Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What's with 21st century poets?

In my last post I mentioned the 'hope' of the judge who awarded me second place in the recent League of Utah Writers rhymed poetry contest - as well as my reaction to his comment.
Why, you ask, would I be uninterested in 'modern' poetry? 
Good question.
I suppose the initial reason is that I hold poets such as Wordsworth and Shelley in reverent esteem. From the time I entered grade school until the day I graduated from the eighth grade I memorized and recited a poem each Friday as part of my English Language class. Each student in our little one-roomed country school did the same. Because of that requirement, I became familiar with everything from doggerel verse:
(There was a lady
Loved a swine.
Wilt thou be mine?"
Can't remember the stanzas that followed but the mental image of a woman declaring undying amour to a snorting swine tickled my fancy then and has ever since.)

to the rhythmic refrains of Edgar Allen Poe:
(Hear the sledges with the bells - 
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells - 
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.)

to the immortal poetry of Longfellow:
   ( By the shores of Gitche Gumee, 
By the shining Big-Sea-Water, 
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, 
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis. 
Dark behind it rose the forest, 
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, 
Rose the firs with cones upon them; 
Bright before it beat the water, 
Beat the clear and sunny water, 
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water. )

and the beautiful imagery of Robert W. Service:

(There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.)

I loved poetry then and I still do but I find myself totally unable to understand the rhythms and nuances of modern poetry.  Much of it doesn't make a lot of sense and even when it does, I find myself completely uninterested in the themes so often used by my contemporaries.

Several years ago, when I was a member, I attended a workshop in writing poetry sponsored by a nearby chapter of the Utah Poets' Society. The presenter - a poetry professor from a local college - read her favorite composition glorifying sex in every way she could think of and ending with the sentiment that, if there wasn't sex in heaven she wasn't going there.
TMI imho!
I don't care to know all about someone else's sex life. That's their business. I have my own to take care of, thank you very much. But she wasn't the only 'poet' of my acquaintance who seemed to think modern poetry could focus on nothing else.
Of course, there were other themes presented at our monthly poetry gatherings. Poems glorifying magpies and ravens (two of my least favorite birds) etc., etc., etc. 
These poems were attempts at writing in various forms of modern poetry, forms far removed from the sonnets of Shakespeare or Elizabeth Barrett Browning or the incomparable forms used by Longfellow, Poe or Service. 
When I was challenged to write something other than my much-favored doggerel verse, I borrowed a book from the Society's library so I could learn more about different popular poetic forms. My personal opinion of many of the forms demonstrated therein could be summed up in a single word: pretentious. 
I did, finally, write a totally tongue-in-cheek sonnet. Not a  good sonnet, to be sure, but one mentioning poetry forms that any modern poet would recognize. 


Should I, a fledgling poet, try my hand
at writing sonnets, odes or villanelles —
word pictures left like wayward waves on sand
to tease and tantalize cerebral cells?
Perhaps a terza rima or a glose
would be a better style for my rhyme.
I start out well - but am not even close
To making my feet fit required time.

My fellow poets say I should not use
such archaic words—or phrases trite and true.
They seem to think free verse the only muse
and favor rambling form to clerihew.

I try them all but don’t know which is worse.
Perhaps I’d better stick to doggerel verse.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wyoming winter?

This morning, as I walked around the park behind my home, I watched one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever seen. Liquid fire streamed over the Wasatch mountains to torch the bottoms of blue-grey cotton ball clouds with an electric red-orange, changing to apricot, to peach, then fading back to grey like a rod of iron heated nearly white-hot in a forge, then slowly cooled. I was in awe, grateful that my morning exercise had coincided with such splendor.
This afternoon one of my sons and I stood outside in shirt sleeves. At that point it was still a lovely day—nearly clear blue skies, moderate breezes, and sunshine—mood music courtesy of the waterfall in my backyard pond.
Tonight the wind, no longer friendly, has adopted a decided chill. Cold shoulder clouds are streaming down from the Arctic, bringing what I consider complete anathema. . .snow. Tomorrow I’ll be shoveling. 


And the forecast says there’s no visible end in sight. 

What is descending upon us reminds me of a poem I penned, years ago, on a cold, windy, snow-driven winter’s day. It expresses my feelings about the season as well as the hope that sees me through.


