Sunday, December 27, 2009


I'll be spending the next week in New York City (queue Jay Z and Alicia Keys song) and I'm pretty excited. My boyfriend bought me this book as a supplement to my trip to San Francisco this summer. I'll be researching the Beats as a movement and exploring the city while visiting him for July and part of August. But for this week I'll get to do some boyfriend-family-friend bonding and returning a pair of boots I got from DSW. They make a weird noise when I walk in them. Like crinkling plastic. I can't have that.

I've been spending money a little bit lately, but I suppose that's just the holidays. Excess is the name of the game. I've bought presents for people, but also a lot of presents for myself. Mostly just things I've needed for a while now (like a new spatula) and also some things I could probably have gotten by without (like the car mount for my new Droid phone, but it's really sweet). Ok I just spent like 20 minutes updating my wishlist. I'm such a consumer these days. I think it's probably retail therapy. That's ok. I've had a shitty December.

I'll be posting some pictures of my trip to NYC and probably writing a bit about the experiences there. I'm driving there tomorrow so perhaps I'll manage to do some live blogging with photos and such. I've not tried that yet. Experiment! This will be a fun escape, as I've got poetry out to 8 journals and I've heard nothing from any of them. I need to write some more to send more work out so I can't stop worrying.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh right, it's a new decade

So I survived my first semester of graduate school. Now, while I'm in a two year program, I'm also taking classes in the early summer and late summer semesters. If I combine the summer sessions into one semester, that means I have five more left until I finish. The countdown begins.

Truth be told, I kind of never want to leave my MFA. So far, having all this time to devote to my writing has proven to be worthwhile. I've really strengthened my poetry muscles and I didn't have a full workshop this semester, so just thinking about the spring makes me a little bouncy.

I've also learned a lot about teaching. Not just from my job, but also about the particular issues associated with teaching a creative process. This will be endlessly fascinating to me. I never thought about how my education did not foster my creative writing abilities. Writing was a fun pass time, a hobby, but not something I could pursue as a career. I'm so glad to pursue it now. I so much enjoyed my pedagogy class. It also turns out that my undergraduate degree in education was not a waste. It not only got me a fantastic teaching job, but also really connected me with the community. I also noticed that other MFA-ers really envied my job, which was a surprise, considering I was going into this terrified that I would be so far behind without an English degree. Turns out, I've just got different strengths and experiences.

Wow. I just realized how much I grew over these past few months. I was terrified to start teaching and to start grad school. I knew I could handle either thing individually, but both together was uber-scary. Plus managing Weave and having a personal life (sort of) just added to the pressure. Not only did I do it but I also managed some serious personal stress and grief without losing my head.

I also got a paid writing gig today. Woot!

Overall, 2009 started off pretty bad for me all around and has improved tremendously as the months went on. Losing my grandfather a couple of weeks ago certainly has changed my overall assessment of this year (honestly, it still doesn't even make sense to me). However, he would not want his death to negate the good things in my life. I know he was proud of me and so I should be proud of myself too. Go Laura!

Happy New Year folks. I think I'm in love 2010 already.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Submissions Galore!

I'm mostly done with finals and classes this past week, so today I woke up and decided to devote the day to submitting some of my new poems to journals. Before I even got out of bed I called my good friend Margaret and asked her to go to breakfast (ok lunch, I woke up at 11am) at the Quiet Storm. Margaret is my submission guru; she has been actively submitting her work for publication for a number of years and is rather well published. In fact, her first chapbook Barefoot and Listening was just published by Tilt Press (and I must say it's rather fantastic). I thought that Margaret would be able to take a really close look at my new poetry and decide which I should prioritize with submissions.

I have a rather detailed spreadsheet that I use for submissions. In the past, I've submitted work to both online and print journals that I enjoy reading. Slant, deCOMP, Pear Noir are my more recent submissions for each of which I received a personalized rejection with an invite to resubmit. While it's still pretty much a bummer to get rejected, it's also nice to get a resubmit invitation. At least I didn't totally suck. Plus, I'm working on growing some thicker skin. I actually ended up submitting to eight journals today, all via email. I have a handful more to submit to via postal submission. Of course, I'm sending simultaneous submissions so generally the same 5-8 poems being sent to each journal. I have spent time with at least one issue of each of these journals, with the exception of an anthology of persona poems. I either purchased or borrowed copies of journals to determine whether I would send submissions. I am kind of excited to hear back from these publications (ok, really excited!) but I have to somehow put it out of my mind. Also, I must bash the hope I have when sending out my newest work into the world. I know that this hope and expectation is ultimately what leads to my disappointment when none of them get picked up by a publisher. But I still have hope. Because if I didn't I wouldn't submit my work in the first place. I do have to say, I have written some really cool poems this fall and I hope that I get to share them with the world soon.

Also, this day resulted in the tightening of some friendships, both new and old. I am happy that Margaret and Thom and I could hang out and do poetry all day. It was pretty awesome. And also resulted in this great picture of Thom.

(Nice beard)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanks TypewriterGirls!

I had an awesome time at the TypewriterGirls show last night! The audience was great and they were really receptive to my poems. Karen Lillis and Kevin Bean were such amazing writers and performers. I also had the best time collaborating with my friend Erika. I read my newest poem (which shares it's title with this blog) and she played her musical saw. The collaboration was fantastic and resulted in some really great edits to my poem. Putting music to words really helps with sound edits as well as finding the places that need emphasis. I hope we get to perform it again soon.

Does anyone have any pictures of the reading? I'd love to snag some.

Speaking of readings, the TypewriterGirls have ANOTHER show this Sunday @ 6pm! This show will not disappoint. Sandra Beasley and Nancy Krygowski read. Phat Man Dee sings. Dave Doyle balances stuff on his face. Dancing too! All for a $7 donation to help fund our libraries. Here is a great quote I found on libraries:

Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. The library connects us with the insights and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. Public libraries depend on voluntary contributions. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries. -Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Writing and Procrastination

I've been thinking a bit about art, creativity and procrastination. It seems to me that I work best under pressure and I know this is true of a lot of creative people I know. In fact, most writers tell me they absolutely need deadlines to keep themselves motivated. As I enter finals week, I have a lot of work to get done still (although, to be fair I am relatively well prepared going into my last week), but clearly pressure does do something for me too.

There are, of course, other conditions under which people write profusely. Take writing and emotional expression. I'm fascinated by work that comes out of people in very authentic ways, like after a traumatic experience or a particularly emotional life transition. Art that comes from the voices of the oppressed doesn't have a deadline, but rather, a mission. It's still a pressure, but an internal motivation that spurs creativity, rather than the external motivation of expectation like deadlines. Perhaps these highly emotional conditions are a natural condition in which to create art.

My musings lead me to wonder whether procrastinating is really simply a form of creating these intense emotional conditions in which to produce work. I know I will eventually get it done, but why do it now when I can work my ass off later? Our modern lives have so many contraptions that do things for us so we have more time to do other things, but we end up bored. We end up in affairs. We end up picking a fight with our brother. We end up staying out all night the day before the big presentation at work. We end up in car accidents.

We end up in graduate school.

This is all perhaps just a nice excuse for me to blog when I should be working on my research paper. Just helps me justify my procrastinating.