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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Garstang's Pushcart Prize Rankings

Clifford Garstang lists poetry magazines in his Pushcart Prize ranking. See how he calculates his ratings, and see who comes up tops (no surprises there).

I'm not sure how useful this list is, but it's interesting. It reminded me of some journals I haven't thought about in awhile.

Hurricane Sandy

Happy to report that brother in Philadelphia and sister in New Jersey and their respective families are fine after Hurricane Sandy. Brother reports some yard cleanup necessary, and sister has cosmetic damage to home and is without power. Sister is at a neighbor's house (neighbor having a generator) for those of you who have been in a panic about having lost contact with her. Neighbor also has cell phone coverage, while sister's went out.


Be well.

UPDATE: Sister and co. in car on way to brother's home to stay for awhile.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Everybody's Silly Sometimes

Flavorwire has 10 silly pictures of serious people, like this one:

The Vagaries of Poetry Readings

A charming list of anecdotes on poetry readings by Donald Hall (the essay is by Hall, not the poetry readings the essay is based on, though in fact some of them poetry readings were by Hall, but not all of them, is that clear, because it if is, I should keep going till it isn't) at The New Yorker blog contains the following (plus more):

"A question period for undergraduates at a Florida college began with the usual stuff: What is the difference between poetry and prose? Then I heard a question I had never heard before: “How do you reconcile being a poet with being president of Hallmark cards?” This inquisitive student had looked on the Internet, and learned that the man who runs that sentiment factory is indeed Donald Hall."

"By chance, I had been an undergraduate at the one college in America with an endowed meagre series of poetry readings. Eliot was good, but most performances were insufferable—superb poems spoken as if they were lines from the telephone book. William Carlos Williams read too quickly in a high-pitched voice, but seemed to enjoy himself. Wallace Stevens appeared to loathe his beautiful work, making it flat and half-audible. (Maybe he thought of how the boys in the office would tease him.) Marianne Moore’s tuneless drone was as eccentric as her inimitable art. When she spoke between poems, she mumbled in the identical monotone. Since she frequently revised or cut her things, a listener had to concentrate, to distinguish poems from talk. After twenty minutes, she looked distressed, and said, “Thank you.” When Dylan Thomas read, I hovered above my auditorium seat as I heard him say Yeats’s “Lapis Lazuli.” He read his own poems afterward, fabricated for his rich and succulent Welsh organ. I found myself floating again."

"A week after the readings and lectures of the festival, a recent Pulitzer poet received a thick letter from a woman in South Carolina who had fallen in love. The envelope was heavy with amorous poems, and she told him that there were ninety-five more, but she didn’t have the stamps. She attached a photograph of a mature woman in front of a ranch house, and implored him to fly down immediately. She sent an airline ticket with blank dates."

Donald Hall's email is available at the end of the article, so....

Read more

Friday, October 26, 2012

Jericho in the Air

Prairie Schooner has a podcast called Air Schooner, and yesterday I listened to an interview (called "Spiritual Experience") with Jericho Brown, in which he discussed among other things, line breaks:

"...line breaks have everything to do with doubt. That's why poetry is different from prose, because it is infused with doubt. At the moment of a line break, even if it's for a millisecond, you are thrust into doubt. You are thrust into a place where you are not certain what just happened or what is going to happen. Only faith that the next line will land us on solid ground is what keeps up breathing."

Birthdays today (10/26): Hillary Clinton and Mahalia Jackson.

Tomorrow (10/27): Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas. How about that? Also Erasmus! And Isaac Singer, Maxine Hong Kinsgston, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Afternoon

My afternoon, as described (coincidentally enough) by Christian Wiman:

"Poetry requires a certain kind of discipline indolence that the world, including many prose writers (even, at times, this one) doesn’t recognize as discipline. It is, though. It’s the discipline to endure hours that you refuse to fill with anything but the possibility of poetry, though you may in fact not be able to write a word of it just then, and though it may be playing practical havoc with your life. It’s the discipline of preparedness."
 Christian Wiman, Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet

A Deck of Diagrams

I'm a big fan of Diagram, the online journal celebrating its tenth anniversary (in journal years, that's impressive!) with an anthology that takes the form of a deck of poker cards. Read here about how 10 of Diagrams has (as you might expect) the kinds of schematics which the journal is so known for as well as contributions from writers such as Jenny Boully (one of my faves), John D'Agata, Albert Goldbarth, Ben Marcus, Lia Purpura, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Mark Yakich, Charles Wu, and Diagram editor Ander Monson.