Wyoming winter stretches on
Through evening grey and muted dawn—
A fierce, forbidding winterscape
Of ice and snow and wind, to shape
A bleak and barren emptiness
That shrouds the spirit with finesse.
Each dreary day of somber hue
Demands depression as its due,
Extracting energy and cheer
Until the spirit is as drear
And lifeless as the blowing snows
That sift and drift in endless rows.

But when all life seems at its ebb,
Forever tangled in that web
Of desolation, dark and drear,
A chick-a-dee pipes up, “Spring’s here!”
And, suddenly, the crushing jaw
Of winter’s endless, gaping maw
Is closed. And joyous in its stead,
A glorious springtime rears its head.
The dawn, so muted yesterday,
Bursts gaily on the world to say
In colors, vibrant, ‘cross the sky,
“Arise and live again! Spring’s nigh!”

A note on that poem….
I entered it in the recent League of Utah Writer’s contest for rhymed poetry. And won second place. Hmmm. Either there were only two of us entering or the competition wasn’t very versatile with rhymed poetry.

The critique said I had a ‘big lapse toward sentimentality and overly used phrasing’. The judge was 'troubled' with "desolation, dark and drear" and the piping chick-a-dee wasn’t 'a strength' unless I was 'paying some kind of clear homage or tribute to Wordsworth and Percy Shelley'. He wants to see me use my skills 'more in service to the 21st century rather than the 19th'.

Right. That ain’t gonna happen. I tend to become very impatient with most 21st century poetry. Enough said.

However, it was an interesting critique.

Was I paying homage to Wordsworth and Shelley? Not purposefully. But I couldn’t be more honored than to have someone think of their poetry when reading mine. They were masters. I, on the other hand, write poetry only when flooded with intensely strong feeling. It isn't something I can serve up at a moment's notice - or even on a month's notice.

So I have to laugh over this poem.

I remember the day well. It was a typical Wyoming winter’s day outside my Meeteetse home: filled with seemingly endless wind and snow doing exactly what I described—shaping a bleak and barren emptiness. Such weather does shroud my spirit. It kills my creativity and my joy, leaving me battling Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder. And to make that particular day even more enjoyable, I was fighting something I seldom experience, a numbing migraine headache.

Was I paying tribute to Wordsworth and Shelley? Not really. Those words expressed, completely, how I felt about the winterscape outside my window. They also expressed how I longed to hear the harbinger of spring—a chick-a-dee singing his cheery “spring’s here” notes; how I longed to see a glorious, vibrant springtime dawn.

Which brings me back to this morning. Was today’s dawn spring-like? Not even close. The underlying gunmetal grey of the clouds provided a starkly cold contrast to the liquid fire streaking across the sky. Although I reveled in its beauty, it held no promise of warmth to come. Even the lovely weather at mid-day was nothing more than an unusual phenomenon to be enjoyed in its brief season. 
I did enjoy it. 
And now it’s gone.

I think I need a strong dose of chocolate.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Don't be a draught horse???

Jim Wolverton, in a post on writing, quoted Henry Miller's personal list of writing commandments. 

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Hemingway’s Suitcase.”
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work accordingly to Program and not accordingly to mood. Stop at the appointed time.
5. When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little everyday, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Disregard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

(Miller, by the way, was once described by George Orwell as, "...a completely negative, unconstructive, amoral writer, a mere Jonah, a passive acceptor of evil, a sort of Whitman among the corpses." - a rather apt description, I think.)  

At any rate, while I may agree with one or two of Mr. Miller's personal rules for writing, I took instant exception to #8. The fellow obviously didn't know his horses.
 Don’t be a draught horse. Work with pleasure only? It’s evocative. But I totally disagree with the syllogism.

To begin with, he seems to assume that draught – or draft – horses are all work and no play or pleasure. Having grown up around the animals, I’d beg to differ. True, their work is generally tedious and repetitious. Our horses pulled farm machinery and sleighs in weather that no animal could enjoy…hot in summer and minus forty-five F. in winter. They did it daily and faithfully. But to assume there was no fun involved indicates, to me, that Mr. Miller maaaybe didn’t know his draft horses very well.

I’ve known horses that were clowns. (We had one who repeatedly performed a routine he discovered we’d laugh at.) 

