Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Begging for the Beautiful

Sooo I really did mean to post again last month! I wrote a poem and everything and then... it was May? April was full of fun/overwhelmingly busy and my writing has suffered for it. Does that ever happen to you? You fall too far away from your creative self and it becomes harder and harder to clamber back to your internal world?

Good news is, I figured out my next project! It's still very much in the planning phase, but it feels good to have a world to slip away to again.

In the meantime, I wrote this poem. I'm not a very political person, but recent(ish) events inspired this one.

Begging for the Beautiful

The World’s come untethered
It wobbles off its axis
for someone to cling to
as it spirals into darkness

The Sky is burning
Flames lick the stars while black smoke
Like a shroud veiling
The horizon

The Sea is a skeleton
Ridges and fissures and broken bits
of bone
Unshielded from the sun

The Earth is dusty
It remembers 
the color green
the tall grass buzzing with bees and butterflies
And yearns for that thumping pulse
the tread of your feet

The People are weeping
Bruised and bloody
on their knees
Begging for the Beautiful that the world
had promised
The goodness they were meant to see

You’re searching
But you cannot find the Beautiful

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Heartbreaking Quiet

Well, it's been awhile since I've posted. Again. I feel like every time I post on here, I'm apologizing for that. But I've been hard at work writing book-shaped things, so I've chosen to let this blog thing fall by the wayside.

I've gone back and forth on whether I should even keep it at all. The thing is, I always sort of envisioned this as a writing advice blog. But, I find I'm always struggling to come up with things to talk about. And who am I to give you advice, anyway?

I'm one of those people who *always* thinks before they speak, and frequently talks themselves out of saying anything at all. Classic INTJ, I know. But there are things I WANT to talk about. Important things, things rooted deep within my heart. But in the end, I won't have any real answers. And I honestly don't feel qualified to pretend to. So I've decided to express myself in another way.

I'm constantly jotting down poems and doodling in notebooks (habit from my days as a teenage cliche, I suppose) so I'm going to use this space to share those things with you. Starting now. Hope you enjoy!

Heartbreaking Quiet

In the silence of night
It aches
Like a bruise
Tiny hearts bursting
Stars beneath your skin

A shuddering sigh
Shadows cup the raw pulp of something warm
Something beating
Whispering dark, quiet things
Lonely things
Ramparts to your strength

Words are sand to your dry mouth
And silence plump dewdrops cradled
In the folds of a flower
They warn you
Yours is a half-formed wisdom
So moor it to your forsaken place
The graveyard for all your maiden ships

These wilds
They never taught you to remember

They leave you in the rushes
Flayed and swollen
From when they reached inside to touch it
But they’ll never touch it
Because they don’t understand what they feel

The tadpole cocooned inside a web
All you wanted was to fly

Saturday, April 5, 2014


In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share something with you guys. I don’t write a ton of poetry anymore, just every once in awhile when the mood strikes. And I scrap most of them for being terrible, but this one has a special place in my heart. It's sort of an elegy for childhood.

I’ve never actually shared any of my poetry before outside of a classroom setting, so you guys should feel… scared? Click away now while you still can!

Welp. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here goes.


A little pixie I drew that I thought complimented Whimsy
you were the sunlight
serenading a gray thicket from broken bits of blue
and I was fraying ends of yarn, held in place with dripping glue
you were made of something stronger
nettles, thorns, and earth, and something else I couldn’t touch

you were riddled starlight –
starbright beyond the weeping willow
and I, wishing to the window, braving
the eight-fingered witch and her silk-spun cauldron
slurping blood from the morning’s game

you were the braided wreath
of dandelion gathered in a field
of weeds, and when I was done
there were burrs on my clothes
and you were those

you were a ballad, a legend
I sang to the worms when the earth was too wet to breathe
you were my bow, strung with shoelace
and the arrow that pricked my pointer
for one hundred years of hapless dreams

mostly you were my shadow
a gray stain sometimes at my feet
in the thickest shade you drifted, probing
the night, coiling wicked shapes across the walls
it was a long time before I saw the peacock

and by then you were already changing.
I don’t know you as I once did
you are altered beyond recognition
to what end is irrelevant, for there is no way back
no matter how many conjured stars
that is the way of these things

yet still, you are

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Pretty Lies I Fell For

As I’m coming up on my five-year mark since having graduated college, and realizing I’ve officially been out longer than I was in, it has me thinking about school and learning in general. I was an English major, creative writing. Makes sense, right? I was one of those kids that knew she wanted to be a writer since she could hold a pencil. I didn’t really have to think about what I wanted to do, or how I would get there, because you just sit down and you write. Right?

Oh, how naive I was. I trusted the system, trusted my creative writing program to teach me how to write, how to edit, how to get published. I didn’t even know you needed a literary agent to get traditionally published until around the time of GRADUATION senior year. That’s messed up.

I went to a small, liberal arts college. Any professors that had been published there were through small, independent presses, and I don’t think a single one wrote fiction. And that’s fine, but my dream has always been to walk into a bookstore and see my book sitting there on the shelf. That’s rare with small, indy presses. And no one could tell me the process for the other way.

