Do You Have a Flair for the Dramatic? You Should be a Writer

When I was very young, my rural hometown had a small movie theater, but it wasn’t there long.

A few years later, someone temporarily set up a revival tent and sold tickets to watch old movies. It seems to me that the tickets cost a quarter. The tent was golden yellow, and it looked just like the one that my grandmother’s church used for tent revivals. No doubt, my experiences in those old revival tents helped cultivate my flair for the dramatic, and my writing is filled with drama. I am a storyteller. I inherited that quality from my dad.

Full, But Hazy Autumn Moon
by Jacki Kellum 

Tonight, the moon is perched high in the sky, directly above the garden–just outside my back door.

Tonight, when I first got downstairs and looked out the sunroom window, my first thought was that it must be the moments just before dawn.

Everything around was fairly brightly lit and I could faintly see the plants that were brave enough to have continued blooming after the cool, October air had tucked their neighbors into bed. They had a soft, muted, and faintly-colored glow.

As I looked around, I thought: Tonight, the moonlight is bright, but this is not one of those hot-light nights like the ones when I used to walk home from church, well after sunset, and the hum of the locusts was so loud that the air seemed to rattle a song.

And tonight is not one of those nights when ladies in the church would beat around their faces with cardboard fans that had Jesus painted on them. The fans flapped about their heads like hummingbird wings.

Yes, Lord, tonight’s moonlight is not like that when I used to go to the tent revivals with my grandmother and stood up and sat down, singing Shall We Gather at the River. Bare light bulbs were strung across the top of the tent and dangled.

Tonight’s light is not like that of the summer nights when my neighborhood’s children and I would dart about the yard, playing tag and hide and seek, We would  run until the sweat could be wrung from our clothes. On those nights, nothing brought more relief than crescents of ice, cold watermelon, homemade ice cream, and tart lemonade poured from large, sweaty jars into rainbow-colored glasses that clinked when they met my teeth. The glasses tasted like aluminum.

No, tonight there is no hot, blaring, bugle-like, jazz-singing, summer moon.

Tonight, there is a soft, hazy, autumn moon–a cornstarch moon–kissed by honey, hanging in the dark.

©Jacki Kellum October 28, 2015

I began this post by telling you that when I was a child, I sometimes went to tent revival meetings with my grandmother. In the piece of free verse poetry that immediately precedes this paragraph,  I allow you to step into the old revival tents of my childhood. Writers are cautioned to “show” and not “tell” with their words. In Full, But Hazy, Autumn Moon, I show you snippets of my childhood summer nights, some of which included attending tent revival meetings with my grandmother.

In recent years, the word “dramatic” has gotten some bad press. People accuse others of being too dramatic and they call some “Drama Queens.” When I saw that today’s writing prompt was “dramatic,” I recoiled for a minute. Would people expect me to write about the pitfalls of being too dramatic or about the drama queens who have ruined our lives since seventh grade?

But wait! I was one of those seventh-grade drama queens. I probably still am. Why should I apologize for that? The ability to be dramatic is necessary for me to create. It is a hallmark of my profession.

“Drama is very important in life: You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper. Everything can have drama if it’s done right. Even a pancake.” – Julia Child

Several times before, I have tried to explain the difference between writing an autobiography and writing memoir. I could capsulize my thoughts about the two types of writing by saying that autobiography is a listing of all of the facts–it is telling; memoir writing is a dramatic showing.

“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock

As I said before, when I was a child, my little rural hometown had a movie theater for  only a short period of time. I didn’t have a place to go watch other people perform, and I had to learn to distil drama from the everyday bits of my life. As a child, I did not have a lot of things, and I have often thought that this is one reason that became an artist and a writer.

Many people look back at their childhoods and are saddened because of what they did not have. This will sound incredible, but I am actually thankful for the very same thing.

“For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received.” – Storm Jameson

©Jacki Kellum July 31, 2016

Dramatic

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Does Google Keyword Marketing Work? – How Jacki Kellum Ranked Twice on Google’s First Page

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In the previous post, I explained how Google found me and began to rank my writing online Here.

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Out of curiosity, I decided to check how my sites are doing, according to page rank. I searched a very general term “Write Memoir.” Notice on the above image that out of 16,400,000 results, I ranked #6 and #7 on Google’s First Page:

Reader’s Digest was ranked twice as numbers 1 and 2, and a Dummies publication got the third top ranking.

