Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oh for the love of Pete!

I had a sa-weet post for today, then I made the mistake of attempting to upload a picture.  Things went very, very wrong.  I swear on all things sarcastic that if I see the message "Bad request error 400" just one more time I am going to go all Office Space on this computer (while listening to the 'Damn it feels good to be a gansta' song).  Please note that I am not trying to make an excuse for this lack luster little gem here - - just feel like I should tell you that I didn't come to play with nothing to ante, the interwebs just hate me today.  Perhaps I shouldn't have been so cocky earlier this week when I unjammed the copy machine.  (I totally owned that bitch.  It was amazing.  Deserving of applause.)

Anywho, I sense that my luck might be running short so imma go get my Louisville Slugger and Discman prepped in case this goes south.

I'll have a better one of these to you soon...promise.

(UPDATE:  it took me 25 mins and 3 cache clearings and re-sign ins to get this posted.  Forget my previous deal, it might not get better than this until the rage clears.) 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Forehead, meet wall. Repeatedly.

Huge shock and surprise coming up, ladies and gentleman.  The end of the month is quickly approaching, which means my self-imposed deadline is quickly approaching, and I am not ready.  Were you shocked?  All things considered, I should be ready.  I have my four pieces selected, revised once or twice, out to friends for comments, I even know where I am going to submit.  But I am still not ready.  I am, again, terrified and nervous (read: nauseous) about sending these suckers off.   Honest to goodness I thought that after the first go 'round I would be less apprehensive.  Apparently my reserve tank of ego is running a bit low. (Now that is shocking.)

I wish that I could post some of my stuff here for you all to read over and offer comments, but those damned literary publications I am submitting to consider pieces posted to this little old blog as "previously published works".  So basically, I would royally screw myself.  Alas, I shall prevail.  I will go all Scarlett O'Hara in a dress made of curtains on this mother, shake my fist and submit my pieces without fear (okay, with minimal fear).  

Oh, God...just need a few more days...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The game changer

So, let me just take you through my morning:

1.  Woke up to my clock radio playing a song that had every intention of lodging itself in my head all damned day. To thwart that unhappy plan, I promptly starting singing the theme song to "Cheers", because that was so much better.  (Listen, I am not at my whippiest at 6:04am.)

2.  Promptly fell over my 95lb dog while racing out of bed to the bathroom.  Awesome.  Not as if he's stealth-like or anything.  Narrowly avoided smashing my head into the corner of my dresser, so points for that.

3.  Decided that surely coffee could turn things around, because when does coffee make things worse?  Let me tell you.  When it is really farking hot and scalds the roof of your mouth.  Definitely worse.  

4.  Made it through my shower injury free, thank God.

5.  Bad hair day.  No more needs to be said about this.  Yes, it was really that bad.  Good thing none of my friends are hairdressers...I would have Edward Scissor Handed that shit on the double.

I finally made it out the door, all in one piece with all of my faculties functioning.  Since it was an absolutely miraculous morning - - gentle breeze, fluffy clouds, birds chirping - - I walked to work.  That's when I encountered my game changer.  I saw this:

It reads: "The world is amazing and beautiful and so are you"

Suddenly, things didn't seem so awful.  Someone out there thought I was beautiful and put it in a painting - THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.  I am sure of that.  Thanks random artist, you honestly made my day.  In turn, I listened to the Beach Boys and did a little shimmy-shimmy at the crosswalk in appreciation.

Moral of the story - - things will always change on you, it's up to you to change with them.  Guess I learned that life is truly what I decide to make of it.  I can tell you that dancing to "Help Me Rhonda" is a heck of a lot better than whining about my craptacular morning.

These are the kinds of mornings that make for good poems.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top 10 Lists - not just for late night TV anymore

I love lists.  No two ways about it - I am sure this stems from my compulsive nature and need to put things in their correct and organized place.  Our house should have a cross-stitch sampler that reads, "A place for everything and everything in its place...or else."  To my mind, if a regular list is good, a top ten list is even better.  So, like every other normal human being, I throw together top ten lists for fun.  That's right.  I create my own top ten lists and save them just because.  Don't judge me, it's not like I am collecting stray cats and might end up on an episode of "Hoarders".

