What Will It Take?

I haven’t blogged in more than a month because I’ve been busy with other life priorities, but today, an image from The Atlantic forced me to stop and post:

Syria, AP Photo/Manu BraboThe photo was snapped in Syria by Associated Press Photographer Manu Brabo, and the caption reads:

“A Syrian man cries while holding the body of his son near Dar El Shifa hospital in Aleppo, Syria, on October 3, 2012. Three suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives in a government-controlled area of the battleground Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, killing at least 34 people, leveling buildings and trapping survivors under the rubble, state TV said. More than 120 people were injured, the government said.”

As a journalist, I knew this image was more than just a photograph, and had to be shared. As a human being, it made me ask, “What will it take to stop this bloodshed?”

A friend and former colleague of mine is a survivor of the Bosnian War. Her family suffered genocide. Whenever I see images of that conflict, it affects me deeply, because I’ve watched my friend cry—decades later—as if the wounds are still fresh.

Syria is beginning to remind me eerily of Bosnia.

I do not know the answer. I’m aware the U.S. is not capable of getting involved in another conflict, but I find myself asking, “Where the heck is the REST of the world??”

What in God’s name will it take, to make this stop?

Ghosts of Bisbee, AZ (the Old West!)

I just took my first trip to Bisbee, Ariz. this past weekend … and this place is something else! Honestly, I can’t capture it in words, so I used images and music instead.

Below is a 2-minute photo slideshow to music I created to help express the true uniqueness of this historic mining town on the border of Mexico and the U.S., famous for its ghosts of Old West prostitutes and miners! And yes, all images are copywritten by me. 🙂

Please enjoy (and if you’re reading this in an email, you’ll have to click through to my blog to view the slideshow)!

Top 8 Reasons to STEP AWAY from the Computer

Back in April, a pack of wild teenagers stole my laptop computer right from the desk in my home.

You can read about that fateful day from my post, “Burglars Beware! Why to NEVER Rob a Writer’s Home.” However, as angry (and scared) as I was when it happened, I learned something that day:

Taking time away from the world of technology was refreshing—and amazing for my writing. I urge everyone to lose their computer for a week (I was out nearly a month) and see what I mean.

Here are my top eight reasons why you should STEP AWAY from the computer for once:

1. You see the world again. I mean, you really SEE it.

 

 

 

 

2. You sleep better, and deeper, and calmer.

 

 

 

 

 

3. You’re not as stressed from constantly being “plugged in.”

 

 

 

 

4. You have more time to exercise and cook healthy meals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. You concentrate on YOU, not what everyone else is doing.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Your mind can relax and regenerate, which = more creativity.

 

 

 

 

 

7. You read a book—the old-fashioned way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. And finally, your writing improves. Not just a little, but A LOT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, as ambitious writers, we forget that the most important aspect of writing, is living. And although the computer is a significant piece of building our names, we cannot let it consume our lives.

I CHALLENGE YOU: Leave your computer at a trusted friend’s for a week, and take away the temptation. Then tell us the outcome … Are you up for it?

**All photos displayed are the copywritten property of Shari Lopatin (except the books photo, which was borrowed from Google Images), and cannot be copied, reproduced, or printed without written consent from Shari Lopatin.**

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Beyond the Beach

I once had a boyfriend who hated the beach. He thought it smelled like fish and garbage, and complained how the sand gets everywhere.

Thank God, he’s moved on, and so have I. Today, I can fall asleep on the beach with a like-minded partner, enveloped in the warmth of the fine sand, then submit myself to the ocean’s powerful waves. I would say I hope California really does fall into the ocean so we can get those beaches here in Arizona.

But then I’d miss California. So, I guess I’m screwed.

What is it about the beach?
I also love the Ponderosa Pine forest in Flagstaff. And the creek running through Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona (both of which are in Arizona, for those non-natives). But there’s just something extra special about the beach and the ocean.

After much contemplation, I’ve narrowed it down to this one reason: freedom.

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To discover how you can “see beyond the beach” in your writing, head over to Melissa Crytzer Fry’s blog, where I guest-posted this week. You can finish reading my post there, and enjoy some beautiful, beach sunset photos too!

Nature as Creativity Booster

Ever since I met Melissa Crytzer Fry, I’ve been AMAZED how she draws parallels between the tiniest details in nature and the writing process. Today, I’m happy to introduce Melissa to you–as the third (and final) writer/blogger in my networking project.

Welcome to Rogue Writer, Melissa, and thanks for your guest blog (and photos) today!

Nature as Creativity Booster

Guest post and photography by Melissa Crytzer Fry

**All photos published on this post are property of Melissa Cryzter Fry, and cannot be copied, re-reprinted, or re-produced without proper permissions and consent from Melissa Cryzter Fry.**
 

I grew up among cornfields and cow pastures in northwestern Pennsylvania. Perhaps the long walks down to the beaver dam, strolls along the bullfrog-infested, green algae-blanketed pond behind my house, and salamander-owl-raccoon encounters account for my attraction to the outdoors.

I can’t be sure. But I do know, after living in downtown Phoenix for a decade and then moving to a rather remote part of southern Arizona, that I fell in love again with those wide-open spaces. 

But this time around, nature offered an entirely new gift: writing inspiration. Without fail, every jog or hike I take among my ranch’s saguaro-studded hills results in something new: engaging leads for magazine articles, plot solutions, and inspiration to keep writing – to be more creative overall.

So what, exactly, is it about nature that inspires creativity? The crisp air? The vastness of outdoor space? The departure from technology that lets the brain wander? Yes, yes, yes. But there’s also a scientific reason: Nature solves problems. Creatively. Biomimicry is at play. Bio-what? Biomimicry says that we can borrow creative solutions to just about any problem … from nature. All we have to do is pay attention to and study nature’s best ideas – its efficient designs, models, systems, processes.

Creativity guru Tamara Kleinberg asks, “If nature … has solved many problems we face today, why not go back to nature for inspiration? Why not engage with nature, understand how it works and then apply those lessons to life and work?” And to writing!

I agree with Kleinberg that nature is the ultimate innovation tool. In her blog post, she suggests some nature-related exercises to boost creativity:

  • Ask “What does it do?” With eyes closed and natural objects in hand – feathers, rocks, leaves – determine the function of each. Not what each is. What each does. Does the feather repel water, provide insulation, add to aerodynamics? Asking such questions may inspire new thoughts, ideas.
  • Fieldtrips. Go to a museum, visit an archaeological site, a city park. Pieces of nature – bones, animal skin, fossils, plants – “can take you to new places,” says Kleinberg.
  • Look & See: Step away from the computer and get outside. Really see your surroundings. Ask why nature works the way it does – how the insect is able to walk on the pond, how hummingbirds just seem to “know” where the flowers are, why water clings to grass blades. Doing so can conjure new ideas and provide answers for seemingly unrelated creative conundrums.

Take time out to interact with the outdoors, even if you live in the city. You may be surprised at the creative results.

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Melissa Crytzer Fry is a fulltime freelance writer, author of the What I Saw creativity & writing blog and a writer/enthusiast of literary women’s fiction. You can also follow her on Twitter.