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Beneath the Dummies in ranking, a celebrity’s memoir was ranked 4th.

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Jacki Kellum was ranked 6th and 7th. [out of 16, 400,000 possibilities].

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The Huffington Post ranked last on the FIRST PAGE, and the Huffington Post is a huge entity. It was purchased by AOL.

When I am advising you to use Google’s Keyword Search, I am giving you some of the best advice that you will ever get. As I said before, I am trying to get an Ebook together to help you use Google’s Keywords, and on my previous post, I give you several tips to get your started.

©Jacki Kellum July 30, 2016

 

How to Get Yourself Ranked on Google – SEO – More of the Story

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In a way, I feel that I have been charmed. A couple of years ago, Google decided that it liked me, and that has made all of the difference in my  online presence. I would like to take a few minutes and tell you how Google found me and decided to be my friend.

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I began blogging 2.5 years ago. At that time, my intention was to create an online gallery for peddling my paintings, and somewhere I had read that I needed to attract attention to my site. I researched various types of blogs, and I elected to launch a WordPress blog.

At that time, I knew that many people would be interested in free tutorials for Photoshop and for Adobe Illustrator, and to draw people to my site, I initially created many tutorials for the Adobe products. From the earliest date, however, I also began to blog about something else that I felt I knew a little bit about. For my first graduate degree in English, I wrote about William Blake, and at some time past, I did feel passionate about the Romantic ideals and about how the experienced and emotionally bankrupt adult of the world had stripped life of its emotion, energy, intuitiveness, and imagination.

It had been a long time since I had written that thesis, but I began to write posts about the loss of imagination and the Waste Land that resulted from the loss of feeling. Unlike the Adobe tutorials, these posts required that I actually write, and that was something that I had not done for quite some time. I was stunned by the number of readers that I attracted through those earliest posts.

I attribute the fact that anyone read those earliest posts to Google. Somewhere, I had read that I needed to tag my posts and that by tagging, I would draw viewers. Like a child in elementary school, I did as I was told, and it worked. Strangers began to find my blog site. But I began to realize that my cart and my horse were totally confused. Although I did use the Adobe products myself and although at one time, I had studied William Blake, that was not what I was trying to sell 2.5 years ago. For a while, I simply quit blogging, but the Adobe tutorials continued to draw viewers.

In October of 2015, I decided to return to my writing, and I plunged into writing, as a form of expression. It was as though a cork had been released. If you look at the following graph, you can see that in October of 2015, I wrote a lot of posts, and because I had learned how to tag my posts and because Google had already found me, people read my creative writing, too.

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I continued to write in November, but shortly after that, I became ill and did not write much again until May. In July, I decided to move forward with a project that I had begun before I became ill, and that project was the Mine Your Memories Writing Event.

At some time during the fall of 2o15 or during early winter of 2016, I began responding to the WordPress Daily Prompt, and because of that effort, my writing improved, I attracted a relatively large number of readers, and I also attracted several followers. And again, some of my success was because of Google–and some of it was because of the WordPress Groupies.

Largely because of my responding to the WordPress Prompts I amassed a large number of posts that were just a few steps shy of being the fodder for several books. In July, I decided to make a huge commitment to getting those books published.

For a moment, I want to remind you of the purpose of this particular post. While I acknowledge that WordPress has helped me to create the content that I needed to fill a book, Google is largely how people found my writing. Allow me to return to my desire to tell you how to market on Google.

It might often seem that Google is out to “get” us or that if we want to be seen on the Gooogle search pages, we need to fool everyone–including Google. That could not be farther from the truth. Just think about it: It is in Google’s best interest that WE are found on the Internet–via their Search Engine, and because of that fact, Google has provided tools to help our sites become better searched.

The sophisticated Google Keyword tool can help you increase your STATS.

I plan to create an Ebook about marketing on Google. Here is a sneak preview, and below the video, I am sharing some of the tips that are already prepared.

[By the way, PowToon is an easy way to reach people on YouTube, and you add metadata on PowToon in the same ways that I outline below].

I’ll take you through the process step by step

  1. Click on the Keyword Planner link The Free Google Keyword Planner can be found Here.
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How to Use the Google Keyword Planner Tool Step 1

2. In the Search Window, beneath the word Option, enter the word or word phrase for which you want to see Google’s search statistics. I entered Depression Era

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How to Use Google Keyword Planner Step 2

The chart tells me 2 important things. If I hover over the last tab, I’ll see that during the month of September 2015, the phrase Depression Era was searched 1900 times. That is not good. I also saw that the interest in the Depression Era has been steadily waning over the past year–with only a bit of an increase in September.

