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Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Little As Living

Visit the shop and see what's up >>
Guess what?

My new (and very first) chapbook is up for sale. I'm super stoked and can't wait to share my poems with the world. I even did the cover, which I'm pretty ok with... but what pressure! And let's be honest, I'm kind of scared about my words traveling around in foreign hands: honored, excited, vulnerable, and terrified.

I think all of us have experienced a thing (a someone or a something) that has made us question everything, that has made us explore ourselves again—as if for the first time. That is what this book is. Realization (and the process of getting to it). Both of the self and of the tiny universe we breathe in: the mundane; the sleepy routine; the waking-up-getting-a-shower-going-to-work-eating-dinner orbit we spin daily. Finding the meaning in that.

I hope you all will check it out. It's only $7! Dancing Girl Press made this happen and to them I am forever grateful. Thanks to everyone, to those that believed I could do it even when I didn't. I'm so lucky to have you on my team.

Best,
mt


Friday, November 1, 2013

Ain't nobody got time for pain

This is what I do know:

It's nearly 5:00 p.m. on Friday, payday Friday, that is.

Binging on Halloween treats makes me feel like a trash bag.
My life feels a lot like Tetris.
It's November. Bring it on, November. Can you believe that?

The only super exciting thing about November, besides the true death of everything colorful outside (I kid), is the November PAD Chapbook Challenge 2013. If you don't know, it's a little poetry challenge. You're given a prompt every day for a poem. SO YOU WRITE ONE POEM A DAY FOR A WHOLE MONTH. You can do it; I dare you.

It's inspired by the more well-known, NaNoWriMo. This challenge is actually where you attempt to write a WHOLE NOVEL in a month, since November is apparently National Novel Writing Month. (Get the acronym-ish title now?) But I don't know about writing 50,000 words in a month—unless I was suffering from verbal Dysentery.

Anyway.

Ain't nobody got time for that [pain].
I had this very serious post in mind. It was about pain. The kinds of pain, reaction/action... etc. I sat in my car before class on Tuesday, before I even went to the hospital to see my mom, writing about it. "Pain is subjective." "No pain, no gain!" "You're a pain in the ass!"  "I haven't got time for the pain..."

Wait. That last one is a Carly Simon song.

I guess what I'm getting at, or what I was attempting to get at, is that we accumulate pain, maybe, like scratches on a wall. But it's not just one type of pain; there are so many shapes that pain can take. Some are more triangular, some round and heavy like an oversized marble. And each pain, then, elicits both a reaction and an action. The reaction being more of the "involuntary" sort—auto-spat. The action seemingly becomes a way to cope.

Example:

John's dog dies.

Reaction: He cries and loses his appetite.

Action: He doesn't tell anyone, and he never gets another pet.

See what I mean? For me, this helps me to look at my pain. It's good to find the source, of course, but also define it in my terms—the "subjective" part. I like to examine what has changed because of it. Perhaps, I am doing this because so much of me has changed—not just my living sitch, my relationships, my creative endeavors, but my core. For the better, I hope. In ways. It's just been a dynamic (geez, that's being kind) two years. YES, TWO. It's like an obstacle course. Maybe, just maybe, making it to the other side is what has changed me and not the events specifically. Maybe this will show me that, not matter what, I can do obstacle courses.

Except for rope climb activities. I suck at that.

Happy Friday/Weekend/November, everyone!
Oh, and don't forget to write your poem!

mt

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The new routine

Finally, it's not as sharp as knives. I'm learning to live without my best friend. The routine is going back, back to a time when I didn't know her or need her. I talk to her ghost less and less. I pretty much stopped journaling and poeming in. 

I feel void. 

I haven't been back. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Feeling lightning

You ever just look at something, a scene or an object, or maybe just the colors of light crawling through your window and get a feeling? A big feeling?

I can't really explain it, but in an attempt to capture what it is I'm feeling, I write poetry. Sometimes poetry doesn't make sense, people may think. It's "obscure," or "cryptic," or "hard to follow." For me, though, poetry is a way to conjure a feeling in me and in others... And sometimes those feelings are neither logical nor linear. 