Today's top ten: Things that bring on the creativity

10. Driving in the middle of nowhere on a perfect sunny day, windows down, radio way way up
9.  The black and white photograph titled, "VJ Day, The Kiss"
8.  Things that I think qualify as "milestone events" in my life
7.  Passages from novels - certain lines of text or dialogue
6.  ANY video of a soldier returning home - gets me  EVERY TIME
5.  Family dynamics both subtle and obvious
3.  Favorite songs (this is another list in and of itself)
2.  Pieces of overheard conversations

and drum roll, please...

1.  Unexpected mood swings (this does not mean that I think myself particularly moody, just to be clear)

There you have it.  Top 10 things that stir my creative wok, so to speak.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I am a poetic pirate

ARRRg!  No, seriously...I have instituted my own version of the three R's when it comes to re-evaluating a rejected poem:  Rethink, Readjust, Resubmit.  Now that I am finally submitting my work to different literary publications I am terrified that I will over think the rejection letter and try to reinvent a poem that may very well be good as is.

That's the gamble - - what one publication will reject, another might seize with both fists - - and there is no way to know just how far you should take your revisions, if any, before resubmission elsewhere.  Perhaps that is why my first step of "rethink" is the most important.  This is creative writing.  Not psychoanalysis Freud style of those rejecting editors.  I have no idea what they were thinking or why, and it's never going to be productive to guess.  Instead,  I need to make sure I spend my time focusing on the worth of a particular piece, adjusting only what seems necessary, and being brave enough to give it another go.

So, yeah.  That's how to be a poetic pirate.  Barge in, blunder around, and steal what you want.  Oh no, sorry, that's wrong.  I meant to say that I should follow my own rules: Rethink, Readjust, Resubmit.  This will be my winning combination.  (...and my best excuse to drink rum, wear an eye patch, and call people lilly-livered scurvy dogs.  It's all a part of the writing process...)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"It's a Haiku." "Bless you."

Ah, haiku.  The poem that sounds like a sneeze.  It seems like it should be pretty easy to do - just 17 total syllables - one line of 5, next one has 7, finish it off with another line of 5.  Well, usually when things sound like they should be easy in theory, they end up being difficult in action.  (Similar to what I remember of dating and learning to drive a stick shift...)  Let's give it a try, shall we?  We shall.  First we pick a topic or two.  Let's go with flowers and gnomes.

Haiku #1 - Flowers
Tipped to the sunlight
Smell good like spun sugar rain
Clip then love inside

Haiku #2 - Gnomes
Creepy small with smirk
Pointy hats and too short pants
Scaring me to hell and back

And that's how you write a haiku.  Sort of.  Like I said, sounds easy in theory...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't be an enabler, it's not healthy for either of us!

Dear friends and family:

It occurs to me that I should offer you fair warning.  Please know that I will try to use and abuse you in a way that you might not be ready for.  I might hit you up and ask if you would please read over my writing and give me your reactions, comments, edits, and overwhelming praise (ha, just teasing).  Feel free to tell me "no" if you don't want to for any reason, s'okay.  But should you choose to accept, I'm asking pretty please with sugar on top, DO NOT ENABLE ME.  Do not let me go off half-cocked thinking that I've got something pretty damned awesome, when in reality it just flat out blows.  Trust that I can take the criticism in the spirit in which you offer it - - I mean, I did ask for it. 

Okay, that's it.  High-fives all around. 


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Poetry in motion

While sitting at a baseball game tonight, I began debating what song I would choose to play when I got up to bat.  (Note: this is something I do EVERY time I attend a baseball game.)  At first I thought maybe "Centerfield" by John Fogerty but instead opted for "Some Kind of Wonderful" by Grand Funk Railroad, in case you were wondering.  As I ran a list of songs through my head, I kept thinking about the beat and rhythm of course, but I kept coming back to the lyrics.  They tell the story.   

That's the point where my thoughts veered waaaay out of the ball park, as it were.  I began thinking about how the songs I love tell me a story.  A story that I can relate to and moves me in some way - a funny way, a sad way - doesn't matter how, only that it does.  This is how I feel about good poetry.  It should succinctly and creatively tell a story, be accessible, and move the reader.  Essentially, lyrics are poetry set to music. 

