The Struggle

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One of my goals for the second half of this year aside from putting together my own collection of poetry is to develop some new works. I have been working on some new poetry, but it has been quite difficult. Writing poetry has always been something that comes easily to me. The words have always poured out of me, even after midnight, when I wanted to be asleep.  However, lately I have been unable to really focus on finishing new pieces. I have started at least twenty new poems that are currently sitting in various stages of development on my hard drive. I’m reluctant to call it writer’s block because I am writing but none of those pieces feel complete.

In the hopes of fixing it, I am toying with the idea of pulling out my old craft books and trying to create based on prompts. Or looking up prompts on Poets & Writers or another site. I’ve been trying my hand at different forms of poems in the hopes that they will spark my creativity. I have been looking at tanka, blues poems, epistles, and prose poems; next I may try found poetry. I’m hoping that focusing on different types will help me complete some work. I may just have to pause in trying to create new poetry and focus on some other type of writing until the words come back.

Please share any suggestions or recommendations that you think might help.

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Thank You for Being a Friend

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Since its inception this blog has been my safe haven, a place to share my writing and misgivings and the joys and pains of everyday life.  For the past eight years it’s been something that I could turn to as a way to ensure that I was creating and then I always had things to share because of my never-ending commitment to education. Since I am currently on a pause from classes, I have been struggling with what to write especially as I turn my vision more towards fiction. In many ways, this blog has helped me develop my voice in ways that degrees and multiple creative writing classes couldn’t. If you are a long-time follower of the blog, then you’ve read some of the fiction that I’ve shared here. I currently have one completed piece of fiction and two more that need editing and revision. I have a bunch of other stories that are in various stages of development. And I have this poetry manuscript that I am working to put together before the end of the summer so that I can pass it along to a few trusted readers to ensure that it is cohesive.

I like to think that over time, I have improved, not just in what I share but the quality of material as well. As this blog took on the feel of a portfolio of poems from other poets that I respect I began to feel more confidence as a blogger but also as a curator of works. So hopefully, that experience will help me as I try to collate my own collection.

I know this reads as some sort of goodbye, but it isn’t. It’s merely a thank you for taking the time to read whatever I share. I am not going to be stepping away from the blog, but I am going to take some steps this summer to get back to batch blogging in order to ensure that I’m sharing great and relevant material (including poems, fiction and rants).  You are going to see a bunch of different types a post at least once a week, but I will still be sharing all the normal writing things.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.

Another NaNoWriMo Letdown

It’s official, I think I’m giving up on NaNoWriMo. Last year I attempted to come back after an epic meltdown in 2015 and a failure to compete in 2016. I had most of the story planned out and knew all of the major moments that would take place but…I just wasn’t interested in the characters. And some random person popped up and she threw the entire story off. All the way off! 

So as a way of still working during November, I went back to a story I’d started and shared with you before. Only to not have anywhere to go because I’d been focusing on the other story for quite a bit. Suffice it to say, I was a bit upset by this turnaround especially since I started out so well. 

In the intervening months, I had to think about whether it’s worth it for me to continue setting myself up for failure. And last week I decided that it wasn’t. I don’t have to participate in NaNoWriMo in order to be a productive writer or to complete any of my novels. 

As of now, I am over NaNoWriMo and I’m okay with that. 

Ten Things I Learned from Planning a Literary Festival

I have some semi-big news to share! I alluded to this in my Rocky IV post and maybe one before. But I have been hard at work planning a literary festival. It is going to be in a small town in North Carolina but this was the litmus test for whether I would like to plan more events. I’m sharing the link to the site too just in case anyone is nearby or wants to share with others.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lit-hang-suite-2017-tickets-34553145388?aff=ehomecard

