Here is the link to register: https://www.strawdogwriters.org/post/8th-annual-straw-dog-writers-author-showcase
One thing I love about winter in the Northeast is the snow. This is the view from my back porch.
I love the quiet, the writerlyness of the whole thing. But how does this affect my writing? I wrote a collection of poems about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s. We had spent a lot of time in Mexico, so this landscape came into my poems:
“When I think of Oaxaco
I remember the Zocolo
where they sold pipa del agua
and chocolate dripping from paper cups.”
The setting just naturally came into the poem. Does this happen with you?
Take look at my collection:
It’s getting to be New Year’s and the custom is to make resolutions. As writers, it’s important that we have goals. It’s also important to look back and acknowledge what we accomplished. Here are some of my goals for the upcoming year:
.to plant bulbs in my garden.
.to see more of my close friends in small combination
.to read more Japanese poetry
.to teach at least one poetry workshop.
.to write a longer narrative poem.
.to downsize and shed some clothing and books.
I may not get to all of these, and that’s ok, but it helps to have goals.
The feeling of having done everything one wanted is elusive. Accepting one’s limitations and shortcomings is part of the process.
I also look back at the year and acknowledge what I’ve done. I published a book this year about my partner’s death from Alzheimer’s Disease. I donated some of the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association. I also volunteered and taught a poetry workshop in haiku and tanka. I find a sense of calmness and accomplishment about these things. Check out my 2021 book:
I’m delighted that Touch My Head Softly was given Honorable Mention at the New England Book Festival. Take a look:
It’s really easy to get distracted when you write, especially now that we’re all largely home working and there are phone calls, emails and housework all conspiring to take away the writing time.
The human brain takes around 17 minutes to refocus on a task after a distraction. Losing focus while in the middle of writing, can seriously damage the quality of your content. If you want your writing to be the best quality content possible, you need to get rid of distractions.
Disable all notification on your computer and put your phone on silent so that you do not get disturbed in the middle of a writing session. Be disciplined enough to either do your housework before you write, or better yet, delay it until after your writing session.
If you put your writing first, you get more accomplished and the quality of the content will be better.
During the pandemic I wrote a collection of poetry and had it published. I did this by focusing. Take a look at the book:
Years ago, an artists success was determined by art critics, collectors and publishers. Today, this has changed. Today these people are no longer in power and the writer is often an entrepreneur if she/he wants to make an income from her/his writing.
Vincent Van Gogh chose not to go commercial and only sold a few paintings in his life. Andy Warhol created The Factory to create and promote his work as an assembly line process. Writers also fall into different categories of commercialness. Some just prefer not to publish and read and write within circles of writing groups and friends. Others put a lot of effort into reading, blogging, working with publishers, etc. in order to sell copies. Some writers publish and promote their own books, while others publish with publishers and work in conjunction to promote the book.
Today’s artist/writer may have to brand their work, build an online presence, and stay aware and use social media trends. Margaret Atwood, with her book Testament, the sequel to A Handmaiden’s Tale, attracted hundred of fans to her book launch in London by having women dressed in red capes and white bonnets. She also simulcast it in three cities. She has been on the best-seller’s list many times.
Writers have to develop other skills besides writing to sell copies of their books. This means taking advantage of social media, blogging, and podcasting in order to reach potential customers. A writer has to decide how much time she/he wants to spend on promotion, which does take away from the creativity.
Check out my new collection of poems at: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/
At this time of year, I like to reflect on my writing, the drafts that did and didn’t make it to finals, publishing, and what’s next. I plan my reading at this time. For some reason, many writers don’t make a habit of reading for their writing. If you plan to write poetry, you need to read poems, for instance.
I read closely whatever it is I’m in the process of writing. If I want to write haiku, I will read the Haiku Journal or Acorn, as both publish many haiku. If I’m writing fiction, I read novels. And I read with purpose as I want to study how other writers handle the problems I am having. So, I recently read a young adult narrative, The Poet X by ElizabethAcevedo, to study narrative poetry.https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33294200-the-poet-x
I also read for pleasure and sometimes find mentor texts there as well. So, I recently read Kathryn Holzman’s, Real Estate https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Fiction-c18653063 for pleasure. This writer, who set her novel in the beginning of Silicon Valley, writes historical fiction. It helped me figure out how to write a historical poem.
I published a collection of poems earlier this year that encompasses a variety of forms and styles of poetry. Check it out at:
I will continue to blog announcements on Tuesday and my writer’s blog on Thursday.
A piece of writing begins with a germ of an idea, an inspiration, a straw dog. Some people use their journals to spark ideas.
In addition to being a good starting point for a writer, journaling has other benefits. According to Leslie
Andrus-Hacia, a clinical psychiatrist Writing is a brain-based porthole leading to a balanced and calm
state of being … through writing, both right-and left-brain hemispheres communicate, synthesizing
information that ultimately results in greater mental coherence.”* Other benefits of journaling include
memory support and increasing communication skills.
I like to journal on my IPhone. I always have it with me and I loaded Microsoft Word onto it so I can
access the files from my IPad or MacBook. Whenever I get an idea or scrap of a thought, I enter it into
my Phone Journal. I review my notes once a week to see if there is anything I want to flesh out into a
poem. It’s a good system for collecting odd thoughts that otherwise would just escape you.
Sometimes those odd thoughts turn into your best work.
I published a new collection of poems earlier this year. Many were from thoughts in my journal.
Check it out:
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They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I often think of the writing process when I hear that old adage. Writing can seem laborious when we proofread, edit, revise. These are the mundane parts of the process. The joy, for me, is in the creation, but that’s only one stage of the writing process.
So try to enjoy the journey, and not just the final, published product. Writing groups can help as you can share your writing with others and self-edit along the way. Writing is an isolating activity and a writing group can help with the isolation. You can also get helpful hints from fellow writers.
Readings can help also. Reading a work in progress can help to get feedback and it also helps to hear your work aloud. Samuel Butler says “I feel weak places at once when I read aloud where I thought, as long as I read to myself only, that the passage was alright…” The act of reading, line for line, can help the writer focus in a way that just rereading again can’t.
I used many of these “journey steps” to complete my collection of poetry that published earlier this year. Check it out:
I blog on Thursdays and do announcements on Tuesdays. Follow me.