I’ve known horses that weren’t above getting their own back at each other or at their owners. (We had one horse who was smart enough to figure out that chewing on my long hair would freak me. If it happened today, I’d have a word with the horse. But I was ten at the time and he got the reaction he was looking for. Knowing animals as I do now, I think that old boy had a lot of fun at my expense that day. He probably chuckled about it for hours.)

I’ve also known horses that were the epitome of faithfulness, trustworthiness and loyalty while in the harness but full of play with each other once they were turned out to pasture.

That said, however, if one wants to compare what writers do to what an animal does, isn’t the ‘draught’ horse the perfect comparison? Draft one, draft two—draft twenty? Much of the work of writing is as tedious as the day-to-day work of a draft horse. Constructing scenes can be joyful. I frequently have a lot of fun with them. But ohmygoodness! those sequels are the pits. Making prose flow, bridging the gap between scenes, is very difficult and excessively tiring. At least it is for me.

In my experience, constructing a story that has thought, continuity and flow is not particularly pleasurable. It’s tedium ad nauseum. Like the draft horse’s routine work, in order to finish a story, an author must do the same thing over and over and over: apply the seat to the chair, the fingers to the keyboard and the brain to the project at hand.

It’s repetitious, too. While the draft horse may pull the plow in a new field tomorrow, he’s still pulling the plow in the same general pattern his owner determined for him today. So, too, the writer may be working on a new story but it has to have the same basic elements, the same general plot structure, the same carefully constructed language. And he’s not working for himself, either. His reader is his owner. Like the draft horse, if he doesn’t work hard to please the ‘owner’, he may not have too much food on his table next winter.

I think there’s a reason why draft horses were/are frequently called ‘plugs’. According to Webster’s finest, the word has a double meaning when applied to draft animals: ‘a worn out animal’ and ‘to work hard and steadily’.  I think both definitions frequently fit writers just as well. We do become worn out with the seemingly endless drafting and rewriting of our prose/poetry projects. However, we also must work hard and steadily if we're to accomplish the task at hand.

So I identify with the ‘draught’ horses. I think we have a lot in common. Do I work hard and steadily? I try to. Do I always enjoy what I’m doing? Frequently not. It is, after all, work. Do I gain pleasure as I write? Sometimes. When the prose is flowing easily, when the humor bubbles up, when an acute phrase pops into my head, then my work is a pleasure. Most of the time, however, I just plug away knowing that, if I’m careful and consistent, the pleasure will come at the end of the day when I’m turned out to grass and I can read what I’ve written and call it good.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In memorium...

It's been quite a while since I posted anything on this blog. I've thought about it. I've determined to write. And done nothing. I've seldom been near the internet and, besides, my well of creativity seemed bone dry.

In my last posting I talked about losing my uncle and step-father. At that time it looked like Mother was doing well enough that I didn't need to worry about her. Her situation changed, I flew to California at a moments' notice, and I've spent the past five weeks at her bedside. She finally passed away early this morning.
During this time, between raging at God for letting her suffer indefinitely, struggling to concentrate on Sudoku puzzles for want of something better to do, and wondering if I was going to lose my mind from being cooped up in a building in the summertime, I managed to reread nearly every one of the several dozen Reader's Digest Condensed books I've given Mother over the years. Had I owned a laptop I could have worked on the re-writes I was doing before Mother became ill. But I don't. Probably wasn't in the correct frame of mind to do a good job anyway. So I read.
You know, there's a reason why writers are advised to read, read, READ. The first time I read those books-some of them years ago-I was interested only in the story. After all, I read primarily to enjoy the tale.
This time, however, I already knew the basic story of each novel so I found myself noting certain details I'd never noticed before. A unique turn of phrase here, a subtle lead there captured my attention. How this author handled a certain situation gave me insight to potential ways of strengthening my own narratives. How that author's description of a setting introduced subsequent action or outcomes caught my attention, too, giving me ideas that would make my wip more exciting, more daring, more mysterious. I took notes and wrote plans for additions and changes to be made. This activity filled my days, and frequently much of my nights, while strengthening me as a writer.

I'm grateful for this time I've had with my mother before her passing. I'm grateful her suffering is over. I'm also grateful for the legacy she passed down to me - that of patience in suffering (and anyone who has ever struggled through endless rewrites knows how this applies to writing) and of loving to read. Mother was noted for her voracious literary appetite. I hope I can be a credit to her memory - a well-read author who has the patience to suffer through the changes necessary to bring the current work in progress to a level of perfection equal to what my mother achieved in herself before the end.

Thank you, Mother, for your legacy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Let your light shine

I just read Roland Yeomans’ thoughtful blog (http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com) about the need to reach out to others. To quote Roland: There is empty ground in most souls we pass. Sometimes that leeched soil is within our own soul. We cannot save the world. Often it is beyond us to even save ourselves.
That which we can do, we must do, or else we help the darkness grow thicker. Even one feeble candle can show the way for the next step.

Beautifully said, Roland. It doesn’t take much looking to find the opportunity to shine a light in a darkened corner.

Last night Simon Larter (http://www.constantrevisions.blogspot.com) spent some time – nearly two hours – going over the first 15 pages of my current WIP with me. He didn’t have to. I didn’t really expect him to. But he spread his light in my very darkened corner, giving me courage to try again and a direction to follow.

Simon wasn’t aware that on Memorial Day I lost my favorite uncle. I was saddened at the loss but relieved that his suffering was over. His funeral was the following Friday.

Hours before the service, my step-father, who has faithfully served my mother for the last 36 years, passed to his eternal reward, too. —Dad, if God asks me, I’ll happily recommend you for the biggest harp and the shiniest crown He has to give.— The next day Mother’s nursing home called to say she had pneumonia—the same thing that took Dad—and they were putting her on antibiotics.

Fortunately Mother’s pneumonia is under control. But it’s still been stressful – as anyone who has worried about a loved one will concur.

In the midst of all this, I needed to rewrite the opening of my WIP. I did take a few days off. I had to. But it was time to get back in the saddle and start the creative process again. Trouble was, I simply didn’t feel like it. I knew what I needed to say but the words would not come.

Then came Simon. I know he has a job and a young family that he gives priority time to. I know he’s working late hours on his own literary pursuits. And yet, at a time when I truly needed a candle to light my way, he held up his lamp with a steady hand.

Thank you, Simon. You’ll never know how encouraged I was by the end of our session. I’m still struggling. I probably will be for a while yet. Losses take time to reconcile. But you pulled me back on the creative path and gave me the courage and strength to continue on. And I thank you.

Thanks to you too, Roland, for reminding me that strength comes from forgetting oneself in the service of others. I hope that I can do for someone else what you two have done for me this week. 

God, let me be that feeble candle, please.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Never give up. Never, never give up!

                                                 Our youngest daughter and her foster sister.

Last week our baby graduated as a CNA from Job Corps. Along with nearly a hundred other capped and gowned students, she walked the traditional processional, sat through the traditional speeches, and shook the traditional hands. The next night we threw a surprise party for her with a dozen of her friends in attendance. …A dozen energetic, excited tweenagers can make the walls of a modest-sized home bulge—and feeding the crew breaks the bank at Monte Carlo. But her accomplishment was, for her, a tremendous step and we wanted her to know that we recognized it as such.

One would think that completing the requirements and passing the state boards for a CNA certification would not be such a big deal. Our daughter is a pretty, intelligent, relatively popular teenager who has a host of friends, both young and old. Unfortunately, she also has a deep-seated fear of the work-a-day world and zero confidence in her ability to cope away from her secure little corner of the universe. For her to leave home for four months and live with people she did not know was a major accomplishment.
Hence the party—a celebration of a huge milestone passed.

I think we, as writers, tend to be a lot like my daughter. Perhaps we’ve had an agent who was unethical—she had such a boss. Maybe a publishing house has jacked us around—for her it was another boss. Perhaps we’ve been unable to find anyone capable of seeing the value of our efforts—a year ago last fall she went from being shift manager and employee of the month because of her work ethic to being fired by the incoming manager for being quote,‘incapable of doing the job’, unquote, the month after. He wasn't willing to train her in the way he wanted her to perform. He simply let her go.

Like my daughter, many of us have faced rejection after rejection…sometimes even from those who should be the most supportive. On top of that, we fight writer’s block. We can visualize the story in our minds but it just won’t translate to paper. And frequently we, ourselves, are our own worst critics.

