Three Things Thursday

Thursday is again upon us. Time for another entry of Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

Singing Group

Two or three months ago Tacoma Metro Park District put out a notice that they were thinking of starting a singing group for their 50 and Over activities program. I was in one community chorus or another for several years back in St. Louis. After moving to Tacoma I had looked around casually for a singing group but didn’t find anything in my league. What I mean by that is: if the group requires an audition, it’s out of my league.

I finally got word that there was enough interest in the Park District’s group that they were moving ahead. I attended my first meeting on Monday. There were about seven people there, plus two employees of the Park District. One of the women had brought some printouts of popular old songs such as Let Me Call You Sweetheart and Mr. Sandman. We sang through a few of those songs, without accompaniment. There is no money in the budget to hire someone to play the piano, but there may be a possibility of finding a volunteer.

The choruses that I participated in before sang in four-part harmony accompanied by an accomplished pianist. We prepared real music such as Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and an assortment of popular tunes, and we performed twice a year. Therefore, what I found on Monday isn’t exactly what I was expecting. But I’ll give it a few more weeks to develop. As the group’s existence gets publicized more widely, maybe more people will show up and a more formal structure will develop. I don’t play to stay if it remains just a few people getting together once a week to sing old songs without any accompaniment, not even a pitch pipe.

But the experience did remind me how much I enjoyed participating in a community chorus. I should probably start looking again, more seriously this time, for one that’s appropriate for my level.

Return of the Writing Mojo

typewriterI’ve been having a hard time with my writing lately. I’ve been at it long enough to know that the creative process ebbs and flows, and a writer has to be prepared to soldier on when the going gets tough and trust that the mojo will return. I’ve been gritting my teeth and continuing to type, even though only pretty pedestrian prose was showing up on my computer screen.

But a couple of days ago, the mojo finally returned. It always shows up in the same way: I wake up at about 4:00 AM just full of ideas. Then, whole passages of perfect prose begin to form themselves inside my head. In the past I’ve told myself that those passages would still be in my head later, then turned over and gone back to sleep. But I’ve learned that the passages will, in fact, not be there later, and I’d better get up right away and write them down before they evaporate.

It’s an exhausting process, but also heavenly.

Play Ball!

It’s my favorite time of the year: baseball playoff season.

St. Louis Cardinals logoMy beloved St. Louis Cardinals had the best record in baseball this season, so they should be in the World Series, right?

 

Wrong. They came up against their archrivals, the Chicago Cubs, who won the wild card spot. The Cardinals and the Cubs have been playing since 1898, so this rivalry has had lots of time to fester. In a short series, any team might be able to beat any other team. That’s what happened in the best-of-five division series: The Cubs beat the Cardinals. And that’s why they play the games instead of just figuring the whole thing out on paper.

But in the next round, which is a best-of-seven series, the New York Mets swept the Cubs to win the National League pennant. I find some consolation in that, but not much.

The American League is still working on determining who will meet the Mets in the World Series. Right now the Kansas City Royals lead the Toronto Blue Jays by three games to two. If the Royals win tomorrow, they’ll advance to meet the Mets. But if the Blue Jays win tomorrow, there will be a winner-takes-all game on Saturday.

The World Series is an anxious time if your team is playing. But when, like this year for me, your team is not there, the Series takes on a kind of Zen aura. Then I can appreciate the game for its own sake. There’s a purity in being a disinterested observer watching the game unfold, a purity unsullied by the ecstasy of victory or the agony of defeat. Such a moment elevates my appreciation of the essence of the game.

And of course I’m only writing all that purple prose because this year, my team won’t be there.

Blog a Day Challenge: March Report

Here are my statistics for March:

Number of posts written: 31

Shortest post: 220

Longest post: 2,150

Total words written: 23,345

Average post length: 753

Distribution of posts across my three blogs:

The total of posts here may not equal the number of posts written last month because I occasionally publish the same post on more than one blog. However, I have included each post only once in my total word count.

Last month’s featured post:

On Rereading “Anne of Green Gables”

This post generated a lot (well, a lot for me) of “favorites” and retweets on Twitter. At first I thought that might have happened because the use of the Classics Club hashtag targeted the post to a specific audience. But I published another review with the same hashtag within just a few days of this one, and the second one did not receive the same reaction.

So I’m guessing that the personal orientation of this post caused the increased reaction. The other Classics Club post was a straight book review, but this one emphasized my personal reaction to how reading the book now, as an older adult, affected me differently than had reading it as a child.

What I Learned in March

In February I focused on post length. In March I decided not to worry about length. Instead, I concentrated on writing however many words were necessary to cover each post’s topic. Here are the results of that change of focus:

  • My total words written increased by 2,890.
  • My average post length increased by 93.
  • My number of posts of 1,000 or more words increased from 6 to 9.

The lesson I take from these statistics is that I should worry about each individual post and let the word count fall wherever it may.

The second lesson, which I take from the relative popularity of the post about rereading Anne of Green Gables, is that I should strive to incorporate more personal storytelling into my writing. I knew that, of course, at least in theory. That is why I chose story as my word for this year. But the interest in this post reinforced the lesson for me.

I continue to read more blog posts than I did before starting this blog post a day challenge. From now on I’ll make a more conscious effort to look at which ones most engage me and to learn how and why they do.