Friday, November 25, 2011

Check Out the Poll! Please . . .

It’s been ages and ages since I created a poll and as I was adding to my Fifteen in 2012 list I realized that this is a perfect opportunity to invite you, my readers, to voice your opinion on one of the books to be added.

Yes, this is in addition to my studying Hinduism for a few months and in addition to the Fantasy Reading Frenzy but I’ve been doing the “Fifteen” list for a couple of years now and I feel it’s very effective at helping me reduce the clutter in my life. 

But before I offer your choices, I want to put one thing out there.  If you have one of these books and wanted to read it and/or work through it as well, then don’t hesitate to tell me.  I’d be interested in reading along with someone else.  Especially one of the following.  So look over the list, then look for the poll, and then look for the “Fifteen in 2012” post where you will see for yourself which book received the most poll votes. 
Please Note:  The descriptions are taken from amazon.com (unless otherwise noted).  Also, books are listed by author’s last name and should not be construed as an order of preference.

The Art and Craft of Poetry by Michael Bugeja
With The Art & Croft of Poetry, poets will build their poetry-writing skills with help from past and contemporary masters - everything from generating ideas to examining the finished poem. They'll learn how to:. Use journals to develop their observational skills and turn life experiences into ideas for poems. Master the tools of the trade - voice, line, stanza, title, metre and rhyme. Acquire fluency in a variety of poetry formats and forms, everything from narrative, lyric and dramatic verse (traditional formats) to fixed, free and sequence styles (traditional forms). Fine tune their work Exercises, assignments and sample work from more than 100 standout poets - everyone from Walt Whitman to Louise Gluck - ensure that every reader, whether poet, student or bibliophile, discovers just how extraordinary poetry can be.

Creating Fiction by Julie Checkoway
Readers will learn how to revise and edit from Jane Smiley. They will find ways to evoke time and place from Richard Russo. Charles Johnson offers a passionate discussion of the writer's apprenticeship. Lan Samantha Chang presents strategies for structuring stories. Charles Baxter explores tone and emphasis. The 24 contributors to Creating Fiction - members of the Associated Writing Programs - have won awards such as the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Magazine Award. The have led workshops, published stories and novels, and now their experience and wisdom can be found in one landmark book. Their sage advice, combined with more than 100 writing exercises, assure that Creating Fiction will engage and delight readers at any level of experience.  

How to Write a Poem by Lawrence Dessner
Please Note:  This book is out-of-print and the description is from the jacketflap.
How to Write a Poem is a university professor’s rendition, in book form, of his lively and popular Creative Writing classes.  Professor Dessner vividly presents fictionalized versions of his students of many ages, with their poems, good and bad, and their questions and arguments, hopes and fears, successes and disappointment.  The teacher himself is crusty and kind, hot-tempered yet patient, hilarious yet passionately sincere.

The Writer's Idea Workshop: How to Make Your Good Ideas Great
Image from goodreads.com
The Writer’s Idea Workshop by Jack Heffron
Please note:  I also have Heffron’s The Writer’s Idea Book and if you have this one and not the one listed in the poll but want to read along with me, then vote for this book and leave a comment here so I’ll know to swap the one for the other.
Whether you have one idea or several, your goal is to create a powerful piece of fiction or nonfiction -- the kind you've always dreamed of writing. The problem comes in transforming that good idea into a great story or article. How do you proceed after that initial flurry of inspiration? In The Writer's Idea Workshop, Jack Heffron guides you through the idea-development process from initial concept to final revision. An accomplished writer, editor and teacher, Heffron writes with an honest, insightful voice -- one that's no-nonsense and instructive, yet a joy to read. Use this book to carry you through a project from beginning to end, or focus on prompts and chapters that speak to specific concerns or problems. Whatever your need, The Writer's Idea Workshop makes the effort of turning good ideas into great writing a pleasure.

