Searchlights & Signal Flares


Tiny Lights' On-line Writer's Exchange

How do you make your intentions clear? (05/15/10)



Featured writer: Catherine Montague



Contributors this month:
Becky Povich
Catherine Montague
Christine Falcone
Claudia Larson
Don Edgers
Elaine Webster
Sara A. Baker
Theresa Sanders


How do you make your intentions clear?

by Catherine Montague

Intentions! Oh, my… that sounds like some dialogue out of a 19^th century novel, as in, "What are your intentions, sir?" delivered by Squire Dimwiddie, father of numerous daughters. The question implies naughty, or perhaps merely improvident, possibilities for the future.

My own intentions, literary or otherwise, are not always entirely serious. I avoid maintaining a serious attitude for more than a few hours at a time, so I suppose that means my intentions might be somewhat frivolous, even immature. Perhaps someday my intentions will grow up, but right now, I doubt it.

When I'm writing something of any substantial length, my intentions shift and change as the characters evolve. What starts out as a project to amuse myself quickly turns into an alliance with my imagined companions. I can't just go off and leave the poor things stuck in the uncomfortable situations I wrote them into: I have to save them from themselves. Or am I saving myself? Is that what all of us do, intentionally or not, when we re-create conflict-filled situations within our stories and memoirs?

Maybe it's all a big old do-over, trying to fix broken things after the fact. I guess that's why I guard myself against getting too serious. If I indulge my intentions too much, they might try to take over. And then where would I be? Pushed around by a bunch of half-baked intentions, no longer free to enjoy the unexpected treasures that wash up on my mental shoreline.

Intentions are fine and dandy, as long as I can see them for the fictions they are. It's nice to entertain them for a while, but like houseguests, they need to move on before they outlive their welcome.

Only then does it become clear that my immature intentions need to grow up and become… actions!

Catherine Montague will continue to work on various writing projects until approximately 35 seconds /before/ she gets bored with them. Her intent is to avoid boring potential readers. She lives in Sebastopol, CA, surrounded by well-intentioned souls, including her favorite plants and animals.

How do I make my intentions clear?

  by Becky Povich

I think it's safe to say that I have never asked myself, "How do I make my intentions clear?"
I doubt if I've ever used the word "intentions" in a conversation. It's just not something I would say. I would say, "My goal is…" or "My plan is…"

Whenever I hear the word, "intentions," I conjure up a scene from an old movie where the father answers a knock at the door, and gruffly asks his daughter's suitor, "Just what are your intentions toward my daughter, sir?" After which, the young man stutters and fidgets, hopefully thinking up a gentlemanly response, and avoids the door being slammed in his face….or worse.

As my confidence in myself has improved, so has my writing. Right now, my plan, my "intention," is to finish my book, for which I have a self-imposed deadline of July 16, 2010. Why did I choose this particular date? It's the birthday of my deceased sister, Jo Ann. She never knew of my passion for writing because she died years before I even realized it myself. She would be so proud of the woman I've become, on so many different levels.

So, the question is: How have I made my intentions clear? I'm a firm believer in the notion of envisioning dreams and success; of writing down those dreams and goals and intentions.

First, I posted a countdown widget on my blog. It silently ticks the hours and days away, while displaying confetti and streamers in motion, allowing me to witness the happy ending that awaits me when I've completed my book. Although seeing it makes me a bit nervous and wary of my ability, it also makes me strive even more to meet it.

In addition, I have other little handwritten notes tucked here and there, boasting of my writing and publishing success, such as: My book will not only be published, but will also be a Best Seller!

If that isn't making my intentions clear, than I don't know what would.

Becky truly enjoys hearing from other writers, aspiring or otherwise. Stop by her blog and leave a comment:www.beckypovich.blogspot.com
or send an e-mail to: Writergal53@aol.com.


How do you make your intentions clear?

  by Catherine Montague

Intentions! Oh, my… that sounds like some dialogue out of a 19^th century novel, as in, "What are your intentions, sir?" delivered by Squire Dimwiddie, father of numerous daughters. The question implies naughty, or perhaps merely improvident, possibilities for the future.

My own intentions, literary or otherwise, are not always entirely serious. I avoid maintaining a serious attitude for more than a few hours at a time, so I suppose that means my intentions might be somewhat frivolous, even immature. Perhaps someday my intentions will grow up, but right now, I doubt it.

When I'm writing something of any substantial length, my intentions shift and change as the characters evolve. What starts out as a project to amuse myself quickly turns into an alliance with my imagined companions. I can't just go off and leave the poor things stuck in the uncomfortable situations I wrote them into: I have to save them from themselves. Or am I saving myself? Is that what all of us do, intentionally or not, when we re-create conflict-filled situations within our stories and memoirs?

