Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Inspirational Alamanac

Welcome to the February Inspirational Almanac.  Regular postings of the Almanac will go up on the 1st day of each month.  

Think of each post as a month-long collection of creative inspiration for your writing.  You will find a plethora of interesting quotes, facts, story starters, and more than enough writing prompts to last you the duration of February.  The prompts vary from journal writing to poetry, guided short stories and even characterization so you won't easily get bored!

Happy February, my friends and writers.  May you find inspiration in abundance, time for writing to your hearts content, and many a reason for celebration.
______________________________


It is important to create often because_________.


February Affirmation
"Creative thoughts and worthy creations continuously flow within me, then throughout and onto the empty page."


Resolution
I give myself permission to use words in ways that serve my creativity, my curiosity, and my overall well-being.


Tidbits of History
On February 1st, 2003, the Space shuttle Columbia, exploded across the sky over Texas, tragically resulting in the deaths of all seven crew members.

Extending the idea:  What are some metaphorical 'explosions' that have happened in your own life?  In what ways have you lit the sky?  Are you a fan of the progression of Science and the work of NASA or do you feel the galaxy is an unknown realm better left alone?


February 19th is the birthday of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.  He is considered the forefather of modern astronomy and postulated that it was the sun that stood center of the solar system,

Extending the idea:  Go star-watching and write about it.  Do you believe there could be life on other planets, why or why not?  If not, then do you think it's just mass hysteria how many sightings people have 'experienced, particularly in the 60's decade?  If it's weather-permitting, perhaps you can talk a walk by the light of the moon.




Notable Holidays
Valentines Day is probably one of the most notable February holidays, it marks the calendar on the 14th and paints the world of red hearts, cuddly pink stuffed animals, fresh flowers, balloons and delectable chocolate treats.  Perhaps the most celebrated symbol of Valentines day is Cupid, whom is the Roman God of love!  Valentines Day is also attributed to the Pagan holiday on the 15th when Roman men chose a bride to be married to on that very day.

Things to do:  Wear red or pink.  Send your love a card.  Bake some yummy heart-shaped cookies or brownies.  Go out on a dinner date with your love interest (or with a good friend if you're solo at the moment).  Go window shopping...most businesses decorate for the holidays so have a look at all those lovely red and pink shop displays!  And don't forget to give your own self a hug.


February 17th will mark the Celebration of Mardi Gras, a holiday often attributed to huge Carnival-like celebrations.  Perhaps the largest Mardi Gras celebration can be attended in New Orleans, Louisiana.  This lavish party of the streets is markedly colorful, full of shiny beaded necklaces, loud music, good food, and a drink or two.  

Things to do:  Wear some beads (or your best piece of jewelry).  Celebrate the holiday with a drink and some great food.  How about shopping for that special piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love.  Throw a dinner party.  Visit your local theme park or town fair (considering it's weather-permitting where you are).  Pay homage to the French Quarter by listening to some Jazz music and reading Tarot Cards.


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Write a story/flash fiction/poem about a female who is alone on Valentines day.  The catch is that you have to use the following guidelines:

1. She must be 24 years old.
2. She is a bookworm.
3. A dating website must appear somewhere in the story.
4. She's single when the story begins, and when it ends...but whatever happens to her love life in between is entirely up to you!
5.  There must be a clown in the story.

(Don't feel limited, write in any form you want:  poetry, flash fiction, short story, etc.)

                                                              OR

Write a story/flash fiction/poem about a young man who thought he was in love with his girlfriend.  He's just realized that it wasn't love, only lust.  Now he's going to break things off, and on Valentines day, of all days!

1.  He must be in his early 30's.
2.  He's a clerk at a shoe store.
3.  A dating website must appear somewhere in the story.
4.  A pink cupcake must be a primary object in this story.
5.  A huge fight must ensue somewhere during the story...including cops and paramedics.  You get to choose who fights (after all it is your story!).