Writing in Flow by Susan Perry

Flow is the sense of inspired freedom that comes when you lose yourself completely in an activity, allowing time, duty and worry to melt away. For writer's, words pour out in a continuous, creative stream. In Writing In Flow, Dr. Susan Perry shows writers how to achieve and maintain a sense of flow in their own work, everything from defining what it is to making it happen - even when facing writer's block. Throughout, more than 75 bestselling and award-winning writers reveal their techniques for enhancing their writing creativity and productivity.

And there’s the list.  The Fifteen in 2012 is not nearly finalized so if there are two books you’d like to share/read with me, again leave a comment and let me know.  Even if you aren’t interested in reading/working along with me, don’t be shy about voting in the poll.  I’ve already added about ten or so books to the list and I am just being lazy, wanting a little help.  

This poll will close at noon (est) on 2 December 2011.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spiritual Paths and January

About four years ago (it was around May of 2007), someone I knew invited me to read along with her and together we agreed that we would explore a different spiritual path for six months.  Initially we chose Buddhism but then she asked if we could switch to Catholicism and I was open to anything because I was looking forward to this as an adventure.

When the six months came to a close she confessed to me she’d found her spiritual path and didn’t want to read along with me any longer.  So about three years ago, I was left to myself and my own devices.  I’ve since devoted six months to reading about Buddhism and Islam, including some sutras and the Quran. 

After debating if I wanted to continue doing this on my own, I’ve decided that I do but I’m also posting about it here in my blog just in case anyone wants to join with me in this exploration. 

Beginning in January, I’ll be reading on Hinduism.  I have a few books on hand (see below) and may have more in my bookshelves which I have yet to dig out.  My intention is to read these books mindfully, with the same openness I gave to Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, A Course in Miracles, etc.  Of course I realize that six months is hardly enough time to fully appreciate any sacred path, especially one with as long a tradition as Hinduism.  The intention is simply to get a taste, an idea about the teachings and beliefs.  From there, who knows.  As history has already proven, it is not impossible that a spiritual path will prove to be the one that speaks to the heart. 

So that is one of the things I have in store for 2012.

Would you like to join me in this six month journey?  I would love to have the reading company and I know that having someone share in this with me allows for an enhanced over all experience.


Naturally I should begin with the Rig Veda.  I've had this book for a while (since around 1992) so it is probably overlapping with my Fifteen in 2012 list a bit but there's nothing that says I can't merge one reading commitment with another.  And whatever else I may choose to read or try to get around to reading, I have always made at least one sacred text a priority in whatever spiritual tradition I am exploring.  I don't know if this is a good translation of the Rig Veda or not but it is where I shall begin.  I may also need to have a dictionary of some sort close by because no doubt the names of various deities will confuse me otherwise.


Hinduism for Dummies is a newer book to my collection, having picked up the latest edition through the vine program.  To be honest, this and the previous book pretty much determined what I would do in January.  The list is not terribly long and Hinduism seemed like a logical direction since I've been pondering whether I should go more contemporary or more traditional.  For some reason, more traditional appeals to me more.  Perhaps because the roots go more deeply.  Also perhaps because this is such an ancient spiritual path and yet it is still flourishing while so many others have fallen away and been forgotten.


The Yoga Tradition will be the third and last book to which I will absolutely commit for this look into Hinduism.  I think I'm blurring the lines here a bit because yoga is not solely a Hindu practice.  There are several schools of yoga and some are off-shoots of Hinduism while others are more aligned with Buddhism.  But I believe this book will work as a resource because no doubt I'll learn more about how yoga grew from and through these various sacred paths.  Besides, on my last visit with my mother she gave me her copy of this book and I can honestly say that it looks like she never read it so this poor (and very impressive looking) book deserves to be read by someone.  Why not me?

Of course, these are just the foundation and, time permitting and inclination leading, I may read others.  So now I shall cross my fingers and hope that maybe someone else will choose to explore Hinduism with me . . .