Visit the website to see a few examples of playing cards, which are fully functional as, well, playing cards.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cut It Out!

Here's a brief report about what happened when I used the scissors revision technique that I mentioned on Saturday.

I had a poem that has been published in an online journal, but after looking over it for inclusion in my new book-length manuscript, I felt it was weak. There were two (well, 1 1/2 really) consecutive lines I never did like very well, but that I had kept because the form of the poem was couplets, and I needed these lines to fill out a stanza, to keep the form regular. Another problem was that I had overused one of the images by citing it several times throughout the poem (as I have a tendency towards repetition).

I had been reluctant to change the form because the poem relied heavily on the imagery of the moon and the tides, and I thought the regularity (or rather predicability) of tides and moon cycles were well represented by the regularity of the stanzas. This inflexibility on my part kept me from fixing the problems in the poem.

So I took my scissors to the poem. Because I am fond of enjambment, I couldn't actually just cut lines, but had to cut sentences or phrases, which went through lines on many occasions. I realized immediately that I could just cast off those 1 1/2 unwanted lines since form had been abandoned--freedom! As I arranged the snipped lines across a page, I ended up (by default rather than design) with staggered lines in a suggestion of back and forth movement but without regularity of lenth or indentation. Looking at the arrangement, I saw waves of various sizes coming in to the beach and receding, and I saw the moon waxing and waning, and suddenly this new shape of the poem better represented the subject than the previous rigid form ever had.

Additionally, by phsycially maneuvering the lines around on the page,  I was able to better space the repeated images throughout the poem so that they were evocative of earlier parts of the poem, rather than heavy-handed. I also found that there was a line that I wanted to put in two different places, so I scrawled an extra copy of it on a strip of paper and then did in fact put it in both places. By having that new repetition, I was able to echo the other repetition (a kind of call and response), and better balance the repeated imagery I'd been worried about. What I mean is, that MORE repetition instead of LESS was the cure to the over-repetition I had worried about. Now the original repetition was balanced by a new one, and it now served another function with respect to the new one, with a playful interaction between the two.

So this exercise was really useful to me. It took a physical act (cutting) to free me from my mental rigidity. Scissors for success--a technique I'll remember and use again.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Rain in Her Purse

A while ago, I saw on someone's blogroll (I don't recall whose) a blog entitled The Rain in My Purse. I was intrigued; I clicked; I've been following the blog of Sarah J. Sloat intermittently ever since. Her short posts are quirky and inventive and startling.

I haven't checked in recently, but did yesterday to find that Sarah J. Sloat has a new chapbook coming out from Hyacinth Girl Press, entitled Homebodies. I am ordering one as soon as I get word from the publishers about how to handle overseas postage, since it isn't clear from the website, even though Sloat herself lives overseas.

She also has an earlier chapbook out from Dancing Girl Press, called Excuse Me While I Wring This Long Swim Out of My Hair. This publisher doesn't ship internationally, so my copy is sitting at a relatives' house waiting for me to fetch it or for them to send it.

If you are interested in seeing some of Sloat's work, check out these links:

"Training" at Linebreak
two poems at Literary Bohemian
"Our Lady of Busted Cutlery" at Umbrella
"Glass Stairwells" and more (scroll down) at qarrtsiluni

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kabocha Puree

This is the last thing I'll post today, and it's not about poetry, it's about pumpkins, so poets and writers, skip this post. It's for the US expats living in Japan who will have a dilemma when trying to make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving next month.

If you do the Thanksgiving thing, you already know that canned pumpkin has not been available for the past couple of years. I have made my own pumpkin puree using kabocha (the local pumpkin variety) and have tried both using my oven to roast it, and boiling the pumpkin. Both methods worked okay, and I made some super delicious pie based on my sister Jamie's yummy recipe (which I may post later in the month, if there's interest).

Anyway, today I happened upon a culinary blog by an expat in Japan who writes about cooking (called I'll Make it Myself), and her topic here is making kabocha puree. She seems more invested in cooking than I am, so I'm going to follow her recipe this year (which allows both for the baking and the boiling methods). Just thought you'd like to know, if Thanksgiving abroad is a challenge for you too.