Maybe it's all a big old do-over, trying to fix broken things after the fact. I guess that's why I guard myself against getting too serious. If I indulge my intentions too much, they might try to take over. And then where would I be? Pushed around by a bunch of half-baked intentions, no longer free to enjoy the unexpected treasures that wash up on my mental shoreline.

Intentions are fine and dandy, as long as I can see them for the fictions they are. It's nice to entertain them for a while, but like houseguests, they need to move on before they outlive their welcome.

Only then does it become clear that my immature intentions need to grow up and become… actions!

Catherine Montague will continue to work on various writing projects until approximately 35 seconds /before/ she gets bored with them. Her intent is to avoid boring potential readers. She lives in Sebastopol, CA, surrounded by well-intentioned souls, including her favorite plants and animals.

How do you make your intentions clear?

  by Christine Falcone

When I think of making my intentions clear, I picture myself walking around in my head, a bottle of Windex in one hand, a wad of paper towels in the other. I see myself spritzing and wiping in wide, round circles, polishing my intentions to perfection. I see them taking shape, gaining definition, so that I can actually pick them up in one hand and examine them with the other. If only it were that easy.

In reality, if I want to find any sort of clarity for my intentions, it involves not glass cleaner and paper towels, but rather a certain state of receptivity, and a quiet looking inward. It's like gazing into a pool at the center of my soul. If I look long and hard enough, eventually the way will be shown to me. But I have to be willing to become very still. And I have to be willing to wait. And patience, at least for me, is not always so readily available.

I recently saw poet Gary Snyder speak at the San Francisco International Film Festival where he was promoting a new documentary film about his life and work. At one point, he recited a short little poem about how poetry comes to him which I just love:

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light


And I think my intentions become clear in a similar way, only instead of emerging out of the darkness of night, they appear out of a kind of mental fogbank. Only when I sit still and quiet, with a certain measure of patience and even reverence, do they make themselves known to me.

Christine Falcone is trying to make her intentions clear in Novato, California -- most recently her intentions have to do with questions of whether or not she should apply to the MFA in Writing and Consciousness Program at CIIS.





How do you make your intentions clear?

  by Claudia Larson

Clarifying an intention is like clearing a closet.

I take the yellow sweater off its hanger and ask myself if I love it, like it or keep it simply because it's cashmere, thus connoting a certain status. I notice that the grosgrain facing is unanchored at the top of the garment, trailing a quarter inch piece of thread. "I can easily fix that", I murmur in my head. My solar plexus yells "For goodness sake! Give that thing away! It doesn't fit right, it's too short, it's not even high quality cashmere, its slight scratchy and it's not so comfortable to wear. Good grief." I listen. I put the sweater in the give-away paper grocery bag.

I turn back to the sweaters, picking out the periwinkle rayon and silk cardigan, the one with the three quarter length sleeves, with the single hook and eye closing at the collared neckline. Multicolored fine yarn in shades of pale periwinkle, pale apple green, pale, pale yellow, is crocheted at the collar and sleeve edges. The sweater drapes over my shoulders, over my arms and down my chest and back. There's no need to ask if I love it, like it or keep it simply because it's rayon and silk and is fair trade made, connoting a certain status. I simply enjoy the color, the knit's drape, the way the sleeves stay out of my way.

If my mind is yelling orders to me and my solar plexus is relaxing with pleasure, I choose to follow the pleasure. Sometimes it takes a bit of time and focus to machete my way through mental demands. Once I've hacked my way through that jungle, I usually land in clarity's sweet meadow.

Claudia Larson will next sort her socks in search of even more clarity. The second hand stores in Sebastopol, CA may not want her cast off socks, but someone will enjoy the yellow sweater.


Clear Intentions: Now & Then

  by Don Edgers

Iâ؟CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!#@*%!?HáM:>(

Once upon a time, before electronic communications, written intentions were time consuming and quite creative. Time consuming - because everything was either typed or hand-written by pencil or a fountain pen. Pictures (icons) either had to be drawn or cut from magazines or newspapers, then glued with mucilaginous (like snot) glue from a rubber-tipped glue bottle. After all this, an envelope had to be addressed and your creation mailed from a mailbox. Two or three days later, if the mailman got past neighborhood dog packs, the addressee might receive your masterpiece.

In my early teens I received a letter from a secret admirer clearly announcing her romantic intentions toward me by addressing, in a feminine-hand, a pink envelope with an upside down stamp (meaning I love you), and a hand-drawn heart with an arrow through it where the return address should be. The back of the envelope had red lipstick lip marks on the flap, plus the capital letters "SWAK" (sealed with a kiss) [The birth of texting?]. The perimeter edges of the envelope had alternating Xs and Os. To top it off, the envelope smelled of Channel No. 5. The sight and smell of just the envelope set my young hormones into the stratosphere. With ringing ears and rushing heart I tore into that envelope to find out who my secret admirer might be.

