Onething I love about winter in the Northeast is the snow. Now the snow is going, and it’s officially spring this week.
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?
The difference I have noticed between successful writers who publish and people who want to be writers is the time commitment. The successful writer takes his/her writing seriously and carves out time daily to write.
The successful writer is disciplined about writing, if not daily, at regular intervals, and sticks to that schedule. We all go through periods of vacation, periods of time devoted to family and friends, but within those diversions, the writer has discipline about devoting time to the craft.
Never assume that something will get done because you’ve told yourself it will. Have a disciplined approach, and rely on writing groups, calendars, schedules, good word processing systems, in other words, the tools of the trade in good order. Then sit down and write.
It took me ten years to write my most recent collection, but I finished and published it. Take a look:
A piece of writing begins with a germ of an idea, an inspiration, a straw dog. Some people use their journals to spark ideas.
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:
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.
By this, I think he meant that we shouldn’t judge our own work, but let it go out in the world. Others will judge it. If you think of it that way, it frees us, as writers, from nagging insecurities. There’s always someone who has one a prize for their work or gotten public recognition, and it’s easy to be envious. But if we just keep our sights on our own work, and trying to make it the best we can, we can gently return to ourselves.
I have a new book coming out soon, a collection of poetry called Touch My Head Softly from Finishing Line Press. It is about my experiences with my partner’s having Alzheimer’s. I try not to think about how other people will judge my very personal poems. I wanted to do it and now the poems are out in the world: abandoned.
Here is the link to my book at Finishing Line Press:
For any of us who watched the insurrection of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. last week, the words of Amanda Gorman, the inaugural poet, rings true. This poem was, ultimately, optimistic, portending a better future. Poetry can speak to us like nothing else when times are dark.
I wrote a collection of poetry after my partner died of Alzheimer’s Disease. It was a very dark time in my life. My partner, a brilliant mathematician, deteriorated quickly, leaving me in darkness. The writing of the poetry helped me to process what happened. I have been working on Touch My Head Softly with my publisher, Finishing Line Press, to finish the process. It has given me purpose through the pandemic.
Locked away in the seclusion of the Terem Apartments, the Romanov Tsarevnas were no threat to the crown. Yet the same Romanov blood flowed through their veins, and they weren’t so easily forgotten – one of them ruled Russia for seven years. Maria Alekseyevna writes her deepest thoughts in her diary, hides away to read, and has a forbidden love that lives in her secret script.
Natalya Alekseyevna has dedicated her life to her sister, Anna Alekseyevna, who suffers from a condition that claimed her brother, Tsar Feodor Alexeyevich. She fills her days by creating her own versions of the ancient poems sung to the Romanov children. Fyodora Alexseyevna, the youngest, is nurtured by Maria, who hopes for a better life for her youngest sister. Sofia Alekseyevna fights tradition and rules the terem and eventually the country.
Covered from view, rare excursions outside the Kremlin enhance their lives and the discovery of a secret passageway – changes everything. Sofia’s absences from the terem are explained when Maria follows Sofia and learns her secret.
The author, Shirley Forrest Nomakeo received a B.S. in Graphic Design. She worked in the printing industry for twenty years. Before turning to writing full-time, she was a partner in a Golf Marketing and Promoting business in western Massachusetts. Currently, she is a published author. As an Independent author, audiobook producer, editor, and APA member, she writes full-time. She edits manuscripts for new authors and reviews audiobooks. She lives in MA with her husband and two children.
Many of us watched in horror this week as the Capitol of the United States, a symbol of democracy for hundreds of years, was attacked by angry mobsters. This incident is in the news everyday as a congressional committee examines what happened. Additionally, we are dealing with a pandemic that is infecting millions of people around the world.
As writers, how do we cope with chaos around us? What does it mean for our writing? Do we become immobilized and stop writing? Do we add to the body of literature on the incident? Do we try to put positive energy out there to offset the negative?
My philosophy is to try to go with the latter.
I had a collection of poetry come out in 2021 about my experiences with my partner who died of Alzheimer’s. I will be donating part of the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Society to further their research. I’m just trying to make the world a more positive place. If I can help even one person with Alzheimer’s or a caretaker, it would make me feel better.
What do you do to put positive energy into your writing and out into the world?
Culture is a fuzzy term. Some cultures just have speech, no writing. Language affects the way we write. Some writers are multilingual, and that’s a definite advantage. Speech is flexible and can be used in particular ways in a cultural setting. We speak naturally in many diverse backgrounds as babies, from the playground, to school, to home. Writing can also be a misery for a child in school who hasn’t mastered the rules.Writing is where we must be precise. Speech is where we get to be imprecise, to play.
Imagine, as writers, playing with our words the way we play with speech. We can make magical words in our writing. Witness the incantation to open the caves entrance in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Gabriel García Márquez made frog kings.
So how do we make magical writing in our culture? I’m not sure. Does anyone want to answer this question, just reply to my blog.
My latest collection of poems, Touch Ny Head Softly, will be out soon from Finishing Line Press.
I don’t know how writing this year has been for you, but I know that writing has sustained me through this difficult year. I have a new collection of poetry coming out in early 2021 by Finishing Line Press about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s. With so many issues affecting us this year, such as the pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, the struggle for racial justice, I wonder how relevant my poems about Alzheimer’s Disease are in the world. I am donating part of the proceeds from the sale of the book to the Alzheimer’s Association to try to create a positive effect from the publishing of the collection. I am also trying to reflect on what I learned about myself in these trying times.