Whatever the external causes, many of us become fearful, unsure—crippling ourselves by listening to that internal nitpicker who bedevils us unmercifully. We start a project only to become discouraged and let it slide. Our shelves and file drawers are filled with manuscripts that are incomplete, or abandoned even though we’ve finished them. There’s that story in the back of our minds that’s been there for years but it lacks a certain, specific detail that we feel unqualified to find. Like my daughter, it’s easier to hide ourselves and our talents away in the security of our little worlds, than it is to get out there and shine.

For me, there’s the constant fear of rejection. I have to push myself to finish what I’ve begun in the field of writing. I have to hold a goal in front of myself—a very juicy something that I really want to have—as a reward for succeeding in my writing career. If it weren’t for that goal, that carrot dangling before my nose, I’d quit. There are a gazillion other things I’d rather be doing than spending ten to fourteen hours a day trying to pound out something someone will hopefully want to read. And, believe me, every single one of those desired activities pops into my mind the instant I find myself fumbling for just the right word, or struggling to craft a seamless bridge between two scenes, or trying to talk myself into ruthlessly hacking away superfluous stuff. And when the hatchet comes out, favored adjectives come to mind…and I don’t mean just the ones I’m hacking, either. At that point it would be so easy to slip back into the safe little sphere I occupied before I decided my stories had to be written down.

What does this have to do with my daughter’s graduation? Quite a bit, actually.

As her parent, I’m desperately hoping that she’ll finish the education she has begun. I don’t care if she doesn’t stay in the medical field. Personally, I was shocked when she decided to travel down that route in the first place. Her squeamishness around needles came vividly to mind the day she announced her intentions. So, if she wants to study something else, that’s fine with me. What is not fine with me is the idea that she might come back home and hide in her little corner like she’s done these past two years since her high school graduation. Once, when I was badgering her about applying at the nearby junior college, she asked, “But what if I get my Associates Degree and still don’t know what I want to do?” My reaction was, “And what if you get your Associates Degree and you DO know what you want?” My point being that she’d never know unless she tried.

Neither will we know unless we try. Will someone other than our loyal family and friends enjoy our stories? We’ll never know as long as they’re deposited, half-finished, in a drawer. We’ll never know unless we search out agents who are interested in our specific projects. We’ll never know unless we glue our seats to the chair, struggle through those pitch-line constructions, then write and send those query letters. Not just once. Not twice. But as many times as it takes to find the markets we seek.

At this point, an acquaintance comes to mind. What was it? One hundred eighty-plus rejections before she sold her first novel? One hundred eighty-plus times someone said, “No. It isn’t good enough for me to represent.” Now the book that one hundred eighty-plus agents rejected is being printed by a major publishing house. Like that intrepid woman we, my fellow writers, should never give up. Never, never give up!

And when your elusive success is finally obtained, when that elusive perfect agent is finally found, and that elusive publishing house has sent the advance, have a party on me. You’ll have earned it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Open discussion with God

I’m having an issue with God today.

My irises are beautiful, my columbine are flowering like gangbusters, the creeping phlox has never looked better, and my double-flowering crab is so covered with blossoms one can scarcely see any leaves. I planted most of the vegetable garden last week, squash and all, AND. IT'S. SNOWING. TO-DAY!

Are you freaking kidding me??? It’s the 24th of May, God. Who sent this work order in?

Have Your angels been dipping in the sauce behind Your back?
Did the head of Your weather department develop Alzheimer’s when You weren’t looking?
I’ll bet it’s those cherubs, playing tricks again. The little scoundrels!

Respectfully speaking, Sir, you need to give someone a talking to.

We had weather like this in Jackson Hole where I grew up. Two inches of snow on June 18 in—when was it—the mid seventies? Snow on the fourth of July when I was a kid. Snow in August, occasionally, and almost always snow on the high peaks each Labor Day.

Ok, so crap happens in Jackson Hole. Accept that and if you don’t like it, move on.

I didn’t like it and I went south. I did my part, God. So why am I seeing this unmentionable white stuff all over my lawn?

And don’t even tell me snow is ‘soft white crystalline flakes’. I don’t care. It’s COLD, for Pete’s sakes, and that takes any loveliness it might have ever thought of having and flings it right out the window!

Don’t give me a scientific explanation about how the ‘upper atmospheric conditions’ got out of control and the rain we were scheduled for was ‘run through a  deepfreeze on the way down’, either. There’s a simple solution to all that.
Turn on the heat!
Then blow that upper-atmospheric deepfreeze back to the top of the Grand Teton where it came from, originally, and tie it down so it won’t escape again.

Or, if you don’t like my suggestions, think up some other brilliant solution to the problem we’re having down here. I don’t care. Just do what You have to do and clear this mess up, please. My sense of humor does not include admiring beautifully-shaped ice crystals in May – or June, July, August, September or October, either, for that matter. These are the months for gentle warmth—please note the stress on gentle, there—, and for green growing things, backyard barbecues and tanning on the trampoline. That’s a little hard to pull off when there’s a freakin’ blizzard going on outside.

So, quick!, tie up those cherubs, replace that Alzheimer’s angel with a seraph who can think straight, and lock up the sauce. Snow in summer belongs in Jackson Hole. Let’s keep it there! 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Read the fine print carefully - or - hook lines for my current wip

I wanted to join Bryan's Logline/Hook Line Blogfest but it's been a very hectic week and I didn't read his rules closely enough. I got the part that I was supposed to have my hook lines posted today. What I didn't catch was that I was supposed to let him know my blog url before May 22, not on May 22. So I'm going to post the hook lines I've worked on this week and I'm going to let him know but I don't know that it will do me any good. Too bad, so sad. One needs to always read the fine print carefully.

Before I post my hook lines, let me say that this has been another huge learning experience. I've read several excellent blogs about hook lines this week, blogs that helped me craft my own. Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary says they should be 25 words or less. I read another blog from an editor who said it shouldn't be over 20 words. Have you ever tried to distill a complete novel into so few words? !!! It's doable but it's difficult.
Anyway, here are the hook lines that I've devised for FIND EXCALIBUR'S SHEATH!.

#1. Elfhame wants its treasures back and expects abandoned adolescent, Alex Anderson, to face off with Morgan le Fay in Avalon to get them. (23 words)

#2.  An adolescent must guard his virtue and his life from Morgan le Fay while searching for Excalibur and its sheath.  (20 words)

#3.  Both virtue and  life are at stake when an abandoned adolescent must retrieve Excalibur and its sheath from deadly sorceress, Morgan le Fay of Avalon.  (25 words)

#4.  Elfhame requires an abandoned adolescent to face off with a deadly sorceress and retrieve Excalibur and its sheath. (18 words)

#5. A rune reading sends an orphaned adolescent and his companions on a deadly mission to retrieve Excalibur and its sheath.   (20 words)

Which do you think is best? Are any of them worth keeping?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Do you love to write?

I love to write. I love to hate to write. I hate to write. Sound confusing? That's probably because my feelings for my craft depend on the day, the hour, and sometimes the minute. When it's flowing well, I love it. When it's not, I have to glue my seat to the chair, grit my teeth and plow through. When the block is large enough, I think some not-so-nice words and go find a good book. Sometimes I get a lot of reading done.
But that's all good, too, isn't it? The more we read the more aware we, as writers, become of how words can and should flow, of the common mistakes that even copy editors miss, of how to structure successful stories. So I read a lot.
I've also fallen into the blog-hopping business lately. I'm seeing a lot of blog contests on the blogosphere. They're interesting. Simon Larter's recent contest on his blog www.constantrevisions.blogspot.com/ taught me a new form of writing. It was fun. It was also fun to be one of his five winners. And Simon's blog can be very entertaining so check it out when you have a spare minute (or the writer's block gets too big).
This week Bryan at http://timeguardiansaga.com/blog has a blogfest going called logline/hook line blogfest. I checked that out, along with a few related blogs, and ended up over at the Upstart Crow Literary Agency, reading Chris Richman's blog about hook lines.http://upstartcrowliterary.com/blog/
They should be 25 words or less? Are you freakin' kidding me? If you say so.
I sat down last night and came up with two hook lines under 25 words, each, for my wip that's almost ready to send out and I'm entering them in Bryan's blogfest, just for the fun of it. I do like a good challenge.
So what are your favorite blogs? I'm always open for a few more to read when the muse is sleeping.