Month: April 2021

Dreams Are Involuntary Fiction

Close up of a skyscraper in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
Close up of a skyscraper in Tokyo, Japan.

Last night I dreamt of … Bear with me, please. I know, reading about someone’s dreams is as exciting as watching your computer progressing through system updates—even well-written ones. 

I guess it has to do with their purely fictional character. We know they’re made up. Fiction pretends to be real, and we call it out when it’s not working. We’re willing to listen to the tale that is disguised as true, but not to the dream we know is not.

Dreams are second hand, involuntary fiction.

So, I had a dream. I won’t bother you with the details. But being through a scary experience (being lost in a city I didn’t know, walking very determined to nowhere), I did what all writers do: wrote about it in the dream. I had, apparently, decided that I could at least get a story out of that scare. Never let a good crisis go to waste, and all that.

And when I woke up, I wrote about the dream. As any writer would do. 


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The Skylark

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
  12. Hast thou 2 loaves of bread …
  13. Youth and Age
  14. A Postcard From the Volcano
  15. The Kraken
  16. He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
  17. There Is a Solitude of Space
  18. Because I Could Not Stop for Death
  19. Mad Song
  20. Answer July
  21. Success Is Counted Sweetest
  22. Hope Is the Thing with Feathers
  23. The Bluebird
  24. A Vision of the End
  25. The Crying of Water
  26. A Rose Has Thorns As Well As Honey
  27. Winter
  28. The Dark Cavalier
  29. There is no Life or Death
  30. Sheep in Winter
  31. To a Snowflake
  32. Sextain
  33. A Crocodile
  34. Sea Fever
  35. The Giant Cactus of Arizona
  36. The Coming of Night
  37. Going to the Picnic
  38. Moon Tonight
  39. A Southern Night
  40. Greenness
  41. Twilight
  42. On the Wing
  43. In Summer
  44. Before Parting Scheduled for 23rd July 2024
Spring in the woods. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The lark sings through the long spring day,

But never enough for its hearts’ content.

by Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694) was the most famous Edo period poet and a haiku master.


To read more poems, click here.



Spend It All

Close up of a palm leaf. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Annie Dillard (b. 1945), American author. Her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a “sustained nonfiction narrative about the fields, creeks, woods, and mountains near Roanoke, Virginia,” won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.


To read more quotes, click here.



All Creation Is an Act of Faith

Reflection of reeds in the lake water. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

All creation is an act of faith. Faith in yourself and your capacity. Your skills. Your persistence. Your vision. Especially your vision.

As an artist, you don’t have a blueprint, a manual to show you the way. No IKEA how-to-kit. “Follow these steps, assemble these parts; here’s the final product.” Only the vision in your mind, of what it could be.

At times, you may waver. Self-doubt creeps in. You run into a problem, and your vision seems to be more and more a fata morgana, a mirage drawing further and further away.

Other times, you cannot be even bothered to do the work. “What’s the use? It’ll be useless. It’s such a bad idea.”

That’s fine, in fact. Self-doubt is an artist’s constant companion. We have to learn to live with it. Acknowledge it, look it in the eye, and keep working. 

There’s no other way.


If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means, paint, and that voice will be silenced.
― Vincent van Gogh


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Departing Spring

  1. Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
  2. From Blossoms
  3. Wild Geese
  4. The Peace of Wild Things
  5. My Gift to You
  6. Departing Spring
  7. The Skylark
  8. What a Strange Thing!
  9. Although The Wind …
  10. The Old Pond
  11. Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand
  12. Hast thou 2 loaves of bread …
  13. Youth and Age
  14. A Postcard From the Volcano
  15. The Kraken
  16. He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
  17. There Is a Solitude of Space
  18. Because I Could Not Stop for Death
  19. Mad Song
  20. Answer July
  21. Success Is Counted Sweetest
  22. Hope Is the Thing with Feathers
  23. The Bluebird
  24. A Vision of the End
  25. The Crying of Water
  26. A Rose Has Thorns As Well As Honey
  27. Winter
  28. The Dark Cavalier
  29. There is no Life or Death
  30. Sheep in Winter
  31. To a Snowflake
  32. Sextain
  33. A Crocodile
  34. Sea Fever
  35. The Giant Cactus of Arizona
  36. The Coming of Night
  37. Going to the Picnic
  38. Moon Tonight
  39. A Southern Night
  40. Greenness
  41. Twilight
  42. On the Wing
  43. In Summer
  44. Before Parting Scheduled for 23rd July 2024
Reflections on young birch trees in a green lake in spring. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.