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  1. You can’t plan enough: I had a well-drawn out plan from the inception of the festival. A lot of those plans fell apart. Starting with the location and part of my author lineup.
  2. There will be setbacks: see above! I was scrambling over a month ahead of the event to find replacement authors, to change the location, and to build registration.
  3.  You will be surprised by who says yes: I was astounded by the authors who initially said yes as well as those who told me to let them know about my next event. Some of my favorite authors and some who I would have never thought to approach were willing to appear.
  4. It helps to have relationships with authors: I was amazed by the authors who agreed to participate and it helped me realize that I need to extend my circle and interact with more authors so that I can plan larger and better events.
  5. And other readers: As I was having my major freak out, I realized that I had never reached out to one of my Facebook friends who I’d had an immediate bond with upon speaking in the group of one of our favorite authors. As soon as I contacted her, she was ready to help however she could. And help she did! She suggested authors that I could contact who were reasonably close and she shared the information on her page which got it shared in other groups.
  6. Use local businesses: There are so many small businesses in my small town but one of them that I use frequently really paid off for me. They made my flyers and were willing to work with me in all of my craziness.
  7. Have a relationship with your library: I love my library so much and planning this event did not lessen that love. I was able to speak to the librarians about the event and to leave some smaller fliers for readers they thought would be interested.
  8. It costs money: I didn’t underestimate this but I was lucky enough to encounter a partner who was willing to share the costs for a donation to the local HBCU where I previously worked.
  9. Use volunteers: I was lucky enough to have former students who were willing to “work” the event for free admission and publicize it. I also corralled some of my friends who were willing to spread the word about it.
  10. It’s addictive: I’m already planning more events!

 

Rocky IV as Inspiration 

On Tuesday night I was feeling real low. Like Sophia in the store when she saw Ms. Celie but then Rocky IV came on and all of a sudden, I felt like I could take over the world.  Which is always a side effect of watching Rocky IV (for me at least). The downside to that is that when I watch the movie I get really excited. That means that I have to at least see the part where Adriane goes to Russia and who can sleep after that? Not this girl! So I was up until 1:00 am being excited about Rocky’s win. 

After that, I was ready to tackle the challenges that loomed before me. Except, for taking the GRE! 

Here are my top four moments from the movie and why they make me so excited.

“You can’t win!”: When Adriane says this to Rocky on the heels of Apollo’s death it simply shatters Rocky so he goes out to drive off his hurt and anger. Which leads to…

The S0thpaw plate: Proud lefty over here! When this movie came out no one could convince me that I wouldn’t have a Jersey plate with the same thing as soon as I got a car. Never happened! 

Philly: I grew up Philly adjacent then wound up living in the city for a bit. It is still home to me, in a sense, so I love seeing it on the screen in any movie but this one always reminds me that I was once inspired to run up the steps of the museum. 

Living in America: James Brown performing this song! Classic! 

I Promise 

Today’s post is a bit different and although I have it categorized as a rant, it really isn’t one at all. Okay, so I am sure that you all have come across other bloggers and sites specifically ones that are geared towards writers. Well, I am a huge fan of those sites. Simply because I love to learn and I love seeing what else is out there in the world. 

For those reasons I am on the mailing lists of many, many,many “writing clubs.” It could also be because I am addicted to worksheets. I think it’s a product of growing up in a certain era. Pinterest allows you to find so many useful writing tools and I love to have copies on hand to use as I develop characters, plots, and scenes and that’s usually how I come across these resources. However, one negative of belonging to these “clubs” is that they often lead to the new thing which is writing courses. Some of which are very pricy. I completely get why these services are offered and I know that there are people who want/need/desire them.

Let me just say that I am not bashing them at all. I know that there is a need and everyone shouldn’t have to enroll in graduate school to learn the skills they want. So, it is great that these services and classes are out there. 

But…that is not what I’m about. At all! 

So today, I am making the solemn vow that I  promise to never offer or sell you writing courses. I know, I know “never say never” but this is a near certainty. 

Here’s why:

1.) I teach writing courses for a living at several colleges and universities. This little spot on the web is where I find my bliss. I am not trying to merge the two unless it becomes absolutely necessary. 

2.) If you ask me for tips, I’m more than happy to share any and everything that I’ve learned. 

3.) I have an MFA and a MA in Creative Writing and English respectively and I am still crafting my own lane for writing. I know many people with neither who are brilliant writers and are more qualified to offer such advice. 

4.) As I continue to build my brand, I know the direction that I want to head in. Since I’m committed to publishing I don’t want to teach courses outside of my day job and workshops. 

5.) See number one again 

When Your Goals Exceed Your Productivity. 


I set goals every year and work to cross them off my list. Sometimes I arbitrarily decide that they’re accomplished and sometimes they remain on the list year after year. As you can see from the above picture, this year I feel as if I accomplished nothing so these goals are rolling over to 2017. 

Although I have been working on these goals, especially in the beginning of the year, I  don’t feel as if I worked enough to mark anything off my lists. As you can see, they’re simple lists but I wasn’t able to mark anything off of them so this is how my 2017 lists will look too.

Have any of you turned your gaze to setting 2017 goals? What are you looking forward to most? Are any of your goals going with you to the new year?