A good part of my academic writing career was spent trying to untangle it all, to make phrases and terms more everyday, to put a story or narrative to it (the feelings), but what I have allowed myself (post-college) is to just... write. I have silenced the committee, somewhat, and learned to trust what I write. But this isn't just poems. 

A couple years ago, a barista friend of mine from Starbucks asked to use my friend and I as her thesis project. She came over, made us doodle or color or paint, all the while allowing us to just be, just emote. Before that moment, I had rarely given myself the chance to draw or paint from me—instead I copied and mimicked the world around me. 

Now don't get me wrong, I have loads of respect for those who can paint as detailed and realistic as a photograph, but this is the very thing that kept me from painting and doodling more. I wasn't pressured to create an exact replica, but permitted to explore my own creativity. Wow! 

I can only assume this is what happened with my writing. Once I was able to transcend the lines of reality (along with my own version of it) words became completely unfettered for me. It seemed boundless. 

Today as I left my office, that 8 to 5 home-away-from-home, I caught a feeling. It was something in the way the sun, lower than usual, hit the glass door, the golden-orange of it. I don't know how to explain the feeling. A cup of nostalgia. It took me somewhere. It reminded me that the world isn't so linear, isn't so black and white.

I can trace the world around me with a sharp pencil, memorize inches and hues, or I can take all that lightning in my chest and use it to shake the world, make it my own. 

I hope you do too. I hope you wrangle your own storms and stop trying to chase everyone else's. 

mt

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Inspired on a drive

It's where all my big thoughts happen. The car. For some, it's the shower. For others, it's right before sleep. Either way, it's always inconvenient. Am I right? Tonight, as I drive, my brain fills up like a birthday balloon. Don't worry. I'm being safe. Talk-to-text helps.

A former professor, dear friend and [now] collegue—what an honor!—Lori Jakiela asked me to talk to
her blogging class about my job. During my full-mouthed spiel, I realized how incredible we are. Writers. Or: people who spend their time gushing, thinking about what people need/want/wish for. I know. Crazy to articulate, but just... some of the most incredible creatures I know are writers. Why? Because they have a greater understanding of things: the subtleties of culture, the depth of our interactions, colors and light and all the while, a meticulous eye on themselves.

Writers take big gulps of the world and hiccup beauty. Simply put. And seeing these young ones so open and excited about writing—well, that's not something I get from my Comp gig. Most of my students are finding ways to dodge my two-and-a-half-hour night class. It's obligatory, a required course, and so one might expect that they'd run flailing in the other direction.

But what is it about the aspiring that is so damn... inspiring? I'm by no means an expert; I mean, I've got oodles of experience now, writing and editing. But I never feel "complete." Is that a writer thing? Maybe it's like when I write the best poem in the whole-wide world, and then the next day, I read it again only to find it might be the worst poem in the world. Ha! It's frustrating. To never be all-the-way good. But that's why we keep going, right? It's become some sort of a catalyst.

But that's just it. You can never be too good at writing. Hell, you can never be too good at anything when it comes down to it. But since I was going on about lists and how to simplify for the reader, catch their attention, I thought I'd make one of my own.

Orwell gave me some of the greatest advice, and so this list is a mash-up of that and my own experience. While all of these tips aren't relevant to every type of writing, I compiled a more encompassing list—one that I feel covers the basics, you know? I hope you enjoy! [And if you have any to add, leave me some words!]


