Wednesday, April 18, 2018

My First Acceptance of 2018

It happened!  The dam of rejection has broken.  A horror poem and a flash fiction piece will appear in Lonesome October Lit at different points this year.  Acceptance alone is enough to celebrate, but there is another reason it feels so sweet.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a painful rejection to a story I wrote.  Afterward, I shelved the story and moved on.  I couldn't submit it again.  It felt tainted, like the worst story ever written by anyone.  How could I even call myself a writer?  

Early this month, I decided to submit my "nasty" story.  The one with the "too practical" writing.  And the editor enjoyed my story.  

Everyone says art is subjective, a saying both frustrating and true.  But comments can influence how artists see their work and (in some instances) themselves.
I'm glad I put my work away for a while instead of trashing it, and hope I can remember my "icky" soon-to-be-published story when I feel like giving up.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Glitter or Gold (a Poem)

Brave lightning bugs on bedroom
Walls beep luminescence like
Miniature uncapped glow sticks flung

Flitting reckless, they stream like
Golden goddess harp strings
Between the checkerboard of night

Feisty fireflies fear not the dark

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Ghost of College Past (and DIY MFA Rekindle)

I lost college over a decade ago.  I went through the year of depression and the slow emergence from the darkness.  During that time, I got married to the love of my eternity and we moved into our apartment; I had huge events and goals to plan for, so it gave me direction amid the rubble of my plans.

After settling into our apartment, I thought I could pick up college again.  I talked about it... what it would take.  But a condition of public housing (the only thing we'll ever be able to afford) is that my husband and I don't attend college.

And then... my complex health decided to turn into a pretzel of insidious tomfoolery.
From the time I could speak, everyone assumed I'd go to college.  I started school at age three and was considered "bright".  Teachers told me I'd do great things.  My mom would tell me how amazing and smart I was... definitely college-bound.  Relatives said I'd live a life sewing buttons on shirts at Goodwill if I didn't go to college.  I was asked if I wanted to be a useless lump on public assistance my whole life.  Worse things... more pressure from strangers and family alike.  

And I wanted to attend college.  It was my golden ticket to the Wonka Factory of my future.  Everything good and prosperous began with that degree.  I wouldn't make enough money for my medical insurance without it... couldn't afford a $30,000 accessible van without it.  It would help me be a productive citizen.
I still feel like I need college, even though it won't be possible unless I win the lottery.  Maybe it's because I was told I'd be nothing without that piece of paper.  Maybe because I feel like I'm not a legitimate poet without it (which is untrue and poetry wouldn't be my major, anyway).  Perhaps because I'm used to having big, life-changing goals to work towards and now... nothing.

What would I get out of it?  My chronic pain and other disabilities/conditions make a full-time job impossible, so it wouldn't help me that way.  If I want to stare down a big accomplishment, I can reminisce fondly about getting through the hell that was radiation therapy.  If I want a fancy piece of paper, I can print and frame one.  I'm (sadly) not the kind of person to acquire a bunch of friends and contacts, either.
The only real benefit I can take from college is knowledge, but I don't need college to learn.  There is a plethora of resources out there on pretty much every subject imaginable.  There are even some free college-level courses out there, if I feel I need something similar to academic instruction.

Since knowledge seems to be the benefit, I might try another DIY MFA experience.  The last one I did produced mixed results, partly because it's so difficult for me to find my own community.  I just hope it feels like I'm doing something big enough to quiet the "must work on huge goals" section of my brain.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

My Vocabulary or Yours (Part 4)

I am currently reading The Magicians trilogy and came upon a few words I don't know.  They were interesting, so I thought I'd share.

Enjoy the return of My Vocabulary or Yours.
Persiflage-  Light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter.

Scintilla-  A tiny trace or spark of a specified quality or feeling.

Fusillade-  A series of shots fired or missiles thrown all at the same time or in quick succession.

Excrescence-   A distinct outgrowth on a human or animal body or on a plant, especially one that is the result of disease or abnormality.

Potentate-  A monarch or ruler, especially an autocratic one.

Sinecure-  A position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit.

Semiotician-  The study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fairy Gardens & Boxes (What to do With Life)

On my cancer blog I wrote:  I have more time to live my life (which is great), but what do I do with it?  I've done nothing positive or exciting with my life for about a decade now.  There will be no children, pets, jobs, houses, travelling, college education, etc.  Between being a dirty scrounger on the dole and having chronic pain and health issues... there isn't much I can do with the time I'm given that will have a major impact.  I try, furiously.  But it feels futile.  It seems most of my energy is simply used to keep me alive.

The last "big" thing I did was move into the apartment my husband and I currently inhabit.
Yes, I've had some writing published in the last decade.  I've become an aunt (a fantastic thing, but not "my" accomplishment).  My cancer appears to be gone, but keeping me alive shouldn't be all I do with myself.

So, while my days slide by, what is left to do that I'm able to attempt?
Fairy gardens have captured my attention on occasion the last couple years but are on my mind a lot the last few months.  I love all things magical and whimsical.  Who doesn't want a touch of sweetness in their lives?

The container a fairy garden is built in is as important as the flowers, miniature fences, plastic animals, and clay fairies composing the garden itself.  If the box is too big, you need a huge variety of pieces.  If the pot is too small, the garden becomes a centerpiece.  Should the planter be fancy or plain?

I'm thinking about making one.  I don't think I have the money for it, but The Dollar Tree has pieces and decorations... so, maybe.
Everyone tells you to think outside the box when you're stuck in life.  Just think of something you've never thought of!  Just do something completely outside of your normal capabilities!  But, the box of my life isn't cardboard.  It isn't my lack of imagination.  My life's container is titanium buried in concrete.  I can, sometimes, pull things inside with me... but not get out.

So, I drag stuff inside.  I start blogs and writing programs online.  I get out of the apartment the one day a week my body lets me.  I cultivate friendships however I can.  I try to learn something new every day.  I try to be a good wife, daughter, sister, and person.  I search for the flowers, miniature fences, plastic animals, and clay fairies composing the fairy garden of my life and hope, when it's complete, that it's whimsical, magical... with more than a touch of sweetness.

Perhaps the small pieces will be big enough when added together.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rambling (AWP and H.U.P.)

The AWP Conference is going on now.  I used to want to go... badly.  I'd dream of who I'd meet, glimpse, and become friends with.  There are panels on every type of writing. And the swag-- totes full of books, bookmarks, bookish totes!  It sounded like paradise.

I'm too poor (and too disabled) to go, which seems to be a good thing with all the reports I hear every year about some major SNAFU involving the conference's commitment to disability inclusion.  One year, every single panel proposal on disability and literature was turned down, though there were many.  Now, they have a fair amount of panels (and praise themselves for how inclusive they are), but their accommodations lack because they're worried about "affecting the other conference-goers".  One year, they even had stairs to the stage where disabled presenters were supposed to give their talk!  Sometimes, I can't tell if they're literally that clueless or if we're just unwelcome and they'd get sued for saying so.

When people ask me why I don't feel like I belong in the "Literary Community", I point to AWP or, as I like to call them, "Exhibit A".  There are a myriad of things keeping disabled writers from the spaces of our peers.

Sometimes, I wish...
I'm starting a mentor program for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers through my other blog The Handy, Uncapped Pen.  The window for mentor applications is March 15th.  Everyone in the program will be disabled or neurodivergent.  Everyone in the program will be professional writers (or working towards it).

I'm nervous.

First, I've never done anything like this.  I know that's probably not a good thing to admit, but no one would do anything new if the prerequisite is to have already done it.  What if (like someone suggested rudely) I have no business being the one running it?

What if there aren't enough mentors or any mentors for the program?  What if it collapses?  I worked for months on this, even planning during my radiation treatments. I work on it still.  I don't want to let anyone down.

I try not to let myself get tangled in negative possibilities.  What if it's a success, however modest?  What if I can expand it to include teenage writers next year?  What if the next project takes off even more?  I tell myself:  Keep positive and plugging away, and worry about the worst only if it happens.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Sugar Game (a Poem)

We are the apex of stolen
victory, the pin's point target
funnelled.  Joy from the tap
goes down slightly sticky.

We cheer with cotton floss, honey.
Paper adheres to our applause.
Spectators cloying, we test insulin
resistance.  Futile, we try to rise

last among them. Hope seconds'
hesitation grants us spoons
of extra-syrup affection. Sweet
teeth not indulged at home.