(We made our jack-o-lantern last Sunday evening, and good thing we enjoyed it this week, because it totally rotted. We had to toss it this morning, nearly two weeks before Halloween! Darn this global warming that rots jack-o-lanterns more quickly than in my youth!)


Self-Doubt Remedies

Writer Jon Bard at the blog Write to Done: Unmissable Articles on Writing has a helpful article called "5 Ways for Writers to Blast Through Self-Doubt."

Now, in general I think self-doubt is inherent to writing, and maybe even important to it. I'm not sure I want to get rid of my self-doubt, but I surely want to stop suffering from my self-doubt. Plus this article has a number in its title, and I'm a sucker for numbers in anything. So I had a look and am glad I did.

Here are Bard's main points:

1) Differentiate between being a writer and an author. Writers write to write; authors write to be read. Bard explains how understanding and identifying with this distinction can help you.

2) Bard gives (and cites other sources) for learning to ignore the haters.  He quotes Colin Powell: “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.” And Bard emphasizes that writers should focus on how many people really "get" their work, not how many don't.

3) Remember that other writers are more concerned with their work than yours, and that their criticisms/attitudes/lack of interest may reflect that.

4) I'm just going to quote Bard's title for his fourth point: "Attain non-attachment by being prolific." Wow. This is for me. Don't get too attached to one piece of work so that it sucks up all your energy and creativity and you get so invested in it that you can't move on, can't show people for fear of having everything important to you blown sky high, etc. Write more, be attached less.

5) Don't invest entirely in one genre, or your self-identity will get stuck in that. This is more of the non-attachment from part 4, but it's too sophisticated for me. I'm not sure I'm ready for it. But Bard suggests thinking of yourself as a "writer" not a certain kind of writer (as in a poet, but I don't consider myself a poet either, but a person who writes poems. Not exclusively but almost.....I must think about this.....)

Well, read the whole article. It's short and punchy and does a better job explicating its points than I have. And it may help you with self-doubt, if you have any (ha ha, just doubting you have self-doubt for the fun of it. Remember W. S. Merwin's poem about John Berryman's advice to him, quoted in part below:)

I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't

you can't you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write

Line Breaks via Scissors

I've mentioned the P&W weekly e-newsletter, "The Time is Now," before but I'd like to mention it again. It's a brief useful email that gives a poetry writing prompt, a fiction writing prompt, a creative nonfiction (you've guessed it) writing prompt, and a book recommendation regarding the craft of writing. I've learned of plenty of good books and used a few of the prompts myself.

This week's poetry prompt is one I'd heard of before, but forgotten about. Serendipitously, it appeared in my inbox this week just when I was struggling with a poem that might benefit from this freeing technique. I'm going to take my scissors to my poem today and see how it goes.

Here's the prompt.

Take one of your poems that you're not satisfied with and use scissors to cut it up into its lines. Rearrange the lines, omitting ones that no longer fit. With this fresh arrangement as a working draft, compose an entirely new poem.
And here's how to sign up for the weekly newsletter. Go to this link, and scroll to the blue sign-up button at the bottom of the page.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Post-Publication Prize Update

I've just added one more post-publication book contest to my original post on the topic, so if you are interested , check out the comments section of this post to see the UNT Rilke Prize for mid-career poets, with a large cash award of $10,000.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Advocate for Poetry

Poet Matthew Dickman has a big idea: he wants us to advocate for poetry by buying a book (or two) of poems and sending them to someone in our lives (in the private or public spheres) who doesn't normally read poetry (or who we assume doesn't normally read poetry).

Read Dickman's plea here, at Tin House. He's decided on a hashtag over on Twitter so participants can share their experiences.

Good idea, yes?

Resistance Quotes

Resistance is on my mind these days, for oh so many reasons. So today I offer quotes on resistance:


"It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human."

Pema Chodron


"The poem resists. It resists coming into being. It resists eloquence. It resists transmitting unpleasant or embarrassing knowledge. It resists grammatical constraints. It resists moving away from simple utterance. It resists revision. It resists completion. It resists success. Hopefully, the poet resists as well."

