Archive for August, 2008

Juicy Inspiration

Some people ask where I find my inspiration. My answer is always the same:

“just look around you; the world is full of inspiration.”

One of my favorite pastimes is people-watching, probably learned from my grandfather during our annual trips to Paris. For hours, we’d linger in outdoor cafés as I sipped espresso and jotted observations in my notebook. Parisian cafés are the center of social and culinary life, as well as being prime meeting places. This many years later, I still practice the ritual. For example, yesterday afternoon I sat in a café in Newport Beach and watched the passer-byes and imagined what they did when not strolling on the beach slugging beers or building sand castles. It’s a fun exercise to do in your notebook or verbally with a loved one.

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Notebook Savoire-Faire

Many friends and students say they want to keep a notebook, but they don’t know how to start and what to write. Being the sort of writer who has more ideas than hours in the day, I find this hard to believe, but we cannot assume everyone is like us. For me the notebook or journal is my creative net, catching anything and everything that crosses my path during the day. It contains dreams (nighttime and daytime), compelling quotations, overheard dialogue, observations of bizarre characters, situations which irk me, current events, stories about loved ones, selections from favorite books, and of course, my course random daily musings.

It’s important to carry the notebook everywhere because one never knows when the muse will strike, and even though corners of newspapers and restaurant napkins work in an emergency, they often get misplaced or saturated in spilled beverages.

I learned the art of notebook-keeping from my most admired diarist, Anaïs Nin who had her own particular ritual. She would designate a time to sit and write. Then, she closed her eyes and described the first image which appeared. Most often, it was something that had been on her mind.
Try it. It really works and you’ll be surprised how the words flow and even if they take you away from the initial images, that’s okay.

Write me and let me know how it goes!

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Addicted to Musing

Today is my 31st wedding anniversary and I have a confession. I am addicted to musing, not only verbally with my husband over coffee, but in my notebook. Truly, there could be worse addictions. Today I am writing about the passage of time and how I got to be 54 years old with three grown children. The big joke in our family is that we were married on the 18th and had all three of our kids’ on the 19th. Yes. My husband is an engineer and this is precision. Both our daughters were born on August 19th two years apart and our son on May 19th. What does this all mean? I suppose numerologists would have a heyday, but I’ll let it go.

What are you musing about today?

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My Journaling History

At the age of ten, my mother gave me my first journal with a lock and key to help me cope with the death of my beloved grandmother. I poured my heart and tears onto its pages. As a teen, I had a maroon Khalil Gibran journal with sayings on top of each page. This journal helped me navigate through severe adolescent angst. I remember how I loved to write in green ink.

When I was summoned to bed rest with my first born I chronicled my way through the pregnancy. My journal eventually evolved into a book to help other women cope with high-risk pregnancies. That book, Getting Pregnant and Staying Pregnant: Overcoming Infertility and High-Risk Pregnancy is still in print and I am now updating it for it’s 20th anniversary edition to be released in 2009.

Over the years journaling has become both a habit and addiction—like some people get up in the morning and stretch, I journal. There’s not doubt that it’s been a cathartic exercise that helped me during the tumultuous stages in my life.

What is your journaling history?

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Hello Friends

I surrender. I give in. Kicking and screaming all the way I’ve decided to make the leap and join the blogsphere. Even though colleagues and publicists suggested years ago that I hop on the bandwagon, I fought the urge like a rebellious teenager saying that I’d rather spend my time writing books. Perhaps I was afraid of becoming obsessed by the task and furthermore, as a journaling advocate, I wondered about hanging my dirty underwear on the clothes line for everyone to read. Well, I suppose I will find a balance in my words. What do you think about blogs? Are they just public notebooks? Are they a fad like the latest diet? Are blogs here to stay?

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Quote of the Week

"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me

I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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