Given how little I've been writing during pandemic-times (let alone even considering submitting!) I certainly had to steel myself in order to print off the 33 poems that fell under my topic and then tackle to mighty task of sorting and culling them. I was only allowed 15-30 poems according to Rattle Poetry Prize guidelines - and please note here that submission guidelines are sacrosanct - they are the law we, the published writers live by.
Two hours later, I had a manuscript. Yes, a collection that I'd ordered and reordered; pulled poems from and then added back; a grouping that I'd sat on the floor and read out loud to myself. In short, I had a mocked-up cover and 28 climate-change poems that I was proud of. Three had been previously published (Canada, U.S.A., Ireland) so an acknowledgement page was required. This process took longer than dropping each electronic copy into the word.doc and much longer than the process of using the services of Submittable to enter my work before the approaching deadline.
I've taken a leap. Used skills acquired over the past decade. Sent work out into the greater world that would otherwise languish on my computer. In short, I've been bold! And now I wait (until April). I never have any positive expectations (always assuming I won't succeed) so that I can be astonishingly, pleasantly surprised if (indeed) I do (fingers crossed).
Hope you can take a brave step forward in your writing or submitting?
Here's power to you!
It's the New Year. And I've spent months and months working my lists of knit apparel, but not done very much writing. Now it's time to whip those lazy, disused muscles that I flexed compiling my first and second poetry collections together in order to gather enough for a chapbook to submit to Rattle Magazine's Prize (https://www.rattle.com/ chapbooks/prize/)...due-date January 15th. Yikes! That's sooner than it feels in cover-time!
As some might know, I've been writing climate change poetry (among other things) these past few years. I needed to skulk though my computer files, seeking out potential candidates from my published file, ready-for-submission file as well as those raw-writing pieces in my WIP file. This list is long enough to more than suffice for the 15-30 poem guidelines dictated by the publication. Now comes the rigorous selection process (always a hard thing to do when evaluating your own work!) List made - printing out the batch, tomorrow. I have an expansive tabletop just waiting to be covered with paper. Then comes the ordering, reordering, culling, keeping?
I'll keep you posted on my journey over the next week or so. Here's me, wrapped in one of my latest keep-warm creations (designed by a South American designer, Joji Locatelli). As long as I can satiate the cravings for colour in my life, perhaps the winter won't seem so long.
Wish me luck...
Well, you'd be forgiven if you thought I wasn't around and breathing anymore LOL...because it's almost been a year since you've heard from me. As you can guess, it's not because I don't have anything to say; or maybe it's because I don't really have anything new to say? Golly, my life (and yes, certainly my writing life) went off a cliff as did most of your lives in early March 2020.
2020!!! What a year it's been. First, lockdown. Then I managed to crawl out to cobble together a passable summer at the cottage (no writing!) Come fall, I started to eke out a small writing footprint in my days. I put pen to paper the odd time. A Facebook writer-friend, Jacob Scheier (Toronto-centric poet) was offering 5-week Zoom-style poetry workshops and I tentatively tiptoed in. (PS: I've now completed 2 sessions and am writing several times per week)
I also found the Dodge Poetry Festival from New Jersey (dodgepoetryfestival.org) fully online in November and gained bathtubs full of inspiration from top U.S. poets. (phew) Add to that, the Poetry Foundation's Poem-A-Day that is still delivered right into my email inbox every morning and I feel as if I could tackle (omg) sending out some poetry submissions come the New Year, maybe, perhaps, d'ya think...?
So...here's wishing us all a happy holiday season and a safe stroll into 2021. May your energy levels remain high, your loved ones stay safe and healthy and your creativity flourish with a renaissance-rebirth!
Write On, my friends...
It's 2020 and I'm gathering all my creative-flotsam together in preparation for (almost) 6 weeks of (pretty much) uninterrupted time down south and with the pressure of the holidays subsiding (along with the worldwide catastrophes mounting), I'm anticipating so hard that I can feel it in my chest. Writers, you're with me in recognizing that itch to make-it-so, right?
