These winter-ish months are the perfect time to devote yourself to writing - raw, uncomfortable, out-there-on-a-limb kind of writing. If opportunities don't present themselves to you for the churning, heart-palpitating, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants creation, then you have to go looking for those experiences. Fold them into your life even if it's just 1 or 2 at a time.
As a poet, I'm a devotee of James Dewar's Poetry Sanctuary. A day of writing prompts and silent writing time combines with wonderful food, speaks to me. This past weekend, we were exposed to American poet, Ellen Bass' technique of encompassing everything (including the kitchen sink) in a 'long-armed poem'. If you're intrigued, please check her out - http://www.ellenbass.com/poems/
The other gift I've given myself to keep the energies flowing (during this endless wait for spring lol), was to join The Literary Nest's online poetry workshop out of California (a mere US$40 for 8 weeks of prompts and submission for feedback). And sure enough, I find myself stretched into filling assignments that require (dare I say) 'happy' poems this week. Okay, that's a true challenge for me (Queen of the gritty poem).
As subject matter, I was drawn to the log farmhouse that my second Ex and I built from scratch; the home that I left behind (for my Ex to live in) more than a decade ago ; the one my (now) adult sons grew up in. Happy was not possible, but nostalgic and melancholy will be apparent in the final few lines (written in the second person):
Was quitting your salvation when heartstrings
thrum recalling summer lanterns strung
from slivered porch rafters? A vacation
craft, you slicing the tops off soda bottles
then tasking your boys to finger-paint De Kooning
wild. How muggy nights still haul to mind
you pegging them in place on a crackled stringer
of old Christmas bulbs to rival fields of fireflies.
So, I encourage you to find those moments in your writing life that stretch you out of your comfort-zone. And happy writing!
Those of you who know me personally (have seen me at various writerly events in the past 6 months or so) have hear me expound on submitting your work whenever/wherever possible. Now I'll admit that's easier to do when you're a poet as I am. Those little nuggets take much less time to write and then to polish. But short stories, essays and then larger written work such as novellas, novels, whether in their entirety or as excerpts, should be sent out into the world as well.
By tracking submissions, rejections and acceptances, it's relatively painless to keep writing moving (out and back). There's always the opportunity to polish or edit between submissions, especially if you're fortunate enough to get some feedback. Yes, rejection is tough, but there are so many benefits to having your work interact with editors and, eventually, readers. It's the ultimate high when an editor says, "we were impressed with such-and-such."
And finally, the only way to toughen up that writer-armour is to expose yourself to the outside world. Yes, there is rejection, but it becomes much easier to swallow when acceptances happen. So, send that stuff out!
When offered an opportunity as a poet to participate in a reading for my local municipality ~ I jumped at the chance! As isolated, insulated writers, shouldn't we all take every gig that comes our way? The answer to that is yes. Yes, and...not no, but...
But it's tiring, you say. It can be exhausting pushing your work out; maintaining your visibility in the marketplace; not just creating, but selling yourself. When meeting with the lovely Marnie Mandel (Cultural Development Coordinator, City of Oshawa) over a coffee yesterday, we not only compared her visual arts background with my literary one, we talked what I called transmedia and she called intersectionality. We discussed her needs. We meandered around my projects and experiences. All interesting and perhaps fruitful. And that's important too!
She told me about a (free) opportunity that I'd like to share with you. A roster of professional development workshops that will help with that icky business side of things ~ branding. So, the first workshop has already happened...no matter...consider refining your own sense-of-self as a creative and register today. I know I am!