Derek Walcott on Life

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome. 

–Derek Walcott

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Derek Walcott writes about being comfortable in your own skin. In a world of war and international pandemic, sometimes we have to be our own friend.

As writers, we need to nurture ourselves. There is plenty of rejection and criticism out there for the writer, so being our own cheerleader is sometimes necessary.

We crave praise, awards, good reviews, and the affirmation of the publisher, but if we remember the joy of the creative process, we don’t need the positive feedback of others.

As a poet, I work often alone and in solitude. Books tend to be published quietly also. There may be a book launch, but aside from that, people buy and read our books on their own. This doesn’t mean that our books don’t touch people or have a lasting effect. A writers, we know the books that have made that special impact on us and we have to trust that our writing will have an effect on our readers.

Or as Derek Walcott so aptly put it “…peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life. “

I will be posting on Thursdays about the writing life, with announcements, as they come, on Tuesdays. Follow me at WordPress.

Read to Write

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We have to read to write. It’s that simple. If you want to write a fiction, read good novels. If you want to write poetry, read good poetry.

Reading serves as a form of mentorship, especially if we read as writers, and read good writing. Reading provides rich fertilizer for your own writing.

Writers need to read what they like, what they find stimulating, what other people find stimulating. This will improve a writers writing.

Reading in our genre, and outside of our genre, will give us an idea of the diverse compositional structures that exist and are available for us to use, and use well. For an ode’s structure, read “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” by Keats. For historical fiction, try Real Estate by Kathryn Holzman (Propertius Press, 2020.) For grief or illness poetry, try Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021.) For a memoir try, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Harper, 2016.)

I will be blogging on Thursdays, with announcements, as they come up, on Tuesdays.

Using Your Dreams in Your Writing

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Do you dream at night? Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever used your dreams in your writing? Whatever thoughts, ideas or imaginations your mind comes up with when you sleep can be translated into creative writing.

I find the first step is to write down your dreams. Keep a notebook and pencil by your bed and write them down as soon as you wake up. Some psychologists believe that when farmers went to bed at sundown and rose at sunrise, they would wake up in the night and use the middle of the night as their creative time, including writing time.

Think of your dreams as writing prompts, rather than a whole novel. Although some fiction writers do write down their dreams. It may be a creative idea that is nagging at you to come out. The world is stressful these days, and frightening thoughts might come up, but use them as the start of a poem or story.

William Blakes “Land of Dreams” came from his very lively subconscious:

Awake, awake my little Boy!

Thou wast thy Mother’s only joy:

Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep?

Awake! Thy Father does thee keep.

I will blog on Thursdays, with announcements on Tuesdays, when I have them. Follow me on WordPress.

Writing the Landscape

One thing I love about winter in the Northeast is the snow. Now the snow is going, and it’s officially spring this week.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

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:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I will continue to blog on Thursdays and do announcements, as they come in, on Tuesdays.

The Best Friend of the Writer

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The best friend of the writer can be the writer her or himself. As writers, we crave praise, awards, good reviews, and the affirmation of the publisher, but if we remember the joy of the creative process, we don’t need the positive feedback of others.

As a poet, I work often alone and in solitude. Books tend to be published quietly also. There may be a book launch, but aside from that, people buy and read our books on their own. This doesn’t mean that our books don’t touch people or have a lasting effect. A writers, we know the books that have made that special impact on us and we have to trust that our writing will have an effect on our readers.

We entered into the art of writing for deeper reasons that passing attention and it’s best to get in touch with those internal reasons, rather than looking for external affirmations. That way, when the praise comes, it will be a pleasant reminder of our internal worth as writers, and we truly will be our own best friends.

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays and posting announcements on Tuesdays, as they come along.

Writing and Technology: Does Personal Writing Matter at this Tech-Driven Time?

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Whether writing pen to paper or sending a text or email, writing and reading is different today.

We can listen to a podcast, watch the news on television or our computer, or still read a book or newspaper. But what of the skill of writing? Employers complain that resumes are filled with typos and a well-written resume still draws a better job application response. The written word can be a powerful tool for a business leader affecting employees. Studies show that people disregard messages when they have glaring typos and mistakes.

And what about the power of a hand-written message. When was the last time you got one? Did you read it? Did it affect you? How about a letter sent by snail mail, rather than email or text?

A personalized message has a way of making the person receiving it feel valued and recognized.

It wasn’t sent to the masses, but written especially for the receiver.

Writing has a way of developing relationships between people. I know at holiday times when I get hand-written cards, I always respond positively to them and pay attention, be they a simple,

“Best wishes for the New Year” or a whole report on the last year.

And what of the creative writer? Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way suggest starting the day by handwriting with pen to paper. This is supposed to access the creative side and also gives the artist the freedom to write without rereading or censoring. Many writers use pen and paper as a different way into their writing that their computer keyboard just doesn’t do.

When I wrote my most recent collection of poetry, Touch My Head Softly, I tried all different ways of writing: pen and paper, keyboard, dictating into a recorder, an old typewriter.

Check out this collection at:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I will be blogging on Thursdays, with announcements on Tuesdays. If you have anything to announce: readings, new publications, literary events, let me know and I’ll blog them for you.

The Writer’s Journey

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.

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I used many of these “journey steps” to complete my collection of poetry that published earlier this year. Check it out:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I blog on Thursdays and do announcements on Tuesdays. Follow me.

Writing the Landscape II

Now I am in Costa Rica for a good part of the winter.

The landscape is very different from the Northeast where I live for the balance of the year.

I love the pre-Columbian art here. I’ve shown you an example of one piece. These vessels, figures, tools are dated before the Spanish conquest of Central and South America. These art pieces date back to then Mesoamerican period, around 10,000 BCE. They give clues to the lives of the indigenous.

For me the beauty of the landscape and the local art inspire me. I may not be writing about beauty, or even Costa Rica, but the art gives me insight into the lives of the people, just as my stories aspire to give insight.

I recently published a book of poems about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s Disease. I hope this gives insight to others in contact with people with this disease. Also part of the proceeds of the sale of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Association to help find a cure for this dread disease. Check out my book:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Writing the Landscape

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:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

New England Book Festival Honors Touch My Head Softly

I’m delighted that Touch My Head Softly was given Honorable Mention at the New England Book Festival. Take a look:

http://parisbookfest.brinkster.net/NE/