Saturday, June 23, 2012


I love 1% for Art. I love that people who plan public facilities in Alaska keep this program going. All around the city, sometimes in unlikely places, whether it's on a pathway or a school entrance, an otherwise dull intersection or a bridge, we get to encounter art. Some of the art isn't all that popular; some of it is rarely seen. Some we cycle or drive past without really thinking about it.

The other day Jon told me I needed to see the new artwork that was installed on the grounds of the new state crime lab. He hesitated to describe it; just said I should see it. I forgot all about it until my sister and I were returning from a fine hike at Glen Alps on Thursday. As I was driving she exclaimed wow, look at that! (or something like that). I did a U-turn and we turned onto Tudor Center Drive and into the empty parking lot.

(The groundskeeper was watering nearby so
 I didn't get very close, but got a few photos.)

In the brilliant sunshine on the day after summer solstice, Fragmenta reflected not just light but color: blues and oranges, yellows, greens. It seemed to move as we moved around it, changing color like a shape-shifter. It made me smile and I imagined picnics and the joy that the artwork will bring. I wondered how it would appear in fall, winter and spring. I tried to imagine it at night.

So, I want to thank the artist, Osman Akan, and Alaska for keeping this program of public art going, despite some dissent. Because we need art. It reminds me of a topic from the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference two weeks ago. I recall a speaker who talked about art in our society and our roles as artists, be it writers, painters, musicians or sculptors. Why do we need art? The speaker quoted poet Naomi Shihab Nye, and I'll paraphrase: Why do we need art? Just watch the evening news. To me that means hope.

In my writing group and at the conference in Homer, we talked about why we write. Why does any of us do what we do? With my trail guide, I wanted to give people answers, so in a way it was for my friends and for the rest of the community. Now, I'm working on stories that I think are relevant. I have something to say that I think will have an impact. Call it a gift of stories and ideas. And we all need stories. I'm looking for the story of Fragmenta. Though it is just beginning.

Here's the time lapse video of the installation. See the photos from the artist's site. And here's more about Alaska's art program. Thanks for reading. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

getting there

Seems the darkest moments arrive just before clarity, discovery, recovery. Last weekend, I was veering close to a one-woman pity party, watching my image in the bathroom mirror as I obediently performed my physical therapy. Spent a moment too long looking at my right arm's flaccid tricep as I reached the arm first in front of me, then to the side.

It was the version of pity that made me wonder if I would ever make a cross-country trip on my bicycle. If I would ever buckle the hip and sternum straps on my camping backpack to spend a night or two in the backcountry. Or if I would ever just reach for something and not have to worry whether my arm could handle the weight.

Feels the same with the writing sometimes. I get discouraged. I see what others are doing and think: I want to write that beautifully. I see a list of titles and wonder how people conjure these stories from the recesses of their brains. Will I ever get there with this book that has again shape-shifted in my mind to short stories... maybe?

Then I have a day like yesterday when I was able to write several pages of fresh revision. Or today when the shoulder felt pretty good as I began some new exercises that are designed to start rebuilding the strength in my arm and shoulder. The goal, I realize now, is not to get back the old me. No, it must be to get to the new version, the better version of me. Rose 3.0. Mind and body improved. It'll take some work, but I will get there. And it will be worth all the effort.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012



I've been in Homer these past few days, filling my brain with ideas at the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference. Right now, my brain feels like a blender filled with a barrage of ideas on a dozen topics, names of new friends, new resources, new first words. As I prepare to head to the airport, I wonder: how do I begin to sift through the bits inside the blender?

First, by taking the idea that I came here with a goal: to find out if someone was interested in publishing my fiction. A premature notion, it turns out. But I'd submitted the first page of the novel to a panel of two editors and an agent. The anonymous submissions of a half-dozen writers were discussed publicly with the level of honesty authors need to, but don't always want to, hear.

Even before they said it, I knew my first page wasn't destined for greatness. It didn't lead the reader directly into the story. Instead, it set up some mundane action and thought that only meant something to me. I listened to the critiques of all the pieces. Several of us had this problem of taking too long to pull the reader into the story.

Afterward, I scrolled through the document on my laptop, looking for the beginning: page six? Really? I talked with a few people I met at the conference, including one of the editors. I told one new acquaintance I'd take his idea under consideration. Later in the evening, as I sat at a public reading, glass of wine in front of me, I pulled out my notebook and began jotting down a few words for the new first page. After the reading and a bonfire, I headed to my friends' house. It was midnight. I opened the laptop and began to write.

What emerged was a new page one. A new beginning for the story. A new voice. A voice with urgency. I completed a page, then closed down the laptop.

This morning, I attended a session on what happens after the rejection. Re-vision. Different from "revision," "re-vision" is a new way to look a the story. Now, I am ready for the re-vision. Next step: write page two.