3. I decided to try another search term and just entered the word “Depression.”

Kaboom! That word was searched 5,601,850 times. I thought that I had reached mecca–until I did a bit more investigation and discovered that Google was talking about an emotional illness, and I was talking about a period in history. Be certain that you and Google are talking about the same thing.

4. I then entered the word 1920s and saw that 5,400 had searched that term in September, and I also saw that the interest in that topic is declining. That makes sense. the 1920s Depression era is a time of nostalgia for people who are fairly old now, and that generation is not as active on the Internet as younger generations are.

5. I entered the word 1950s and saw that 33,100 had searched the 1950s in September. That also makes sense. Now, the baby boomers are the ones getting older and more nostalgic, and the baby boomers are quite active on the Internet.

6. This presents a bit of a conundrum for me. I am writing a Memoir that will reflect the tales of my 1950s childhood, and I am also relating tales from my parents’ 1920s childhood. In addition, I’ll be adding snippets from my great aunt’s memoir, and she was a child in the 1890s. The word that is a common denominator for these areas is the word Memoir.

7. I searched the word Memoir and saw that 60,500 people had searched that term in September of 2015 and that the trend is rising.

This tells me that Memoir is still of interest to people. It also tells me to include the word Memoir every place that I can, when I am blogging. That will help Google find me when I write.

If you are blogging on WordPress, there is a place to add tags. That is where you should write all of the topics that Google might like that relate to your post of the day. The way that you tag is the way that you use metadata. If you create YouTube videos, there are similar places to tag your videos.

This past week in my Memoir Writing Class, one of the students asked if all of this tagging and seeking to establish an online presence is important. The reality is that it is. I hate taking the time to tag my posts, and I have not done that for the past several weeks. As I write this post, I am making a commitment to tag my posts and to play the online search game. I suggest that you do the same.

©Jacki Kellum July 30, 2016

 

 

How to Hush Your Self-Editor: Don’t Let the White Page Stare You Down – End Writer’s Block

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“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

Do your efforts to write end with a screeching halt? Does the empty, white page try to stare you down? Don’t allow that to happen! Stand firm and simply begin to write.

Clean, Countryside, Drink, Garden, Handle, Iron, Manual

First, You Need to Prime Your Pump

1. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. Start there!

Initially, you might not be able to recall any of your passions. You might think that life has kicked all of the passion out of you,  but you are wrong. If that were true, you wouldn’t be here, sitting in front of the computer, trying to decide what to write. You would still be vegetating in front of the television. You are still alive. Dig deeper.

2. Overcome Lethargy

Perhaps you feel that you are sinking in the quicksand of your own lethargy. Keep a canister of writing prompts handy to fight that problem, and when you are experiencing writer’s block, pull out one of those prompts and write about that.

The New York Times published a list of 500 great writing prompts Here.

Grab hold of one of those prompts and allow it to be your rope. Allow that to pull you out of your pit of lethargy.

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Every morning, I try to respond to the WordPress Daily Prompt. Read how you can also do that Here.

3. Begin with a Quote

Often, when I see the WordPress Daily Prompt, I initially cannot think of anything to write. When even a prompt does not motivate me, I turn to Google, and I do a Google search for quotes that might correlate with a word that I associate with the prompt. This morning’s WordPress Prompt was “Admire,” and I was not readily drawn to that topic. I performed two Google searches. One time I searched exactly the following words: “Quotes Admire.” The second time, I searched exactly the following words, “Quotes Admiration,” and after my searches, it was not long before I had written my own opinions about the prompt “Admire.” You can see what I wrote Here 

4. Write First – Title Later

When I begin writing a piece, I refrain from titling it. In fact, I do not title anything until I finish writing the piece entirely. Titling is a Writing-Stopper. A title is like a straight jacket. If you try to title first, you limit yourself because you write trying to confine yourself to the topic of the title. Just write, let the title spring from the writing. Begin to say what you want to say and allow your writing to evolve. Then title.

