Showing posts from August, 2011

Obstacles and Inconveniences

"I really am your gift. I am not just a little person who needs to be "raised" and taught, and taken to activities....I came to the people in my life to bring a message: slow down. Feel. Be. Over and over again. When you do, you will notice immediately, that I am not an obstacle to your work, or inconvenience to your daily life. Instead, you will come to appreciate my honesty, humor, presence and love."-- Bruce Scott A "Facebook Friend"/acquaintance posted this the other day. It's one of those daily affirmation kind of posts that makes my blood curdle, but I read it anyway . . . mostly because the woman who posted it is a woman who is homeschooling her children and definitely following the beat of her own drummer, which I admire. Also, I have a lot of (hopefully polite) curiosity about her life, which is so different from my own. I may not always agree with the parenting techniques she espouses, but I respect her interest and concern and her intelle

The Anxiety of Planning

Yesterday I worked myself into a frenetic, worried mess. I spent my writing hour(s) doing more reading than writing, which in itself was okay -- I was reading critical essays about fairytales, and taking notes and thinking about how my own fairytale poem should be shaped. But then, after the quiet period of the morning was up -- the boy and the girl having decided between themselves at some point that this would be The Day of Fighting and Not Listening -- I attempted to write out a schedule for my sabbatical. The results were rather disastrous. That is, to my apparently fragile psyche they were disastrous. If you look at it from the standpoint of my house and the kitchen cabinets I gutted and cleaned throughout the entire afternoon, the results were fabulous! (More overwhelming stress, please! I'll have this house whipped into shape in no time!) I went kind of bat-shit crazy on the inside. This sabbatical scares me. I think I've voiced that as a joke before, but I'm jus

One Strophe Down. 657,896 to go . . .

At least, that's what it feels like. So today I finished ("finished") revising the last stanza of the first strophe/chapter of the middle section of my manuscript. At first I struggled to find the right form for this fairytale written in verse, and as I came to the end of the first strophe I had a sense that I've found it, and it's nice to have that sense of confirmation. But it also occurred to me, as I finished the strophe, that I might need to work diligently on word choice throughout the whole poem. The language needs to be simple -- like that you would write for a child -- but not so simple that an adult reading the poem will feel like it's boring, and a waste of his or her time. There's a balance between the child and adult extremes that I need to strike for this poem, and I don't think I've found it yet. It occurs to me NOW, however, that I should keep this idea or notion on the back burner until I have actually finished the long poem. I

This Week: Our Heroine Continues Her Valiant Efforts To Defeat The Mighty Slush Pile

There's nothing quite like receiving a response back from a literary magazine to motivate you into sending out more work, regardless of whether or not that letter holds an acceptance or a rejection. Every time I receive back a slim envelope (usually with a printed -- or worse, xeroxed -- rejection slip), it's a reminder that my work isn't out there. And when I check the excel spreadsheet that I keep as a kind of submission log, I'm reminded further that I REALLY don't have any work out there. There's no envelope sitting unopened on an editor's desk. There's no manuscript filed in a cabinet, waiting for some poor graduate student to swing by and slog through the unsolicited submissions. There's nothing but the sound of the air-conditioner rifling through the pages on my desk, and the electrical current humming through my laptop. (Actually, you can't really hear the electrical current humming through my laptop. That was, as we say, a bit of purpl

Another Morning, Another Two Hours, Another Lonely Stanza

The headline for this post sums up this morning's work pretty succinctly. I managed to work out that first stanza, and to come to terms with what will be a fairly bastardized version of the Spenserian stanza. It will have Spenser's stanza shape, and the heptameter last line, along with a slant rhyme -- I'm going to admit that I just don't like true/exact rhyme but that I'm fairly in love with what happens, sonically, when there's internal- and end- slant rhyme. So yeah. That's my deal. Or this poem's deal, anyway . . . until tomorrow, when, most likely, I will reread my work and despair, OR when I struggle with the second stanza and feel myself straining under the weight of this ridiculous challenge I've given myself. I am, however, still fairly buzzing with good feeling over my little "win" of an acceptance from yesterday. I feel lighter for it -- more optimistic. It may be a small thing to some people, but it feels overwhelmingly affirm

Good News and Happiness

Two of my poems have been accepted for future publication in The Gettysburg Review. Booyah! (Booyah may be a decidedly un-literary exclamation, but it satisfies nonetheless.)

How Does Anyone Do This?

I've just spent approximately two hours working on one stanza of my wretched poem. It didn't start off wretched -- I feel, very keenly, that my first (free verse) draft was far more successful than my formal verse attempts have been. And yet I continue to try to force this thing. Two weeks ago I began trying to rewrite the second section of my poetry manuscript in formal verse. I'm writing something that approximates a fairytale, and is narrative in nature. So I thought I'd try Edmund Spenser's Spenserian stanza, which is written in iambic hexameter and ends with an "Alexandrine" line (an iambic heptameter line, which employs a caesura, and forms a couplet). This is according to Lewis Turco's Book of Forms, which I'm kind of regarding like my bible right now, and trolling every so often for options regarding form and also to just make sure I'm on the right track. As you'll see from my first post, I thought it went well. And then a day o