“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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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.

What places do you write about?

Persistence and the Writing Process

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.

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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.

Check out the collection at:

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

Earth, Wind, Air and Fire as Elements of Your Writing

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:

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

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I will continue to blog announcements on Tuesdays, if I have one, and Thursdays for my regular blogs.

A 21st Century Place: Poetry from a Pandemic Reading 8pm EST Wed.,June 30

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:

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https://universityprofessorspress.com/21cp10

Go to their Facebook Page for the link

Rejection is Inevitable for the Writer

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

From everyone but you – we have got

The Exalted Society regrets to inform

Your poem was rejected by the Writers Reform.

                                    Published in The Road Not Taken, Fall 2013

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Writing As A Skill

Writing is necessary for so many things. We need it to exist in the world.

At school, we are judged and given grades by how well we perform on paper. The academic essay is the ultimate test.

To communicate at a distance with friends and loved ones, we need to know how to write.

Writing falls into all genres. From realistic fiction to mysteries to sci-fi to poetry to academic papers, your writing is only limited by your imagination.

I have written in many genres. I am specializing in poetry these days. I recently published a collection of poems called Touch My Head Softly about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s. Take a look:

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

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Finding a Theme for Your Blog

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.

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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:

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

Keep Writing

Practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better you become at it. It’s just like an athlete working out to keep in shape. With practice, over time, you are able to write faster, more clearly, in less time. New writers have trouble getting started, but experienced writers sit down and write everyday. Even if you don’t use what you wrote today, it will lead to something better tomorrow.

Another misconception is that you have to be “inspired” to write. Writing is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. You have to put it the work. If you waited for inspiration to come, you’d be waiting forever to begin writing. Start writing and inspiration will follow.

My latest book is a collection of poems about my experiences with my partner who died in his sixties of Alzheimer’s Disease. It was ten years following his death that I finally got the collection together, but I persisted and here it is:

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

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Using Your Inner Critic

Everyone has an inner critic. The inner critic is there to protect you from doing dangerous things. But it can also make us too cautious.But writing isn’t dangerous and we should learn to use our inner critic to help us write.

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The inner critic serves as a guardian angel to keep you safe and doing something dangerous. When it comes to life and death situations, the anxiety from your inner critic causes you not to act. But you don’t need your inner critic to write.You need to act to write. Have your inner critic give you permission to write.

I just finished a book about my experiences with my partner who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties (Touch My Head Softly, Finishing Line Press, 2021.) It was a hard book to write and i struggled with my inner critic. But the writer in me won out in the end.

Part of the proceeds of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, so it’s all positive. Take a look:

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