Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: writing

Sticking with Magic and Creation …

magic of writing Last Wednesday’s post was called, Our Conversation Moves through Grammar toward Learning and Magic . . .

It got a bit longer than most posts on this blog…

And, it attracted a comment:

“Well, I was enspelled when you introduced a word on this post I had never heard of! And now I wonder if anyone knows of any usage of this word, ‘enspell’, in any literature ancient or modern?

“I also do believe that this statement is crucial in talking about writing: ‘…something Magic, deep inside, moves them to relate creations …’

“For me ‘Magic’ is another word for the creative spark which comes from a place where we originate in Creation.”

I was truly enspelled by the last sentence in that comment. At first, the syntax seemed a bit skewed; but, then, it cleared up…

The magic, the creative spark comes from where we come from—“where we originate in Creation”—where we start our journey…


If we want to keep the magic flowing, we need to be especially clear about why we’re here…


When we’re operating from the space that gives us our purpose, we keep the magic flowing…


I did what I could—I’m still battling a wicked cold…

I’ll go find a nice picture for this post then lay back down…

So, is there anyone out there who knows of any usage of ‘enspell’ in any literature, ancient or modern? :-)
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Getting Back into the Stream . . .

I find it crazily refreshing that I began my blogging today with the re-blog just before this post… Getting Back into the Stream

I’ve been spending the past month regaining my blogging bearings, as well as deeper levels of stability.

Back on January 7th, I wrote:

“Something has happened that has shattered my emotional life…

“I cannot write…

“I don’t know how long this time away will last—perhaps forever…”

Time, as it inexorably will, moved on and by January 21st I was able to do a “real” post that shared some of what I was doing to heal from my fractured psychological state. In that post, where I talk about the reading I was doing to help me heal, I wrote:

“I’m sitting here writing a blog post where, before the books, I could barely get a re-blog out.”

So, it only took a month of mostly re-blogs to have me start today with a re-blog rather than this post, which is my wobbly re-entry into my recommitment to this blog…

I’ll still do re-blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with my own original posts on Mondays and Wednesdays, and a Tale in the Story Bazaar on Fridays.

However, there are only 18 more Tales to write before I do “Something” else on Fridays—perhaps you have an idea or two about what I can do here on Fridays…?

I haven’t decided what Saturdays and Sundays will be yet; and, for now, I’m happy to wait and do what the Spirit moves me to do…

Big However:

I want to enlist my readers, you and you and you, in a long-term project…

I’m hoping my regular readers at first, then, perhaps, folks who happen in, will begin commenting on the Monday and Wednesday posts, in a way that creates “bridging ideas” that I can carry into my next original post—either your thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, experiences, lack of experiences—you name it—perhaps, call it “creative writing prompt invention”—something to help me “thread together” a series of posts…

Sometimes, I may have only one comment that inspires what I write in my next post—sometimes, hopefully, there’ll be a whole bouquet of comments…

Maybe Fridays (after the final 18 Tales in the Story Bazaar) can extend this threaded post concept—maybe Saturdays and Sundays can join in the process………

Small However:

I do want to keep at least Tuesdays and Thursdays for re-blogs—there are just too many good ones out there to not share them with you.


I had a whole different idea about what this Getting Back into the Stream post would be; but, when I write fiction, I depend heavily on spur of the moment inspiration; so, serendipitously, this is the post I’m writing…


I know I have a few regular readers.

I’m not quite sure how to encourage you to join me in this “threaded posts” endeavor…

Maybe it can start by your responding to the very idea of threaded posts—exploring the “nature” of blogging at bit…

Perhaps your responses will lead to a challenge for me—something I never considered blogging about; though, I really do have to keep things within the parameters of Writing, Reading and Publishing…

Yeah, I’m going out on that Limb of Faith—jumping out that Window of Trust…

Wanna join me………?
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A Personal Anniversary and a New Year’s Hopes . . .

I started this blog exactly 7 years ago—I’ve published a little over 2,000 posts… A Personal Anniversary and a New Year's Hopes

I feel the words of the very first post bear repeating:

Read > Write > Publish > Repeat = A Wonderfully Strange Life

I’ll start explaining the formula in this post’s title with the word “strange”. Its history shows it meaning, “from elsewhere, foreign, unknown, unfamiliar”.

