Much Better Way – Instagram Poem

Do not start the day

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Being A Beginner

Beginning is just like starting.  Just start!

Don’t Write Like You Talk
What I learned from agents & authors, publishers & poets

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” – Mark Strand
Are you a beginner? Good. We all are. You’ve no doubt read countless sincere articles about beginner’s mind, the whole zen profound thoughts on beginning and starting fresh.
It doesn’t need to be that hard.
It’s just about starting – and more important, not over analyzing the project before you even start.
Beginners are curious.
Beginners ask, What if?
Beginners block out that pernicious quote: If I knew what I was getting into, I would never have started. Start.
Start the story of your aunt like Julia Park Tracey did. Finish with a best selling series.
Start your story of your mother, like Linda Joy Meyers did. Finish as the head of the Memoir Writers Association.
Start by recording the crazy character who keeps talking in your head.

Beginner’s mind,is another way of expressing – starting.

You probably have read countless articles on starting – how to start an exercise program, how to start a successful diet, how to start a family. Starting a novel is much like starting a family. You do not give birth to a five-year-old. You give birth to a baby with, if you’re lucky, a small head.

Writing is just like that. You start small.
You begin small.

Here is how to start:
Don’t start by working on a big novel, all day. Don’t even start writing for an hour.
Write on anything at all for 10 minutes.
Now stop and walk away. (You know, I tried pushing out that last baby for ten minutes and then volunteered to quit and just walk away. Obstetric nurses don’t have much of a sense of humor).

If it’s not a baby, you can return to your project the next day feeling rather refreshed. Feed that beginning effort with more words. Don’t rewrite, just add. In a few months you’ll have a respectful number of words that once organized and edited, may reveal a theme and plot.

But small, start small. Because trying to give birth to a fully formed novel in one go, is very painful indeed.

To learn more.
Visit us on Itunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
And @CBramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp, thank god there is only one of me

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TBT – Are You Living in the Suburbs?

Suburban life in the 80sIn the 80s I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and
ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material, but  it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your scrunchie  and try on the 80s for a minute.

The suburbs are great for raising kids, and boring for raising adults.  Even in the midst of small children, I both longed for the culture and stimulation of city life, yet loved the convenient Safeway parking lot.  This conflict never really resolved itself.  I loved every city I traveled to (okay, maybe not Cairo so much, but I loved Luxor).  But I did not have to carry my groceries up five flights of stairs to my adorable apartment with interesting views and indifferent electricity.  I loved the noise and action of the city at night, but I didn’t need to get up for an early meeting the next day.

One of those suburban children lives in a small town in the Sierra Foothills and longs for acres of land for his multitude of animals.  The other lives in Kirkland, two blocks from a Starbucks.

My husband and I spilt the  difference and bought a house in a small, but lively town that has most of the culture, bars and restaurants of the big city without the stress.

Almost perfect. Isn’t that what we long for, really?

My friend “Frank” still lives in San Francisco.  And I still visit because I have season tickets to the ballet.  I don’t know why I called him Frank.  His name is Lester.

 To learn more.
Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
And @CBramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp, thank god there is only one of me

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TBT – Princess Diana and Me

Princess Di

In the 80s I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material, but  it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your scrunchie  and try on the 80s for a minute.

My sister-in-law called me minutes after the news broke.  We just returned from a Labor Day family picnic, I had just seen her, so the only reason for a call was for an emergency.  I held the cordless phone and eyed the bags of wet bathing suits and extra food that was still piled on the kitchen counter. The boys had already run upstairs to avoid showering.  Did you hear the news?  Oh my God, did you hear what happened?

If I were to ask  any of my sorority sisters where they were when they heard  Princess Diana died, they would be able to tell me. She had belonged to us.  She was our generation and like many good, anti- monarchist Americans, we slavishly followed the British Royal Family.  We loved Diana, we followed her fashion choices, her parenting style, her  her triumphs.  We admired how she lived after the divorce, how she  manipulated the media before it was a thing. Her whole like was a work of art.  We wanted to be her, to live like her.