The envelope was empty!

Since I wasn't actively romantically involved with any young ladies, my admirer's intent was to drive me nuts with curiosity. As a vicariously paranoid paramour I spent several days checking for a sign from any girl in my classes, in the halls--everywhere that I might see a girl, to indicate that she was the one.

At the end of the week, a kid from my neighborhood came up to me and asked, "Did you get a letter in a pink envelope from someone?"

"Yeah, who is it?"

"Guess."

After giving a litany of names, he said, "Give up? It was me! My sister gave me the stationary, addressed and kissed the envelope. I used my Mom's perfume, bought a stamp and mailed it."

The smile on his face disappeared when I announced my intentions to beat him into an oblivious pulp by grabbing his shirt front and holding a clinched fist in front of his face.


Don, who lives in Port Orchard, WA, intends to get a fourth book published – someday. Check out his first three at www.anislandintime.com
or amazon.com.


How do you make your intentions clear?

  by Elaine Webster

Blake awoke with a start and focused on the clock. Two A.M. For weeks he had been obsessed with a new business concept. If they want it, I will build it stuck in his mind. He shuffled down the hall to his office, grabbed the post-it notes and scribbled haphazardly in a single stream of conscious thought. As he went back to bed, post-its remained behind, tacked to the desk, the chair, the wall and the computer as early morning reminders.

Blake attacked the business venture with single-minded intention. Not much for formal business plans, he moved forward deliberately. He researched, listened to everyone and anybody, never knowing when the next good idea would emerge.

One source of inspiration came during the night in the form of a dream. Dream interpretation is tricky business―the images and words unclear―the places and things strange. But to ignore the signs―foolish. The essence of Internet work is dream-like. The World Wide Web―a compilation of ideas woven into a matrix of the real and the unreal. New ideas take on momentum, then fan out with far-reaching tentacles as they grab information from unlimited sources.

I'm married to Blake. I'm used to him wandering our halls at night. I try to ignore it, but inevitably, I too become obsessed with creation. I begin to wander the hallways of thought and visualization. I spend my days interpreting data, writing blogs, essays and articles―using words to force conception.

A gestation period takes patience and nuturing―creativity at its finest. A bank account opens, financial reporting ensues and the baby is born. Soon the infant crawls, then walks and finally runs. Ultimately someone will ask: So, how did this start, from where was it born? The answer is always the same: It was born from clear intention.

Elaine Webster, is a staff writer for the on-line publication, Greener Living Today (www.greenerlivingtoday.com)
She’s part of the Memoir Writing group in Sebastopol sponsored by SRJC. Steve Boga is the instructor. She lives in Windsor, CA.
E-mail address:Elaine@mediadesign-mds.com


Embracing Intention

  by Sara A. Baker

How do you make your intentions clear? Wow!That is a tough question and one I've reflected upon for several days. Initially, I asked another question, "Who is responsible for the clarity of one's intent—-the intentor or the intentee?" (No, these are not real words!)

Should the intentor think about and measure his every thought, word, deed, body language, actions, etc., and ask if they accurately represent his intent? In that process, though, the intentor's spontaneity, creativity, and emotions are undoubtedly lost.

Or does the burden of clarity lie with the intentee? Should the intentee filter what he is receiving? Should he ask himself, "What is this person's intent?" Surely, using the intent filter is noble and requires patience, wisdom, and insight. Isn't that what we essentially do when we "put ourselves in another person's shoes" or "walk a mile in someone else's moccasins"?

Yet, just how objective can any intentee be? Intentee filters are influenced by numerous factors such as race, gender, culture, religion, experience, expectations, etc., making it almost impossible, therefore, to objectively measure another's intent. Certainly, we've all experienced disappointment and frustration when our intent has been misunderstood even by the most well-intentioned (sorry about that) intentee.

As human beings, though, we long to be understood for who we really are. We often hope that our intent is understood beyond the sometimes fragile veil of our humanness. So, just how do we make our intentions clear?

Expecting our intention to be understood is one thing. Realistically, though, our intentions can not always be understood. So, inevitably frustration mounts when a difference between our expectation and reality occurs. How do we handle this disparity and strive for clarified intentions?

First, realize that intention is not what we do. Next, realize that intention is a powerful force similar to gravity. Like gravity, intention is not always seen or understood. Accept, therefore, that one's intention—-like gravity—-is powerful; is invisible; exists; and can potentially be misunderstood.