I have caught up departing Spring

Here at the Bay of Waka-no-ura.

Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694) was the most famous Edo period poet and a haiku master.


To read more poems, click here.



We Have To Stop Struggling To Become Free

Close up of sun rays playing on dark sea waves. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

Creativity thrives on constraints; I said it many times. Social distancing and closed meeting places hurt creativity, it’s true. But we cannot wait until life is back to normal (or to the new normal, rather) to be creative. We have to work with what we have, right here, right now. In solitude. Hurting. Hoping. 

We have to become our own support system, our own cheerleaders. Acknowledge the hurt, the anxiety, the not knowing. And move past them. Otherwise, we’d become stuck.

In a scene from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Harry, Ron, and Hermione struggle to free themselves from a giant plant. The more they struggle, the more the plant tightens around them. Once they relax and stop moving, they’re free. 

We have to stop struggling to become free.


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Keep Going: Cardio for Zombie Hunters and Writers

Digital art by Mihaela Limberea.
One of my early digital artworks.

As a writer, as an artist in any field, in fact, you need stamina. Endurance. Grit. Persistence. The equivalent of Rule #1 in Zombieland: cardio. Cardio for the brain. 

Laboring day after day, alone, with no other guidance than the vision in your head, takes its toll. You waver. You stumble and fall. You lose your way (even Dante needed a guide).

Self-doubt sets in. “Am I really doing the right thing? Should I have gone a different way? What if I fail? Is this good enough?” The inner critic gains on you; you start losing yourself, overwhelmed by his incessant, malicious chatter.

Patience wears thin. You look at the few lines you wrote and imagine the unfathomable amount of time it’ll take to stretch it in a book. A whole book. How would you ever get there? You can’t imagine it anymore.

Distractions attack your focus. You mean to check a synonym, and half an hour is gone, without a synonym to show for it. (But on the other hand, you know a lot more about the mating rituals of penguins).

Yet, somehow, you have to keep going. Keep working, keep realizing the vision in your head, despite, at times, crippling self-doubt, constant restlessness, and distractions.

How do you do that? How do you keep going when you feel you’ve spent yourself, and you don’t have anything left to give? When you can’t imagine writing one more paragraph, let alone a whole page or a whole chapter? 

Simple. Small steps. 

Forget the goal (a whole book!), just focus on the task for the day. Writing 500 words. Or 1,000. Then forget them as well. 

Write one sentence. Just one. Then the next one. Then the next one.

Don’t think, just write. One word at a time. Pebble by pebble by pebble, as Donna Tartt says*.

Successful writers are the ones who keep working, not the ones who have talent or write beautiful sentences. Yes, there may be more talented writers, and yes, some may write better than you. But this means nothing if they don’t persevere and actually finish the project. What matters, in the end, is the end result. 

So, you write one word, and another one, and another one. Day after day after day. There’s no other way.


* It is just pebble by pebble by pebble by pebble. I write one sentence until I am happy with it until I go on to the next one and write that one until I am happy with it. And I look at my paragraph and if I am not happy with that I’ll write the paragraph until I’m happy with it and then I go on this way. And, of course, even writing this very slow way, one does have to go back. One does start off on the wrong foot sometimes and a whole scene has to be chopped and you have to start over again. Generally, you know that pretty quickly though. You realize you have painted yourself into a corner and you think, “Okay I am just going to trace my footsteps back to the last solid bit of ground that I know. Look around start again and take a different tack.” It’s the way that William Styron writes and he said, when he was about my age, that he realized that he had maybe four or five books in him—the way that he worked—and he said he was fine with that. I’m fine with that too. It’s okay by me.Donna Tartt


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