Jennifer Moxley, from "Fragments of a Broken Poetics" (Chicago Review, Spring 2010)
"The poem in the head is always perfect. Resistance starts when you try to convert it into language. Language itself is a kind of resistance to the pure flow of self. The solution is to become one’s language."
Stanley Kunitz
"…remember fear for what it is: a resistance to the unknown."
Terry Tempest Williams, from an interview on the NPR show “Being,” interviewed by Krista Tippett (who read this excerpt from a book of Williams’)
"Art begins with resistance – at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor."
Andre Gide, in Poetique
"The poem must resist the intelligence / Almost successfully"
Wallace Stevens  (CP, 350)
"Let us love the country of here below. It is real; it offers resistance to love." 
Simone Weil
“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” 

Leonardo da Vinci
“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is... The only problem in your life is your mind's resistance to life as it unfolds. ” 
Dan Millman
“Every creative person, and I think probably every other person, faces resistance when they are trying to create something good...The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be.” 
Donald Miller

Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Isaacs

My sons have been for years now wildly into catching bugs. This is a common pasttime for children in Japan, though my sons have persisted at it many summers longer than most of their peers. We have a catch and release program which works well, except for the time they let 38 cicadas out in the living room when I told the boys to release them but was busy talking overseas on the phone and didn't supervise the emancipation. We had cicadas coming out of the drapes for days.

Beetles, huge ones, are the main madness here. We have even (I'm embarrassed to say) purchased exotic beetles and bred them. My husband likes suzumushi best, 'bell-ringing insects' that translates to, and the sound they make is beautifully ethereal.

My sons like the big fighting beetles the most, though this year and last they have been more into catching reptiles and amphibians, so we haven't really had the menagerie of bugs this year that we have in the past.

I myself have fallen in love with a certain kind of beetle named the kamikiri, or paper-cutter, called longhorn beetles in English. Here's the kind I mean:

(Hee hee--see the bandaid. They aren't called papercutters for nothing!)

This one, called the gomadara, is my favorite kind, ever since I kept one for an entire year, through the winter and into the next spring. Every year my sons catch me one and I try to keep it all winter, but they've never lasted that long again.

Last year and the year before we couldn't find a single one of these, because they are agricultural pests and have been sprayed for in this area. This year we found tons of them in all weird color combinations, blue and yellow, and red and green, things we've never seen before, and we wondered if these were mutations from the spraying. But we didn't find a single black and white one.

My sons found me a yellow and black one though, and it seems so healthy that I haven't released it. I've had it for over a month now, and it's doing very well. In fact, it would probably be dead by now in the wild, without me feeding it daily. So I am going to try and keep it all winter. Since it's going to be part of the family, I've named it. Isaac. Because I recently finished a poem that has Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah, in it. And I realized afterwards that that's the second poem I have with Isaac in it. So, I decided to name my beetle Isaac. So that's three Isaacs.

Isaac squeaks at me when I give him his daily rainshower. Long live Isaac.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Process

Yesterday I started working on a new poem. Wrote a pretty strong first stanza. Wrote a second stanza with a good image but too wordy, too loose, but nonetheless a strong image. Started a third stanza. Got stuck pretty quickly. Quit. The whole thing took me less than 30 minutes.

I had more time yesterday that I could have been writing, but I didn't. I was done. I used to feel guilty that I can sometimes only write for short bursts of time. I felt wasteful since there are very few days when I have longer than a short burst, and on those days I may still not write more than a short burst. But I've stopped feeling guilty about it and realized that in the early stages of my process, when I am still working with something formless, all I can do at a time is 20 to 30 minutes. That's it.

Later when I am reworking, rewording, revising, I can work for hours at a time. Once there is form, I can think about a word or a phrase or a line and rewrite it and rethink it for hours. But when I am trying to find form in formlessness, it's a short burst and then I'm done. At that time, my subconscious works pretty hard on the problem, and then my conscious mind sits down to try to hear what the subconscious has done, and transcribe it, and that's it. Then I've got to wait some more for my subconscious to do the heavy lifting.

So I woke up at 4:50 this morning thinking about yesterday's poem. I have a block of time this afternoon when I have to wait for a child to finish an activity, and it was at that time that I was planning to do my writing today, but here it was 4:50 on a Sunday morning no less, and the poem was calling.

So I got up and looked at it. The first stanza was still good. The second stanza, which differed completely in imagery (I had been going to do alternating stanzas of contrasting images that would come together in the end somehow) now was clearly a different poem entirely. So I moved it out--it's still a good idea but it doesn't belong with yesterday's poem. Thus the third stanza  became the second, and I worked on it, got further along. It's still flabby and missing something, but I made progress with it. That took all of 20 minutes, being that I'm still in the fairly formless stage, and I went back to bed.