The Literary Greats Said (About Love)
“...sweet music.  It beats love because there aren’t any wounds: in the morning she turns on the radio, Brahms or Ives or Stravinsky or Mozart. She boils the eggs counting the seconds out loud: 56, 57, 58…she peels the eggs, brings them to me in bed. After breakfast it’s the same chair and listen to the classical music. She’s on her first glass of scotch and her third cigarette. I tell her I must go to the racetrack. She’s been here about 2 nights and 2 days. “When will I see you again?” I ask. She suggests that might be up to me. I nod and Mozart plays.” 
― Charles BukowskiLove is a Dog from Hell


"We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright."
― Ernest Hemingway,  A Movable Feast


"I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down.  That's the thing about girls.  Every time they do something pretty...you fall half in love with them and then you never know where the hell you are."
― J.D. Salinger



Writing With Astrology
The two primary astrological signs of February are Pisces and Aquarius.

Some words used to describe the Pisces Personality are:
gentle, kind, compassionate, creative, artistic, gullible, lazy, bookish, intelligent, perceptive, lazy, idealistic, dreamy, understanding, gifted

Extending the idea:
*Use the word list above to construct a poem, flash fiction, short story
*Write a story.  The main character must be a Pisces.  Make her a creative, artistic, gullible, and bookish.  She reads Tarot cards for a living.

Some words used to describe the Aquarius Personality are:
intelligent, progressive, independent, honest, romantic, unconventional, successful, focused, atypical, talented, unconventional, talented, friendly, glamorous,

Extending the idea:
*Use the words above to construct a poem, flash fiction, short story
*Write a three-page (fictional) personal memoir in the first person account of an Aquarius woman.  Make her life exceptionally exciting.  She lives in a huge, busy city (your choice).  The memoir will address her life as a starving artist and her daily struggle with bi-polar disorder.


The Age of Aquarius
Did you know this song title is also actually an astrological theory.  Astrologists and philosophers postulate that the true Age of Aquarius will occur when the equinox point moves from the constellation of Pisces into Aquarius.  Some state this happened in 1844, others state that it truly began in 2012.  Some have said that Age of Aquarius will thrive well into the first years of 4000!

It seems each separate philosopher has their own idea the earthly effects of this phenomenal astrological age.  Yet they all revolve around issues such as:

*human beings becoming more altruistic and creative
*advancements in space and flight
*shrinking of inner cities and suburbs
*enlightenment and advancement
*the effects of war and the rising of new leaders
*exceptional growth of technology
*Age of Aquarius is also said to be 'the house of the woman'

Extending the idea:
*Write an essay about what you feel the Age of Aquarius really is
*Write a flash fiction depicting the apocalypse of the Age of Aquarius
*Write a short story about a couple and their struggling relationship in relation to the effects of the Age of Aquarius
*Write a poem about the beauty and progression of humankind and creativity as the earth is effected by the Age of Aquarius


The Age of Aquarius has also been used to identify the hippie culture and other New Age movements.  People oftentimes attribute the song to the idea of love and peace, as well as wood stock and the free-living movement of the 60's and 70's.

The song Age of Aquarius was actually written and performed by the popular 60's band The 5th Dimension.  Below are the most defining lyrics of the song:

"When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius! Aquarius!

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation
Aquarius! Aquarius!

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars."


Extending the idea:  
*Write a poem about a hippie who is living among the Age of Aquarius
*Write a poem about Woodstock
*Write a poem using the lyrics above as inspiration
*Write an astrological poem about Jupiter and Mars

Use this Word Pile (derived from the lyrics above) to construct a piece of poetry or flash fiction:
Steer, stars, Jupiter, Moon, peace, love, mystic, golden, liberation, dreams, visions, crystal



Lyrical Genius
I can think of quite a few contemporary musicians who wrote ground-breaking love songs.  Some such as the belated Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You and one of the many breath-taking ballads of Celine Dion, The Power of Love.  Perhaps you prefer a different genre altogether.  Whatever your music of preference, listen to some 'love songs' while you work on this section.  Light a candle, set the lights down low, maybe even pour yourself a cup of wine, make it a late-night date with your muse!

The Assignment:   Write a love song.  The challenge...it must either be a 'happy' love song or a 'goodbye' love song.  The choice is yours...but there must be a repeatable chorus and at least two other stanzas.  Line limit:  32 lines maximum, 20 lines minimum.

