Archive for the ‘ writing ’ Category

Quiet Sunday

I’m writing today from a coffee shop in Brooklyn, after eschewing my writers group. When I woke up this morning, I had every intention of going to my writing group. But then the time change caused me to sleep exceptionally late, and the city sounded ever-so-far away, and I finally made a compromise with myself: as long as I got my hour of writing in today, I didn’t have to ride the subway. I came to this coffee shop with every intention of writing poetry, but between the inde-rock on the speakers and the gossip at the table behind me, I’m not feeling all that poetic. Ergo: blog!

I’m trying to focus more intentionally on writing these days, and an important part of that is obviously reading. So for Lent this year, instead of giving up, I am adding. My goal is to read a poem a day. This could be a pretty quick activity, given that so many poems are under 2 pages, so I am also taking some time to think, reflect, and study the words. Reading poems only one time is the quickest way to not like poetry.

I am also working to develop some of my older work, since new words aren’t coming out, in the hopes of getting a few things published. A lot of these poems I wrote the original drafts of back in college, almost 10 years ago, so I think it’s about time to release them.

Well, I just succeeded in making myself feel guilty by avoiding the hard work of concentrating. So I’m going to try to do that now. Wish me luck.

 

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Thirty Days

You know the rhyme:

30 days has September, April, June and November…

(I still use that one more than I care to admit.)

Here we are. Day 30.

I expected NaBloPoMo to be more difficult than it actually was. Yes, it took some organization and there were a few nights I went out later or came home earlier than perhaps I would have liked, but I managed. The act of writing every day isn’t so difficult when you tell yourself you have to do it and are beholden to a group doing the same thing you are.

It forced me to relax my assumptions a little bit about whether what I’m writing is good enough, or is something people will actually want to read. I’m not sure whether my concern was too many people seeing my writing, or not enough people wanting to read what I have to say, but getting past that and just doing it has been so good for me.

I didn’t attract a miraculous fan base. In fact, the most views I had on a single given day was 20. My most loyal readers (or at least, commenters) are my boyfriend who I see every day and my very good friend in Denmark who I see almost never. And that feels perfect. I like that this is a venue that the people closest to me, whether they sit next to me as I type or read my words 8 hours ahead of me on the other side of the world, can use to check in every now and then on my thoughts. Even when you’re there for all the action, it’s interesting to hear what people choose to tell or not tell. Thanks Chuck and John for  keeping me honest.

And while my closest friends were my most loyal fans, I did get a comment or two from other NaBloPoMo folks who stumbled across this little blog. It’s nice to know that I did reach a few new people, and to feel supported by other people having the same experience.

I don’t know what comes next for my writing. If I could spend as long as I do writing these entries on editing and polishing some of my older work, I might have some real stuff to work with. But then I remember–this is the real stuff. This is my life. Wherever it goes next will be wonderful.

Dotting the Is and Crossing the Ts… or is it the Other Way Around?

As a sometimes-very-anal-retentive person when it comes to getting the details down, one of the things that I do to most annoy myself is to catch myself making stupid, tiny mistakes. For example, I was working on a proposal to an organization today and before I sent it in, I said “wait, better double-check the name.” Which I did, and then quickly capitalized all the “The’s” preceding the organization’s name. Sadly, my moment of anal-inspired editing stabbed me in the back when I learned after the fact that the site I used as a reference actually had the name wrong and I had been right in the first place. There goes my professional cred.

Now, I know this isn’t near the end of the world, and most people–myself included–have much bigger things to worry about. But it takes me so long to get inside of something I’m working on, whether professionally or creatively, that I have trouble letting it go once I’m into it. These things become more personal than they should, somehow a reflection on me. I become convinced sometimes that no one will appreciate the depth and detail of the proposal with an extra capital T, or the home-spun scarf with the slightly uneven finish, or the chocolate chip cookies just a tad too crisp on the edges.

Then comes the “just breathe” moment I’m having now. Realizing as I write this I’ve missed yoga for two weeks. Those classes emphasize not being perfect, but instead doing the best you can with the body you have, challenging yourself to do better, and laughing when you fall. I’m going to work on taking that approach outside of class more often.

And So…

It’s probably time to explain how I’ve managed to write six blog posts in as many days,  approximately doubling the amount I wrote in the entire year up to this point. As part of my post-Saturn Return plan to get my life back under my control, I’m writing again. The old hobby that I pretty much left behind the day I traded my college diploma for a real job is back. And I find it more difficult than I expected. Finding time to sit quietly and write amid the distractions of New York City is as challenging as, well, finding an appropriate simile for that. My brain is out of practice.

I signed up for the NaBloPoMo challenge to force myself to get into gear. So that when I have moments like the one I’m having now, where I’m perched on my couch and poised to turn on the TV and pick up the knitting needles because that is SO what I would rather be doing than writing, I write anyway. And I’m making it public, both to keep myself accountable and to overcome the paralyzing fear that sometimes stops me from writing in the first place: that I will suck. I hate to suck.

Writing is a skill I know I possess somewhere deep down that often gets lost in my fear of sucking. Why? Because good writing–good art–takes time, reflection, sketches, revisions… in other words, the antithesis of our instant tweet-it-now culture. To be so good at what you do as to make it look effortless is very very hard. For one month I’ve committed to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work–even if some of the work is ugly. My hope is that, at the end of this month, the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

The Cliche Contest

Tonight’s challenge/prompt:

Take a phrase. I mean a really overused one. Make it the title of a new piece of writing. Try to make the writing not suck.

I’m working on a poem called “I Love New York.” It started forming in my head tonight while I was walking to get a taco. Here’s an excerpt:

————————–

All the superheroes come from here,

the same city where King Kong

found his playground.

It’s the rusty edges, the fringe

of Brooklyn just over the highway

where the sun turns from yellow to orange to purple

over the Statue of Liberty

night after night.

————————————

What’s your title?