5. Allow Your Intuition to Do the Heavy Lifting of Your Writing

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Michelangelo alluded to the artist’s intuition in saying that his sculptures lay within the stone and in sculpting, he merely followed the path that he sensed within the rock. Michelangelo was talking about the process of allowing his intuition to speak to him and to coach him as he created, thus creating his art for him.

Because I am both a painter and a writer, I understand what Michelangelo was saying. When I am truly painting, something within me grabs my hand and almost literally makes my marks for me. At various times, I have written all of the following about allowing one’s intuition to create:

“Creating any type of art requires that a series of decisions be made by the artist: red here? more grass? less water?, etc. When the intuition is fully functioning, the artist is hardly even aware of the questions–the intuition handles the question and answer dialog. Before this can happen, however, the artist must first allow Intuition to get his foot into the door; and then, the artist must learn to trust the decisions that Intuition makes for him.” – Jacki Kellum

“I cannot overemphasize the importance of the intuition. Countless painters speak of an intuitive force that operates within them when they paint. Everyone is born with intuition, but socializing and educating a child have a way of squeezing the intuition out of him. Although it would be better if none of us ever lost our inner radar, intuitiveness can be reawakened.” – Jacki Kellum

In creating art, something speaks to the artist and that something should be allowed to lead the way. By listening to that something–that inner voice–one is able to distil one’s own vision. – Jacki Kellum

“Intense listening with one’s inner ear–the intuitive ear– is a vital part of sharpening one’s inner eye—and thus, of extracting a piece’s inward significance.” – Jacki Kellum

“Intuition and the Inner Artist are linked. Intuition is the instinctive way that one’s inner artist views and responds to life. When a painter allows intuition to guide him, the painter himself becomes a vessel and the art flows through the vessel.” – Jacki Kellum

Knowing why one does this or that while creating is not important–just doing is the key to becoming. Making art is an intuitive response. – Jacki Kellum

When writers can access the words that lie within themselves, they begin to write more authentically. In fact, I could return to my own words that I quoted above, and I could exchange the word “writer” for the times that I said “artist,” and I would be equally correct. When writers create from within their intuitions, they often call that writing from “The Zone,” but it is actually writing from the intuition, a reservoir of thoughts and emotions that run deeply within each person. The secret is tapping into that reservoir.

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Beginning October 1, I am launching a Free 36-Day Writing Event that is designed to help writers recharge themselves and to begin writing intuitively again. You can read about that Event Here.

6. Don’t Worry About What Everyone Else Is Thinking about Your Writing

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Other people aren’t focusing on you. Quite worrying about what they think of you.  Just focus on yourself and your own goals and begin to write. Remember that you are writing to express yourself–not to express everyone else. Just talk–in plain language [Shakespearean English is out]–and say why these words are meaningful to you. People are more alike than you might think. Others will identify. Write it, they will read.

7. Write Naturally – Give Up the Idea that You Should Write Like Shakespeare

Please Don’t Thee and Thou Me
by Jacki Kellum

Please don’t Thee and Thou me.
That’s such a stuffy start.
That’s not the way to wow me,
Just say it from your heart.
©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

Jacki Kellum Rules for Writing Poetry – Rule Number 1

  1. Don’t try to use stilted, pretentious, poetry-sounding words. Just talk.

©Jacki Kellum February 3, 2016

7. Turn Off Your Self-Editor

Write first. Let it flow. Just talk. Spell later. As you begin to write, don’t worry about spell check at first. Getting stumped by spelling is another Writing-Stopper. Write first–then spell check; then correct the spelling. It might even help to do the writing and editing in a Word Document and then paste it into WordPress. Whatever it takes, do it, but don’t let you editing strangle your writing.

8. Consider Recording Your Writing and Then Transcribing It

If you cannot keep your self-editor in check, allow your cell phone‘s voice recorder to help you.  Just pick up your cell phone and download a voice recorder app and talk to the recorder. You can even send yourself lengthy voice messages and transcribe those. A friend of mine had a great idea for this. She said to send your message to yourself via email, and it will already be typed for you. How easy is that?

Do you see how easy it would be for you to stare down your white pages and to end your writer’s block?  Just do it!

©Jacki Kellum July 30, 2016

 

Philosophy and Rhetorical Writing – If Your Argument Does Not Make Sense, You Can Not Make a Philosophically Sound Decision or Be Rhetorically Convincing

Rhetoric, Shield, Board, Art, Metal, Black And White

In some previous posts, I have discussed Rhetorical Writing–or the Essay–and have discussed how writers use different tools to make their writing more convincing. Before we try to convince others through our writings, however, we might need to explore the soundness of our own arguments.

