For writers, reading is a way of life. We read early and often. We read, we write. We check our media contacts, read newspapers or magazines online or in hard copy, then read a text of something similar to what we are working on in our own writing. If we stop reading, it’s deprivation.
It’s a paradox that by emptying our lives of all that text and distraction, we are actually refreshing the wellspring. By absenting ourselves from all the media, we get in touch with our inner selves, which is where all the creativity comes from. By keeping the inflow to a minimum, the outflow improves. Our true thoughts and feelings will begin to penetrate and come out in new writing, running freely. I knew a playwright who would take off his shoes and socks and stand in a running stream with a paper and pencil to literally get his flow going.
If you find not reading difficult, and many writers do, here are some suggestions:
.listen to music that has no words
.cook a complicated, time-consuming recipe and then
.invite friends to dinner
.rearrange the kitchen
After a number of these activities, sit down and write again. Notice any differences in your feelings or content. Your writing may benefit.
Ok, so your piece has been rejected. As writers, we all go through it. Rejection can be defined as the act of pushing something away. We submit a piece or a manuscript somewhere where we think it will be a fit, and the powers that be don’t see it that way.
One thing I find that helps is knowing that publishing is just a business. A publisher is looking for something specific and your writing may not fit the bill. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, it just means it’s not what the publisher is looking for.
Most editors don’t comment on their rejections, but if you do get feedback, you may learn from it. I had an editor tell me I was using too many adjectives and adverbs. I took the advice to heart and started editing them out, and it made my writing stronger.
When a piece has been rejected several times, I try revising it. Language in its uneducated, natural form, reveals if we uncouple our own judgment and explore linguistic vehicles, the piece may be better. In poetry, it sometimes means trying a different format. If it’s a free verse poem, I’ll try something more formal, like a pantoum or sonnet. It sometimes can provide a different, more successful vehicle for the piece.
Another thing I sometimes try is reordering the piece. The last line might not be right. The last line might be found a stanza or two up. Maybe I’ve done too much explaining, and it wants cutting. Or the beginning of the piece might better serve it in the middle.
When I did my last collection, “Touch My Head Softly,” I kept rearranging the order of the poems. Then I realized nothing fit the beginning. So I wound up writing a prose poem to start off the collection.
When I’m going through rejections, I sometimes remind myself why I like to write, and this often makes me feel better. I wrote the poems in Touch My Head Softly, about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties. It helped me to get through my grief by doing this and this became an end in itself.
You can view my collection Touch My Head Softly, at:
Storytelling, an ancient art form, allows writers to make sense of the world and derive deeper meaning from their lives since the beginning of human history.
Storytelling takes practice and there are things you can do to improve your technique. You want to have clarity when you tell a story. It should have a central theme and you should keep your eye on that theme as you go along. If you want to tell an engaging story, keep the tension up to the end. Be clear about the plot point that builds the story.
Great literature is crafted around characters that have great obstacles in their way, and eventually overcome them. You must embrace conflict if you want to engage your readers.
A good story has a beginning, middle and ending. A successful story might start with an inciting incident, lead into accelerated action, build to a climax and resolve. A good path to becoming a good storyteller is to read good storytellers. A good writer reads a lot. There’s a reason The Illiad and the Odyssey are still read after centuries of being told and written.
Observe good storytellers. See how they engage their audiences. This can be a family member who weaves tales of ancestors or a politician who engages the public
While reading other writer’s stories is essential, it’s also important to draw on your own experiences. This way your stories will ring true. Be an observer and use those observations. If you can’t use your recall for details, go research and re-experience. I recently revisited three locales I’m writing a story about: New York City, the Nevada desert, and the mountains of Costa Rica.
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 group of writers can help with the isolation. You can also get good suggestions 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.
It took me ten years to write my most recent collection of poems, Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021.) I kept starting and stopping, but reading the poems aloud in writing groups helped to keep me going. The members of my group also encouraged me to publish, which I eventually did.
The four elements: earth, wind, fire, water in your writing can be exhilarating. They can be used to make your plots more interesting, your poetry more vivid.