Therefore, expecting our intentions to be understood may be futile; handle our frustration in not being understood by simply dismissing it. Focus, instead, on what we intend or create--whether anyone every truly understands our intention or not. Therein lies our connection to a larger universe, greater understanding, and significant contribution.

I am reminded of what Carlos Casteneda said about intention, "In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent, and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link."

Recognize the power in one's hands; embrace it; don't worry so much about our intentions being understood. Our intentions will speak for us.

Sara A. Baker is a freelance writer, technical writer, editor, and teacher who currently lives in Allen, Texas. She has been happily married to her soulmate for 27 years. She can be contacted at sab_1529@yahoo.com



The All-Important “I Do”

  by Theresa Sanders

Having donned running shoes and my most comfortable t-shirt and shorts, I hurry downstairs to the treadmill. My intention is clear: I will walk a quick two miles before beginning my writing day. Suddenly, the phone rings, and without thinking, I answer it. Thirty minutes later, I'm still chatting, treadmill forgotten. Newton's Third Law of Motion is alive and kicking here. Without my even knowing it, Intention and Action have just parted company. Reaction hijacked Action, leaving Intention sputtering in the dust.

I stride into my office, coffee in hand, goal in mind: I want to finish that infamous Next Page. I've learned the hard way not to paint with broad strokes on my intimidating To Do list. Better to aspire to baby steps and advance word by word, line by line. An hour into working, though, I arrive at a startling realization. What started as innocent internet research has now morphed into returning email, checking blog entries, reading book reviews. Somehow, when I wasn't looking, Distraction put on boxing gloves and blackened Intention's eye.

Intention waits shyly at the altar of achievement, heart thumping, breath fluttering, anticipating Action waltzing down the aisle. With a hint of a promise, a whisper of expectation, Intention must leave behind every trembling "I will" or "I want to." It must step into the sunlight, take Action by the hand, and vow a firm and humble "I do."

Theresa Sanders lives in suburban St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, and is the mother of four grown children, her greatest joy and accomplishment. An award-winning technical writer and consultant, she managed a documentation and training department before turning to her first love, creative writing. She contributes frequently to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and is completing a novel. Theresa welcomes email at: TheresaLSanders@charter.net.

Searchlights Editor:

Susan Bono

Columnists:

C. Larson, B. Povich, M. Petty, C. Crawford, T. Sanders

Columnists Emeriti: Christine Falcone, David S. Johnson, Betty Rodgers, Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Betty Winslow


Susan Bono is a writing coach, editor and freelance writer living in Petaluma, CA. She has published Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative since 1995, along with its online counterpart here at tiny-lights.com. She conducts creative writing classes in Petaluma and Santa Rosa and co-hosts the quarterly Speakeasy Literary Saloon at the Aqus Café in Petaluma. She's on the boards of Petaluma Readers Theatre and the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. She is still writing a postcard a day. Her most recent publishing credits include Petaluma Readers Theatre, KRCB’s Mouthful, Milk and Ink, and Passager Magazine.

Marilyn Petty is a dyed-in-the wool Midwesterner, a long-ago émigré to California and a fortunate resident of Sonoma County, CA. She taught weaving through the SRJC for 8 years and was the reporter, essayist, editor and publisher of the Redwood Empire Handweavers and Spinners Guild for 10 years. When not tangling with yarns, she is unknotting words, writing poetry and personal essays. She putters in the garden when words fail her.

Catherine Crawford is a former technical writer, editor, and course materials developer for high tech industries. She has taught college English at the four-year degree level, published two award winning chapbooks of poetry, and written articles for 52perfectdays.com, a Portland, Oregon online travel magazine. She works as an editor in Vancouver, Washington. Her email: greenwriter1960@gmail.com

Claudia Larson, in her childhood, wrote long letters to her best-friend cousin and enthralled herself by writing a heart-rending story of two orphans. She writes fewer letters nowadays and prefers writing poetry and memoirs of her North Dakotan farm girl days. She is not yet an orphan, has six siblings and lives in Sebastopol, CA.

Becky Povich lives near St. Louis, Missouri. Although not young in "people years," she's only been writing for ten of those. Getting her first book completed, a memoir, is her current short-term goal. She can be reached at Writergal53@aol.com, or visit her blog at www.beckypovich.blogspot.com.

Theresa Sanders lives in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, where she is completing a novel. A former award-winning technical writer and consultant, she managed a Documentation and Training department before turning to her first love, creative writing. Her stories appear regularly in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Theresa welcomes email and would love to hear from you. Contact her at: TheresaLSanders@charter.net

Thanks to all who participated this month. It's good to know you're out there! We're looking forward to hearing from you and those you inspired sometime soon! Check this column each month to see what's new. Return to Searchlights & Signal Flares menu for future topics and guidelines.

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