A Strange Life…

So does reading then writing then publishing then repeating the process create a life that’s unfamiliar, unknown, foreign, and from elsewhere?

Ask any serious writer :-)

The reason I started this little explanatory formula with “reading” is because I’m in agreement with the folks who say the best training for writing (besides writing itself) is lots of reading. Of course, reading might also be the research that writers often do—even the kind of “reading” they do in their own minds when they invent characters and worlds.

This reading of one’s own mind isn’t all that hard. It is strange, though, because it usually doesn’t involve words. It’s the heart reading what the mind is saying from its depths.

So, then comes the writing. If you aspire to create a wonderfully strange life, I suggest you not read a bunch of books about writing before you actually do a whole bunch of writing. In fact, the formula should have a little feedback loop between reading and writing: read>write>read>write, etc.

Then, publish. This doesn’t have to be normal publishing. Since the word means, “to make public” and public means, “open to the community”, the community you publish to could be as small as a group of friends.

Then comes repeat. If you want a truly wonderful life that constantly surprises you with the unfamiliar, that leads you to the unknown, that introduces the foreign, and entertains experience from elsewhere, you have to get a cycle of read/write/publish going.

Think of a coffee house. Imagine the person who reads books, then shares their experience in their own words. Every time you visit, they have a new story. Pretty soon, they’re painting their own stories. By the way, one of the original meanings for the word “write” was “paint”.

So, there they sit reading their own minds with their hearts and painting verbal pictures that inspire the little coffee house community.

The first people who led a wonderfully strange life may not have had coffee, but they had their community. They spoke heart-felt words that captivated their friends.

They were our human family’s first authors…

So, that satisfies my feelings about celebrating my blog’s anniversary

Now, for some of my concerns and hopes for this New Year…

They come from an article in OpenCanada.Org, called, How to Build a Better, Bolder and Braver World in 2018.

The words in these excerpts are from Payam Akhavan:

“…we are out of touch with the despair and rage and alienation in our midst, and that we need to have a conversation about empathy and engagement.”

In speaking about a book of his that became a bestseller:

“…the fact that the book became a bestseller wasn’t so much a triumph of my ego but more a kind of vindication of my understanding of what moves the public to think and reflect more deeply on the human condition — what it is that provokes people, instead of falling into despair and anger, to actually be motivated, to become engaged, to build a better world.”

And, something that more folks should ponder (as it relates to their individual lives) and discuss:

“…imposing individual accountability for crimes against humanity, isn’t just about some lofty moral dream, but it’s also about sustainable global governance, because there is a price that you pay for impunity for mass violence.”

And, a comment by Mr. Akhavan that I consider a Writing Prompt:

“We need to create movements within different nations that demand of their leaders a more global vision and meaningful engagement in creating institutions of global governance. But by the same token we need visionary leadership among global elites that realizes the status quo is not tenable.”

And, finally, something that could also be a Writing Prompt, about the Millennials:

“I would actually think that I have great hope in the millennials. I see, as an educator who deals with young people all the time, and as someone who is a father of two teenage children, that degree of consciousness, whether it’s about gender, the environment, poverty, culture, identity, racism — I think that my children are way ahead of where I was.

“I think that we need to admit to the millennials the grave mistakes that [older generations] made in [their] culture, which celebrated greed and narcissism, and which has brought us to this point — this incredible despair and thirst for doing something meaningful.”

There is much more to ponder in the full article…

Happy New Year !
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Crawling Up The Hill, Hoping to See More of The Light…

My regular readers have heard me relate some of my trials and tribulations here—the stress I (and far too many others) suffer in this grossly materialistic age… 

Crawling Up The Hill, Hoping to See More of The Light...

Image Courtesy of Angstrom Angstrom ~

And, I suppose I should mention that in spite of what I’ll say in introduction to the main subject of this post, it does fall within the purview of this blog’s “mission” to Explore Reading, Writing, and Publishing

First because I’m a writer—hoping my current travails can be “research” for future writing.

Second because I’m reading some extremely important books to prepare myself for a nearly complete change of lifestyle.