Extending the idea:  Since we've discussed the 60's/70's era and we're working with lyrics, I thought it would be fun to combine the two.  Below you will find a list of love songs from that era.  Use them as first lines, titles for poems, themes for poetry and fiction.  You can even pick them apart and create your own word piles.

Time Has Told Me
Pale Blue Eyes
I'm a Beleiver
You Really Got Me
I Can't Help Myself
Lay Lady Lay
My Girl
River Deep, Mountain High
When A Man Loves a Woman
Can't Help Falling in love With You


Journal-Writing For You
*Look at the quotes above (from the literary greats).  Use each one for a separate free-writing session.
*What do you feel true love 'entails'?
*Think about a comfortable routine you do with your partner.  Perhaps it's reading together, as Ernest Hemingway speaks of...perhaps you cook together?   Write about it as creatively as you can.  Turn it into a wonderful, detailed scene.
*What is your idea Valentines Day date?
*Write about a blind date you've been on.  Where did you go?  What did you do?  Did you end up in a long-term relationship or was it a bust?
*Write about your take on cyber-dating.  Is it a fantasy or a real relationship?\
*Do you believe true love exists?  Why or why not?
*Write about the first time you really 'partied.'
*What is your take on Mardi Gras?  Have you ever attended?  Would you like to attend?  Or do you think it's all a silly display?
*Write about the first birthday party of your memory.  List as many details of this celebration as you possibly can.  (It doesn't matter if it's your birthday or someone else's!)
* Look at the night sky, write about the stars and what you see.
*What is your astrological sign.  Look up the characteristics.  Write them down.  Do you agree or disagree?  In what ways?
*What is your view on the new age hippie movement?  The music?
*Write about your own personal beliefs?  What are they?  Do you use them as a basic guiding force in your life?



Write Myself Some Poetry
Here's some 'First Lines' to get you started:
1)  Love is a clock unwound
2)  It was an occasion to party
3)  I think it's time I wear my best beads
4)  My first broken relationship was _______.
5)  I loved myself better than anyone else
6)  Pink is the color of ______.
7.  Bukowski never believed in love
8)  Wasn't love why Van Gogh severed his ear?
9)  Winter mornings meant coffee and chocolate
10)  The first snowfall of February fell without _______.
11)  Flowers were meant for wearing
12)  I dreamed of Pisces
13)  Mars and Jupiter spun the air
14)  That was the night we danced our own disco



The World Pile
A word pile is simply a list of interesting words.  Typically, I use word piles as challenging poetry-writing exercises.  The idea is to incorporate the complete list of words into a poem.  You can change the tense of any given word if you need to.  You can also use these word lists to write short stories and flash fiction.

Word Pile #1
brazen, candle, esoteric, midnight, waning, shadow, lent, resurrect, blush, drowsy, glow, window

Word Pile #2
sentimental, tune, silent, fire, whimsy, darkness, kiss, insecure, wine-glass, meaningful, afterglow

Word Pile #3
strumming, stupor, leftover, alone, guitar, elemental, picture, played, obsessive, believe, streaming, moon

Word Pile #4
specific, coffee-pot, rearrange, subliminal, owl, light-bulb, twilight, roadside, meandering, windowpane, chalky, substance

Word Pile #5
knoll, reflection, starry, stoop, swing, letter, well-lit, farmhouse, wintering, bells, bookish, kitchen


I Need to Remind Myself to...
Buy chocolates and wine for absolutely no reason...everyday should be a special occasion merely because it exists and I am alive to live within it.  I will wear my best jewelry and my best shoes, just because I want to.  Life is an amazing gift, I want to inhabit every moment rather than feel dominated by time (or lack of).  And even if  I don't attend Mardi Gras (or even if I do) vow to live colorfully this February.

Light a candle in a darkened room and watch the stars...the universe spins out there, time unfolding before my eyes.  I can look at it from my window on this speck of earth (such a small piece of matter in the spectrum of time and space) and that's a pretty magical thing to witness!



Challenge Accepted?
This Valentines Day I challenge you to remember to celebrate 'self love.'  I want you to buy yourself a card, and chocolates too.  Maybe even write a love letter to yourself!  In addition to this, you will splurge on a new book of your choice and designate a whole day to relaxing with your book!  

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