Tag Archives: writing

Keeping the Line Open

Above is a grouping of lines I wrote by hand, in an effort to keep my mind all the more open and receptive to what comes.

I have taken to writing more frequently, and that has been restorative. Instead of straining to make it good, I’ve been trying to make a mindful effort to keep it open. What do I mean by that? By default, I tend to be a tight-little-fist of person. I think you know the type.

When it comes to writing, I have, in the past, wanted completion. I wanted all the images to work, to be what they are when they emerge, need tiny amounts of editing, and set them to roam the earth. I still believe in what I hesitate to call “an organic process” of writing, but I also have adapted my thinking.

What if there could be just a line?
What if it wasn’t a full poem?
What if it could be exactly what it is, and nothing more?

At first, I was uncomfortable with this idea. Of course, I wanted to develop it, to make it several stanzas, to complete the thought more. Could I still be considered as “in a work session” if I only emerged with a line? Why was the idea of ‘not being done’ uncomfortable to me?

I sat with this feeling and explored a little. I realized that I had been forcing a lot of phrases into poems that haven’t had the legs to support itself. By insisting that thoughts be complete, I had made a lot of subpar poetry. This, in itself, isn’t bad, as one needs lots of bad poetry to get to a good poem. But, it was making my words weak, my themes watered down, my time and attention spaced out and distorted, and I began to see a pattern of reviewing my writing—everything was sounding the same, and not in a pleasing way.

I have been reading The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio again, and that has reignited feelings of wanting to create fuller-bodied poems, spending time with them as one would savoring a meal or a fine wine. I feel for me, that means my process needs to slow down, open up, and not be restricted by time or the emotional pressure of finalizing.

I am greatly looking forward to what this shift in mindset brings me. Already, I have gained a peace and pleasure in writing I haven’t felt in a decade.

What do think you could do along this same path? In what way can you open your writing, and let it be enough for the moment?

Much creativity and rewarding exploration to you,

Poetry Journal Excerpt: July, Part II

I am reading through more of Kim Addonizio’s The Poet’s Companion, (PDF version here.)

I am struggling to write. I see her fantastic prompts, and just come up completely blank. The month of August was not very fruitful with writing, but July was. In an effort to encourage myself and others, I will share excerpts from poems from July. These poems are currently in the race for acceptance from literary magazines. I have managed to be fairly regular with submission.

I know the season of poem writing will return in earnest. Even when I’m not writing, my brain is assembling images and thoughts. This is often the case for novelists, and I’ve heard them say that they are always working–always looking for characters and dialogue. I would say I am always working also, but I am looking for that moment which ties to larger themes—in the past, present, or future.

Here are some stanzas from what was rough draft writing in July 2018:

So, onto those next moments…

Wishing you inspiration, and moments of your own from which to write, ♥

Rejections Are Progress

I am still submitting poems, when I have some clarity. A steady little stream of rejections have turned up over the past two weeks. I am encouraged, because the replies to rejections have become more encouraging and slightly personalized. I believe this is due to submitting to the same magazines, multiple times, so they have some familiarity with my name. This, in my mind, comes to multiple great successes.

First, that I am submitting when I’m not really in the best physical or emotional shape–yay, to me, for persevering.
Second, I am becoming familiar with the magazines–that’s good, it means I’m becoming more a part of the community.
Third, the magazines are remembering me!
Fourth, I am seeing a positive outcome after investing in submitting poems over the years–this gives me confidence not just for the acceptance of the poems, but also acceptance of myself as a poet.

Here are some of the rejections I’ve received recently:

This, from The Account:
We appreciate the chance to read this submission. Though there is much to admire in these poems, unfortunately none is quite right for us at this time.

And from YesPoetry:
Sadly your poems do not meet our criteria at this time, but we wish you luck in placing it elsewhere. We encourage you to submit again!

And from THRUSH
We are pleased to have read these new pieces from you; in particular we enjoyed: Back, however, we have decided to pass on inclusion.

