Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Time to Write Is Right Now

You wake up today, stretch and yawn, scratch the itchy spots, rub your eyes. Then you smile because you remember that you are a writer. Your heart wiggles with bursts of excitement.

Take a deep breath.

Look out the window. Watch the sun stretch it's arms across the horizon.

Sip your coffee. Or tea. Eat some oatmeal. Might want to some yogurt or turkey bacon or soy sausage too. Protein lasts longer, gives you the energy you need to write. Writing is hard work, but it's worth it. But you already know this.

As you brush your teeth, walk the dog, pour cereal for the kids, check your email, you allow the happy excited smiling feeling to spread over your skin like goosebumps. Tiny happy energetic smiling goosebumps as you wonder, "What will I write today?" You ponder all the possibilities.

Perhaps you'll write a list. An imaginary grocery list of items you will purchase if you lived in a small town in Croatia. Or a magical country where children govern and goods are sold by bartering trading cards and sticks of gum.

Oooh! Maybe you'll write a short story about the woman you met on your commute last night. The one who shared a recipe with you for shortbread cookies. She had a really pretty scarf. What did it have on it? Birds or dragonflies? It doesn't matter.

You get out a large piece of paper. The bigger the better. A great big piece of butcher paper, the kind you had in school where you'd lie down and your best friend outlined your body. You loved how it felt to have that purple pencil travel around elbows and fingertips. Maybe you have your kids help you make one today. They make one too. Then you all decorate your own, and you write a poem around the edge of your body.

Maybe you only have five minutes while you wait in line at the grocery store. Grab your day planner (you know, that calendar-notebook thing you never use) and write down all the strange headlines you see around you. Make a list of them to use tomorrow. Or the next day.

Or you collect words from books and journals and novels that line your desk, writing them on index cards using different color sharpies. Red for verbs. Blue for nouns. Or perhaps you decide you don't believe in parts of speech and you just write down phrases on the cards and then lay them on the floor in your living room (the one with the teal carpet), slide them around until you have a first line of a new piece of flash you've been wanting to start.

Today you could revise the essay you've been ignoring for months. You print out a hard copy, cut out all the sections and label them with a code or system of organizing, by theme or character or time.

Maybe you write a list of words that are connected by a shared sound. Union. Onion. Undone. Fundamental. Menopause. Causation. Accusation. Saying. Flayed. Braiding. Breakdown. Ounces. Owl. Howling. Cowlick. Nitpick. Crypt. Ripped. Shipment.

Remember the play you started last week? Now is a good time to walk to the cafe and eavesdrop on people's conversations, jot down lines of dialogue for scene three.

Perhaps you just find your writing journal, laptop, desktop, nearby paper scrap, the back of a Christmas letter from your college roommate who you haven't seen in 15 years, and you write for 10 minutes. Too long? Five minutes. One minute straight. Write whatever words float to the surface. Write about how you are scared you have nothing left to say. Or how pissed off you are about your college roommate's stupidly perfect Christmas letter.

Write a letter to George Washington. Or Tina Fey. Elizabeth Bennet. Yourself at 10 years old.

Open a book. Steal a line from someone else's story. Steal a title. A quote. Copy the first poem or paragraph by hand. Type it on a typewriter. Let someone else's words make a muscle memory your hands.

What you write doesn't have to be complete. You don't have to finish something today. Just start. Start to write. Let each word feed the next. Let it ignite the gasoline soaked rag you left laying inside yourself. Strike the match. Burn that page.

The sun's arms have reached your doorstep. You are almost giddy now, excited about what words you have yet to discover, string together each little bead-word into a sentence or metaphor.

As you pick up the pen or place your fingers on the keyboard you feel the goosebumps again, then you hear it. The sun is knocking on your door now. Or maybe it's the moon. It doesn't matter. It's time to write.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just Called to Say

You know when you keep putting off calling a friend that it seems strange to call them after months of not talking, but you finally do, it feels like you haven't missed a day?

I hope that is how I feel by the end of this post.

I've started this paragraph a few times, but I can't seem to get going. I think I'm fatigued. Or anxious. Perhaps about my really long to-do lists. Maybe it's my slower work schedule. My freelance contract at ModCloth ended last week. I have lots of time. And lots of to-dos.

There, that wasn't so hard. Ok, it was kind of.

Despite having more time where I can do my to-dos, I'm not able to get started tonight. It's like the long distance race has begun. I can see all the other little runners ahead in the distance, while I sit in a lawn chair back at the starting line. Probably eating something involved peanut butter and a starch.

I think I need a vacation. Good thing we're going on one in February. Where, you may ask? No idea yet. Hopefully a place with water and sunshine and beer. And a big comfy bed.

No updates on my chapbook. I do have ice cream in my freezer. I think I'll eat some of it.

There. I broke the ice. I've reached the end. I don't really feel 'back in the blogging groove' just yet. But that's ok. Now that we've finally spoken, hopefully I won't wait so long before I call again.

Here's a blurry picture of me reading at East Bay on the Brain last Saturday. Perhaps I'll tell you about it next time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Literary Quick List!

  1. Weave Issue 07 is here and available for reading. You should read one
  2. I read my poem The Vicenarian or My Twenties So Far at the East Bay on the Brain reading in Oakland this past Saturday. Here is the poem that inspired mine, The Eighties by Brenda Hillman.
  3. Mary Stone Dockery has a lovely poem up at Everyday Other Things. Read it.
  4. Linebreak has featured two of my favorite poets these past two weeks. First up is Donna Vorreyer with Digging In. Also happy to see Molly Spencer's The Mail Order Bride Attempts a Letter Home. Audio for both is amazing!
  5. Lastly, I wrote about poetry chapbooks and three lovely presses for the ModCloth blog. You should check it out!
pretty chapbooks from Dancing Girl, Blood Pudding, and Birds of Lace Press.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chapbooks Get Some Good Press!

Laura (center) and fellow ModCloth Writers, Esme (left) and Angela (right) reading chapbooks! photo taken by Erin and borrowed from the ModCloth blog!
During my stint as a fashion writer this holiday season, I got the chance to write for the ModCloth blog.  I decided to introduce their crafty, creative, and fashionable readers to the world of poetry chapbooks! I featured chapbooks from Dancing Girl, Blood Pudding, and Birds of Lace Presses. Definitely check out the post and leave your favorite press and chapbook titles in the comments over there.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year, New Outer Space Adventures!

Happy 2012! Sorry it took me this long to say this, but I've been busy playing catch up this week. I think most of us end up standing in a pile of dirty laundry after the holidays. I managed to take down our decorations today though. I couldn't stand the clutter. Or hitting my head on the the icicle lights hanging over the office doorway.

I have a literary roundup post in the wings, but it will have to wait since I have a bunch to finish still tonight. I plan on writing that series still, so if you like reading about the online literary trinkets I collect, I'm sure you are waiting with bated breath. Soon, I promise!

Also in the queue for 2012 is a series of posts dedicated to the process of publishing my chapbook. These posts will address a number of things including marketing, obtaining blurbs, setting up readings, revising, and probably a bunch of other things I don't know about yet. Since Braiding the Storm is my first chapbook, I'd like to document the experience for myself and also for you, dear reader, in case you are find yourself with a chapbook to promote. I'll have a clever little series title too, when I think of one. Ideas?

I also want to write more reviews this year, especially for poetry chapbooks. I like writing reviews and it's also fun to read something you might not have otherwise. I'm also cross-posting my reviews to GoodReads. There seems to be a happy little community over there, though I have so many social networks to keep up with online, I'm not sure how involved I can really be. Only so many hours, right?