The four elements can be nurturing, but they can also destroy. There is much possibility in these primitive forces. Fire, for instance, can be cleansing or destructive at the same time. The four elements can also be nurturing and life affirming. Seeds in the earth, when it meets water, can grow plants. There is a cycle of renewal.
Nature’s climate is disconnected from the political climate. Birds sing, regardless of the presidential elections. It’s grounding to go out and take a walk in nature and think about the universality of life, and you’re writing,
I recently began a narrative poem about what would happen if the earth started drowning, as they’re predicting it will. What if nature really went wild and the water flooded the earth?
My most recent collection of poems touched on the world of illness and alternate states of reality. Check it out:
University Professors Press is proud to announce the release of A 21st Century Plague: Poetry from a Pandemic edited by Elayne Clift. This book is a powerful collection of poems about the Covid-19 pandemic. We will be hosting a book release celebration with a poetry reading on Facebook Live on Wednesday, June 30 at 5:00 PM PST/6:00 PM MST/ 7:00 PM CST/8:00 PM EST. Like the University Professors Press Facebook page to receive a notification when the event starts. Use coupon code “21cp_nr2021” at the University Professors Press website to receive a 10% discount on A 21st Century Plague. The coupon is also good for the Poetry, Healing, and Growth Book Bundle (12 books), including A 21st Century Plague.Read more at https://universityprofessorspress.com/new-release-a-21st…/#poetry#poetrylovers#poetryisnotdead#poetrycommunity#poems#COVID19#covid#pandemic#pandemicpoetry
Check out University Professors Press Facebook Page for link:
If you are a writer, and you want to publish, you have to submit your work to a publisher, a journal, a magazine, a website….If you submit, you will be rejected. No one who submits goes without this inevitable experience.
I recall reading Thor Heyerdahl’s account of his myriad rejections of Kon-Tiki. He said one editor wrote that no one would buy into an account of a crazy person sailing 5,000 miles across the Pacific in a hand-made raft and another who said no one was interested in Oceana or sailing anymore.
Rejection can be valuable. It can cause us to re-examine, refine and re-edit. Maybe it will make our work better. You can learn things about the market from rejection. How can you make it more universally appealing? Remember, rejection is not personal. It’s about the work, not you. The publisher doesn’t even know you.
Sometimes rejections are worthless. Just because a person is an editor does not mean they’re qualified to pass literary judgments. But if you keep getting the same criticism of a piece, a repetition, then maybe it is a valid criticism that you could heed and use to rewrite.
I once got so frustrated with rejections, I wrote a poem about it:
Villanelle for the Rejected Poet
The Exalted Society regrets to inform
That despite your verse’s abstruse plot
Your poem was rejected by the Writers Reform.
We do not understand your sonata-like form
Your work has no rhyme nor school of thought
The Exalted Society regrets to inform.
We do not like to discourage or misinform
Please with some other place find a spot
Your poem has been rejected by the Writers Reform.
Do not whine, criticize, or fill out a claim form
Your work left us confused and distraught
The Exalted Society regrets to inform.
Do send a check or cash with this subscription form
With your handiwork contact us not
Your poem has been rejected by the Writers Reform.
We publish all races, creeds, genders and artists’ forms
There are many types of blogs out there, from buying a car to reading graphic novels. Read some of those blogs and you will get a sense of your competition. Try focussing on a theme for your blog. If you have a sense of what you want your theme to be, look for similar blogs and read them.
Standing out and finding readers for your blog is a challenge. Finding a theme for you blog can help to brand your blog for the right audience. What are you passionate about? What do you want to write about? What is your expertise? All these things should guide and focus your content.
I have a literary blog. I am most interested in writing, the writing process, books, publishing, readings. This is what my blog is about. I blog announcements of new books and events on Tuesdays and I blog about the literary life, writing and blogging on Thursdays. Consistency is important.
My most recent collection of poetry, Touch My Head Softly, was published recently by Finishing Line Press. It’s about my experiences with my partner, who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties. Check it out: