August 31, 2009

Writing group thoughts

Last night I met up with some Austin writers I met via the internet and we had a lovely time drinking wine and critiquing each others' work. I heard some absolutely fantastic work-in-progress and got some really good comments on my own stuff. There is a prose poem I have been working at for awhile that I think will really come together once I apply their suggestions. I'm already looking forward to our next meeting. I came away with two prompts, and I'm also excited to start working on another poem that I've been struggling with. I want to at least get it workshop-ready so I can get some feedback.

It's interesting to realize how hard it is to break out of writing habits. Sitting at a table with some people I'd never met in person before, I realized that some aspects of my work that I have been struggling with since college are still hanging around, albeit not quite as much. Often in my writing, my introductions have a lot of superfluous stuff in them. I have always sort of needed to work my way into a piece gradually. That in and of itself isn't the problem - the problem is that I don't do such a good job of editing the extraneous easing-in out in later drafts. I will say that my ability to cut this stuff out has gotten much better over time; it's no longer in every single piece. But sometimes, I still miss that extra stuff, because it just doesn't stand out to me. I still need to pay attention to that in my work.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to more writing group time.

August 27, 2009

Poem - We've Got the Power In Our Hands

Inspired by this image.


We've Got The Power In Our Hands

And we will
leave prints
all over the walls of the
world that
we have changed

August 25, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Two unrelated confessions today.

  1. I confess that one of my all-time biggest pet peeves is when people are chewing gum in dance class. Especially when they're not trying to hide the fact that they're chewing gum. It's a safety hazard and it's disrespectful. I wonder why teachers never say anything about it. I remember when I was a kid, we would always get reprimanded for having gum in class. Maybe it's because it's easier to make kids spit out their gum than it is to tell adults, many of whom are older than you, that they can't have gum in their class.
  2. I started drawing/coloring mandalas as a form of meditation and as a way to unblock my creativity. So far, I think they're working, and not just for my writing; I had a very productive dance session this morning. And even if they don't get my creativity going, they're a lot of fun, so I think I'll stick with them. Plus, they really are relaxing and meditative; I find them much more effective than sitting meditation. Whenever I need to sit completely still and clear my mind, I get way too fidgety. I can work on a mandala for a long time, though.

August 24, 2009

Poem

Inspired by this image.


Grandma's Depression #1

The bobbins still
lined up in
their box, kept
safe, still lustrous
though unused
for ten years,
since the
arthritis
overwhelmed her hands.

August 23, 2009

Poem - Hoc est enium Corpus meum

Inspired by this image.

Hoc est enium Corpus meum

What if?

All of those
wafers, instead
of used in ritual
were used
solely to feed
the stomachs of the
poor rather than
the souls of the righteous?

Wat if?

Feeding others
was a new sacrament?

August 22, 2009

Poem: Sanibel

Inspired by this image.


Sanibel
As they packed, she poured
the sand in her shoes into a plastic
bag, tucked into her
suitcase with her
makeup, and wrapped
the shells in toilet
paper, and put them
in her purse, hoping
their memories would be
allowed past security.

August 21, 2009

Gloom Cupboard #104 is up!

Check out Gloom Cupboard's newest poetry issue. Thanks to all the poets who shared their work and made this yet another great collection.

For anyone who sent work for #104 but didn't hear back, I have a backlog of submissions and you're first on my priority list for #105.

August 20, 2009

Poem: Sunday Reflection #1

Inspired by this image.

Sunday Reflection #1
In the depths of despair I dreamed of god and rejected her later anyway,
because it was just a dream, because I was troubled, because of course
my brain was not working properly then. Hormones and depression meds
talking, that's all it was. But since then I have wondered, a bit more each
day, whether that was intuition rather than illness/illusion/delusion talking.
Whether my subconscious was giving me hope, giving me a reason to feel
better. I wonder, chronically, what might have happened had I just believed myself.

August 17, 2009

Poem

Inspired by this image.

Garden Pittance
All that work,
all that
fertilizing weeding hoeing
caring -

all that, and
we only yielded
enough for
one salad

August 16, 2009

Poem

Based on this image.

Printer's Nostaliga

In the 19th century, doctors
attempted to cure
nostalgia by
sending patients to
the country to read
Jane Austen.

Would they cure this
(post)modern condition by
sending them to special
collections to study
the design of
her first editions?

August 14, 2009

A new poem

Inspired by this image.


Gone Fishing


Your note said, but
then, I walked into
your workshop and
saw your gear still
a mess on the floor,
never put away after
our last (our final)
vacation, and I

wondered if you'd come
back for the pile,
or if I would
have to clean up yet
another mess
and sell it all.

August 13, 2009

Gloom Cupboard #103 is up!

The newest Gloom Cupboard poetry issue is up! Thanks again to all the poets who submitted their work to make this a great issue. Check it out!