I have begun to participate in a Free University Course from the University of Edinburgh. This course is about Philosophy, and from the initial videos, I began to think about all of the people who argue points that simply are not arguable. Their arguments are not subject to sound reasoning; and therefore, their arguments may not stand the test of time.

The instructor provided the following illustration:

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He said that he wanted to go to the movies or the cinema and that he was trying to make an argument that supports the reasons that he should go to the movies.

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He said to himself that the movie theater serves hot dogs and that this is proof that he should go to the movies.

This argument is not sound. Many places serve hot dogs. One can easily even cook hot dogs at home. While it may be nice that the theater serves hot dogs, that fact does not provide a sound argument for going to the movies.

Saying that the fact that the cinema sells hot dogs is proof that he should go to the cinema is like saying 1 + apples = oranges. Worst still is believing that because you have made the argument, you are correct.

The instructor points out that many of the things that we believed in the past simply were not true and that over the course of time, they were proved to be untrue. He challenges the student to step back from what he has accepted as gospel or as fact and to shed the light of solid reasoning upon it and to decide if his beliefs are actually true. He offers the following illustrations from history:

Prison, Prisoner, Slavery, Human Trafficking

At one time, intelligent and good people believed that it was okay to enslave other people.

At one time, intelligent and good people believed that it was okay to forbid women to vote.

The list of bad decisions that were based on an inadequate amount or a faulty kind of research is long.

At one time, intelligent and good people believed that the world was flat.

Philosophy is the process of stepping back from our beliefs and examining them against all of the research that is available. Philosophy involves questioning. Especially as writers, we need to continuously evaluate our beliefs, and we need to be sure that our reasoning is sound.

©Jacki Kellum July 29, 2o16

You might be interested in the Free Philosophy Class that began today through the University of Edinburgh Here. 

To enroll, click on the words “Go to Course.”

July 25, 2016 – September 19, 2o16

For My Memoir Writing Students – Join A Writing Group!

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“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” – Kahlil Gibran

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I teach an actual Memoir Writing Class on Thursday mornings, and because of that, Thursday has become one of the best days of my week. When I agreed to teach the class, I had very few good expectations. In fact, I thought that a couple of unmotivated people would probably begin the class and quit a week or so later, and that did happen. But several other people also joined the group. Not only are those other students inspiring as human beings, they  also have exceptional writing gifts. And here is the best part: All of them have a unique way of writing. Allow me to tell you about some of their approaches to writing [until I have permission, I will not share any names].

First, there is  X1. In many ways, X1 and I have similar personalities. Both of us like to go places, and we like to do just about anything that there is to do, and both of us like to talk. When I was in one of my college writing classes, a professor said that I would never be a writer. He said that I would always tell my stories, and before she began to write, I felt that way about X1. Fortunately, my college writing professor was wrong about me, and I was wrong about X1. X1’s enthusiasm bubbles through her writing. Her absolute joy of life percolates along with her words, and X1’s writing is an inspiration. X1 is of the Bahai faith, and having her in my class is like having a walking-talking Buddha. X1 is a philosopher–a delightful and bubbly Buddha, if you can imagine that.

x2 writes about her second home in the mountains of New Hampshire. Through her words, I begin to smell the logs burning in her fireplace, I sniff the pines outside her door, and I stand amazed at the crystal clear beauty that sweeps across her mountain vista. X2 says that she is not a writer, but she is wrong.

The amazing thing is that X3 is the only one of my memoir students who had ever written before taking my class. X3’s writing is serious and pensive, and with a terseness, X3 cracks open the experiences of her mind, and she allows them to trickle, like a stream of only a few, spare words. X3 writes in free verse poetry and unlike X1, X2, and me, X3 truly shows, without telling. X3’s words have a life of their own, and through X3’s pen, her images swim across the page.

Here is another interesting quip about X3: Although I am supposedly teaching her in my Memoir Writing Class, X3 defiantly refuses to write memoir, and she refuses to follow my instructions. X3 has been a closet writer for 30 years and her writing reflects the polish that one can only attain through 30 years of writing. X3 writes fiction in my Memoir Class, and she writes it in free verse. How great is that? I love it when my students think and act outside the box.
ballet-542170X4 IS outside the box, and it is wonderful! On the first day that I met with my students, I asked all of them to write 6 words that they felt best defined their pasts. X4’s word was “toe shoes.” [Didn’t she understand that “toe shoes” is two words? Had she already begun to disregard my instruction?]

