Some of you probably remember a post by my friend poet and writer Carla McGill last year called “Poetry, Loss, and Grieving.” It’s a beautiful essay and has had a lot of readers.
Carla just started her own WordPress blog! Please go visit and welcome her. Blogging is all new to her, especially the technology, so she can use a lot of support. Also, you’re going to love her blog. It’s about writing and called Writing Customs. Be one of her first blog followers! And follow her on Twitter, too, here. You will love Carla’s posts (I promise). She’s so thoughtful and insightful and a wonderful writer and person.
I’m still trying to catch up with work and visiting with my mother, so don’t think I’m off writing a novel or something hahahahahaha. I hope to be back Monday.
Go tell Carla what YOUR writing customs are!
P.S. This is a chandelier at the Wrigley Mansion I visited with my mother and my husband. It’s Waterford crystal and Arizona amethysts!
What am I doing writing-wise? If I am writing a lazy word like “writing-wise,” you can bet that my writing is getting rusty. I have a lot of work to catch up on and don’t feel much like writing, although last weekend, I did manage to write a draft of a poem for the chapbook project focusing on family history. We’ll see how well the poem reads when I take it out in a week or two for a second glance.
I have two poems for the chapbook coming out in the museum of americana and one in California Journal of Poetics. These should all be out before the end of the year.
An experimental flash nonfiction piece I began in the course Marie and I took last summer is being published by Phoebe.
But in general I don’t feel much like writing right now. My mind is too cluttered with other “goings-on.” It’s not exactly monkey mind, which is more restless and unsetted. It’s just overly full, like trying to get to sleep at night when you have too much on your mind. Maybe I need a rest from writing. Or not.
Do you think a writer should force the issue and write through those busy head times like Dory says?
If so, maybe I should get off WordPress and into Word?
On another subject, is this little boy so precious? With little kids like this, we do have hope for the future.
Throughout September, I will be “running” a poetry “marathon” for the Tupelo Press 30/30 project. By donating in recognition of my efforts, you will be supporting a fabulous independent, nonprofit press.
I promise to write a poem a day for 30 days. Since it took me decades to cough up not even twice that for my first poetry collection Doll God, you can see what a feat I am trying to accomplish.
To help preserve poetry as an art, it’s important to support the independent presses and literary magazines. These are the places that publish nearly all published poetry today. It hasn’t been a positive era for them. I’ve seen many lit magazines close up—and when the presses go out of business, we often don’t even hear about it.
Every dollar you donate will go toward the operation of the press, enabling it to continue publishing beautiful books that would not get picked up by large commercial publishers. You can read the daily poems, as well as the bios of this month’s poets, and donate here.
As incentives to donate, I am offering the following:
For a donation of $10, you tell me what subject or image you want to see in a poem, and I’ll write that poem.
For a donation of $20, I will dedicate a poem to you or someone of your choice.
For a donation of $40, I will send you or someone of your choice, a signed and personally addressed copy of my book, Doll God.
For a donation of $55, I will send you or someone of your choice, a signed and personally addressed copy of my book, Doll God, and I will dedicate a poem to you or someone of your choice.
For a donation of $100, you get two copies of Doll God and two dedications!
Remember that if you donate $129 for a Tupelo Press subscription, you will receive the 10 free books of their current series.
For any of the above donations, including the subscription of 10 books, please remember to click or write my name in the honor field. Then email me at email@example.com and let me know what dedication or subject you are interested in. If you “earned” a copy or two of Doll God, please give me your mailing address and to whom you would like the book(s) addressed.
Again, you can read the daily poems, as well as the bios of this month’s poets, and donate here.
If you decide to help keep Tupelo Press publishing its amazing variety of books, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!
Wish me well, please. It starts tomorrow, and I’m nervous as can be!
If you are not able to donate, the other poets and I would still love for you to read our first draft work. I love feedback. Every day, I will post a link to that day’s poem over here so feel free to critique or pat me on the back (or the head, if you think that is more appropriate after reading the poem), encourage me, tell me what you like or what you don’t like. Or tell me a funny story or something completely unrelated that the poem reminded you of ;). Or just say hi in your own incomparable way so that I remember there is a world outside poetry. Gonna be an intense month!