Let me back up, briefly, to a time, roughly 8 years ago, when I was just finishing up 11 months of Hepatitis C treatment—what I used to call Sledgehammer Medicine

I moved from a friend’s place (the VA insisted I have folks nearby during the treatment) to my own apartment which was near a very “European” Cafe—I began to prepare for the writing of the most important book of my life

The Crash of 2007 happened; the Cafe had to close its doors; and, I entered a time of extreme aloneness—working on the book, starting this blog, keeping the blog going, promoting the book—only going out to shop for necessities or for a “vacation” at a local eatery

I must mention meeting and getting to know my Best Friend—I live in the USA—she lives in Australia—we meet in the virtual world Kitely—she’s been my Mortal Savior—held me up as I’ve continually slid down that so familiar Hill

I am getting close to the main subject of this post; but, it does need a proper introduction.……..

So, since about 2008, I’ve not done a lot of “normal” “collective living”—socializing—being around other people.

Yes, Kitely is a really close simulation of all that; but, even though my emotions can be deeply engaged in a virtual world, it is still “virtual

Currently, I’ve been dealing with the tribulations of preparing for a move across town to a place near another “European” Cafe—back to regular “collective life”—out and about—on a mission

NOW, comes the main point—the current culture, worldwide, is sick—ailing—dangerous (things explored in that most important book I mentioned…)—and, this main point has been a challenge (read that as torture) for my whole life—but, there is a way in which moving back into more social engagement could help me “justify” my existence again—live out the remaining short years of Earthly existence headed in the Right Direction………

Concerning the “current culture” and its dangers, there’s an article on The Baffler—Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless—that I’ll quote extensively (while keeping within Fair Use…)

“The more frightening the economic outlook and the more floodwaters rise, the more the public conversation is turning toward individual fulfillment as if in a desperate attempt to make us feel like we still have some control over our lives.”

“There is an obvious political dimension to the claim that wellbeing, with the right attitude, can be produced spontaneously. Months after being elected leader of the most right-wing government in recent British history…David Cameron launched an ill-fated ‘happiness agenda’….As part of Cameron’s changes to the welfare system, unemployment was rebranded as a psychological disorder.”

“This mode of coercion has been adopted by employers, too…Zero-hour-contract laborers in an Amazon warehouse, ‘although they are in a precarious situation . . . are required to hide these feelings and project a confident, upbeat, employable self.’ All of which begs the question: Who exactly are we being well for?”

“The wellbeing ideology is a symptom of a broader political disease. The rigors of both work and worklessness, the colonization of every public space by private money, the precarity of daily living, and the growing impossibility of building any sort of community maroon each of us in our lonely struggle to survive.”

I underlined the words in that last quote—as I will in a few of the following quotes

“The isolating ideology of wellness works against this sort of social change in two important ways. First, it persuades all of us that if we are sick, sad, and exhausted, the problem isn’t one of economics. There is no structural imbalance, according to this view—there is only individual maladaption, requiring an individual response. The lexis of abuse and gas-lighting is appropriate here: if you are miserable or angry because your life is a constant struggle against privation or prejudice, the problem is always and only with you. Society is not mad, or messed up: you are.”

“With the language of self-care and wellbeing almost entirely colonized by the political right, it is not surprising that progressives, liberals, and left-wing groups have begun to fetishize a species of abject hopelessness. Positive thinking has become deeply unfashionable. The American punk kids I know describe it, disparagingly, as ‘posi’. The British ones, of course, describe it as ‘American’. Whatever you call it, it feels a lot like giving in.”

If you’re still reading, I’m happy that you just might care as much about our sick, dangerous culture as I do

And, in case you read the full article I’m quoting from, while I can agree with much of it, there are points where I strongly disagree

“…the young people I know who are, in general, the very worst at taking basic care of themselves as individuals—the people whose problem is not that they don’t drink enough asparagus water, but that they don’t drink enough of anything that isn’t day-old wine from a foil bag—are those who went through the student and Occupy uprisings of 2010–2012 and experienced, briefly, what it meant to live a different sort of life. What it meant to be part of a community with common goals of which mutual aid and support were not the least. What it meant to experience that sudden, brief respite from individual striving and build a prefigurative society together. The lonely work of taking basic care of yourself as you wait for the world to change is a poor substitute. When you’re washed up and burned out from putting your body on the line to fight the state, it’s especially galling to be told to share a smile and eat more whole grains.”

