sounds simple; it is. It sounds difficult; it is not. All you have to do is be willing to let your subject: the orange, the plum, the paper clip -reveal a story to you, and then your job is to introduce it to your journal.