TIPS FROM A SOMEWHAT SUCCESSFUL WRITER:
  1. Read. This is something I can say and say and say, have had profs say and say and say, and still... one must discover for his or herself—reading will inspire. But moreover, reading will help you to understand your own thoughts, style, voice more aptly. Good books or bad books, they will help. So just do it. Don't argue!
  2. Find your big league. This kind of  goes along with the last one. Find the writer(s) that makes the hairs on your arm stand up. For me, Margaret Atwood embodies the very style that I'd hope to someday achieve; even her prose is poetic. Sometimes I carry her around with me in my pack for inspiration.
  3. Invent your own language. Don't re-run tired words and phrases, those you hear every day. Make it new. Need a metaphor? An analogy? An image? Make up your own. This is an especially great way to introduce humor, but it isn't necessary to be funny. Fresh words. Fresh thoughts. Uniqueness is key.
  4. Short & sweet. Don't we all love to show off a little? Some of us have great honkin' vocabularies, where we make sport of words like "loquacious" or "parsimonious"; no matter how seamless, words like these are off-putting to the average reader—use as few of them as possible. Keep things succinct, in general. Sentences, paragraphs, all of it. The world is impatient, but more than that—it will make you use more powerful words and constructions.
  5. Revisit aloud. Self-editing isn't easy. My advice? Don't just re-read your work, but read it OUT LOUD. That's it. Open your mouth, say the words... does it sound right? Hide in a closet or a bathroom if you have to [but watch for that dastardly echo!] It also helps to give yourself a day or two in-between, an intermission. Like I told Jakiela's class: imagine that mindset you have when you invite someone to your house for the first time. Make that an important "someone." You know that feeling when they walk in for the first time and you sort of envision your home as he or she is seeing it, for the first time. Suddenly, every little spot on the carpet and every book covered in dust stands out like it's been spotlighted. Get there.
  6. What you see is what you get. Let's face it—the public has turned into a lusty-eyed pack of big cats, hungry for aesthetically pleasing visuals. It's like we've suddenly snapped back to that age where we more apt to flip through a picture book than read. Look at how violently Pinterest has taken off! No one has to get TOO involved. Just play with pictures! The lesson in this: clean up your blogs; clean up your webpages; clean up your form on the page. People are more likely to read something that LOOKS good. Sad, but true. Inserting funny pictures helps. Ha!
  7. Stop. Drop. & Write. This little nugget is more like lifestyle advice. As I was saying above, inspiration isn't always convenient. Because of this, I find myself jotting things down in parking lots, at stop signs and in coffeeshop queues. Keep paper and a pen handy at all times—stash some in your car if you have to—but don't shut that thing up inside you that is urging you to expel. Even if it means being late to your friend's wedding. [Oops!]
I'm going to end there. I could go on and on, but... [:

mt

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Auto-Bio | Your Homework

One of the most difficult feats I have yet to really master as a writer is the bio. For most journals, both online and in-print, it's typical to be asked for a "brief bio." Shit, even if you aren't a writer, how many social media sites these days are speckled with an array of text boxes that require some condensed verbiage of yourself. Likes and dislikes. Authors. Movies. Books. Music. Television show. Ice cream flavor. C'mon. Technology has not only allowed us to connect with the world, but in a way, define ourselves for the world. In words. Scary!

And so when people scoff at writing, in particular, English Composition, I have to wonder what in the hell world they live in. The Internet, smartphones included, has made life more interesting, certainly, and to the surprise of many: language both more important and somehow... it's gotten worse, skill-wise?

I'm sure it began with the short snippets of text messages. U no txts r quick n make room 4 errors & short sloppy spellings 2. But when did we become so lax as to allow for this? I mean, I'm not sure I could even consider dating someone with a horrible vocabulary, much less a lazy language of text-speak and misspellings. LMAO! (;

I'm off topic.

What I wanted to speak to is the laborious task of summing up oneself. When was the last time you had to do this? Have you ever? What did you say?

For writing submissions, it's easier. Really, any specialized venue in this way, at least, gives you some focus. But, for example, what does one do with the small info box at the top of his or her Pinterest page? Twitter? Facebook? I usually go about it randomly. Whatever pops into my head—which usually ends up being completely inane, you know?

My homework for you, those who dare attempt: write a general bio for yourself. Three to four sentences. Pretend your audience needs to really KNOW you. Not only is this a study in using language in a concise way, but really picking yourself apart to extract what you think it most important about you.

I want to know you! Go!

mt
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