Monday Memoir: The Matriarch

 

ONE FINAL GIFT

Scatter me not to the restless winds
Nor toss my ashes to the sea.
Remember now those years gone by
When loving gifts I gave to thee.
Remember now the happy times
The family ties are shared.
Don’t leave my resting place unmarked
As though you never cared.
Deny me not one final gift
For all who came to see.
A simple lasting proof that says
I loved and you loved me.

(by D.H.Cramer)

 

 

Not many days pass that I don’t think of my grandmother. I’ve always considered her a kind of matriarch for the maternal side of my family.  Geraldine Anna May Hart Furnia was a slight woman, but her size was quite deceiving because underneath that smallish frame was tremendous strength and courage.

She was born on December 20, 1920.  Her young life was hard as I’ve been told.  She married my grandfather, Paul Furnia who was six years older, when she was sixteen. She married young so she could get out of an abusive family situation.  I never learned what went on though.   Life with my grandfather wasn’t much better,  but she loved him and the family they made together.   Early in the marriage they had four children; then World War II began and he enlisted in the Army and spent part of the war up in Alaska (Kodiak Island). She was left to care for the four children in a home that wasn’t much more than a shack. After the war, three more children were born; one of them my mother.  Grandfather became a logger which he worked till his retirement at the age 67.

They bought a house on Grove Rd next to the Ausable River.  For many years, they grew their own food and didn’t have plumbing until my mother was a girl.  They still lived in the same house while I grew up.

I spent much of my childhood with my grandmother.  I often considered her my surrogate mother as my own worked full-time.  They didn’t have daycare centers during the seventies so family members or friends were often the ones called upon to help watch me (and eventually my brother and sister).

Most of my fondest memories as a girl involved my grandmother.

She was a great storyteller and a self-taught musician.  I literally spent countless hours listening to tales of the past or to the tunes of the banjo or accordion.

She was a devout Catholic and would take me to the Saturday mass each week.

She loved spending time outdoors tending to her large garden, or filling buckets of juicy blueberries.

Most of all, she loved having her house full of family members.  No matter how scattered her children or grandchildren were, we always found our way back to her house a few times a year for huge gatherings.   Storytelling, music and games were the highlights, and each time she was the center of them all.

She was the magnet that kept drawing us back, the glue that bonded us close together, and the heart that continued to beat in all of us while we were apart.

It was heartbreaking to see her pass away on February 22, 1988.   She was only sixty-seven.  Her body gave out long before her spirit wanted to let go.  Emphysema may have claimed her life, but the memories of her will always live on.  Even though we don’t gather together as often as a family, we will always be linked no matter where we are because her heart still beats within us.

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Friday Favorite: Captain Kirk (Quote)

 

I’ve long been a fan of the Star Trek television series and films, and out of all the Captains, James T. Kirk has always been one of my favorites.  Although I do enjoy the version by actor Chris Pine, the one portrayed by William Shatner will forever be the best.

The most memorable quote by Kirk (Star Trek V The Final Frontier):

(The full quote: “Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!“)

This quote resonated with me on so many levels both personally and as a writer.  Our painful experiences deepen and enrich our lives, and make us the individuals we are.  Without painful experiences, how else are we able to sympathize and empathize with others?  They make us human.  Our painful experiences also enable us to be better writers.  To create real characters that our readers can identify with.

For me, on a personal level, I’ve decided to keep my pain instead of seeing shrinks to help ease them.  Not (just) to punish myself (yeah, morbid), but they help me craft better poetry and disturbing stories.

Sounds so Stephen Kingish, eh?

This is probably one of the reasons why I write dark stuff although lately I’m attempting to write Romance (but of course they’ll have some dark qualities in them).  Life is real, and it’s hard.  Life isn’t all roses and sweet.  But, it does have moments of hope and love and laughter.

Being human is complicated.  Full of layers.  Both good and not-so-good.

Like Captain Kirk.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite quote that resonates with you?

 

 

#ThursdayThoughts: Beethoven

Ever wondered where some of the greatest musicians get ideas for their masterpieces?  Ludwig van Beethoven shed a little light on his creative process below:

 

 

Even for Beethoven, the creative process was a bit of a mystery.

Where do ideas come from?

The Divine?

From some unknown source in the deep recess of our minds?

Wherever the ideas truly come from, I welcome them!

Friday Favorite: Helen Keller and Poetry

 

It’s Friday–FINALLY!   🙂  🙂  🙂   Hope your week has been productive, and fast.  Mine was a bit chaotic with both hubby and son home sick for the past few days with colds.  I had a MRI done on a shoulder, and the results were positive–no surgery will be needed.  Just more physical therapy, but that I can handle.  🙂

Can’t help though but to feel a tad frustrated since I hadn’t done any writing this week.   It’s not that I’m feeling unproductive, but if a day or more pass by and I hadn’t created anything, that’s where the frustration lies.  I feel like an addict in that if I don’t get my fix (in the act of creating), I feel pent up, and agitated.

Sounds familiar?

Anyhoo…

A question popped in my  mind earlier this morning when I began thinking about Helen Keller (one of my favorite inspirational writers): how did she feel about poetry?

Reason this question came to mind is that I’ve been doing some soul-searching as I start to make plans for a memoir (which will be written around a series of poems I wrote throughout various parts of my life).  A realization struck me in how important writing poetry was to my healing (and dealing with losses), and I’ve begun to look at the role of how poetry therapy played in other people’s lives.