“Anxious millennials now seem to have a choice between desperate narcissism and crushing misery. Which is better? The question is not rhetorical. On the one hand, Instagram happiness gurus make me want to drown myself in a kale smoothie. On the other, I’m sick and tired of seeing the most brilliant people I know, the fighters and artists and mad radical thinkers whose lives’ work might actually improve the world, treat themselves and each other in ludicrously awful ways with the excuse, implicit or explicit, that any other approach to life is counterrevolutionary.”

“The problem with self-love as we currently understand it is in our view of love itself, defined, too simply and too often, as an extraordinary feeling that we respond to with hearts and flowers and fantasy, ritual consumption and affectless passion. Modernity would have us mooning after ourselves like heartsick, slightly creepy teenagers, taking selfies and telling ourselves how special and perfect we are. This is not real self-love, no more than a catcaller loves the woman whose backside he’s loudly admiring in the street.”

The next quote is, to me, quite powerful and resonant with my current situation:

“The harder, duller work of self-care is about the everyday, impossible effort of getting up and getting through your life in a world that would prefer you cowed and compliant. A world whose abusive logic wants you to see no structural problems, but only problems with yourself, or with those more marginalized and vulnerable than you are. Real love, the kind that soothes and lasts, is not a feeling, but a verb, an action. It’s about what you do for another person over the course of days and weeks and years, the work put in to care and cathexis. That’s the kind of love we’re terribly bad at giving ourselves…”

One final excerpt:

“The ideology of wellbeing may be exploitative, and the tendency of the left to fetishize despair is understandable, but it is not acceptable—and if we waste energy hating ourselves, nothing’s ever going to change. If hope is too hard to manage, the least we can do is take basic care of ourselves. On my greyest days, I remind myself of the words of the poet and activist Audre Lorde, who knew a thing or two about survival in an inhuman world, and wrote that self care ‘is not self-indulgence—it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’”

This is one of the longest posts I’ve done because I’m facing one of the greatest challenges of my life—giving up the “hiding away” I’ve been doing for years and entering the Fray—reaching out to a Community (at a Cafe) and attempting to share what I’ve learned about what “Works” (increases the Light) and what makes you keep sliding down that ol’ Hill……………….

With no apologies this time, I will say, Pray for me.


And, for those who can sympathize with the plight of being too alone and not know where to find a rational escape, there is a Program that helps build sane and satisfying Communities.
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7 Interesting Articles for #Readers & #Writers

In the last 5 years and 4 months, this blog has offered 1,463 articles (posts) to its readers (many of whom are writers).

7 Interesting Articles for #Readers & #Writers

Image Courtesy of Allyson Correia ~

Since last July, I’ve written a full article on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; while offering re-blogs from a group of wonderful writers on the other days of the week.

Today (a Monday), due to vast and tumultuous internal goings-on, I can’t seem to get into the space where I write a full article

So, since I spend a significant part of every day locating articles on the web that I can report on here (once in awhile I actually write the full post from my own brain and heart; though, I like being a reporter and gathering info from all over for my readers… {if you want to read stuff totally written by me, try some of those freebies in the left side-bar}); and, since I have somewhere over 500 articles bookmarked for possible reportage, I’ll share a number of them with only brief snippets from me ( I’m fairly sure I’ll be back to my usual talking-about-one-other-article by Wednesday :-)

And, the first offering is from The Millions and is suitable for readers and writers ( and writers who read :-) :

The Private Library: What Books Reveal About Their Readers

Next, from The Economist, an article that I feel most writers will definitely read and some readers (those who know a writer) will like:

The Unsurprising Link Between Authorship and Espionage

Perhaps readers will like the next one more than writers? Though, I’d recommend writers do read it… It’s from Canadian NewsWire:

Libraries Call on Multinational Publishers for Fair Ebook Pricing

The next one, from Salon, has an incredibly long title:

Erased from history: Too many women writers — like Constance Fenimore Woolson — are left to languish in moldy archives. What will it take to bring them back?

Now, from the indefatigable blogger at Brain Pickings:

Umberto Eco on the Future of the Book

And, from Medium, a look at patterns—weirdly interesting:

Punctuation in novels

Finally, from The Paris Review:

How Repulsive ~ On the merits of disturbing literature

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