I'll work again later today when I have that block of time waiting for my son. I'll probably get 20 or 25 minutes on yesterday's poem, and 20 or 25 minutes on the poem that will come from the old second stanza, and then I'll have more time to wait, so I guess I'd better take some reading with me. Or papers to correct. Or something.

Too bad I don't have a poem in the hopper that's further along in the revision process since I happen to have that kind of time today, but I don't. That's how it goes.

That's my process, and now that I've written in down, it'll probably change radically. Let's hope not. It may not be the most efficient process, but it's one I understand.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cleese on Creativity

John Cleese has some interesting things to say about creativity here, at #9 from this link by 99U. What he says is that creativity isn't a talent; it's a way of operating. It's a way of getting one's self in a particular mood, a mood of play. He goes on to advise that play must be separate from regular life with regards to both time and place, that an oasis of time and space must be created in order to ... well, create. Then he reveals that research finds that the longer a person is willing to play with a problem, to put up with the anxiety of having not solved the problem, and to not go with the first easy solution, the more creative the eventual solution will be.

This video is a little more than 30 minutes long, but it's well worth it to listen to the whole thing.

Video Recommendations

So I've had a little time to watch some of the videos I linked to earlier this week, and am ready to recommend a few.

From this link, try video #2, by radio great Ira Glass, about the gap between recognizing what is good and being able to create at this level yourself, and how not to get discouraged in the years of work that it takes to bridge this gap.

Also try video #7, by best-selling memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert. I didn't like her most recent book, Eat Pray Love, myself, but I loved this speech about re-envisioning the creative genius in a way that takes the pressure off artists, by imagining that creativity springs from outside the self rather than from within--an idea that on its surface I would expect to find repulsive, but in fact, after hearing her explanation, find really refreshing.

I haven't finished watching, so there may be more recommendations later.


It's 10/11/12 today in Japan -- tomorrow in the USA.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Creativity Videos

The blog 99U has "10 (More) Amazing Videos About the Creative Process" here. I haven't watched them yet, so I'm not exactly recommending them (though I've appreciated previous posts from this blog). I'm actually just putting the link here so I can find it when I do have the time to watch these.

If you get to it before me, let me know what you think!

Unblocking Creative Block

Here's what writer Douglas Rushkoff (over at Brain Picking's review of Alex Cornell's book Break Through!: Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination:) has to say about writer's block:

I don’t believe in writer’s block.

Yes, there may have been days or even weeks at a time when I have not written — even when I may have wanted to — but that doesn’t mean I was blocked. It simply means I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, as I’d like to argue, exactly the right place at the right time.

The creative process has more than one kind of expression. There’s the part you could show in a movie montage — the furious typing or painting or equation solving where the writer, artist, or mathematician accomplishes the output of the creative task. But then there’s also the part that happens invisibly, under the surface. That’s when the senses are perceiving the world, the mind and heart are thrown into some sort of dissonance, and the soul chooses to respond.

That response doesn’t just come out like vomit after a bad meal. There’s not such thing as pure expression. Rather, because we live in a social world with other people whose perceptual apparatus needs to be penetrated with our ideas, we must formulate, strategize, order, and then articulate. It is that last part that is visible as output or progress, but it only represents, at best, 25 percent of the process.

Real creativity transcends time. If you are not producing work, then chances are you have fallen into the infinite space between the ticks of the clock where reality is created. Don’t let some capitalist taskmaster tell you otherwise — even if he happens to be in your own head.


Writer Michael Erard, quoted in the same review, questions the metaphor we use: "... block implies a hydraulic metaphor of thinking. Thoughts flow. Difficulty thinking represents impeded flow. This interoperation also suggests a single channel for that flow. A stopped pipe. A dammed river. If you only have one channel, one conduit, then you’re vulnerable to blockage."

Which brings me to this (seemingly unattributed) article over at Good, entitled "One Way is Not Enough: Why Creative People Need Multiple Outlets."  The writer notes "...increasingly I've realized that for people like me, one creative outlet isn't enough. The most interesting, creative people I know express themselves in a variety of ways. I call this practice informing practice ..." 

Furthermore, (s)he finds that "The key is finding a form in which the final product matters less than in my professional work..." because "Without the need to produce a polished project because I'm on the clock, the creativity process feels more fluid. I explore more ideas more freely and don't feel the pressure to turn them into complete package."

