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Up-cycling Reality for the Sake of Mental Health

Lately, very lately, I have taken to creating blackout poems. I was first introduced to this concept in a university Creative Writing course I took a few years back. Then I was reminded of it by reading Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist (which, for all I know, is where my instructor encountered it in the first place ... who knows, stranger things have happened). For years I've been writing a poem a day based on five to six random words. I'm such a weirdo I find this sort of thing fun. But, in doing the blackout poetry I am discovering something else - a way to process the news (aka reality) which borders on the therapeutic. I normally get something out of writing a poem - obviously - if that weren't the case I wouldn't do it. But what I normally get is something akin to a purge. Taking a news article and covering things up in order to uncover a way to make it about something else, is completely different somehow. Rather than purging something, it's more like

Writing Can be Like Herding Cats

I've heard other writers talk about projects that refused to go in the direction they intended/wanted, and obviously I've had ideas morph from one thing to something slightly different. However, I never really thought I'd become a victim of this particular phenomenon since I'm a dyed-in-the-wool "pantser." I have never outlined anything I've written except when forced to do so in school (and even then I always wrote the paper and then back engineered the outline). I suspect it is a combination of however my brain is wired, and the fact that, to me, outlining spoils the fun. Why would I want to bother to write something when I already know what happens? Don't get me wrong, I have written things with a vague idea of what happens, or else there was some sort of guiding principle keeping the thing on the rails. An example would be a short story cycle in which each section occurred on a day of the week and each had an overriding theme (love, loss, betrayal,

Happy World Poetry Day

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2017

I had signed up for NaNoWriMo eons ago, and by eons I mean over a decade. And yet, despite the initial, and recurrent, desire to take part, I never did. First and foremost, it's taken me years to come to terms with the idea of sharing the odd goings on which call my head their home. Secondly, there has always seemed to be some perfectly convenient excuse, as there always is, for why it's not convenient to do it now . But despite the eternal headaches of holidays, schoolwork - and this year, actual final exams - coinciding with NaNoWriMo, I decided to shut up and just try it this year. Something about feeling that I had such lovely, and valid,  excuses built in for any possible failures, made it seem somehow less frightening to think of doing so. So what if I only hit 20,000 words, I thought, that's way more than I had, and I can always blame it on school. In the interest of honesty, I must admit, I started with about 4,000 words I'd previously written. But since I am a

The best laid plans ...

So this summer has gone to hell in a handbasket. I  had planned to get my "novella" (in quotes because of its awkward length), Fall On Landing out in June, but tomorrow starts Aug and it's not up yet. Part of the reason is because I tried to hire someone off Fiverr to do the cover, and it didn't work out. I had an idea, expressed in both writing and a sketch, but didn't trust my skills to do it myself. After that fail, I decided, despite not having done much painting since I was a teenager, to give it a go. What I created isn't quite the Old Masters epically nuanced version I had in my head, but I like it enough to use it. So, a couple weeks ago I finished it and ran it through the Canva site to make a cover. Now, I'm just trying to decide between two covers I made.  Anyone up for a poll? I feel one coming on 😉 I've decided to start two different series, and I had planned to get book one in each series at least written this summer. Now, I'm hoping

Book Review: Selection from Create Dangerously

In my creative writing class we are also reading selections from various other publications. This week our selection was Chapter 1 from Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat. In the chapter, she talks about certain parts of her Haitian background. She describes disturbing political incidents which occurred during the dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier, particularly the executions of Marcel Numa and Louis Drouin. She explains the significance of the event for her by saying, "All artists, writers among them, have several stories - one might call them creation myths - that haunt and obsess them. This is one of mine." She discusses, in depth, the chilling effect such times had on art, artists, and the sharing of stories. She describes a sort of cultural oppression that went hand in hand with the physical political tyranny of the regime. On oppression which vilified such accepted classics as Camus and Sophocles. She talks about how plays would be pu

Book Review: You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)

I downloaded You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins on Audible the other day while battling a cold. Topics covered in the book include the motivational (picking yourself and not waiting for someone's permission to call yourself a writer) to the practical (the importance of building a platform and a brand). While I admit some of this was just common sense, some of it was genuinely new and helpful information for a self-publishing newbie like myself. And even the parts which weren't particularly revelatory, were still important on the level of reinforcement. Sometimes it helps just to be given that "just do it" pep talk one more time. I can't say that I would turn evangelist over this book, but I would definitely recommend it.