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The Other Side of Zero: Leaving the Negatives


by Jennifer Paros


Negativity is the enemy of creativity . . . [It] occupies the mind and leaves little room for creative ideas.

~ David Lynch



When I was a little girl, I often felt negative and sometimes feared being seen as bad-tempered. My astrological sign, Cancer, has the crab as its symbol and I hated that it was a crab; I didn’t want to be a crab. I wanted to be something great and beautiful and seemingly uncomplaining – like a zebra.

Once in high school, while walking to class with a close friend who took to condemning the latest (unartistic) graffiti and its perpetrators, I came to the defense of those with the impulse to scribble all over things. I declared there were legitimate reasons for the discontent behind the graffiti. I thought my friend was clueless. It was easy for her to be at peace with her environment and circumstances, so she thought others should feel the same and therefore do the right thing. But I knew different. Though I never lifted a can of spray paint to my school, I had certainly covered it with mental graffiti many a time.

So, in the summer, fall, winter, and spring of my discontent, I felt a brooding dissatisfaction with things, beginning and ending with me. I hated the negative aspect of my thinking but also identified with it and regularly argued for it. Negativity has its lure; it scratches an itch. It seems to purport intelligence because it doesn’t comfortably accept things as they are. It can provide a fleeting feeling of power or control in regard to unwanted conditions. Often, being negative is confused with being realistic and so can make us think we are clearer, more alert to danger, maybe even more caring. Though negativity is a part of our sorting and processing system, it is not hospitable – it never makes for an environment in which we can grow. Ultimately even when it highlights injustice or the need for change, one must step away from it in order to create the new. more...



Historically Speaking


by Cherie Tucker





To those of you who write historical fiction, a note.


The past tense for "bid" is "bade," but the secondary choice is also "bid." If you are writing in the time period from long ago, please don't use the secondary choice. Leave it as "He bade her flee with him." It's what would have been used originally.


And, by the way, the preferred pronunciation of "bade" is "bad," not "bade" with a long "a." That is the secondary choice as well.






Trusting the Muse


by Louise Marley


By the time I was five years old, I knew I wanted to be a singer. I didn’t know any singers, or indeed, any professional musicians. I didn’t have any idea how a person became a singer. I had no clue how to start, but the impulse refused to subside. When it was time for college, I wanted to study voice performance. I conferred with my wise mother. “Am I good enough?” Her honest answer was, “I don’t know,” but she didn’t try to talk me out of it. There were any number of reasons I shouldn’t have done it: I had no high notes; I had no way to make a living if I didn’t succeed; my musical background was sparse; I had no idea how a singer’s life worked.

I did it anyway. I couldn’t not do it, in truth, which is the first signal the muse sends us. With some good luck and years of hard work, I reached my goal. I worked as an actual, get-paid-for-it singer and teacher of voice for a satisfyingly long time.

The muse whispered to me again in the midst of my musical career. I had an idea for a book, and the urge to write it, but I still didn’t trust that creative instinct. I wrote in secret, more or less. I didn’t call myself a writer. I treated my writing – which I was doing every day, just as we all should – as self-indulgence. A hobby.

Then lightning struck. That first novel was published. I was no longer pretending to be a writer – I was a writer, an actual, get-paid-for-it pro. As every writer who longs to publish will understand, I was thrilled and amazed. I was also convinced at last, by my writing experience, to respect the creative impulse regardless of the outcome. more...


August 2016

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