Until she didn’t. Until we realized in a terrible crash, that her fairy tale hadn’t been re-purposed like Disney, it was a Grimm original:   the mermaid dies for love, the princess doesn’t wake.

I know the sisters of Delta Delta chapter watched William marry Kate.  I was interested in their courtship but did follow the details as closely.  Reading the occasional breathless article in People Magazine was enough.  But I watched the wedding.  I cared when George was born. I cared that William wanted a different marriage that that of his parents.  I understand William vowed to posthumously elevate his mother to HRH status when he ascends the throne.  I know I’m not the only fan who  would love to see that.

To learn more.
Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

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Drinks at the Last Cafe Part V

Wasted hills, as if the apocalypse had arrivedDrinks at the Last Cafe, a dystopic poem
ahead of time – swept through
stranding the survivors: rocks, dried creeks,
chunks of asphalt road
haphazardly fitted together
like a jigsaw puzzle no one cared to finish
because the final picture wasn’t very compelling

No, he squinted against the big savage sky,
the blue washed out to faded denim
I think it always looked like this.

The rails blew
scattering Goblins like rubber toys.
Sam pushed the girl behind him
They were too close to the explosions, but not the target
the Goblins muttered and gathered fruit and baskets
and determinedly marched forward.

With a whoop copied from old films
the terror gang roared in throwing
more hard explosions into the crowd,
the girl and Sam hid among the dust and chaos
down, down, Sam hissed, reached for her hat.

The Drummer recognized her hat and distracted
With blown out parts of cucumbers and zucchini
Look here! The Drummer patted down the dead:
gold shavings, lumps of coal
he hefted a hand size lump – wasn’t there a story about this too?

Hey, a brother cut off a goblin head and pulled off a necklace.
did you hear the one about the people on the boat?
What about the boat?
They sailed for three hours then ship wrecked and never got off
The point? The Drummer asked. He knew Legends always had a point.

Don’t get on a boat. He laughed and twirled the necklace
Un-cut stones glittered in the setting sun.
Who would buy?
The Drummer shrugged and absently cut off a hand

Bring out your dead
Bring out your dead
But there were no grocery carts for the Goblins.

The Florida exodus was not working out.
Roads did not accommodate wheels, the carts
ditched along with 15 pounds of dried soup, a gallon of mayonnaise
Enterprising goblins snatched up products
and sold them again at the trail head.
It will be fine, they assured the new travelers
Each group weaker than before.
Buy, buy, buy
You will need all this mustard, cereal, peanut butter

The refugees were wiped out by a hurricane.
We knew that, the corporation advertised
How do you feel now?
1) deluged
2) dehydrated
3) disgruntled
4) dead

Fantasies hugged the left coast, no where else to go
but the grey pacific
dreams swirled around in the tide
the directors came to shore and pick up the remains like driftwood
and captured them back onto film and computers.

Yeah, yeah, the hunched man emerged from the bed of a truck
he eyed the girl.
Sam shook his head.
I just want to hear the stories, the old man insisted.
Tell me yours, she gestured to their fire
and I’ll tell you mine.

At the Timeless Tavern
A young man grinned, his teeth knocked out
a badge of terror gang encounters
Ignored the girl. You were a Letter Man.
Sam nodded. For a time he helped the cause
he could change Terrorists to Freedom Fighters
re purpose Hackers to Liberators.
Angry to Righteous; we fight for you.

It was merely outrage and opportunity.
Just a historic confluence of Anger and Talent.
It’s not like the peasants weren’t armed.
It’s not like they couldn’t read a bus schedule
they stole into the heart of the beast
the city of walls, all breached
whole collections of CEOs disappeared in seconds
gold parachutes do not open quickly
when thrown from the highest floor.

It was a good moment, it was a glorious moment
then the tide receded
leaving beached cities, gasping for air and temporary assistance.
Too big to fail
Except the most neglected
were the most angry
and in the end – they shattered the sky
With old plutonium and new resentment.