***

To Summarize What Was Said: 

“There is much to admire in these poems.” That’s a great compliment!
“We encourage you to submit again!” An invitation to try again. Okay!
“In particular we enjoyed Back.” Feedback on a piece that was liked. Good to know of their sensibilities, and good to know in general.

 


I am very happy with these realizations. I am updating my spreadsheet with rejection notices, but I am smiling as I do so.

Keep on writing, and sharing that writing. I’m rooting for you!

Reasons for Poetry & What Inspires

I’ve been devoting time to writing poetry. The morning works for me, so does early evening before bed. This may not be the case for other poets.

Some people write poetry as a academic exercise. Others because they want to do something ‘spiritual’ or mindful, and tap into what they feel, and sense. I have no objection to this, I think writing poetry, and any way you can get the practice into your life, is a wonderful thing. For me, poetry writing has not been optional. I’m very much in the I-do-this-to-survive / confessional / more-like-Anne-Sexton part of the spectrum.

Here is a list of what causes me to write poems. It’s usually fueled by some kind of intensity—but that can take many forms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams
I usually have dreams that I can write easily into a poem. My dreams tend to be highly symbolic. Very often I’ve written dreams in full description, and that’s been enough for a complete poem. Sometimes, it is a dominating color in a dream, or a theme. There is a treasure of image, sound, emotion, and downright psychological awareness from dream material. If you haven’t taken the time to explore your own psyche in this way with poems, I recommend it.

Emotions
The typical teenager pouring their heart out onto the page, feeling forcefully, isn’t a archetype without reason. Emotions can be a huge source of energy and used successfully as writing material. They can be used to connect you to potential readers, they can help you experiment with the language, they can strengthen your sensitivity and enable you. Joy, sadness, loss, grief, all aspects of the human condition can be described with the words of your choosing.

Limitations
I deal with several mental illnesses, which are mostly managed. But they do have periods where they creep in or takeover my life. Writing enables me to use language to expel my thoughts. Sometimes, I use poems as a therapist. Or I use poems to make metaphor from what seems intangible. Using poetry to label difficult sensations, during times of trial can really aid in grounding and perspective. You might feel improved after writing out your pain, or at least feel legitimized—because the mark of your reality has now morphed into an art.

Memories 
Our brains are amazing and keep so many details. Special memories or persistent memories are good writing material. I have also used poetry as a sort of journaling, to keep a feeling or memory intact—say a special day with someone. Maybe you really want to remember seeing the beach for the first time, for example. It can used as a time capsule, keeping your experience alive with a word picture.

If you’re seeking something to write about, try thinking over some of the things I’ve mentioned. Maybe an experience, a dream, or a feeling can open you up to a field of language you never knew lived inside.

 

 

Wanting to Write While Submitting?

I’m returning to writing, and getting back to submitting. It’s a dichotomy—because when you take time to write you feel like you should be submitting, and when you’re submitting, you feel as if you should be writing! Of course, both are necessary, so there really is no internal conflict. Not really. Sometimes, emotionally, it does seem like a bit much.

I like to write a little when I feel that urge to write while I’m submitting. Even if it’s just a image or a stanza, it feels better emotionally. I don’t know if other poets encounter this. It’s a situation I bump into frequently, so I try to manage as best I can. I want my writing time, and my submitting time to be exclusive and focused. If that means I have to break between one or the other to meet a small need, in a small way, I’m willing to do it. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it has worked for me so far.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re feeling pulled—into writing while you’re submitting, or submitting while you’re writing!

Are you being inspired by seeing your writing? Or inspired by putting together a submission?
These are feel-good hormones, and excitement. This is good! We want to keep these momentum-feelings!

Do you have coffee, is your blood sugar stabilized, and are you relatively unstressed?
It’s no surprise if you haven’t eaten, or haven’t had your own-personal-stabilizer, or are emotionally or physically compromised, you’re going to have difficulty focusing.

Do you have other things on your mind?
Housework, your job, other anxieties, health issues…can all contribute to distractibility.

Do you have space and sufficient time?
Feeling like you have to fit in submitting or writing, feeling pressure, can lead to ineffective time usage. Or mistakes made while submitting, or poor quality-time writing.