August 11, 2009

Confession Tuesday

I confess that I've spent far more money on books this month than I rightfully should have. Doing research for my bookstore guide was very bad for my spending habits. Let's hope this thing makes me a little money . . . .

My husband found a job and while I'm relieved I'm no longer our sole source of income, I'm bummed that I have to start helping with cooking and cleaning again.

I confess that I could easily spend 3+ hours in the dance studio and be totally happy.

I worry that teacher training is going to interfere with my writing and that I'm going to struggle with my life balance for awhile.

I feel guilty that I'm temporarily canceling my weekly yoga routine with my friend so that I can maintain a life balance. She totally understands, and we plan to pick it back up again once I get into a new routine, but I still have this irrational guilt.

My boyfriend and I have decided that there needs to be a category of "Midwestern guilt" to fit in along with "Jewish guilt" and "Catholic guilt."

I believe that bell hooks' All About Love is the best self-help book that is not actually a self-help book.

August 10, 2009

August Goals

I can't believe we're 10 days into August and I'm just getting around to posting my goals now! Well, it's been a busy month. I have been very active in my writing/research, plus I have had to pull extra time at the day job because other employees have been on vacation and I'm the fill-in person. This week will probably be a low-productivity writing week, but I was exceptionally productive last week, so even if I only get half as much done this week, it will all even out.

Review of July Goals
July was unfortunately not as productive as I would have liked. I did revise my poetry manuscripts, attend a reading, submit some of the work I did for my workshop, pitched my novel to a publisher, and start research for NaNoWriMo 09. However, I did not enter the three-minute fiction contest, I only submitted work to one literary journal, and I did not finish a neglected story. This was the first month since I seriously began writing that I accomplished so few goals. But August has been great so far, so I hope I'm making up for it.

August Goals
1. Submit pieces for the Hint Fiction anthology
2. Complete the first and second drafts of my guide to Austin independent bookstores
3. Submit work to at least three literary journals
4. Do full revisions of all in-progress poetry manuscripts
5. Attend a reading or other literary event
6. Finish a neglected story
7. Pitch my novel to at least one publisher
8. Get a writer's group together with another writer friend

August 6, 2009

Booker Prize Longlist Thoughts

I was quite excited to see the authors who appear on the Booker Prize Longlist. A.S. Byatt is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I recently developed an addiction to Sarah Waters, as we stock all of her novels at BookWoman. I think she's a fantastic writer and definitely deserves a place on the list.

My boss and I were discussing Waters' inclusion on the longlist, and she expressed some frustration that the first Waters book to make the list was also the first one that did not include lesbian relationships and sexuality. The Little Stranger is indeed a departure from the rest of her novels, in that lesbian love is simply not part of the plot. This is not to say that the rest of Waters' works are simply romance novels. They are all works of literary fiction, and my boss makes a point of keeping them in stock because many of our customers want to read lesbian fiction, but don't want to read generic romance. They want literary works, and they find that in Sarah Waters.

I'm not faulting Waters for writing a novel that is largely different from her previous work. The Little Stranger is a wonderful book, and of course it makes sense that she would like to branch out and try new ideas. And no matter what the book, I'm thrilled she made it to the Booker longlist. But some of her previous works are just as good as The Little Stranger - and yet they didn't have a place on the list.

Of course, I can't definitively say that her other works have been less prominent because of their lesbian themes. The publishing industry and the awards industry are both flighty and fickle, and there could be any number of reasons. That being said, it's interesting that Waters gets longlisted once she writes a book that has nothing to do with lesbianism. Certainly homophobia isn't the only thing at play here - but I wouldn't doubt it has a small presence.

August 4, 2009

Confession Tuesday

I confess that sometimes I get annoyed with being hungry, because I have too much to do to stop and eat.

I confess that I have over a month to finish a 1,500-word article for a magazine, but I'm irrationally stressed out because it isn't done yet. Nevermind that I routinely write more than 1,500 words a day . . . .

I confess that I'm very annoyed with bookstores that don't post regular hours and only seem to be open when someone feels like showing up.

I confess that I'm working on creating a guide to independent bookstores in Austin, and doing the research is incredibly fun. I can't wait for this project to come to fruition.

I confess that my checkbook is missing in the bowels of my messy room and I'm going to need to take some time today to find it.

I confess I accidentally bought buttermilk at the store instead of regular milk, and I'm sorry it has to go to waste, but I cannot drink buttermilk. I even gave it a try just to see if I could. It's not possible.

I confess that I can actually get a lot of writing done in bars.

August 3, 2009

Self-Promotion

I have two new pieces of erotica up.

"Electrical Problem" is in the August issue of Bare Back Magazine.
"Eric's First Ride" is up at Literotica.

Very excited to have work at both sites!