New thought-provoking blog “Discourse on Reality” launching soon

DiscourseOnReality

“The work of an intellectual is not to mould the political will of others; it is, through the analyses that he does in his own field, to re-examine evidence and taglineassumptions, to shake up habitual ways of working and thinking, to dissipate conventional familiarities, to re-evaluate rules and institutions and to participate in the formation of a political will (where he has his role as citizen to play).”  ― Michel Foucault

Discourse on Reality, launching this Wednesday, will focus on current socio-economic, cultural, philosophical and political issues and challenges facing everyday men and women — across the globe.  As the title suggests, it is meant to be a forum for intelligent discourse, where people can share ideas, commentary, and information on subjects that are current, relevant and affect our communities — locally, nationwide, worldwide.  The objective is to learn, engage, raise awareness and, perhaps, become actively involved in the very causes, issues and challenges that we seek to address and remedy.

It is not my desire to write monologues day in and day out.  Dialoguing with oneself becomes tedious after a while.  To that end, I will be extending an invitation to anyone who may be interested in writing a guest blog post — within the scope of the subject matter discussed in the blog.  The invitation is open to writers, scholars, community leaders, and activists — subject to my approval, per  the guest blogging guidelines that will be available for review when Discourse on Reality goes live on Wednesday morning.  Non-fiction authors who post a guest blog will also be invited to highlight their latest work on the “Books” page.

Discourse on Reality embraces diversity.  This means: people from all walks of life, all cultures, all religions, all nationalities and ethnicities,  all political and philosophical leanings, all genders and orientations. 

Discourse on Reality will not provide a forum for hate, bigotry, and profanity.  It’s one thing to be passionate about what you believe in, but it is quite another to spew out hateful commentary.

One blog will be posted by 9 am EDT daily, from Monday to Friday.  Each day will focus on one theme, as follows:

       MONDAYS – Socio-economic Issues  (i.e. hunger, homelessness, health, education, environment and more)

       TUESDAYS – Economic Issues (i.e. the economy, business, technology, and more)

       WEDNESDAYS – Cultural Issues (i.e. civil rights, human rights, and more)

       THURSDAYS – Philosophical & Political Issues (i.e. commentary on current political events/news, ideology, religion)

       FRIDAYS – Philanthropy and Humanitarianism (i.e. role models and visionaries, non-profit organizations, humanitarian efforts and disaster relief,  sustainability, and more)

I hope that those of you who have been tuning in to my heatherfromthegrove (a writer’s musings) blog will also check out Discourse on Reality this Wednesday.  

As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.

Thanks for stopping by!

— Heather

Carpe Diem

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“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.”

Eleonora Duse

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Image via lesserevillife.com.

Dance like nothing matters

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“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.” 
― William W. Purkey

 

When it feels like the walls are closing in on you and the stress is threatening to take you down…. stop.  Press the pause button.  You need  to take a moment, an hour, maybe even a whole  afternoon – to do something that will make you smile, grin… or even throw your head back  with uninhibited laughter.

My recommendation: Dance.

Why not?

Dance by yourself (don’t feel self-conscious, nobody is watching!) or grab a partner and twirl around, waltz, or – if you know how – tango!

Here, in steamy South Florida, we enjoy daily (afternoon) tropical downpours and I love to go out and dance about  the yard. Lifting my face up to the sky, I welcome the rain as it washes away all the stresses and annoyances that had been niggling away at me.  I feel rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to take on any challenge that may cross my path. I look up at the window and there is my husband and black Lab, both staring at me as if I had just escaped an insane asylum.  I wave at them to join me, but my dog ducks away from the window as soon as the first loud peal of thunder shakes our rooftop.  My husband makes a crazy sign gesture, directed at me, and disappears from sight.  I shrug and continue my rain dance, choosing not to pay attention to the fluttering of curtains in several neighbors’ windows.  Completely soaked through, I finally pad my way up the stairs and go inside to dry up.  My dog greets me with a sniff and a lick. My husband stands beside him, a bath towel in his hand. He wraps it around me, and gives me a hug. 

All is right with the world.

Image via sheranescloset.com.

The Quirks and Eccentricities of Writers

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“I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.”    

Truman Capote

Writers are a curious species.  From writing rituals, superstitions, and funny quirks to over-the-top, Mad Hatter-type eccentricities… we immerse ourselves in an environment, and a process from which all creative juices can flow freely.

If my old marketing colleagues could see me now, they would be shocked.  I used to sport a coiffed, stylish shoulder-length bob  (think Cindy Williams, in her role as Shirley on the TV sitcom “Laverne & Shirley) and always wore chic, professional business attire.  I now look like a cross between Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt, but with round, black glasses. My “writing wear” consists of red Stewart plaid pajama bottoms and my favorite black t-shirt, inscribed (in white) with the words: “Drink Ouzo. [Help save Greece].”  I sit, always barefoot, at my desk oblivious to anyone or anything.  Sometimes, I mutter out loud.

Unlike Truman Capote, I am a vertical author. When I’m deep in thought, I pace back and forth.  Like Capote, however, I am ridiculously obsessed with punctuation and this obsession is annoying even to me.

At the commencement of each day, my desk must be clear and pristine, before I’m able to start writing. I can’t function if it’s messy.

My daily ritual of libation-while-writing evolves from early morning to late night: from water (with a lemon slice) in the early AM, to black coffee (Gevalia, French Roast) until 1 pm, to tea (Earl Grey, no milk or sugar) in the afternoon, to single malt scotch (Glenlivet) at 6pm-ish, then on to wine (preferably a nice Burgundy) in the evening, and, late at night, back to water (with a lemon slice).