Poetry is not only the meter and rhyme, folks.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The results are in

Okay guys and dolls - I received a response to my first submission yesterday.  As expected, I was presented with a big fat, "thanks, but no thanks" letter.  This is okay.  Honest Abe, I feel pretty good about it. According to my dad, "it's just a letter Jennifer, not a bomb."  Which is a pretty good way to look at it.  I mean really, it's just a simple "no".  Not like I'm losing any fingers here.  There was no sobbing.  No fist shaking.  No stomping around the house.  Just a sense of "oh, so that's what that feels like."  (FYI - for every guy who mustered up the courage to ask someone out and got turned down - ugh.  You have my sympathies.)  Getting shot down is not a great feeling by any stretch of the imagination, but now I know that this particular literary publication isn't interested in these particular poems.  That doesn't mean somewhere else won't love them to tiny little pieces.  (Did you like my self pep talk?  I thought it was stellar.)

I didn't work on any writing today, just didn't have the heart.  It's like the day after getting dumped and all you really want is mint chip ice cream and Dirty Dancing followed by Footloose.  But, I'll get back on the horse tomorrow.  After all, nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

I am probably more excited than I should be about the fact that "Howl" is now available in my Netflix watch instantly queue.  Huzzah!  Just in case you are unaware, 'Howl' is only one of the most quintessential poems of this era.  If you take any Poetry 101 course in any university, I can guarantee you will read this poem.  It's just a part of the canon now.  Anyway, I digress...This particular poem is hands down my most favorite in the history of everdom.  Written by famous Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1955 (or somewhere around there), it is a vibrant, moving, and stunning piece of work.  (Check it out when you have a minute.)  Needless to say that I will be sitting down not just to watch, but to devour the movie based upon Ginsberg's creation of this piece and the obscenity trial that directly followed its publication.  Just a heads up - the right to freedom of speech and creative expression triumphed in this particular case.

Watching this movie will be a high point in my upcoming weekend, and not just because James Franco is in it. Though it certainly doesn't hurt.  Ah yes, the kingdom of nerdiness is mine and I reign with an iron fist.  (Translation: I will make my husband watch it with me. Mwa ha ha ha.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Roam if you want to...

Perhaps I just needed a good old fashioned drive on a sunny day with the radio way too loud to get back on track.  Because that is just what happened and I turned out some quality phrases.  I mean, c'mon, how can blistering sunshine, wind blowing hair into your eyeballs, and "Roam" by the B52's lead you astray?  It can't.  That my friends is a winning combination.  After unabashedly singing my heart out for all to hear, I arrived back at my house and churned out 2 fairly sturdy pieces of new writing.  Huzzah for me!  I will never again doubt the power of early 90's classics. 

So, 2 new pieces down, next place to submit has been selected, and I am finally on my way to hit this month's goal.  As my parting gift today, I am leaving you with a song to stick in you're head.  "Roam if you want to, roam around the world.  Take it hip to hip..."  YOU'RE WELCOME!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

An exercise in wordsmithing...

Last night I made myself get some thoughts down on paper, but not too sure I am in love with them (I mean, I don't even really want to take them out to dinner).  So, I am going to pull out some key words from that failure to launch and try out a sestina in order to see what else might be rolling around in the ol' noggin.

For those who don't know, a sestina is a type of poem where you choose six words, preferably a mixture of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on and you must use each of those words at the end of a sentence for six stanzas, and end it all with a tercet that is three lines and each of those three lines contains two of your chosen words.  Make sense?  Sure it does.  Here is the breakdown:
Stanza 1 word order: 123456
Stanza 2 word order: 615243
Stanza 3 word order: 364125
Stanza 4 word order: 532614
Stanza 5 word order: 451362
Stanza 6 word order: 246531
Tercet: (line one uses 6 and 2) (line two uses 1 and 4) (line three uses 5 and 3)
My six words in order 1-6: ghost, tense, memory, strain, unknown, love

I can feel you floating in my heart like a ghost.
Your laughter makes me tense.
My imagination is not big enough for your memory.
Keeping you close; my muscles strain.
Do I remember how you take your coffee? Unknown.
What I do know is we were defined by love.