She threw a handful of dust
the grit blew away like starlings
Fear into flying

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Drinks at the Last Cafe Part IV

Sam found a tin full of gas, surroundedDrinks at the Last Cafe, a dystopic poem
by skeletons with long fingered hands
Mad Max meets O. Henry
he grinned. We need a worthy receptacle.
It took hours until they found a sports car
low to the ground, fast he promised.

It roared to life cutting off every other
possible sound, she clutched the seat, the window
screaming like the demons from hell
She never moved this fast.

Sam yelled straight from his soul
They careened through the flat desert
in a more or less straight line.
Sound trailed behind them – 100 miles an hour

Took care of the next seven days, he grinned like a maniac.
Her heart was forever damaged
by all that speed. She just knew it.
Can we do it again?

Ketchup bottles red as the setting sun
Absorbing all the light
the old waitress served them ketchup and road kill
specialty of the house
The Last Café on Earth

I was in the meat freezer
I hate it in there.
So of course I was trapped for like
97 hours
All that cold meat
Her nametag read Fran
which was not her real name – just the name left

She fingered her tight neck
The pink scars growing up over her sharp chin.
Tell me again about the Mother God.

Careless children, the same children
Who cracked Pandora’s box
Unlocked blue beard’s last room
Inspired the flood
The angry god hunted and destroyed

But the Mother God patiently
gathered body parts flung across the Nile or
the whole universe
and reassembled those back into a better man
missing only an eye, back of a heel, sometimes a hand
she watches over us
The girl concluded.

The waitress sighed
Sam rolled his eyes

They grew bolder as the leaders lost
brothers, hands, teeth, brothers
no job was too awful, that was the legend right?
They quizzed the Drummer
Weren’t they the stuff of old legends?
Billy the Kid, Dillinger, the Okay Corral.
He didn’t have the heart or the balls
to describe the sacrifices legends require.

It was easier to find notebooks and pens
In the abandoned Union Station stores – than cans
Here, he tossed her a fruit pie
and Dr. Pepper because that was all that was left
eat this, you will live forever.
She clutched a new notebook to her chest.
Yes, she could live forever.

The wind turbine over the Last Stop Saloon
thrummed in the sky
Come, charge for free, called the owner
although there is little to say.

She offered a cupcake
Too fat, the girl automatically announced, recognizing the object
As a no in the magazines

Ah, the woman bit into the cupcake.
with relish.
Just so you know,
here. Along the edges of the world
we all eat dessert first.

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Our Town Tuesday

“Does anyone ever realize lifeOur Town Tuesday
while they live it…
every, every minute?”

What if we lived one day a week
Not looking for the meme –
Hump Day
TGIF

Not focused on its end
Getting through
Getting it over with
Finishing up
in favor
Of a better future
that more Special Day

Stay in this day – Our Town Tues.
(#OTT)
Please note:
The oatmeal – steel cut or not
The song on the playlist
The mustard between the winter vines
Unbroken shoelaces

Thank:
A place to go
A voice who answers
Electricity and hot water

Acknowledge the pennies
From the cashier
as if
It were your last sentence

Celebrate the ordinary
the sky held overhead by mysterious forces
The earth that this morning, remains still.
Air – Flush toilets – Delivered mail

Realize life
In this least important day
This Tuesday
Like a saint
Like a poet

It will be important enough.

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Don’t Overthink

Around the corner from my house is an art studio.  For $35 I spent three hours cutting, pasting and painting, activities I cannot achieve without adult supervision.  What I needed was time to pull out of the writing and my head and work with just instinct and my hands.  I’m not the only writer in the class who needs this kind of work.  What do you need to do to shake it off, and get back into your groove?

Art journal page

During

Art journal page

After

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I Make Lots of Plans

Poem, I make lots of PlansYou know the theory: if you want something really badly, make other plans and it will appear. It’s like when you want the children to do A, but they refuse and do B. Ignore them, and work on A all by yourself, they will hustle right over (whitewashing a fence comes to mind).  So if you want to get pregnant, find that perfect job.  If you want to move, fall in love in situ.  Never fails.  Okay, once it failed. I made other plans in January and it’s April and nothing has happened.

Don’t listen to me.

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The Price of Knowledge

Poem, the Price of Knowledge

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