Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Opening (a Poem)

Today's poem is about opposites and intimacy.  The push and pull of an early relationship.

This is an old poem.  I've always felt something was missing from it, but I could never tell what.  I hope you enjoy it, anyway.


Laying down the law
So you know where I stand
Stop trying to close the door
If I struggle to open my heart
Only so many times I can breathe deep
When someone is shallow
Don't tear me down when I
Won't give it up
I can trip your trigger
As I steady my hands

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Vlogging Girl in a Vlogging World (BWF 3)

Do you ever think about buying a webcam and hopping on YouTube as a writer?  I do.  A lot.  Poets, I think, can really utilize YouTube in positive ways because of virtual readings.

I have crappy confidence.  I often imagine myself doing videos on YouTube the same way I imagine myself winning the lottery:  A nice diversion and nothing more.  My self-doubt hisses, “No one cares about your blog, why would they care about your videos?”  I’m uncertain if I have an answer.

But, I think it would be fun and interesting.  It might bolster my ego a bit to do something flawless and bold, new and “out there”.  It wouldn’t be for fame, so why hold back?

The webcam I’ve been eyeing is on sale.  Still more than I’ve ever paid for my “writing business” expenses, but better than the $100 that rendered it pure delusional fantasy.  I have to be sure I want to do it before I buy it because I don’t have enough income to waste on things, even if I can save up.

People stumbling upon my videos might not be civil towards me.  The Internet allows animosity and volatility to flourish with little consequence.  A blog allows me to not be “visible” the entire time.  And, if I’m honest, a lot of trolls will search out videos where they wouldn’t normally scroll through hundreds of individual blogs.  Covering what most people consider boring subjects might help me, though.

Would you get a webcam and make videos?  What is stopping you?  If you have done it, did you like it?  What advice can you give?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Email Newsletter or Blog? (BWF 2)

I started this blog in 2010, at least according to my (admittedly rusty) memory.  It was summer, and I was scared but hopeful.  Why hopeful?  Because I thought it had the potential to change things for me.  What things?  Everything.

Of course, after a few months, I found out it wasn’t going to be the game-changer I desired.  I never really thought it would be.  But it was still nice, though hardly anyone stopped by even when I frequented others’ spaces.   I met some excellent writers and good people.  It gave me a different form of discipline.  I carved out a tiny part of the Internet for myself and my words.

I average about twenty views per post.  The most awesome thing about that small number is most of them aren’t mine.  So, all things considered, I have about a dozen people who genuinely care enough to keep tabs on me.  You don’t know how grateful I am to you, that you can care for a stranger… can give her a moment of your busy time… when you don’t have to.

I’ve had blog burnout on-and-off throughout the years.  I’ve felt like no one listened.  I’ve felt like I’ve repeated myself relentlessly, like shouting into the blackness of the universe.  I don’t have enough spoons (most days) to devote to the writing that thrills me, much less to something that (at points) feels like an obligation.  But I don’t want to lose my contact with the larger world.  My tiny portion that’s forever my own.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking about a monthly newsletter instead of this blog, though the learning curve would probably prove prohibitive.  I’d send out a poem, any publication news… maybe do a “blog-like” section.  It would help me focus my energy and hours into a longer monthly project instead of several lesser ones.

But, I would lose the immediacy of blogging.  Connecting wouldn’t just be a quick comment under a post, it would be emailing me or tweeting.  People rarely open newsletters, but do skim blog posts.

Most poets don’t have newsletters.  This might be a horrible idea.  Or one of the best I’ve ever had.
What do you guys think?  Would you retire your blog for a newsletter?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Branding Without Fire (BWF 1)

Discoverability is such a nice word.  It reminds me of voyages and tourists taking pictures while finding drops of paradise not on any map.  Oh, and it also gives me undiluted nightmares.

I’m terrible at branding.  I don’t write fiction, so characters are not going to be a brand.  I don’t have BOOKS, so similarly stylized covers aren’t possible.  Even my genres are all over.

So, how do you brand a poet and short fiction writer who writes horror, and literary, and fantasy, and (on occasion) romance?  I don’t want to “just pick one” and I can’t split an audience I don’t even have. None of those sections of people would ever amount to NEEDING their own categories.

I write short pieces.  Maybe that’s something.  I don’t always write from a female point of view, but mostly.  I don’t often write about my disability, but it’s exceptionally visible.  I don’t know if I want to “use” my disability as promotion, though.  But I don’t hide it from editors.

Everyone advises you to start your “platform” early, even before completing a book, and every effort I have made has fallen into churning waters.  I’m pretty damn hopeless at it, though it could be because I DON’T have a book.  Or maybe because I’m boring as hell. 

Does having an audience matter when all a writer has is a scant amount of pieces circulating on the Internet?  When does a writer realize they obsess more about finding an audience than actually pursuing art?

I wish I didn’t have to worry about these things.  Maybe I only worry because everyone says writers should.  But, if I don’t try to find my readers… will they find me?

What do you hate most about branding and promotion?  What is the best advice on marketing you have ever received?  What has been your largest branding/promotional/marketing failure?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I'm Back (and a Poem)

Greetings, everyone!

I'm back from my hiatus.  Did you miss me?

I'm starting my return with a poem I wrote a few years ago.  I thought it would be appropriate, in a way.  I will probably not be as active on here as I should be, but the posts should keep coming, at least.

I hope you all did amazing things while I was gone.  I hope you all saw wondrous sights. And I'm glad to be among you again.

Closing Time

Before he flips off the lights
Quick motion of switch
He moves along the polished floor
Invisible rhythm driving his feet
Spinning around with outstretched arms
Held in the form of a dancer

A specter in his arms
Cool breeze beneath his hands
Memory against his body
Pain within his heart

He moves along the polished floor
Where their feet had worn paths
Near certain spots
Her laughter filled up the rest

Before he flips off the lights
Quick motion of switch
He finds her again

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hiatus and Published Poem

This blog goes on hold after today, though I will still be on Twitter @jenruthjackson.  I'm trying to give myself some space to get things done.  Or relax between things.

I hope I'll be back late next month, but can't say anything for sure.  Summer is a hectic season for me.  This blog doesn't garner enough attention for this absence to mean much to most of you, but I thought I'd let everyone know.
My poem, "What is Left" is up at Street Light Press.  You will have to scroll for it, if you haven't read it and want to.

Be joyous and creative, everyone!

Yours in ink and inspiration,


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Writing (Instead of Receiving) Rejections

Rejection is always a disappointment.  No matter how prepared you are, it doesn't shield you from the blow completely.  And it feels worse (for me) to be the rejecter.

When I started The Handy Uncapped Pen, I knew rejecting submissions would be a (hopefully small) part of operations. I've had to send a mere two rejections because of the lack of submissions, but I hated it both times.  I have this urge to say yes to people, even if I know the content on offer isn't right for my publication.

I hope H.U.P. will never be so big that I need a template rejection.  One of the few things I can give my submitters is a bit of my time to respond with genuine feedback or compliments.  Perhaps it softens the blow, to feel they aren't just a means to an end for my blog.  It isn't easy being a writer, it's worse when you don't feel appreciated or respected.
Components of my rejection:

1.  I thank the person for submitting to me.  I mean my gratitude and say it within the first two sentences.
2.  I clearly tell the person I'm declining/passing on their work.  No flowery words, no confusion.  
3.  I try to offer honest feedback or praise.  I want people who submit to know their pieces were read by someone who engaged with it enough to have an opinion beyond "no".
4.  I ask them to try submitting again.  There might come a day where I hope someone never sends writing to me again, but it hasn't happened yet.

I don't tell people "art is subjective".  Artists know it is.  
Have you ever had to reject artists for a project/publication?  How did you deal with it?
What makes a rejection letter/email easier to take?