Posts

Showing posts from September, 2011

Writing in Sickness and in Health

This week's writing challenge: The plague. In my eye.

Monday was productive because I spent my morning writing and then the rest of it catching up with committee work that I actually care about . . . namely, plans for the Creative Writing Festival (CWF) our college holds every year in the spring. We're going to add some nice little incentives for our panelists and workshop leaders, and the idea is that we'll attract more attention that way. Additionally, we made plans to streamline our operations (again). Every year this monster runs a little more smoothly -- and I'm hopeful that having a little more time and flexibility in my schedule this fall will allow us to really run this year without any of the headaches that usually afflict us.

Tuesday was good because in addition to a little more CWF planning, I managed to write for another full five hours. I took a step away from the fairytale and worked on two new poems for the myth section of the manuscript, and began a thi…

Literary Mama

I'm a little late to the table, I think, but I've just discovered the site "Literary Mama", and in particular, this book review, which in itself is a really lovely meditation on the difficulty of balancing work and raising children.

SimPATico . . . it's just fun to say

This was a good writing AND reading week. It didn't begin that way, but I persevered. Persistence (i.e. bull-headness) = winning! (Shut up, Charlie Sheen.)

I've managed to "complete" (yes, I'm using the quotation marks again, deal with it) another poem for the third section of the manuscript, and I made some more headway with the second strophe of the fairy tale poem. I submitted my chapbook MS to one publisher and I have plans to complete another submission this afternoon. Also, I've now read almost half of the Blank Verse book by Shaw (which really isn't difficult, it's just that I wrote more than I read this week) and continued reading David Yezzi's excellent collection of formal poetry, Azores, on the treadmill. (Yes, on the treadmill. I am nothing if not a consummate multi-tasker . . . which, I agree, isn't really ideal for an art form that requires tranquility and peaceful moments of reflection, but when you're a working mother of tw…

Changing Direction Mid-Creation (or: Why Writing Long Poems is a Terrible, Terrible Idea)

This morning I managed to finish another stanza. Yippee! At this rate, I'll be finished with the poem in the year that I retire.

Part of my sluggishness over the past few days is a direct result of changing a major plot element of the poem. Perhaps I should explain first that I had, more or less, mapped out the course of the poem/fairytale according to 1) fits of inspiration and 2) guidance from the last few pages of a text titled The Classic Fairytales, edited by Maria Tatar. The last entry in this anthology is taken from Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folktale. This essay is, crudely but very admiringly put, The Shit. Propp analyzed 100 Russian fairy tales and managed to come up with a list of 31 "functions" -- or events/details/characteristics -- that fairy tales possess. "Propp's Thirty-One Functions" was extremely useful in helping me shape the plot line of my own fairytale. Most important was the following:

3. The sequence of functions is alway…

More Good News

I discovered this morning that Fabulous Beast, my chapbook MS/the first section of the full-length MS I'm working on currently, was a semi-finalist in the Black Lawrence Review's Black River Chapbook Competition. Semi-finalists were announced on August 11 on their blog, and while I've been reading their blog periodically, I sure missed that one.

Russell Swenson won the competition for his chapbook Santa Ana, which is described as a "compelling and enigmatic narrative". I'm looking forward to reading it, because, as you may have guessed, I dig on some narrative poetry, and even more especially, narratives told through lyric poetry.

So! I shall exit the interwebs now and use this wonderful quiet time to work on that second part of the MS. (Little J has not surfaced from his bedroom yet. I think his Birthday Weekend Extravaganza wore him out.)

High Fiving A Million Angels!

I've had a good writing day. I managed to write for five nearly-solid hours (give or take an interruption or two) -- and I "finished" three stanzas of the fairytale poem. (I feel like the word "finished" should always be in quotation marks when used to talk about the state of one's writing.)

Compared to my work over the month of August, that's like fitting three days into one! It's nice to be able to finally appreciate the sabbatical. Days like this would not occur without a semester off from teaching. Or they might occur, but there would be only one -- maybe two -- of these days that actually happened over the course of three or four months.

That makes me sad, briefly, and then I shake off the sadness, force myself to remember that the spring semester and my eventual return to teaching is a long way off, and that perhaps my writing life will look somewhat different after having experienced this grace period.

Today, that's what the sabbatical …

Patience

It's kind of amazing how a couple of hours, or a stretch of them, can change one's perspective. This is probably a good concept to remember in my everyday interactions with people, and particularly when I'm having a bad day, but most especially when I'm writing.

I was having a bad writing day on Friday. I ended my morning writing session in a funk because I spent the bulk of the time revising my fairytale poem -- the one paltry strophe of it. I wish I could recognize my uphill battles when I'm engaged in them -- while the three lines I finally settled on are keepers (for now), the rest of my scribbling felt less necessary and more like a waste of time.

But then on Monday I tried again -- and purposely ignored the "finished" strophe. I went immediately to the second strophe and tried to remember that, at this point, I just have to tell the story. I have to get this out. The goal of this sabbatical is to produce work. I can't spend days agonizing over t…