Saturday, May 19, 2018

An American Dream: Writing in Brooklyn, for Love (and Money)

Quirky Stories from a Brooklyn Writer Who Writes for Love – and, to be honest, money

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

I write, I'm afraid, with a double motive.

First, I write for the sake of writing. Being a writer who needs ideas for her texts forces me to stay awake to the world. It makes me more alive. Writing keeps me company during the hours that go into it. Writing gives me a chance to make art out of my life, which has quite its share of anguish, i.e., useful fodder.

I love to write something that I think will delight readers. There’s nothing I like better than knowing that I have a good book to read at home, to help me escape the harsh realities of life. I want to give that gift to people.

I love to find quirky, unexpected people, stories, pictures, and to share them with readers.

Do I wish that my writing’s sales helped me not to be a burden on my family someday, when I’m very old?

Yes, I wish it. So I write for money too.

But when the money disappoints, as it’s most likely to do in the writing business, it’s time to reset the button to “doing it for its own sake. Do it for the love of it.”

That’s where the walnut-sized bit of energy is – the same amount of mass and energy that our universe was born from. I believe it was held between God’s fingers. And then he let it go. For love. Scientists say all the laws of physics were in place within nanoseconds of that letting go. They say the laws are true in every spot in our ever-expanding universe. And God didn’t end his love for the world there. After creatures and humans populated the earth, he courted humankind, and when the time was right he came here and lived his life as an example of love.

So what is the walnut-sized bit of energy, inspiration, joy that can fuel this day’s writing.?

It’s doing it for the love of it. For the joy of connecting with readers. For knowing what my own thoughts are. For giving the world something good, made with love.

So here are some quirky pictures from my quirky life in Brooklyn. I live a 12-minute walk from Prospect Park and I’m there nearly every day, year round. I especially love the park in blizzards, which is bizarre but true. See a recent one here.

Come along and enjoy spring with me in Brooklyn!

There were whitecaps on Prospect Park's lake this day! 

A magnolia glorying in its glory.

The tree's trunk and branches are peculiar, quirky, and beautiful too. 
How about you? Do you do something creative for love, money or both? Comment below!

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's Dream: Find Spring in a Chaotic City

An Oasis in the Midst of Brooklyn 

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

Spring has quickly sprung past these photos, taken a week ago. 

But they illustrate a timeless truth: With persistence you can find a place of beauty even in a gritty city like Brooklyn.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Very grand, very old trees have survived in Brooklyn's Prospect Park despite generations of people encroaching on them constantly.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A stand of white daffs (foreground) and a mystery beyond the top of the hill.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A garden hut a la Brooklyn.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
The entrance at the corner of Flatbush, Empire and Ocean Avenues.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Brooklyn trees love to bask in their glory, just like blooming trees everywhere.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A quick visit to Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan. Soak up spring wherever you might be!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's Dream: To Live in Paris

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

Read a brief account of perseverance and how ashes got turned to the joy of a creative writing sabbatical in Paris!

I reveal the difficulties of a 30-year writing apprenticeship at my writing friend Elaine Stock's blog:

Please take encouragement from my story!

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
Every time I crossed the Seine, I thanked God for the way things turned out.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's Dream: To See Two Sides to Every Coin

Genteel Decay: Urban Animals Take Advantage

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

Prospect Park has many elegant buildings. This one, which I call the Dance Pavilion, is where I sit when I write in the park. It looks great from a distance, but get closer...

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
The elegant eaves are moldering into decay.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
It's an opportunity for birds. There must be 25 sparrows making a nest in different spots along the eaves. You can see the twigs hanging down over the decorative corner.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
Here's a guilty party, under the pavilion's vaulted roof.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
Here's the evidence.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
Where a light fixture used to be, more bits of straw and twigs hang down.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
A close-up of the decay and the nesting opportunity it presents.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
The sparrows were struggling with a great big paper napkin. So I shredded mine and left the pieces in a corner out of the wind.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
There are other creatures nearby. This is a granddaddy, more than six inches long.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
These are babies, a fraction of his size.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
A family on a log.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
A red-winged blackbird, singing in a London plane tree near the lake's edge. How about you? Do you want to see the pavilion, and places like it, conserved? Or do you prefer to see animals having safe and dry nests? Comment below!

Unexpected in Brooklyn!

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream: To Float Through A Big Brooklyn Mansion

By Norma Hopcraft

My eyes pop wide open when I see the block after block of big old mansions, not far from me in Brooklyn. It's the last thing anyone would expect in Brooklyn.

I dream of owning one, floating through room after room on gleaming parquet floors. I step out on an upstairs balcony, off my bedroom, wearing a flowing peignoir, to check the weather before I get dressed in the morning. I have the coolest writing room. Utter creativity in beautifully designed, well-proportioned spaces.

Then I return to reality and walk back to my studio apartment. It has parquet floors, not freshly varnished before I moved in, alas, but I do the floor with Murphy's and hope to make them gleam eventually.

I face a courtyard of bricks and windows, not trees and grass.

I have no way to test the weather other than to wave my hand out a window.

But I don't have to maintain one of these palaces either. Content with what I have (most of the time :)

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
Can you believe this is in Brooklyn? 
Note the scaffolding on the right. Constant dollars...

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
The entrance. It looks like it belongs in the Deep South.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
Same house, another view, another upstairs balcony.

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
The chimney, right, probably needs to be repointed. Notice the beams holding up the corner on the left. Dollars! But what a beautiful room behind those curved windows!

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
The Flatbush-Ditmas Park neighborhood is replete with houses like this. Surprised? Not your mental picture of Brooklyn? Not mine either, but it's real!

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
Another fabulous house. That's my writing room, under the eaves...

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
Another fabulous house, with a great tree in the yard. In my yard I have a fire escape, moss on the broken concrete, and a collection of garbage.
How about you? Would you like to float like a prince or princess through houses like these? Comment below!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Unexpected Today in Brooklyn: An Oasis

A Brooklyn Writer Finds Respite in Prospect Park

by Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

I work in Manhattan and live in Brooklyn. 

That means my eyes, my soul, are hungry for trees, space, wildness. 

Well, Prospect Park is heavily trafficked. The only wildness in Brooklyn is in the people. Especially on a Saturday night. Everyone's on their way to a party, it seems.

Mother Nature is throwing a party for my eyes in Prospect Park today.

Spring green. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Few Trees in Brooklyn

An American Writers Dream: To Live in Brooklyn

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

       I've always wanted to live in NYC. Especially in Brooklyn. It seemed like a place where things HAPPENED, not like my sleepy suburb in NJ.

       Now I live here.

       Brooklyn can be tough--tense and crowded, with many people needing groceries, cash from the bank, service at the post office--lines, lines, lines and soooo many people. I'm having trouble adjusting to it.

     So I escape to Prospect Park.  Here's a few scenes to bring you along with me.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A friend said she was in need of Spring yesterday, so I stopped on my way to the Brooklyn Central Library and took a picture of magnolia buds waiting to bloom.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
In the center is the magnolia tree, covered with a thousand similar buds.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Here's a cherry tree in bloom, the first courageous one to brave this cold spring.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Toddlers playing soccer in the park -- that's a sign of Spring too.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
The doors to my destination, the mother ship of all the Brooklyn Public Library branches. I'm not crazy about this building, I don't feel great walking in its doors, the way I feel entering other buildings, especially historic ones in Paris : ) But I've found a work area on the third floor that has big windows that look out on the trees of the park. I can write there.

How about living in Brooklyn? Or do you prefer the leafy suburbs, or the country? Comment below!