The gift is time. Yes, having the time en-masse; the time to wallow; time to draft and edit then scribble some more. It's been sorely lacking in my life. It's the mad component of the creative life.
During these hibernating-months, it's what I wish for you...time!
HAPPY NEW YEAR, y'all
What a fall it's been? And writing just didn't seem to happen (except for during my Paris Trip where I kinda had to writing since it was a writing retreat lol). Sure, I've drafted a few poems...but submissions just didn't come about. What a proponent I am, eh?!
In other news, my #teengirl #ya is still in the Number 1 position on Wattpad (check out the now complete story if you like https://www.wattpad.com/stories/short-fiction/hot). Yay, me?
Pretty feeble, right? Well, between moving 1 son out; shuffling the last one-left-at-home back to his upstairs room (meaning I had to clear out my office & sideways-haul table, desk, shelving, BOOKS...to the next-door recently vacated room!!) and then decorating for the holidays because it's (horror) December already...well, you can imagine... Sure, I'm a homebody, but again not much writing got done (unless I was at the Inkslinger's fabulous Writing Sanctuary for Poets *heart* https://inkslingers.ca/sanctuary-days/poetry-sanctuary/).
So the very least I can do is drop a quick insight with y'all for the future. That means 2020 rushing towards us! Of course, I'm still knitting (because that keeps the anxiety in check). So, I came across a great idea in order to lean into the New Year (just a tinsy-bit?) We're word-people, right? We writers? So, to try to gather the coming year in my arms and get a grip on my scattered-ness I've come up with a word or two for next year. I'm considering these my intentions (not quite the same thing as resolutions). More like manifesting, I think? And my words (drum-roll please) are CONNECT and CULL. As a classic introvert (and also an aging one lol), I need to make the effort (and sometimes that's prying myself out of my comfy chair!) to get out and among people. Hopefully like-minded people! And the culling-bit is part of my desire to not leave anyone responsible for what I (a true magpie!) have gathered around me. So, I offer this exercise up to you in hope that you'll have a marvellous season and wave to you from the other side of the great divide of decades.
Happy holidays, happy writing...
Just a quick note to catch y'all up on the last (gasp!) 3 months...a fast scribble before October slides away from us. TRUTH ~ I have not written this past summer (which has now swallowed September and October!) I haven't submitted ANYTHING since June or early July. Horror! (heehee)
Well, let's be honest. This isn't the end of the world, but I do hope to get back in the swing of things, starting in a fews days when I arrive in PARIS for a writing retreat!! Yes, I'm off to write and revel in Paris, France with the INKSLINGERS.
So, instead of beating myself up for letting life slip between me and my writing, I'm trying to take the mature approach and call it even; draw a line under the summer break; start fresh and look forward. Writing will happen. It might be awfully shitty, but it will get cogs moving within me. I'm going to view that as a gift. No judgement.
Then once I'm back home (10 days), I'll polish and send work out again. Yes, once again, I'll brave the rejection emails and get comfortable with the publication landscape. It's a rhythm I'm familiar with and I should be able to fit myself into it again...In fact, I'm going to submit a few poems right now (before my trip) just to grease the wheels a bit...London Reader, here I come...
Happy Fall (writing)...
The fun part of resurfacing after a few weeks away from your regular life (although not for vaca!) is that you get to poke around touching base with your writing/reading communities, reach out to your fav writers/poets, get your bearings and then post (i.e. Insta & FB)/submit (using my ever-loving Duotrope List <3). And what do you discover about yourself?
Wow, my short fiction, teen girl story (that was written several winters ago as an experimental exercise tossed out by Canadian author/powerhouse Alissa York) called ENOUGH has taken #1 in short-fiction on Wattpad's Short Fiction ranking. And how'd that happen?
Well, I was confident that the story was too short for trad publishing so I threw it up on my Wattpad account for all to enjoy. FREE. That's right. Sometimes giving your completed work to a reading audience to enjoy is the better thing to do. It isn't always about the $$$$.