I knew Helen Keller had written at least one memoir, and several essays, but I wondered if she ever wrote poetry.  So, I hunted online to find the answer.  Although I did find it, I also found this particular quote by Keller that I’m considering to have framed and placed on my writing desk:

 

Poetry is liberating.   Writing poetry enable me to delve deeper in emotions and experiences that have been too painful to voice orally, and even openly about.

What about you?  Have poetry been instrumental in certain aspect or time of your life?  Do you have a favorite poet or poem?

 

 

#Writing is a Journey

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Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images CCO

 

You may have noticed a few subtle changes on this blog.  One’s the color.  The other is the name.

Since 2007, I’ve been blogging and (seriously) writing, and have used “a writer and her adolescent muse” as a title because I was still exploring genres and forms to see which were the best fit for me.

It’s now 2018 and I believe I’m close to the answers  I’ve been seeking.

Close.

I enjoy writing horror and dark stories and dark poetry.  And I plan to continue. As for writing books, I will be focusing on inspirational romance-suspense.  Hence, the name change of this blog to A writer and her sentimental muse to reflect this shift.

I also have a memoir in me that wants to be written.  This will be titled, The Whispering Shadows.  I already have a blog by that name, and will be revamping it in the near future to start the memoir.  I will share more on this in the future.

Friday Thoughts About NaNoWriMo

“But I am learning that perfection isn’t what matters.  In fact, it’s the very thing that can destroy you if you let it.” -Emily Giffin

 

“If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” -William Faulkner

 

 

There’s currently an open debate about NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month).  Click on the image below to read about it:

 

There’s one post live discussing and debating about NaNoWriMo by Katherine Karch!

Want to add your opinion to this debate?  Follow the instruction above and we look forward to reading about it!

 

Writing: Finishing a Draft Dilemma

 

October.

This means that fall’s foliage is at its’ peak, and the sugar beet harvest is in full swing up here in the Red River Valley of North Dakota.

I woke up this morning to the ground covered in a thin layer of frost.  Even had to turn on the heat briefly.  With the warm air blowing through the vents, I counted at least four of my ten indoor cats huddled on top of them.

Darn, should have snapped a pic.

Next time.

October is also the month to prepare for NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) so I’m taking a month-long course with Beth and Ezra Barany to help me plan a novel idea I have.

 

Like I said in a previous post, I have little problem with finishing short pieces, but a book-length?  It IS like running a marathon (I’ve ran 5-ks in the past so I can only imagine what 20-plus miles would be like!) where I almost always fizzle out by the middle, and that’s it.

Finito.

I either lose interest, or life gets in the way, or writer’s block sets it.

Excuses…excuses.

Excuses won’t get the book written.

I need to really look at why I’m not finishing.

Am I meant to be just a short story writer?

A poet?

I’m unable to accept that.

I can’t.

I won’t.

I may never be a prolific novelist like Stephen King or Nora Roberts, and that’s okay.   I just believe that I have at least one book in me that I must write.  And this what’s been driving me to try again and again.

A quote by Maya Angelou keeps haunting me:

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Now that I’m middle-aged, I have this growing fear of dying before I’m able to complete the kind of writing I was meant to do.

It’s a horrible feeling.

One that’s growing worse by the day.

The only one book-length manuscript I managed came during the 2008 NaNoWriMo, and that’s because of my curiosity to see if I could actually write at least 50,000 words.

Since then, all my attempts to write another book have failed.

I think it may be because those stories were not meaningful to me.  They were just stories that I had a vague interest in, but as I laid down word after word, I lost interest.

I find that I can’t devote hours and days to something I have no real passion for.  Life is just too short.

In my heart, I’ve always wanted to write a story that revolved around fatherhood and daughters.  This desire…no, need have grown exponentially since my Daddy’s death in September 2014.

Three weeks ago, I saw a particular news article that gave birth to a story idea for such a book.   In taking the above course, I’m working to develop this idea, flesh out the plot/subplots as well as create my two main characters.  I plan to use NaNoWriMo as a jump-start to write as many words as I can, but the goal isn’t to win, but to ultimately have a finished first draft by the end of the year.

I believe I have found the reason and motivation to drive me to be successful this time.

Stay tuned for more later.

 

 

 

 

Story Sunday: The Ocean

The oceans” was the prompt for this week’s #StorySaturday (Twitter).  I wrote this micro-story kind of as a memoir of my personal experiences with water, and how it impacted me.

The Ocean

 

Photo Credit: Stephanie Vincent Lawrence

I grew up around water

in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks

the river ran wild

its’ roars beat within me like a hammer

 

Then came the ocean of the Outer Banks

its rolling waves on the sandy shore

calm the racing of that heart

and created a sense of peace

I’ve never experienced

 

Now I live in the open expanse of the plains

where the ocean is only a memory

but a memory that I can revisit

for as long as this heart beats

 

“Water is the driving force of all nature.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

 

 

Hopeless

 

Anger and pain

the norm in a young lifetime

Dreams and hopes

unattainable

due to unyielding sabotages

True love

fleeting

as there is no

happily ever after

So what’s the point

of fighting, persevering

when the darkness

is all that awaits?

 

“There is darkness inside all of us, though mine is more dangerous than most. Still, we all have it—that part of our soul that is irreparably damaged by the very trials and tribulations of life. We are what we are because of it, or perhaps in spite of it.” -Jenna Maclaine, Bound By Sin

#ThursdayThoughts: What IS Success?

 

Many writers feel that touching even one life is success.  Not by how many books one published, or by how many awards one garnered; although these are VERY nice to have.

For some writers, writing goes much deeper than any physical items or accolades.   It’s about using their gifts as storytellers,  healers, change-makers for the sake of others.

Success is based on the number of lives impacted.

What about you?  How do you view success as a writer?