One more thing: by November 1, I plan to take down all September’s 30/30 posts.
Menomama3 of Life in a Flash and Wuthering Bites might have been the first person to order Doll God from Amazon. We’re not sure, but suspect so. Now she writes a review of my poetry collection that is as well-written, personal, and completely engaging as her posts are !!!
Ms. Menomama3 also was one of the first bloggers I read when my daughter and I started our adoption blog several years ago. Ms. M and I are both mothers in transracial (and international) adoptive families–her children are from China and mine are from Korea.
Stick around for the rest of her blog, while you’re over there reading the review!
It was three days ago that I promised to “get cracking.” Is that expression only found in certain parts of the country?
Anyway, I promised to respond to blog comments, to read other blogs, and I guess implicitly I promised to keep posting. Yikes. I’m 30 pages away from the end of the memoir I’m reading (so I have no memoir review yet). And I have read some blogs, but have by no means caught up. I’ve responded to very few comments on this blog.
After getting back from Michigan, I had a lot of business work to handle. In addition, I had to revise my poetry book manuscript, Doll God. Then I am putting together a package of pages and book summary to finish my certificate in nonfiction through Stanford University. I have a poem being published online tomorrow and had to record an audio version. The list goes on and on.
I will keep working at catching up, but in the meantime I feel like such a slacker. And yet I’m really busy! I swear I am!
So that you didn’t read this for nothing, I can offer you some photos of the covered bridge outside Centreville, Michigan. My grandmother loved covered bridges. She collected paintings of them. I think they reminded her of growing up at the beginning of the 20th century in rural Michigan. This particular covered bridge is special to me. My husband and I drove through it on our first date, which was a drive in the country. We were high school juniors.
I’m closing comments on this post to give me more time to catch up. Thanks for stopping by! xo
I’m trying to figure out which are the best days to post on WordPress. I’ve been posting Mondays and Thursdays, at exactly 5:20AM Pacific time for ages. Don’t ask me about the 5:20. I have no idea how that started, but I have clung to it out of some weird feeling akin to superstition. I like the way 5:20 looks on the page, too.
But Mondays and Thursdays? How do I know those are the best? When would you prefer I post? Sorry, never is not an option ;).
I like to post 2x a week because that is what I can handle. (Sometimes I consider switching to once a week because two can be overwhelming, but for now I am sticking to two per week). I also post once a week on my family history blog, and I’ve been doing that on Wednesdays. That puts my blog posts all crammed in together between 4 days. I would prefer to do Monday, Wednesday, Friday–or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday–with one of the 3 days being for The Family Kalamazoo.
The reason I like to plan this out and not hit publish when I’m done with a post is because I have to schedule time to enter the discussions–or all those pesky critters like work, maintenance, cleaning, and certain family members will take up all my time.
With a little click of your computer keys, please let me know what days you prefer my Writer Site posts.
We have a lot of book writers on WordPress–all in various stages of book writin’: thinking about writing a book, actually writing one, talking about writing one, with several finished manuscripts, publishing a first book, many published books on the shelf.
What I hear very little about on WordPress is publishing smaller pieces before the book is finished. Maybe because I started as a poet, this has always been my route.
Poems are arguably the smallest genre of writing, so it made sense to send a few out into the world and see how they fare. Eventually, I had enough poems written and published to pull them together into a manuscript, but it didn’t occur to me that it was time for a book. I had to be reminded about it by a mentor.
When I branched out into writing creative nonfiction, my goal from the beginning was to produce a book. The writers on WordPress and the writers in the memoir-writing classes I’ve taken have been as focused on The Book as I have been.
But my opinion is that it’s just as important to write smaller pieces or to take chapters or smaller portions of the book-in-progress and revise into stand-alones. These pieces can be submitted to magazines and journals. Maybe you are thinking, “Well, I am writing a novel, so there is no way to send out part of this baby!” I searched Duotrope (search site for writing submissions) for “novel excerpts” and over 100 places are accepting submissions of novel excerpts currently. Once you weed through them, you might find only a dozen are a good fit, but hey, maybe that’s 12 more than you realized were out there!
