Happy Wizarding, Harry, um, I mean Writing

MamaAndBaby

I feel like I have nothing to say today. My munchkin got me up at 4:30 this morning. I just want a nap. So, I give you a poem I wrote when she was a new baby that seems rather appropriate and a link to a favorite inspiring LiveJournal post from Jim Butcher on The Most Important Thing An Aspiring Writer Needs to Know. May the weekend find you time to write.

A Mother’s Weary Vigil

Just after midnight

small heels beat a Morse code

of defiance into the mattress.

I am not tired.

I will not sleep.

Even though

mere moments before

or perhaps after

chubby cheeks and hands

folded in repose on mama’s lap

angelically spoke of

sweet dreams.

Oh, but what transpires

between the rocker and the crib?

Eyes and mouth pop open,

screams or laughter,

legs kick.

I am not tired!

I will not sleep!

Mama returns to the rocker

her weary vigil to keep.

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The April Countryside and Narrative Magazine’s Sixth Annual Poetry Contest

Thought I’d share a poem for a Sunday morning. I don’t write poetry much but occasionally my mind turns to it, like it did one April day this Spring while driving along. If you write poetry or know someone who does, you might want to be aware of the Narrative Magazine Sixth Annual Poetry Contest. Check it out for yourself or share it with someone you know.  Thanks for reading!

The April Countryside

Gray April skies shower an inconsistent drip.

Follow a winding ribbon of gray

up the hill then down as it drops away.

Matted yellow grass, freed from blankets of snow

fills the pasture, greening at water’s edge.

Last year’s corn stubble dots the muddy field,

bare limbs move restlessly as

clinging dried orange leaves shudder-shake.

Old out buildings stand slant-sided,

unable to resist the ravages of winter

while, older still, a barn that could

squats solidly in the middle of a field.

Writing Under Fire

Firing

Have you ever had so many thoughts firing off in your brain that you thought it might explode if you didn’t put some of them down on paper?  Then, when you finally get them all out, all you want is a good nap?  Yeah, that’s how I feel today.

There is much going on in the writerly world here this week.  The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes put out a call for applicants to take part in a Business of Art workshop to be held in March.  I think this is a great idea for any writer and something we talk about frequently in my writer’s group.

They will be covering –

  • Portfolio Basics and Presentation Packages
  • Branding, Marketing and Promotion
  • Legal, Insurance and Financial issues
  • Money and Time: Grants, Fellowships, Apprenticeships and Residencies

There will also be time for performances, readings and exhibition.  Application to attend is competitive in the sense that they are only taking ten people in each of three tracks – performing, visual and literary.  I, of course, would like to attend the literary one.

I would really like to be writing for a living in a couple years but I need to grow my audience in order for that to happen.  I’ve already started making a little money from my writing and I need to know how to handle the financial side of things when that grows, both tax wise and other.  I intend to finish Biomalware this year and whether I go the traditional publishing route or e-publish, I will need to work on marketing.

Of course, this all threw me into application mode with re-working my artist’s statement, my writing resume and my statement of intention to attend the workshops.  There’s also choosing which pieces to include in my writing sample.

Then, last night, a few members of my writer’s group got together to work at the local coffee house.  A couple people read some pieces for critique and the poem got me thinking about whether I could write something to read on Saturday.   Of course, just putting that intention out there got my brain going on the idea of writing a poem and, before I knew it, the ideas were hitting me on the head.  I’ve been going all day on a poem that kind of rants about partisan politics.  (It’s something I’m a little fed up with.)  So I think I’ll have something to read on Saturday.

However, there are half a dozen things for work that are really demanding my attention as the deadline is fast approaching.  It’s all a little overwhelming and the idea of a nap is sounding better and better.

I had thought of writing about voice today but that seems like a little more than I can handle so I’ll leave you with this thought.  I just finished an excellent YA novel called Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  The voice was very strong and immediate, told in the first person and spot on.  It’s told from the perspective of a young woman who has been imprisoned by the Nazis and is writing her confession in exchange for less torture.  (I highly recommend it.)

You can either just write and write and let your voice develop, or you can find out what elements affect voice and then deliberately pick the ones you want to create a particular voice.  The first sounds easier but the latter is probably a sign of learning about your craft so that’s something I’ll be working on in the near future.

Sometimes I think the real problem is that I don’t know what I don’t know.

Sometimes I feel like a pretender.  Am I a writer or am I just playing at it?  I know Maya Angelou once wrote much the same.  I feel like putting myself in a class with other writers is somehow being vain.

At the same time, I know what I want.  I want to write for a living.  I want to be a writer.  I am a writer.  I never feel so alive as when I am.

Okay, off to work on my book presentation for Wednesday so I can write late tonight.

May the muse grant you thoughts that fire your neurons in new patterns.

Struggling with Poetry

Something that I’ve heard recently is that writing poetry is “simple” and “easy.”  I can’t say that I agree.  Perhaps it it is for some people, but I find poetry often more difficult to write than any other kind of writing.  Trying to communicate a thought or idea in a tight, compact, form is more difficult to me than traditional prose.  Flash fiction and poetry are similar in that respect.

Perhaps that’s because I am truly a prose writer.  People say that a poem just pops into their head, the way dialogue pops into mine, or a songwriter like my sister hears music.  Should I be trying?  Should I just stick with prose?

But I like to write poetry.  It stretches my mind.  It actually feels like I’m using my brain in a different way than when I’m writing prose.  I think that it also strengthens my prose by building skills.

I do confess that… sometimes I just give up on a poem and let it go.  It wasn’t my best effort but I set it free.  I feel a bit like I’ve failed.  I have to let it go, let it find it’s own way in the world.  Most often though, people are more kind than I when they read those efforts.

I like to play with words.  Sometimes I mangle them, sometimes I outright destroy them, but sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like I got it right.  Here’s one such –

No Instructions

Life doesn’t provide

thick black lines to color within.

A blank sheet of paper is all you get,

with no instructions on where to begin.

Life is no paint by numbers

with lovely watercolors and a brush.

It’s a child’s toy requiring assembly;

instructions thrown away in the rush.