So, what have you got lurking around in your deep drawers? What poems, novellas, essays or complete novels have you got to give away? FYI: you can also serialize your writing dropping a chapter at a time. Although I'd completed my piece, I did release a chapter or 2 or 3 at a time. I also utilized YouTube music to head up each chapter. Gotta love the cross-pollination - especially when you're talking teen fiction!
So, 1, 2, 3...GO! Get your stuff into the hands of readers.
Then write on!
I've been MIA these past few months. It seems as though a bit of time slipped past me...yet if I do the math, it's been 7 weeks (shock & awe!) So, as I surface from family obligations, heat-coma, knitting-fever (for very early Christmas presents, dontcha know?) and pure nonchalance, I think a break from the hamster wheel might be a good thing.
Oh, I've been tallying the rejection letters; crossing poems off my Jo Bell tracker; dumping submission copies into the virtual wastebasket. All by rote. But 1 beautiful acceptance email this morning, and I'm feeling ready to roll up my sleeves and Duotrope my writing/submitting life back into shape this week.
The acceptance was the first for a 'climate change' poem (of the group that I spent the winter writing). It will be the first published of what I dreamed might be the backbone of a new manuscript. Hoping so dearly that it could become reality that I (bravely/foolishly?) submitted a 10-poem sample for a (non-existent) manuscript named UNSTOPPABLE that I'm still in the process of creating. Talk about chutzpah!!
Isn't that how we writers often do it? Dream it and they (the words) will come?! Yes, I say. While I'm still waiting reply from the indie publisher I sent the sample to, I'll get back to the writing, won't I? After all, that's how reality/success/the magic happens...
Not surprisingly, I've been too busy to write. Yes, even a tiny poem won't be squeezed out at the moment. And don't we writers know how to procrastinate in the best possible way in order to avoid writing? Coffee, dishwasher, newspaper, the dreaded internet...all time-wasters of the highest order!
But like the best writers I know, I've been writing-of-sorts in my head. Poetry is easier to carry in your head than an entire novel, I'll admit. Nonetheless, it seems that everything I've encountered...laid hands on in the past few weeks has redirected me to the writing. And it's a good thing.
Whether that's yarn (like twisted, spaghetti-thoughts), the fog that my mind (and the most inspired words) usually seems to reside in, the crazy-blinking lights in the darkness or the proper tools to apply to the chaos that first lands on the page...it's all been an echo chamber.
And didn't we just (this weekend) scavenge the reusable section of what once was a stone-filled crib that the float dock was hitched to and convert it into a shore-deck for early morning coffee; for relaxing by the water; for supervising swimming children? Yes. Just as with raw writing, boards were cut and cobbled together like salvageable words and phrases to create an impression (no matter how shaky it looks to the writer, lol).
There's value in everything! Keep your observant-writers-eye trained on the world around you and lap up summer like the elixir it is.
Non-writers think the words just flow from a writer's pen like magic in some sort of blissful perfection. Not true. Although a writerly mind tends to focus (often too much) on minute details and obtuse observations, our thought are usually spat out onto the page just like everyone else's.
So this past week as I tackled my first bag of knitting yarn that arrived in skeins instead of balls, I had over an hour (that it took my to maneuver it into proper form) to contemplate how this soooo relates to writing. It's kinda like when you're stripping wallpaper or mowing the lawn and your mind has time to wander...to what? Well, writing, of course. And the dumping of first draft material onto paper is very similar to managing a jumble of strands into orderly fashion, no?
In the end, it's about having the tools - a swift here - and then practicing the process so that your muscles - in the case of authoring, your writing-muscles or freewill-capacity - remember exactly what they're doing as you put pen-to-paper. Training your mind to relax and let the words flow (unedited!) is what it's all about. Editing, perfecting, polishing comes later.
What's needed is akin to the aligning of disparate strands/thoughts/words into fragments/phrases/(dare I say) sentences. I'm most often a poet, so I don't even worry so much about sentences. Dig deep and dredge up the feelings because emotion that you, as writer, deliver to the page, your reader will find and feel from the page.
Practice doesn't have to make perfect...just get it done!
Poet. Writer. Teacher. Artist.