What if you are meeting all your needs and everything is ideal?

As in you’re: 1) chemically balanced, 2) have plenty of time, 3) have plenty of space, 4) have focus, and you are still fighting with wanting to write while you’re submitting, or submitting while you’re writing?

Then, meet both needs, of course! But do it in a small, one-at-a-time focused way!

If you want to write, but you’re in a submitting session
Take a break from your writing session, and submit to one magazine.
Or read about a magazine you want to submit to.
This shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.
You still want to devote 90% percent of your time and attention to writing.

If you’re submitting but you get that fire to write
Take a break from submitting!
Write a line, or a stanza, or an idea for a poem.
Or write an entire poem.
You shouldn’t devote more than 15 minutes to this.
Hopefully, meeting your poem need should free you up to focus on submitting.

Yes, self-discipline does come into play. I’m not saying it’s always going to work out that you can both submit and write. But you can honor yourself and your time, when that itch wants to be scratched.

Sometimes, devoting just a little attention can go a long way towards complete satisfaction and fulfillment, and better clarity and performance with the main task you’re setting out to perform.

Wishing you concentration and effective creative time,

Reuniting with Poetry with Kim Addonizio

I am back to writing poetry, and that feels wonderful! I purchased some books which have re-inspired me. I know I’ve mentioned Kim Addonizio’s The Poet’s Companion before, but now I have it in ebook format, so I get to explore it all again.

This book is solid. If you’re planning on getting back into writing poetry, want to read some great examples of poetry, want to learn, or just to read and be inspired, this is your book!

Happily, I also found a more recent poetry-encouragement / education book by her, which I am looking forward to savoring Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within.

*Don’t know who Kim Addonizio is?
Here’s a sample poem from The Poetry Foundation titled, “First Poem for You.”

Wishing you well today, and I hope you are finding some inspiration, too.

 

 

 

Dead King Magazine: Two Poems Accepted

Dead King Magazine: Two Poems Accepted

Dead King Magazine

I sent five poems to Dead King Magazine two weeks ago. A few days ago I received a lovely acceptance letter. I leaped out of my chair. I have been sending out submissions pretty regularly the last few months, processing lots of rejection letters, just waiting for the eventual good turn, and it happened.

Out of the five poems listed, they decided on two, “Waiting for the Anger to Stop,” and “A Phone Call Unanswered.” I’m pleased because they were recently written, within the last six months — and one of them within the last few weeks — which reassures me that I’m on an encouraging growth path with my writing. I’ve worried over time that I’ve lost my sense of direction, gotten rusty, clumsy, out-of-touch, or too experimental, or, worse, not experimental enough. I’ve been writing for 14 years, fairly steadily; I’ve put in a lot of time and heart. I know that writing poetry has expanded from the realm of interest, past hobby, and is now into “work” territory — where I can hardly think of doing anything else, aside from drawing.

It’s nice to see some response from that effort — even if it is just a magazine acceptance, and in the grand scheme of things as awesome as that is, it doesn’t amount to much in the scope of it all. The strange thing is, I can’t even answer why I’m sending out my poems. It’s not to be well-known, because that’s unlikely. It’s not for recognition, or acceptance, or fellow poet acknowledgements — I think it’s what I hinted at before — challenging myself and seeing what sticks. After all this time, and development, wouldn’t it be nice to know where I stand in skill?

After all, what is creative growth but pushing and pushing? Reading others who are in your field of interest? Learning, contributing among them, and seeing what comes back to you — fully-formed, or split? What is there to take away? What expansion can be had? Who sees you? Who can benefit from the words? The observations? Other people who see as you do. Other people who know what it takes to make the words work — and those people are poets — and the people who are poet lovers. I know of no other art that seeks for the distillation of truth at this intensity. And it does. Originally starting as a therapy for me — and it still is — poetry is where I turn to first. When I try to make sense, when conflict and emotions scatter in mid-air, are hard to catch and hang onto, I pin them down the best I can with poetry. It’s what I have. And it’s what I want to give to others. That peace. That distillation of experience, tangible, and distant, but close enough to look at, interpret.

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