What I am trying to do is figure out what kind of market is best for each short piece and then revise each one until it sparkles before sending it out to editors of the “right fits.”
I try to think of my short works as canaries in the coal mine of the literary world. Either they make it or they don’t.
Here is some great advice given by the character Christmas Eve in the Tony award-winning musical Avenue Q:
from a wonderful Tumblr site called “Things Musicals Taught Me”
Do you submit your writing in less-than-book-length form?
Today’s memoir review focuses on a novel. Huh? I’ll explain.
I’ve been wanting to read a novel by WordPress blogger Anneli Purchase for some time now, and the other day I had a long car trip so I settled into my seat with a copy of Orion’s Gift, Anneli’s 2012 novel.
Before I knew it we had arrived at our destination, and I didn’t want to put the book down. The story is part romance and part adventure, and I became caught up in the budding love story, as well as the dangerous escapades.
In the midst of all that, my memoir-writing brain started clicking away when I read what Anneli does with setting. I realized that I could learn from her about writing setting in memoir.
The story takes place, for the most part, in Baja California. Anneli has traveled and camped that area herself, and her own experiences inform the book with multi-dimensional descriptions of the area. Sometimes the reader is plunged into the natural beauty. Other times, the setting reflects the interior landscape of the characters. Kevin, one of the lovers who is beset with worries, sees the landscape this way:
Rocks, sand, cholla, ocotillo, and cardón cacti, and palo verde trees. Beautiful, yet unending and without distinguishing landmarks, and no ocean in sight. I didn’t like it. Oh, it was scenic enough, but heading out into the unknown, so late in the day, putting all my trust in people I had just met–it didn’t sit right with me.
In addition to using setting as an exterior marker for what is going on with her characters’ thoughts and emotions, Anneli uses setting as a way for her characters to interact. Kevin has helped Sylvia in several ways, including escaping from a bandido and getting her damaged van back on the road again, but Sylvia can teach him a few things, too. When they enter the water, she advises him what to do if he runs into a stingray. Kevin says he will fight back if he has to, but then he realizes that he never fought back in his marriage that just ended–he had let his wife walk all over him.
The setting is integrated as part of the story; it’s not a bonus or addition, but an essential part of what occurs in the book. It has an effect on the plot and on the actions of the characters. The campgrounds and wilderness areas provide a backdrop for the dangers of Mexico, but the towns bring the couple in closer touch with their dangerous pasts. When Sylvia has to learn how to dress properly for the town, there is more at stake than just fitting in.
Orion’s Gift was a relaxing and engaging break from reading memoirs. I’ve already loaned it to my daughter to read.
It’s a perfect addition to your summer reading list.
I’m taking a break from the regularly scheduled program–One Thing I Learned From Each Memoir I Have Read–to say thank you to a fellow writer and blogger, Ellen Morris Prewitt. She kindly wrote a post yesterday about Writer Site (yup, this blog) on her cain’t do nothing with love blog.
The title of the post is “The Allure of Normal.” In the midst of my gratitude toward Ellen, I did chuckle quite a bit about being presented as the poster child of normal.
After all, I did just write this passage the day before yesterday in a (first draft) scene for my memoir:
The therapist I’d seen years before had pointed out that normal was a setting on a washing machine, not a word associated with people. Maybe my teen hormones had blown things out of proportion.
When I was a kid I lived in the mindset that I was just outside the bounds of normal. Not distressingly weird, for sure. But definitely if-they-only-knew-that-I-am-weird weird. My best friend and I used to call each other “weirdo,” just to reinforce our placement in the universe.
But now I’m all grown up and so normal. 😉 Unless you ask my husband. But that is a subject for a future invisible post.
Let me tell you something about Ellen. She’s got a super impressive bio, including Pushcart Prize nominations and a Special Mention. Her website is found here. One of the many intriguing facts about Ellen is that she has an essay published in Sue William Silverman’s memoir how-to book Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir (which I own!). How cool is that?!