Although the author doesn't currently engage in multiple forms of creativity, (s)he asserts that "Finding a secondary creative outlet would allow my creativity, not my craft, to define me. "


Creativity can be found in writing in more than one form, in managing your life problems creatively, in tweeting brilliantly. Or in trying a new art form altogether. In letting our creativity, not our craft, define us. I can't help but think that would also be good for our craft, "practice informing practice." We who have so little time to follow our primary creative interest will need to be creative in finding out secondary creatives interests, but here's what I think: even thinking about how to do this is a start to creativity.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Becoming a Successful Writer

This weekend I put my new manuscript together in one word file, after months of moving loose pages around on the floor, on the bed, on the counter. While I did this, I reordered poems and fine-tuned lines. And cut a few poems altogether. And in general I just started getting the feel of the manuscript as a single document instead of as a bunch of poems tried out in various configurations.

While I was doing this (some of it, the actual locating of files and cutting and pasting, not the thinking part), I was listening to a podcast from the University of Iowa's Virtual Writing University by David Bouchier about avoiding verbosity (scroll down mid-page to find his podcast, although unless you are a truly novice writer, there are probably better ways to spend your time than on this particular recording). It was pretty amusing because Bouchier himself rambled and got lost on tangents (which, to his credit, he did acknowledge as violating his own premise). However, what I took away from the podcast came from one of those forays off-topic when he said that each writer needs to know what she considers being a successful writer for her would entail. He listed a few options, which I don't recall but paraphrase very loosely here: Could you call yourself a successful writer if your mother admired you, if you had nine devoted readers who truly understood what you meant, if your were locally famous, if you published dozens of books that were slammed by the critics but which you were pleased with? Do you need a dozen perfectly impeccably crafted poems, or do you want to be in certain journals, or in a certain number of journals? Do you need acclaim, or fame, or a wide audience? What is it you need to feel you are a successful writer?

This is an interesting question, particularly for me out here in Japan without a local audience, without a community of writers to sound my work and ideas off of. I do write for connection, for communication, with other people. I do write to have readers. I don't need that many. But I need more than I have. At least one more, and maybe that one is just me myself. I need to feel more connected than I do. That's why I write. And to know what I think (who said that? Joan Didion maybe?) But yes, to know what I think, and to find out that I'm not the only person who thinks as I do. And to not be alone. Even being with words on paper is better than being alone.

And paradoxically I crave being alone more than anything, so that I can have the opportunity to write my way out of my aloneness. Go figure.

And what if I ever get what I need? Will I still write? Or is what I need designed by me to be something I can never get so that I keep writing? Or if I get it, will I just need something else (economic's dismal science paradox), so that I keep writing?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Appreciating Authors

This Writer's Digest Blog post features poet & novelist Sherman Alexie's top 10 writing tips. His number one tip is, "When you read a piece of writing that you admire, send a note of thanks to the author. Be effusive with your praise. Writing is a lonely business. Do your best to make it a little less lonely." What great advice. I do not do this, and I really should. And from now on I will. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rejection's Flipside

Greer Van Dyke writes about rejection at the Elephant Journal blog.

Here's an excerpt (actually the meat of the short article is here, but enjoy the entire piece at the link):


..."rejection means you are shooting high enough. If you had been accepted everywhere, it would have meant you weren’t striving as high as you could.”
That put me in my place, and for the first time, I really and truly felt okay with No.... I see that with all of the times I have heard “No,” I have also heard “Yes.”...
Does hearing a “No” mean you took steps back? ... it just means that you are embracing vulnerability and turning your back on insecurity.
Thanks to Leza L. for posting this on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Murakami Covers Uncovered

Check out these newly commissioned alternative covers (by Vintage) for ALL of Haruki Murakami's novels. Will you see a theme? Yes, you will. Here's a hint:

Check out the rest at the link. Most of them I like, although it's a bit much placed altogether like this. What do you think?

Keeping Up With the Guardian

A quick read through the UK Guardian's website revealed these interesting stories:

1) Penguin is suing 12 authors over "failure to deliver" manuscripts under contract. They are suing for return of advances plus substantial interest.

2) Looks like 10/4 is National Poetry Day over there (or 4/10 as they'd write it), and the Guardian did a brief interview with poet Alice Oswald to commemorate. Read how she copes with distractions to writing (which turn out to be her three kids) and find out that "two-thirds of the way through a poem, I enter a moment of absolute despair." A fun quick read.