Your Unique Voice

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Finding your own unique voice in your writing can be a challenge, but one worth pursuing.

One way to begin is by finding unique voices that you like in published writers. Billy Collins suggests finding a poem that you like and writing it out to discover exactly what makes it unique. What is it that drew you to it? The language, the topic, the genre? No matter what you’re writing: creative nonfiction, a blog, a poem, read other writers who have been successful in that genre.

But in the end, there’s only one unique you who has your own story to tell. You don’t necessarily have to write memoir or autobiography, but bring your own individual experiences to your writing. Focus on what you know, what interests you. If you love food, eating it, growing it, cooking it, write about that in a nonfiction article. If you’re a birder, out mornings observing birds, bring birds into your poem or short story.

I recently published a collection of poems about Alzheimer’s Disease, which I knew through my experiences with my partner. It was published by Finishing Line Press. Take a look:

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55776971-touch-my-head-softly?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=8ZpBlRznY3&rank=1

Creating a Rough Draft

When I taught writing, I always had my students to a rough draft before the actual paper. A rough draft should include a clear direction in your paper. When you are required to submit a rough draft, it doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should be complete. That means, you shouldn’t be missing any of the major parts of the paper. 

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You should begin with a draft. Write a draft and then walk away and return again. Your second and third draft will probably be better.

When I wrote my recent poetry collection, Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021,) I didn’t have a draft. The poems came slowly through the years. If I did have the rough draft of what I wanted the collection to look like, it would have gone much more quickly. It was five years in the making.

My new book can be viewed at:

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

This is the link to my book on Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

How Does Weather Affect Your Writing?

Weather can be a major factor in a story or poem. If you look out your window, you can be inspired. I live in Western Massachusetts, where they say “If you don’t like the weather, just wait.” It changes rapidly from beautiful sunny days, to mist, to rain, to snow, sometimes in the same day. I usually spend some time in Costa Rica in the winter, where I am now, where there are many ecosystems in a little country, including temperate, dry, tropical, sub-tropical. There is a dry and a rainy season, and the winds, called Papagayo, blow across the Cordillera del Talamanca.

Think of all the climates in novels. British author J. Ballard in The Wind from Nowhere, creates a dystopia in which hurricane-force winds dominate the climate. Mother of Storms by John Barnes describes a catastrophic weather change caused by a nuclear explosion. Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, where the world is divided into gated communities and pleeblands where the working class lives in unsafe, populous and polluted communities. Weather in a book an be a plot motivator or scene setter.

And where would we be without nature poems. Think of William Wordsworth, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,”

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

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March 2021

March has brought unusually beautiful weather Costa Rica, with sunny skies, and wind blowing cooling breezes through the mountains.   I hear the Northeast has been engaged in “glorious spring” with temperatures largely in the 60’s Fahrenheit.

Storms really are unpredictable. They can add an interesting plot twist to a novel, or line to a poem. And they can move from dangerous, unpredictable weather, to rainbows and sunshine. How does this affect your plot?

In my latest book of poetry, Touch My Head Softly, the story involves my lover who had dementia. While I see an “unrelenting grey,” my partner, in his altered state, sees “white lilies surviving frost.”

Check out my book at:

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

Or view it on Goodreads at:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Esterillos Este Sunset. Photo by Eileen P. Kennedy

Is Writing Religion or Profession?

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For me, writing is both. I have been writing since I was eight years old and can’t seem to stop. But I’ve also published three books, derived income from my publishing, which in some circles would make me a professional writer. You just have to write to make it work. It doesn’t have to be brilliant or inspired, it just has to be. You keep going.

You might do many other things besides writing to support yourself, but you still write through it. Stephen King was a high school English teacher. During this time, he wrote his first novel, Tabitha. He kept going despite his busy job.

You are the only one capable of writing your story. It is unique. It belongs to you. Even if you find similarities in the work of other authors who you read, your story is still your story.

I wrote a book of poems about my experiences with my partner dying of Alzheimer’s Disease in his sixties. I even donated part of the proceeds from the book to the Alzheimer’s Association to find a cure.

You can find my book at:

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

You can find my book on Goodreads at:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

On Inspiration for Writers

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As writers, we are always looking for the new thing that is going to sprint our writing forward. The inspiration, if you will.

Procrastinating , spending more time thinking about writing than actually writing. I happens to all of us. When I get a block, I just write through it. You may wind up throwing out what you’ve read, but it will get you moving to the writing that you do want to keep.

Writing is a simple process. You sit down at your desk, and you write. That’s it. Whether you feel like it, or not. Even if you’d much rather do just something else. The professional writer keeps going, no matter what.

