Every day last week, I came home from work and did at least a little bit of writing each night. It was great; it was wonderful; it burned me out and by Friday night I couldn’t stand to look at a computer again. So, I watched some old horror movies at my sister’s and spent most of the weekend being profoundly lazy.
Keeping forward momentum is all about maintaining a pace that allows you to complete your goals without crashing and burn up like a rocket ship off kilter during reentry. The point is that I’m still trying to figure out what that pacing is (in regards to my creative writing) considering my work levels at my day job right now.
What I’m Reading
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley is a story about a small town, a thought-to-be-extinct woodpecker, and a missing teenage boy. The main character is a decent kid and the story is multi-layered and emotionally complex, which makes it a good solid read so far.
Still in the process of reviewing Drink, a collection of poems by Laura Madeline Wiseman. In the meantime, you might want to check out this interview with Laura.
What I’m Writing
I was pretty consistent about sitting down to write this week, which mostly involved me banging my head against this one piece of writing that I couldn’t figure out how to approach. It was unpleasant, but I think I finally have it figured out, which is good because I was starting to get a headache.
I’m also finding myself excited about the prospect of writing an essay — something I haven’t done since college — about the roles of women in the 1001 Arabian Nights. I’ve started scanning the three volumes on my book shelf for more info and am scouring the internet for information.
Goal(s) for this week: Finish the book review I started and submit it. Complete the first draft of the 1001 Nights essay.
A lot of prep work, but no actual submissions, so I’m at 3/20 for the Submission Bonanza. I’m extending the deadline to July 15th, since I have a chunk of things I can send out, if I just get my sh!t together.
Friday night was filled with my favorite open mic, music, and spoken word event, Glowing with the Moon, hosted by friends Lorenz Dumuk and Quynh Nguyen (the Q in Q&A). In addition to moving and powerful performances by the two feature artists, Asha Sudra Finkel and Jocelyn Deona (her amazing poem “Rice Dreams” is on soundcloud), the outdoor event provided ways for listeners and speakers to connect and get grounded with an altar and symbolic acts (writing ones hopes in salt to be returned to the sea, letting sand run through ones fingers, playing with bubbles). I always come away from this event feeling centered and peaceful. Glowing with the Moon is held on the second Friday of every month this summer. Upcoming shows will be on July 10, August 14, and September 11.
My delay in posting this week’s update was due to two things — my sister and I are doing an ongoing Fringe binge and I was recently introduced to the new iOS game Fallout Shelter, which wants to suck up all my time (if I let it).
What I’m Reading
I’ve started reading Atonement by Ian McEwan, which has some beautiful writing. I wasn’t liking the characters much at first, but am starting to get to know them some and am finding it interesting. Not loving it, though.
Still working on Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin. I’m at the point where the public is starting to fight back against the chemical plant, ironically right when the plant was starting to clean up its act.
What I’m Writing
I’ve been jumping back and forth between a bunch of poems, stories, and projects in the effort to decide what to include in June’s Submission Bonanza. All this tweaking meant that I didn’t actually finish anything. But I think this week will be better (I hope).
Goal(s) for this week: Write! Edit! Submit!
While I did some work prepping submissions this week, I didn’t actually send any out, which leaves me at a total of 3/20 for the month. So, I’m pretty behind at this point and will have to more and double my submission output this week, which will be difficult as I have a bunch of social events to go to.
“Putting pen to paper won’t make you a writer. Through many (maybe, even all) of your writing years you’re still learning to be better. There will be some good pieces to show for it, but most will be less than stellar. Write the crap. Write lots of it. But don’t stop there. Because what you can do really well right now doesn’t just involve writing.”
My trip to the Bay Area Book Festival could have been a bit more organized. Okay, it could have been a lot more organized. I did zero planning before hand and I lagged Sunday morning, showing up at the festival late in the afternoon. The festival hosts oodles of panels and talks, but I visited none since most fill up quickly and I didn’t know what what happening when or where anyway.
My lack of planning also meant that I missed a chance to visit the Zoetic Press booth, as they had already packed up shop by the time I got there. So no shiny shot glass or other Zoetic goodies for me. I’ll have to catch them next time.
Nevertheless, I had a lovely time, enjoying the sun as I meandered through the booths. I had a few good conversations with writers and publishers. One of my favorite bits was the Poetry Trading Post at the Small Press Distribution booth, where visitors can sit and write out a poem in exchange for a free book off the display. I put out a spontaneous bit of words, which may appear on the SPD website at some point.
Along the way, I managed to swell my bag with a number of books, some half price and some freebies grabs. I picked up:
The Oxygen Factory by Renée des Lauriers (the watercolor cover drew me in)
Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
Slices of Flesh: A Collection of Flash Fiction Tales from the World’s Greatest Horror Writers
Bright Turquoise Umbrella, poetry by Hermine Meinhard
What Snakes Want, poetry by Kita Shantiris
The Best of the Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
Sacred Precinct, poetry by Jacqueline Kudler
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace (for my niece)
In other book haul news. Thanks to the Big Poetry Giveaway, I received two new-to-me poetry books in the mail — God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant from Lissa Clouser and The Cradle Place by Thomas Lux from Steve Lavigne. Thanks to you both! I eagerly look forward to reading.
What I’m Reading
I’ve started in on Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin. It’s horrifying to see the lengths companies like this would (and do) go to in order to ignore the environmental and health ramifications of dumping chemical waste into the ground, rivers, and ocean so that they can make a profit. This is not a happy read, but it’s fascinating.
What I’m Writing
Some painful attempts to start a new piece happened this week. I kept leaping in to the work only to stumble all over my own self doubts and come up short. The key to these kinds of moments is to just keep putting words on the page — any words, any at all. If one idea slips through your fingers, reach for another. If that crumbles, keep going. Eventually, all this stilted painful writing resulted in something that may actually be editable and so everything was okay in the end.
I’m a bit behind at this point and will have to double up next week in order to catch up.
Where I’ll Be
This Friday, I’ll be attending (and probably performing) the Glowing with the Moon reading and open mic, held at the School of Arts & Culture @MHP, starting at 6 pm. This event happens every second Friday of the summer months and always has an earthy feel to it. It’s a very loving and supportive space.
In Heroine’s Journey: Learning to Work, Theodora Goss talks about the importance work plays in female centered tales, especially folk tales, noting “Often, in these fairy tales, it is exactly the heroine’s work that leads to her final reward.” The post is part of a series on the Heroine’s Journey, with the most recent being A Temporary Home.
It’s been a strange phenomena over the past week or so that I’ve been feeling rather vulnerable. In a way, this feeling could be directly correlated to how much I’ve been putting myself out there lately, submitting more work, trying to participate more with the local writing community, attending open mics and readings, and being more socially active in general. The higher I hold my head, the more I leave my throat exposed, unprotected. It’s an act of trust — someone could come along and sink their teeth in, but I’m trusting that they won’t and that I’ll be strong enough if they do. It’s unsettling, but I also feel it’s a necessary part of my personal growth right now — not to withdraw, not to retreat, at least not all the way and not completely.
What I’m Reading
I’m loving The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which is filled with such pretty writing and is a loving tribute to Virginia Woolf and her book Mrs. Dalloway.
I’m almost finished with Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone, poetry by Annelyse Gelman, and I’m just trying to think about how I want to review it.
Most of my writing over the past week involved completing a poem that turned out to be much longer than I expected it to be. But I finished it and submitted it and the universe is good.
Published! Two publication announcements this week. My new poem, “Sacred Ways” is up at Then and If, which is a great lit journal with a cool concept — each published poem is written in response to a previous poem. Mine is in response to Helen Losse’s “After a Mid-December Wedding.”
And as previously noted, “Eve and Pandora” has been published by Nonbinary Review.
Rejected! Three of my poems have been rejected by Poetry Magazine, which just means I’ll be resubmitting this week.
Goal(s) for this week: Submit the chapbook to a few more publishers.
I attended two awesome lit events last week. On Wednesday, I visited a friend’s college classroom with Lorenz Dumuk, where we read poetry and listened to the students read poetry. It was awesome to see a younger generation take an interest.
On Thursday, I attended friend Allie Marini Batts’ chapbook release party. She read from Before Fire: Divorce Poems and Pictures from the Center of the Universe, as well as some new works. It was no surprise to me that she was awesome.
Joining Allie on the stage, were a handful of other amazing poets — B. Deep, Cassandra Dallett, Daphne Gottlieb, Joshua Merchant, and Jaz Sufi — each one with their own powerful and unique voice.
What I’m Reading
I’m focusing on Don Quixote (in the midst of my short story reading) and am hoping to finish it by the end of the month. Part II is dragging a lot more than the first half did for me, so it feels like hard work at the moment.
Also still reading Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone, poetry by Annelyse Gelman.
What I’m Writing
Ummmmm…. yeah… so…
I need to come up with a new routine that involves me going to a coffee shop or library in order to get actual work done, because as soon as I get home after work I slip into relaxation mode. This week’s plan is to bring my laptop to work on Tuesday and Thursday for just that purpose.
Goal(s) for this week: Finish off poem inspired by the Arabian Nights for submission to Nonbinary Review. Submit the chapbook to a few more publishers.
What’s Inspiring Me Right Now
Poets! Hearing poets read, both newbies in the classroom and professionals at the Octopus Literary Salon, had me reaching for my pen, wanting to scribble words onto the page. At one point, I even got so distracted in writing that I missed my metro stop and ended far from where I intended to go.