What do I really know of love?
It stays around forever like a determined ghost.
I wish it was more than an unidentified unknown.
Thoughts of what we were make me tense.
What was once so easy should not cause this strain.
God, how I love that memory.

Bringing to life this single memory.
Giving me an eternity to love.
Stopping the tears is not an unpleasant strain.
Comforting to the soul, like a ghost.
Forgetting to be tense.
Longing again for the surprise in the unknown.

What a gift I found in the unknown.
Buried underneath the ashes of a memory.
Past or present - - no matter the tense.
It's always love.
Even when my soul flies and I become a shadow or ghost.
I hope you always see; shade your eyes and strain.

My head knows not of my heart and its strain.
Unrequited love is always best served unknown.
Disappearing like a frightened ghost.
Turning dreams into one long memory.
No matter how much I don't want to show love.
Knowing it would cause your smile to falter and go tense.

Please don't be tense.
Shake off the strain.
Remember the love.
There is nothing to fear in the unknown.
All you can do is make another memory.
Wait for another ghost.

My dear love, you make me tense.
You've become a ghost, buckling beneath the strain.
What could've been is a gamble unknown, what was is the best memory.

There, that's a sestina. BAM!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting in the mood (...not like that! Get your mind outta the gutter, ya perv.)

My goal is to submit something at least once a month.  I am well aware that this is not the goal of an over achiever.  Right now, this goal and I are only pen pals.  I am thinking of arranging for a phone call to talk with this goal.  (Honestly, I am not even close to meeting this goal for June.)  Not to say that I haven't revised and tweaked some older poems, but definitely nothing new.  Apparently I have hit the "we've been married for a while and I would just rather wear yoga pants and a ponytail" phase with my clever turns of words, instead of the "oh heavens, so dreamy, swoon worthy palpitations will ensue" phase.  My relationship with new poems has hit a dry spell these past few days. 

Getting in "the mood" is my problem.  It is a bit harder than I remember.  In college I could just sit in the hallway between classes and write unfiltered and unawares.  I could slip into the zone at a coffee shop after my last class and before my bar tending shift.  Even during lectures I could take a minute and write whatever flights of whimsy popped into my head because I was writing in a notebook anyway (never mind that it was a notebook full of art history or astronomy facts).  My margins were full of nonsensical fits and starts.  My creativity levels were epic, writing was my focus, and I. WAS. AWESOME.  Now, I am awake at O-dark-thirty to get my family up and ready for work/school, then I go to the work place, then dinner, and then daily recaps, bath time, and....and....and...etc.  (Short pause here for pity party.)

10pm finally rolls around and I'm just not in the mood.  I suppose I could pull out all of the stops:  make some hot tea with honey, dim the lights, play a few selections from my library of inspirational/moving songs (Fool in the Rain by Led Zeppelin, Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, Wonderwall by Oasis, and so on...) and think of all of the things I wish I would have remembered to write down while I was sitting in that godforsaken meeting thinking about my microwaveable lunch! Dammit, and damn you Hot Pockets.

One thing is for certain.  I sure as shit ain't waking up any earlier to get some poems down.  Looks like 10pm is the new writing hour...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pick me! Pick me! I'm not desperate to be published at all!

Well, I've done it.  I've sent nine little pieces of me out into the world to be meticulously weighed and measured by strangers at two upstanding literary institutions.  Awesome.  (Yes, that is sarcasm you detect.)  If this is what accomplishment feels like, let me tell you, I could live without the nausea.

On one hand, submitting my poetry feels a bit like child rearing.  Truthfully -- I incubated these pieces for months, worried about them, named them, and then I have to let them go with strangers.  It's like sending my daughter to daycare for the first time all over again!  Then, on the other hand, I feel a huge sense of relief.  I have done my part and the rest is up to the powers that be.

All I can do at this point is make sure my friends and family are ready for my pending moodiness should I get turned down (Be ready with the pep talks, guys! Not corny ones either - I have a great bullshit detector).  On the outside I'll be full of swagger and moxy saying, "those douche nozzles don't know a moving and provocative poem from a melting Popsicle".  But on the inside I'll be like an acne ridden 13 year old who didn't get picked for couples skate, feeling low and insecure.  Let's hope that doesn't happen...I've been there before.  It's ugly.