I wrote a book of poetry about my former partner who died of Alzheimer’s. It was a painful topic for me, but eventually I did it. I’m glad I did. It was recently published by Finishing Line Press. Take a look:

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

Are the sources of our strengths as writers in natural conversation?

You may have come to think of writing as a solitary, lonely process. And sometimes it is, especially during the pandemic. But writing is a social exchange. We write, often, to publish and put our writing out into the world. Here other people interact with our words, read it, understand it, and sometimes respond.

As a lifelong writer, I do often write in isolation, but I find my best writing comes from sharing it with other writers, or a mentor, and getting their feedback. How do you use speech to further your writing?

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This is the link to my new book of poems at Finishing Line Press:

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

Here’s the link to my book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I will blog on Thursdays, and on Tuesdays when I have announcements.

“Poetry is a naked woman, a naked man, and the distance between them.” ― Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti, author of A Coney Island of the Mind, Love in the Days of Rage, and Pictures of the Gone World, died at age 101. He identified as a philosophical anarchist and was part of the beat movement, including Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He co-founded City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in San Francisco. He was also a fine artist who painted for many years.

He gained notoriety when he published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” and was indicted for selling obscene material. This led to a famous censorship case, the People v. Ferlinghetti, that forwarded the cause of stopping convictions for selling books. The failed attempt at prosecuting him led him to joke that “the police took over the advertising account and did a much better job.”

He was a rebellious poet, a courageous publisher, and bookseller who would not be intimidated about selling books. He was a major literary figure and force who will be missed.

My new book of poems, Touch My Head Softly, is just out from Finishing Line Press. Check it out:

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

I will blog on Thursdays, and Tuesdays when I have announcements.

Open the Door to Creativity

Have you ever seen a door and wondered what is on the other side?

The idea that you can create by opening a door goes back centuries. A note was found

in a Latin grammar from the monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland in approximately 848

that describes an Irish scribe going outside and writing a poem under trees.

You could open a heart door that would enable you to write about things that you love or your favorite things. The door could be an observation door where you record things you carefully observe.  A memory door could lead you to memories, good or bad, that you have saved away in the back of your mind.  A wonder door could lead you to things you question, or wonder about.  A political door could lead you to write about your concerns in the world.

With the pandemic, the world is in lockdown and there are many closed doors.

We all long for the day with those doors will be open again and life will return to normal.

While we are on lockdown, our minds can wander and explore our thoughts, our wants and our imagination.

My new book, Touch My Head Softly, is now out from Finishing Line Press:

Have you ever seen a door and wondered what is on the other side?

The idea that you can create by opening a door goes back centuries. A note was found

in a Latin grammar from the monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland in approximately 848

that describes an Irish scribe going outside and writing a poem under trees.

You could open a heart door that would enable you to write about things that you love or your favorite things. The door could be an observation door where you record things you carefully observe.  A memory door could lead you to memories, good or bad, that you have saved away in the back of your mind.  A wonder door could lead you to things you question, or wonder about.  A political door could lead you to write about your concerns in the world.

With the pandemic, the world is in lockdown and there are many closed doors.

We all long for the day with those doors will be open again and life will return to normal.

While we are on lockdown, our minds can wander and explore our thoughts, our wants and our imagination.

My new book, Touch My Head Softly, is now out from Finishing Line Press:

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

You can view it on Goodreads at:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I will be posting every Thursday, and on Tuesdays when I have an announcement.

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Journaling as a Source of Inspiration

A piece of writing begins with a germ of an idea, an inspiration, a straw dog. Some people use their journals to spark ideas.

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I have been journaling for many years. I used to use pen and a notebook. Now I journal on my Microsoft Word App on my iPhone. I just find that while I may not always have my notebook, I tend to always have my phone. I journal snippets of ideas that I may later develop into a writing piece or poem. Do you journal? When? How?

I have a new collection of poetry out that started with my journal. It will be out soon from Finishing Line Press:

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

Or you can find it on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

“I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too.” –Mary Oliver

I am a writer and a swimmer and really related to this quote from Mary Oliver, the great Pulitzer-Prize winning poet. During this dark pandemic period, I find both writing and swimming have sustained me. I’m grateful I get to reserve a lane at my gym and swim six days a week (never on Sunday.) I have also been writing through this pandemic and I feel like it has been a lifesaver. It gives me purpose.

I wrote a collection of poems about my experiences with my partner, who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties. I feel grateful that Finishing Line is publishing this work and it will be out in the world. The work around the publication, particularly, has sustained me during this dark time.

This is the link to my book at Finishing Line:

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

This is the link to my book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

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