Second, I asked the students to write a sentence that they associate with the word that they had listed. X4’s sentence was: “No more toe shoes for you.”

For some reason, my jaw dropped. I was expecting everyone to list a word and then to write a straightforward, boring sentence to go along with the word. For instance, one of my words was “Forests,” and my sentence for “Forests” was: “When I was a child, I spent most of my summers in a camp that was covered by deep forests.”

As I said, X4 is totally out of the box, and the truly great thing is that I don’t believe that she even knows that there is a box. X4 had completely challenged my preconceived format. From day 1, X4’s words have danced across the page, and I dance with them.

While I am talking about X4, I’ll share something that happened yesterday. I want all of my students to consider writing descriptively, and a couple of weeks ago–in a private conversation–I suggested to X4 that she read Barbara Kingsolver’s Poinsonwood Bible, which I believe is an excellent example of descriptive writing. Yesterday, X4 mentioned that book in the class, and the entire group lit up.

Several people had read Poinsonwood Bible, and others had wanted to read it. Poinsonwood Bible is written in multiple voices. One of the voices is the voice of the mother, and the other voices are those of the children. I was just about to explain to  X5, who says that she is an editor and not a writer, that I only liked the mother’s voice and that the children’s voices bored me, but X4 beat me to the punch and she said that she only liked the children’s voices. This brought up an excellent truth: Because all of us are different people, we respond differently to any number of types of writing. By the same token, because we are different types of people, we write with unique voices. On the first day that X4 came to class, I heard the voice of a child poking its head from this white-haired lady who wears red glasses, and I marveled. X4 invites her reader to play, and I love that about X4 and also about her writing.

Hiding in Plain Sight
Jacki Kelllum

Smiling, Joking, Dancing, Free
That’s the Social Side of Me.

Tossing kisses from my car,
Scared, Confused Alone We Are.

If you look, you will see
The Scared, Confused and Social Three.

©Jacki Kellum December 17, 2015

I could continue with these reflections upon the writings of the students in my class, but I’ll conclude by saying that because of our class time together, my students and I have become intimate friends. I often write in my blog about the fact that I have always felt that no one ever “got” me and that I had been doomed to live a solitary and private life. Through this group of writers, I have found companions. Each person in the group sings a separate song, and all of us look forward to coming together each week and to singing as a choir–in harmony. That is what true friendship is about. True friendship is about seeing each other, hearing each other, empathizing, and harmonizing.

In my writing group, NO one knows the correct way to write [not even the teacher], and yet, everyone [except X5, who says that she can only edit] dares to try, and everyone [except X5] succeeds in writing beautifully.

Now, let’s talk about X5, who has worked for years as an editor. X5 has a degree in writing, and I know that if she had not wanted to write, she would never have pursued that degree. Because of her mastery and love of words and because of her brilliance, X5 became an editor. The travesty is that she allowed her work as an editor to mute her writing voice. X5 IS a writer, but she is a writer who has almost been destroyed by her self-editor. She has only come to my group twice, and yesterday I told her that she needs to allow herself to crawl beneath the umbrella that hangs above my Memoir Class and to learn to feel the security of my writing friends. X5 will eventually write. She will eventually take a leap and tell us about one of her memories, and she will produce the writing of the writer that she has always been. I am eager for that day to come.

The bottom line about my writing class is that I am not actually the teacher of  the class. I am merely the facilitator, and I am called “teacher.” Like everyone else in the group, I learn every time that I write, and I learn by writing. Like the other people in my writing group, every Thursday morning, I come together and I sing, and I hear what the others have sung. Everyone in the group appreciates what everyone else has written, and everyone in the group appreciates everyone else.

Yesterday, I had lunch with some of the members of my group, and I said that we need to plan a trip to Key West together. I said that we need to visit Hemingway’s home, and we need to write there. We do need to take that trip, and we need to do that together–as a group. We need to do it as friends. I encourage everyone to join a writing group that is more than a class–that is nothing short of a living, flowing friendship–and to embrace that friendship and write.

“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” – Kahlil Gibran

©Jacki Kellum July 29, 2016

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How to Set Up A Gmail Email Account and Google Chrome

In your computer’s web browser’s address bar, type the following: http://www.google.com

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On the right side of the web’s browser, click on the word “Gmail” If you already have a Gmail account, you can click “Sign in,” but this tutorial is for setting up a new Gmail account.

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When you see the above screen, type the gmail address that you would like to have and click the words “Create account,” which are at the bottom.

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Then, you will be taken to a screen that requests you to provide some of your personal information. Then click the words “Next step,” which are at the bottom right of that page.

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Once you have filled in the above blanks and clicked the words “Next step,” you must click to accept the privacy terms. You will not be able to click on the accept bar until you scroll to the bottom of that screen and the button turns blue:

account4-privacy

You will see the following screen:

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On the upper right corner, you will see something like this:

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To set up Google Chrome, click on the grid of dots on the upper right of your screen. It is beneath the address bar.

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You will see the Apps that are already loaded and you will be able to add more here.

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At the bottom of the above screen, click on the word “More,” and you will see all of the apps that you can load through Google. Click on “Google Chrome.”

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©Jacki Kellum July 29, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Time Is Unstoppable, but We Can Choose the Extent of Its Damage

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Red Rose – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

“…[the flower] chose her colors with the greatest of care. She dressed herself slowly. She adjusted her petals one by one. She did not wish to go out into the world all rumpled, like the field poppies.” – The Little Prince

The Little Prince is a small book with a very large message. On the surface, the prince is telling how he had fled his home asteroid because of a red rose whom he had loved very greatly but had abandoned because she had become very demanding. Upon closer study, however, it becomes apparent that the prince [and de Saint-Exupery, who wrote the book] are speaking about the loss of their own muses–their inner selves–their essences. In this way, the message of The Little Prince is much the same as that of William Blake, when he cautioned mankind against the losses of their imaginations. Here

The result of losing one’s ability to imagine or to feel is a state that William Blake called Experience, which is the state of becoming hardened and emotionally old. After the little prince leaves his sweet red rose, he finds himself stranded in a distant desert. The Little Prince was written about twenty years after The Waste Land was published, and it seems that the Little Prince’s desert is much the same as Eliot’s Waste Land.

I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD
from Eliot’s The Waste Land

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

In describing humanity’s fall into the dry and parched Waste Land state, Antoine de Saint-Exupery and TS Eliot are messengers who carried the voice of William Blake into the twentieth century. The message is a warning against becoming emotionally old. James M. Barrie wrote the same type of emotional aging in Peter Pan, which was published at about the same time as The Waste Land was published.

Undoubtedly, everyone ages. Time is unstoppable, but I subscribe to Blake’s views that we are not obligated to become prisoners of time, and we do not have to become old–ever! I am not advocating the Peter Pan syndrome and claiming that “I’ll never grow up.” Growing old is not the same thing as growing up. Growing old has to do with the way that a person chooses to process the experiences of his life.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens – by Arthur Rackham

“You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.” – James M. Barrie
[ Author of Peter Pan]

Writers have a tool that they can use to control the ravages of time.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

Most of us would like to forget or bury some of the chapters of our pasts, but that is not actually possible. In trying to forget who we are and where we have been, we only succeed in numbing ourselves and killing our authentic writing voices.  The secret to becoming a better writer is to tap into your past and to harness it and to allow it to sail you forward. That is the secret to dealing with time, too. Everyone would be better served if they would write because writing is a way that we cope with the painful parts of our pasts. Here Writing is a way that we pause the treadmill of time and rise above it.

©Jacki Kellum July 28, 2016

Unstoppable

Peter Pan was published in 1904

The Waste Land was published 1922

The Little Prince was published in 1943

 

Are You Emotionally Old or Are You Forever Young?

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I just made a  quick Google search to see how many anti-aging products are on the market, and there were too many to begin to count. People in the 21st-Century are obsessed with looking younger, but unfortunately, looking younger is simply a superficial thing. Too bad that everyone is not as conscious of how much they are aging emotionally as how much they are aging, in appearances.

Many years ago, I carefully examined the writings and the images created by William Blake, who wrote in the late 1700’s. In a manner of speaking, Blake was one of the earliest people to become preoccupied with aging, but his concern was not that of outward appearances. He was interested in the aging of the spirit. Generally speaking, I would say that the interests of people in the 21st Century are exactly the opposite of those of William Blake. William Blake was a Romanticist. Most people today are Realists.

