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As if Poems aren’t already Surrealist Enough…

al… I love this poetry prompt that will make the meaning of your poem even more blurry.  It’s a surrealist poetry exercise that is handy if you have that writing mood but have no idea what to write.  I get this mood quite a lot, so this prompt really comes in handy.

When it comes to surrealism, most people just think of paintings like the ones by Salvador Dali pictured here, but any kind of art can be surreal.  It’s not for everyone, but it can definitely be fun to play around with.

“Your Words, My Poem” Prompt

  1. Cut out words or phrases from a magazine, newspaper, your own writing, or just fun words you have heard recently.
  2. Mix them up.
  3. Draw some from the pile.
  4. Create a poem using only these strips of words.

Your poem may not make any sense whatsoever, but that’s okay.  It may take some editing, but eventually, your poem will be equally confusing and beautiful.  I’m not sure how that diachotimy works, exactly, but it is quite fun to play with.

Here is my favorite poem that has come from this exercise:

The Day I Regretted Leaving

When phones disappear

I think about your

noisy dishwasher,

ice cubes on the floor.

The first time in a long ellipsis

the chair fell right out from under me

and there is no hope.

We took the elevator lower than the basement.

(What are night terrors?)

You could not remember

the air being sucked out of the room.

So come relax in endless summers past,

Over three years ago you stamped

my initials with

a perfectly good poem thrown in the trash.

Do not inhale or ingest

to change the pigment.

We were on the dark water

like syrup, its blush

that raked heaven for rain

when you could turn back time…

Like aluminum crickets,

ribbons of dance shoes flutter in the wind.

(That’s what plays at an Opera House.)

I must wait here

when the world is crashing down

like slime and incredible harm.

The ground was of memories and images,

checkerboards

I love and remember, as if

my grandpa’s favorite chair was sold.

Magic Happens on its Own Time

A writer’s notebook is a magical thing.  Inside, it contains worlds and imaginations and people.  Whole, complete, terrible, magical people smashed between lines and sheets of paper.  Some of these people are real and some are just characters, but that doesn’t make any of them less of a person.  They exist between those pages with thoughts and dialogue and emotions and problems and passions.  The acts of creating a character or a world or a sense of nostalgia in themselves are not magic, but the act of reading these musings and creations sometimes makes it seem as such.

That’s the beauty of it all.  The act of writing is sometimes hard and tedious and painstakingly slow, but the end result, after all the chicken scratches and editing and late-night ideas and cutting paragraphs and adding whole pages, that end result has an element of magic.  All of that magic is kept between two covers of a notebook or between the edges of a laptop.

This is why it is so important to keep one of these handy.  A notebook, a laptop, a napkin, the back of a receipt, anything to scratch spur-of-the-moment ideas onto.  Ideas can come about at any time, so be ready for them.  Sometimes the unexpected ideas are the best ones.

Writing Home

20170324_182358Everywhere you go, find your place.  Your writing place.  It is true that you can write almost literally anywhere, but it is so much better when you have found that specific place that just works.  This could be anywhere, but it’s a specific anywhere.  It’s that one place that words feel like they are flowing out through your fingers so smoothly you can hardly stop writing.  It’s that place where the anxious need to please everyone dissipates and you can concentrate on actually putting words on paper.  It’s that place where nothing seems to matter, except words.

Needless to say, this place is not magic.  It will have good days and bad days, just like everyone else.  But, it’s a comfortable place where perhaps it’s okay to get distracted by random YouTube videos of that one band you absolutely loved in 7th grade every once in a while.

IMG_20160313_165325Every writer should have one of these places, in my opinion.  Sometimes it’s a physical place.  Other times, it’s a genre of music or a blanket or a particular coffee.  No matter the nature of your Writing Home, I highly recommend finding one.  It is places like these that let you relax and focus on the part of writing you love.  This place most likely won’t be available all the time, but this reminder is needed every once in a while, contrasted with the perfectionism or deadlines or expectations.  These places prove that relaxing can be productive.

The Writing Life

The writing life can easily get interrupted.  Writing habits falter, inspirations ebb, life gets in the way.  I have found it is very difficult for every piece of life to fit perfectly into the puzzle of my ideal, theoretical routine.  In foresight, biking in the morning, working eight hours during the day, writing and reading my Bible at night and getting to bed by a reasonable hour sounds like a great and feasible plan.  In the moment, though, I do not want to wake up early enough to bike, and by the time I get home from work all I want to do is eat and watch Netflix until I fall asleep.  That is, until I realize that December 31st, my goal for having my novel sent off to agents, is only 145 days away.  Less than five months.  And I have so much work to do.

20170808_104642I have characters to more fully develop, plot holes to mend, turns of phrase to tweak.  I have a cover letter to perfect and a list of agents to verify.  Not only that, but school starts next week, so I will have classes and working at the writing center on top of everything else.

But this is perfect.  The start of a new school year means new routines and perfect organization.  It means starting from scratch, so my ideal routine can still be saved.  Altered, but saved nonetheless.  So here’s to a fresh start (again), renewed determination, lots of writing, and even more coffee.  Here’s to not letting the stress keep me from writing and remembering why I write.  Here’s to Fall 2017.

What’s in a Name?

