I had a big day yesterday! And so did my embarrassingly gigantic purse, which I brought with me for some reason.
I gradated with my M.A. in English from Salem State University AND I had my first painting accepted for publication at an online literary magazine. I got the alert from Submittable that my painting was accepted minutes before I walked across the stage to get my diploma (or diploma-holder, as the case always is) and it was such a nice reminder that just because this particular educational experience is closing, I’m not done experimenting and trying new things. It always made me feel like an artist, which is certainly a new feeling for me. Anyway, I’m plugging away on my fiction-writing in between my frenetic painting and poem-ing and I’m entering contests and gearing up to spend the summer wrapping up my novel. So there’s plenty of work to distract me from how desperately sad to be leaving school.
I’m writing here because I am thinking a lot about my novel, but I still have too many unmade choices to write any more of it today. Something that I’m learning from my long-suffering advisor, Kevin, is that what feels like a hugely dramatic moment to me does not necessarily translate as dramatic to the reader. Characters can’t just feel like they’re in danger, they have to actually BE in danger in order for a reader to stay engaged. This is something that is probably obvious to anyone who isn’t anxious and stuck inside their own head all the time, but wasn’t to me. I think what I need to do is actually make real the fears that I have all the time… really fuck up the lives of my imaginary friends. Otherwise they are never going to be interesting enough for anyone else to get to know.
Somethingelse that I’ve been thinking about in terms of creating drama in my story is that I need to have faith in my readers to be able to tolerate bigger flaws and bigger mistakes from characters and still care about them. Here’s more evidence that being screwed up doesn’t necessarily help your writing… I’m so afraid of how people perceive me that I’m still nauseous about things I said in third grade. I protect myself according to that fear, and I think I’ve been protecting my characters the same way. But that prevents them from becoming worth reading about. I don’t owe them safety or dignity or respect or anything else because they are not real and I think it’s only in embracing that not-realness that I can make them flawed enough to seem real to anyone but me.
So that’s where I’m at these days… trying to step away from tortured inner monologues and toward mystery baby-daddies and extramarital affairs. Wish me luck. It’s weird out there.
I thought it was time to send out an update because one of my poems was accepted for publication! It’s one of the first poems I wrote in my first poetry class at SSU, which I am realizing as I type, was not even a year ago. It’s so strange to think that poetry was not even part of my life in 2016.
Most of what I write is truly terrible lately, so the whole external validation thing is well-timed and helpful. Of course, I can’t help but talk myself out of it (“the only reason they took it is because they needed poems by women in that issue,” and “the poem is only any good because of the suggestions of better poets in your workshop,”).
Eeesh. It’s hard being a person. The poem is in the November 2017 issue of Drunk Monkeys.
Thanks, imaginary readers of my blog. 🙂
The client for this order was a yoga instructor looking for a poem to go with her welcoming gift to new students in her prenatal and mommy yoga classes. The gift was a little charm of a lighthouse, and she was looking for a poem that drew connections between motherhood and the sea. Our process was pretty straightforward. The client had a couple of lists of words and phrases that she had brainstormed, and we talked a little about her ideas and her poetry likes and dislikes, then I wrote, incorporating her ideas and some of my own. We talked once more about minor changes for the final draft and that was that. I hope her students enjoy the poem, just as they all surely enjoy her wonderful class! Click the link below to read the poem
Prenatal Yoga Ocean Poem
My therapist wouldn’t like that it took winning a contest for me to drop the “aspiring” from “aspiring writer,” but that’s what finally did it. A reporter asked where people could find my work and “my laptop…?” didn’t seem like an acceptable answer. So this is my website and blog where you’ll be able to find links to published work and samples of some of my made-to-order literature. Thanks for checking in!