This was back in 2009. Twitter was relatively new, so I hope young writers these days are finding more access to information than I was. The writing community on there is full of so much information, and so supportive. But I didn’t find that until 2011.

Someone told me in order to find an agent, I had to consult this GIANT TOMB of agencies and publishers. I can’t even remember now, what it was called. And sure, maybe that was how it worked before the internet, but this was 2009! Most agencies had websites, with a lot more accurate information listed on them than in that year-old reference book. But I did as I was instructed and went to the library and I took notes.

And that’s when my education really began.

I have learned more in the five years since leaving college than I did in the four years I was in it. And I’m starting to realize something kind of awesome. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but for me, the “real world” is sort of a constant independent study, just without the term papers. I get to research what I want, when I want, and I’m realizing that I’m a lot more curious about things than I ever thought.

Among these lessons, the hardest one was probably how to self-edit. Some of my creative writing classes were workshops, classes where one person’s short story or poem got critiqued by the class each week, and then the writer was supposed to take that feedback and use it to edit their work.

Now, maybe things would’ve been different in a larger school with a more intensive creative writing program, I don’t know. For better or worse (probably worse) I was a big fish in a small pond. I was one of the few in these classes that took writing seriously. I was there to learn how to be a writer, not just filling an English requirement. And so, I was always one of the best. My critique day consisted of people being really impressed and complimentary. Which, great for my ego, not so much for the writing. How was I supposed to edit something that was already PERFECT? I was hot stuff. I was going to graduate and get published that summer and never have to worry about getting a “real job”. I was going to show all those people who kept telling me I would have to do something to support myself. I would show them.


Sometimes those people are right. And that's okay. It doesn't mean you've failed.

I’m not saying that you should give up on your dreams. Never! Dreams are the stuff of our souls! But they take hard work and sweat to accomplish them, and it's delusion to think otherwise. You have to kill your darlings, find your voice, sometimes forgo sleep to find the time, grow a dragon hide to wear against rejection, and still somehow keep going.

I don't resent the lies. I told myself most of them. And I think I needed to. I needed to be able to dream, and big, without reservation. Maybe I should've done my own research sooner. But I got there eventually. We all do, if it means enough to us. And there's no expiration date on dreams.

So whatever your dream, keep at it. Keep learning, keep pushing yourself, keep growing. We all know the saying. The only difference between a published and unpublished writer is that one of them didn’t give up. It takes a kind of inherent bravery to write a book, to dream that big. So even if you're just starting out - ESPECIALLY if you're just starting out - be proud. And let yourself dream big.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Beeeeeee Yourself

So as I sat down to write this post, I accidentally clicked "new blog" instead of the little pencil button used for creating posts. Yep. It's been that long. *face palm*

What have I been doing with my life, you ask? Writing. Lots and lots of writing. Between the Day Job and the Writing Cave, I haven't made much any time for blogging. And I figure that's okay, because in the end, I write to publish books, not blogs. Well. I suppose I'm going to publish this post as soon as I finish it but… well you get the point.

I've actually been putting this post off for awhile. I mean, what could I possibly say after so long of an absence? Well, I've been thinking a lot of self-doubt.

We all have it. I bet you even J.K. Rowling had it when she decided to write a novel for adults. Write something that isn't Harry Potter? How? The key is to not let it get the better of us. We have to be brave, look our ugly internal voices in the eyes (or mouths?) and not give up. Because that would be the easy thing to do, wouldn't it? Just give up. You wouldn't have to laugh nervously when someone asks you what you're doing with all your free time since you're too busy to hang out with them. You wouldn't get caught zoning out in the middle of a conversation because someone said something to dislodge your writer's block. And maybe for once, just ONCE you could do all your laundry AND fold it.

(Yes, that's all clean. This happens to other people, right?)

The thing is, we don't write because it's easy. We write because we're writers. It'd be like telling a fish not to swim. But even knowing that, it doesn't mean there's not that little voice in the back of our heads whispering that we're crazy for trying.

Here's the thing I've been struggling with lately: accepting my voice. Don't get me wrong. I like my voice. It's what makes me, me. But you read these great books with sexy, edgy voices who aren't afraid to "tell the truth" and sometimes I'm a little envious. I'd like to be as brave as that. So I start thinking, how can I make my book edgier? Maybe I'll kill my MC's mom, or maybe I'll give her a tattoo, or a nose-ring...

This is why we write in drafts.

I'm not an edgy person. My dark side gets about as dark as dark chocolate. And I have to remind myself that that's OKAY. That's not me. If I tried to be edgy and gritty when my MC and I are not, well for starters, it would sound ridiculous, as you can see. But also, it wouldn't be my truth. And that's what we have to remember. Write what feels right to you. That's not to say don't push yourself or broaden your horizons, but don't try to change your voice just because something's in style. Do that and it will sound absurd. It will sound forced. Besides, don't you want to be able to look at your baby and say with pride, without a shred of doubt, "I WROTE that!" with no one else's words but your own?

As Genie said in the Disney masterpiece, