Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reflection on the Mortality of Beasts (Poem)

A few months ago, I posted that I had a new poem come out in the literary journal Banshee.  I'm able to share it because of the time that has gone by.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Playing the Sims Can Help Your Plot!

Two elderly people, who’ve both had a rough go in life, become roommates in a new town.  They start tepid towards one another, but grow into lovers who nurture each other’s dreams.  As the woman celebrates achieving her lifelong goal, the man asks her to marry him and their life is headed down the road to bliss.  During the most lavish wedding ceremony the town has ever seen, the elderly groom, who is a supposed  “hopeless romantic”, is found nude in the hot tub with his (much younger) boss.  The entire wedding party (sans the bride) is outside bearing witness to this transgression.

I stared in outright shock at my screen.  This wasn’t in the vision I had for my sims’ life together.  To me, they’d already went through their past trials and I was their fleshy fairy godmother, guiding them safely through their belated happily ever after.

Can anyone say “plot twist”?

I never thought of playing The Sims to break through writer’s block or get story ideas until that moment.  Putting a cardboard protagonist into a world where they have actions with no author-input could be very illuminating. Perhaps, the ending I’d imagined for them was too boring, even for a computer.  Perhaps, anything remotely resembling humanity can make a hash of the future.

So, what did I do after the slutty wedding?  I let the guy do what he wanted!  He wanted his boss to move in with him and his new wife, so I made it happen.  He wanted her to have his child, so I had them get pregnant.  But, I was going to have the last say, or so I thought.  I was going to have the wife divorce him, have him die, kick out the mistress and have the old lady raise the child as her own.  Unfortunately, the game froze and wiped my save file before I helped my jilted bride get revenge.  Such is life.

It was a more fascinating plotline than I had in mind originally, that’s for sure.  Next time I make characters, I’m not going to aim them towards a euphoric forever.  The road with sharp curves and no speed limits is much more interesting.

Do you play The Sims?  Have you ever gotten a story idea from the game?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Once-in-a-Lifetime (at the Wrong Time)

A lot of poetry publishers don’t take horror collections, and I have one.  Months have gone by in my search for ANY publisher who will take a look at it, not even considering if they’re someone I wish to work with.  It is also at an odd length:  Too large for a chapbook and too slim for a collection.
The publishers interested in horror poetry are closed due to excessive submissions (shock).

After much consideration, I made the decision to self-publish it.  I have no money to spare and I’m not good with things like formatting and graphic design.  So, my decision would take a miracle.

I won a “fastest finger” trivia competition from a small, reputable self-publishing company!  I was positive I didn’t get it.  I almost didn’t try for it.  But it came and I was giddy… and nervous (because I’m not good at promotion and lack self-confidence in general).  I was going to go for it, damn the fears I harbor.  This was something that wasn’t EVER going to come around again.

Then, a day or two later, I received part one of a two-part-minimum diagnosis.  I was under immense stress.  Things around me were tense… and the company wanted my manuscript within a week.

I couldn’t.  I was barely able to function during that period, much less extensively edit (I seem to edit forever, even when unneeded) and start the engine that would promote my first published collection.  I had to turn it down.

There is no waiting until I’m better.  Nothing deferred until I adjust to my reality and undergo (yet more) tests.  It’s just gone.

I’m angry with myself because I didn’t take the chance, regardless of how scattered I was.  I’m disappointed because I really wanted it, and chances just don’t come my way often.

I want to believe there’s a good reason for my once-in-a-lifetime chance to slip from me.  I need to.  Too many blows have rendered me sore and teary-eyed.  Maybe a small press will come along once my health is sorted out.  Maybe I’ll learn how to format, design a cover, and everything else it takes to self-publish, falling so in love with it that it will be my primary way to get my poetry to my readers.  I don’t think everything happens for a reason but, right now, I need one.  A good one.

Have you ever had an amazing chance for your writing career slip by you?  Did something better come along later on?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Syllables Are My Kryptonite

Every writer has a weakness.  For fiction writers, it could be lackluster dialogue or flat character descriptions.  For memoirists, it could be fuzzy chronology.  My poetic weakness is syllables.

Ever since I was a speck of a child, words entranced me.  I loved the sounds, the meaning, the look of certain words.  My mom says I never just said ONE word, I had to say two… minimum.  Some chalk it up to being a female (which is a stereotype), but it’s just because I love language.

I can’t count a word’s different parts. Maybe it’s my innate dislike for mathematics, but syllables trip me up unless it’s the easiest word in creation (and even then, don’t bet on it).  I add more syllables than there should be to almost all of them.

Take the word “dropped”.  One syllable.  My brain sees it as two:  Dropp-ed.  I tend to stay away from sonnets and other forms of poetry that require syllable-counts because this strange linguistic addition always leads me to the wrong amount needed for correct compositions.  It’s frustrating.

I tend to use syllable-calculators (yes, they exist) when I feel the need to create something with metered lines.  It makes me feel like a bit of a fraud, to be honest.  I’m mostly compelled to write free-verse poems, so it isn’t that much of an issue.  Over the years, I have made a type of uneasy peace with my incompetence.  (Just as a side note:  I have tried every device out there taught in elementary schools, it doesn’t help.  I will add extra claps regardless, by Gods!)

What is your writing weakness?  How do you compensate?

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?