And, I hate phones.

I know that I am not alone in my “madness” … so, ‘fess up writers.  What are your writing quirks and eccentricities?  I would love to hear about them!

Don’t worry, we’re in good company.  Some of the greatest literary minds of yore (and also a few familiar modern authors) have been clouded (or sharpened…. it’s all a matter of perspective) by their writing fetishes. 

Victor Hugo, a procrastinator by nature, would remove all of his clothes and give them to his servant, with instructions not to return them until he had completed his writing day.

Charles Dickens had a ritual whereby he would drink a sip of hot water after every 50 lines of writing.

Joyce Carol Oates commences her writing day very early and will not eat breakfast until her day’s work is done.  Sometimes her “breakfast” is at dinnertime!

Orhan Pamuk had a quirky ritual. By his own admission, he would leave his house each morning (after saying goodbye to his wife), as if he were going off to work. He would then walk around a few blocks and return home, as if arriving at the office. This put him in the “work zone” frame of mind.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe would retreat like a hermit into a completely sealed room, devoid of fresh air, and stay there until he completed his work.

So, there you have it.  We are a loopy bunch.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?

Photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography

Relax and Recharge Your Batteries

Relaxing and reading at the beach

“It is both relaxing and invigorating to occasionally set aside the worries of life, seek the company of a friendly book…from the reading of ‘good books’ there comes a richness of life that can be obtained in no other way.” 
― Gordon B. Hinckley

It’s time to turn off the computer and recharge.  What better way to enjoy a summer weekend than to  soak up some sun and relax outdoors with that book you’ve been meaning to read for some time?  For me, it’s been “one of those weeks” and so, I think I’ll heed my own advice.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Cheers,

heatherfromthegrove

 

Image via greenallianceblog.org.uk.

 

Three Nuggets of Wisdom for Writers

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1a

“The process of writing a book is infinitely more important than the book that is completed as a result of the writing, let alone the success or failure that book may have after it is written . . . the book is merely a symbol of the writing. In writing the book, I am living. I am growing. I am tapping myself. I am changing. The process is the product.”

Theodore Isaac Rubin

 2a

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Calvin Coolidge

 3a

“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right. We must earn life once it has been awarded us. Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation. So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.”

Ray Bradbury  (Zen in the Art of Writing(1990) Preface)

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 Image Credit: Aliaksei Lasevich/Shutterstock

Here today, gone tomorrow

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“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”

 ― Jules Renard 

I will preface this post by saying that there is certainly, in my view, nothing wrong with wanting to make money from writing.  That would be a hypocritical thing to say, since I write for a living.

However, I write about things that interest me, that I’m passionate about –  thoughts, ideas, issues and concerns that I want to share with others, raise awareness  about… and, ultimately, engage in discourse.

I do not write a book just to satisfy a market trend or to capitalize on a subject that I would not normally even consider, just to make a quick buck.

Trends are here today, and gone tomorrow.

It’s really, really important to remember that.  Writers, please heed this advice.  Trendy books eventually fizzle out. They do not live in perpetuity. Their final resting place lies in a dusty old box, stored in some obscure warehouse. 

Make every post, every article, every book you write… a labor of love. Whether you write as a hobby, part-time on the side, or 24/7 (like me) – write something that fuels your adrenaline.

If you find yourself writing for hours on end – oblivious to all the sights and sounds around you, with a cup of coffee that has been cold for at least three hours – you’re probably writing for the right reasons.

Recently, I read an article (can’t remember where, though) that said:

“Write the story that gives you insomnia.”

That’s when you know that your book will have staying power. And, once you’ve written it, perhaps you will catch up on your sleep!

 

Image: Sandra Gligorijevic/Stock

More summer reading

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“I guess you can call me “old fashioned”. I prefer the book with the pages that you can actually turn. Sure, I may have to lick the tip of my fingers so that the pages don’t stick together when I’m enraptured in a story that I can’t wait to get to the next page. But nothing beats the sound that an actual, physical book makes when you first crack it open or the smell of new, fresh printed words on the creamy white paper of a page turner.” 

― Felicia Johnson 

Well, three weeks of poetry, fiction and non-fiction have come and gone, here at heatherfromthegrove. I hope you found the selections interesting and perhaps even added them to your own summer reading list.

Below, are just a few more for you to consider.  I’ve listed them by genre and category  (only the book title, author and thumbnail book cover). Please scroll slowly, all the way down.

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Heather

POETRY:

living-things-collected-poems-anne-porter-paperback-cover-artLiving Things: Collected Poems (2006), by Anne Porter

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Phenomenal Women:  Four Poems Celebrating Women, by Maya Angelou

FICTION:

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The English Girl, by Daniel Silva

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

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Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

NON-FICTION:

Category – Cookbooks

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Greek Revival: Cooking for Life, by Patricia Moore-Pastides

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Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Category – Memoir

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Bossypants, by Tina Fey

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To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story, by Mary C. Neal, M.D.

Category – History > North America > Canada

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Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto’s Waterfront Heritage, by  M. Jane Fairburn

Category – Mainstream Political and Economic Commentary  > United States

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Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent, by Edward Luce

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The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, by Joseph E. Stiglitz

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Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, by Heather Joan Marinos

Category – Mainstream Economic Commentary  > International

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BreakoutNations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, by Ruchir Sharma

Image (at the very top) via meetup.com.