During the late 1700’s,  the Realists were the people who liked the changes that had been brought about by the Industrial Revolution. The Realists liked mechanization, standardization, and outwardness. The Romanticists were a reaction against the Industrial Revolution, clutching to the Imagination as the key to Inwardness.

The Romantic viewpoint echoes Taoism, which urges a return to the Way. In his 1955 translation of the Tao Te Ching, Raymond Blakney provided the following definition of the Tao:

“Tao – A road, a path, the way by which people travel, the way of nature, and finally, the Way of reality.”

The Romantics would view the Realists as superficial. The Romantics believe that the Realists limit their life-views to the external or the obvious, like that of reading the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper, People magazine, etc., rather than that of seeking inner wisdom or growth. Linear in viewpoint, the Realists establish a goal early in life, and they spend the remainder of their lives marching or plodding toward that goal. The Realist essentially wears blinders to anything but the outer, and the Realist wants no distractions or changes along the way. He merely wants to move from point A to point B.

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” – James Oppenheim

On the other hand, the Romantic is focused inwardly; and he embarks upon a path toward the inward. The Tao said that this was a seeking of the Way.

In Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching, the following is said:

“There are ways but the Way is uncharted “[in other words, there is no direct line point A to point B–there is not even a map].
“The secret waits for the insight” [What is essential is within]
“Those who are bound by desire See only the outward container.” [If you are moving only from point A to some pre-established point B, you are only looking at the surface–at what can readily be viewed and charted–like statistics].
Again to the first line. “There are ways. . .”

Moving from point A to point B is a way {with lower case “w”}–it will move you along through life, but there is only one Way–and that one Way can only be found from within, from the spirit, from what William Blake called the Imagination.

Now that I have laid a bit of groundwork, allow me to return to the 21st-Century obsession with the outward appearances of aging. As I said before, most people of the 21st Century are Realists. They are only concerned with the wrinkles and the gray hair and the dementia that are the bi-products of aging. The Romanticist, however, sees the crisis of aging differently. They see aging as a withering from within–a type of dying that is not usually externally obvious.

In his later work, William Blake described a type of Heaven and a Hell that he perceived as the lifestyles of the Romanticist versus the Realist. He said that the people who are led by their spirits or their imaginations are in Heaven and that the people who only see the obvious as those in Hell. TS Eliot wrote The Waste Land, and it is a similar description of the results of limiting one’s life- view as outwardly.William Blake created the Christ-like figure Los, who was the embodiment of the Imagination. The Imagination [Los] leads one to Heaven and away from the Waste  Land experiences of Hell.

So what does this all have to do with the aging crisis?

William Blake’s earlier writings were the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience. In the Songs of Innocence, Blake described an idyllic place where people who are always young reside. They are the people who have not been hardened by life. In the Songs of Experience, he described the hellish place where people who have been hardened by life are trapped. These are the people who, regardless of their physical age, are old. The people who have not been hardened by life’s experiences are  the forever young. [Peter Pan?]

I am definitely a Romanticist, and I know many people who have not reached the age of thirty yet, who are old. Even though they have no wrinkles and even though their hair has not turned gray, they have begun to wither from inside. They no longer feel. They no longer imagine. They no longer see any magic life. In my opinion, that is the true aging crisis. The true crisis is that too many people have allowed themselves to become emotionally old.

©Jacki Kellum July 28, 2016

Crisis

How to Make a Very Easy PowToon with a Free Template

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Once you have downloaded the free program PowToon at powtoon.com, you will return to the same web address and log in. At the top of the dashboard, you will see a menu bar, click on: “Create,” and you will see a fairly nice group of free, ready-made templates. Click on the template that is titled Wedding Invitation. 1b-play

Just for fun, click on the blue button on the bottom left. You will see the ready-made animation play.

Compare the template to the video that I made. They are almost identical. I radically changed some of the templates, but this was my practice, and i changed very little.

3b

This is a very easy template. If you want to change the text, click on it, and begin typing. On the above slide, there are 2 text boxes, and you must edit each box separately.

Save Often– Name your Presentation and Save above the window.

dashboard

Once you have completed your video, you can Upload it to Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, and other places. If you close the window and return, click on Dashboard [at the top] to find all of the movies that you have created.

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The video that I made is at the bottom of my dashboard. It is named: “Free Memoir Writing”

©Jacki Kellum July 27, 2016