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an idea.  A writing prompt idea, to be precise.  Said idea is as follows:

1. Draw a random name.

2. Draw a random object.

3. Personify said object by describing it and only referring to it by the name you drew.

I plan on trying this out very soon.  Try it with me and let me know how it goes!  Get those adjectives coming!

All I Need is Coffee and a Good Idea

20170627_211306.jpgIt is on days like today, perfect Kentucky-Summer days when I have nowhere to go, that I find myself in a writing slump.  No matter how much I want to be productive and stop being bored, I cannot get myself to sit down and write things.  That is until I get so fidgety and antsy that the only thing I can do is think about how I’m not writing.  So thankfully, we constantly have coffee at my house, and I can get a cup and settle down to the background noise of an old movie and remind myself of what I am currently writing.  The coffee reminds me of why I settled on this idea and why I continue.  Perhaps it is because of the many, many times I drink coffee while I write, or perhaps the many good ideas I have had in coffee shops.

Thank goodness for my coffee and the magnificent possibilities it brings.

Writing is like a tree. A very weird, crazy tree.

I love being excited about writing again.  I love waking up every morning and the first thing I want to do is sit down and write.  I missed that feeling while it was away for that short time.  This feeling, or lack thereof, does not make me more or less of a writer, but it sure does make it a lot easier to write when I have this desire to do so.

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First physical draft of my NaNo 2016 novel

There are so many achievements behind me, like finishing a novel and continuing to edit it, but there are so many more things to write in the future, near or distant.  As I slowly but surely solidify what I want to do with my life (which is a big question that people like to ask very young people), I gain more and more excitement over words and writing.

As my dream of being an author is growing closer and closer to becoming a reality, I cannot help but look back into the past as well as forward into the future.  I remember sitting at my mom’s desktop computer in seventh grade, writing what I thought was going to be the next best seller.  In reality, it was a poorly written romance/adventure/”historical fiction” novella about the French Revolution that, for some reason, I did not feel the need to research for at all.  While this little story will never be published, it was my springboard.  I started there and have grown to where I am now, so I cannot forget it.  That was my proudest achievement in middle school, just as my current novel-in-progress is my masterpiece now.  I still have so far to grow, but the ambition and excitement is there and that is how I know I will continue to grow.  I can’t wait to see where the rest of this summer, as well as this next school year, takes me.

Image result for world map

Words, not Fear

recite-avj9e5When writing, there is often fear.  Fear of not being good enough, fear of what you write not being enjoyed or read, fear of writing in general.  But consider this: at least you’re writing.  Yes, there is fear, but slowly, those fears will diminish when you go back and read what you have written and are able to say that you did that thing.  That moment is very hard to see in the beginning.  I stare at the blank page, knowing I have words in me to pour onto the page, and yet fear grips my fingertips for those few moments.  But then I remember why I write.  And I think about what would happen if I didn’t write.  I don’t know exactly what would happen, but I don’t want to ever find out, so I start with a single word on the page.

Unlikely Places

Since the beginning of the summer, I’ve been trying to come up with an idea for my next project.  Before yesterday, I had nothing.  Of course, when I’m working on something I have all kinds of ideas, but when I’m looking for a new idea, I draw a complete blank.  I’ve been trying to write random scenes or come up with characters, but nothing stuck.  At one point, I tried to convince myself that writing a romance that takes place on a bee farm was a great idea.  Luckily, I quickly talked myself out of that one.

In the midst of my struggle of finding something worth sticking with, my friend J, who is also a writer and artist, decided to text me a list of random questions, which included the following:

  1.  1. Since oxygen can liquefy or even solidify under certain conditions, would it be capable of doing so in the human body?
  2. 2. If a woman in one dimension gets pregnant, does that automatically mean that in a parallel universe, she must become pregnant as well?
  3. 3. Do you ever get flashes of memory where you actually feel like you’re reliving the moment instead of just remembering?

While I obviously did not know the answers to his first two questions, the third one resonated with me.  I tend to remember things very vividly, sometimes leading to a weird, almost-dreamlike memory.  This got us talking about dreams, as well as different universes.  Which led to a story idea that we are working on together.

All this to say, some of the weirdest, most fun and unsuspecting conversations can lead to some pretty awesome story ideas.  This will be my first co-op piece in a while, and I’m looking forward to working on it with J and exploring the universes of dreams.

Queries are Hard…

While I am waiting on my friends reading my novel over the summer to respond, I decided I would work on my query letter for when I actually submit my novel to literary agents.  I have written cover letters for literary magazines and internships, and those are difficult in and of themselves, but there is more riding on this one than any other I’ve ever written.  This letter is meant to essentially sell my novel to the agents I submit to.  This is the first impression.

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Not even Hedgehog will write this query for me!

Not only is there quite a bit of pressure riding on this single sheet of paper, but I’ve also never gone through this process before, making it even more daunting.  I’ve looked up what agents prefer and examples of successful queries, but even as I use these things to guide me, I find whatever I write to be trite, cliche, and boring.  Perhaps that is only me letting my knowledge of importance judge my writing.  This is highly possible.  I know I have a while to go with my novel as well, but the more of the business side of things I can get done now, the more relaxed I will be later on.  Any tips would also be highly appreciated from any readers who have either gone through this process, are going through it now, or just run across some helpful tips elsewhere!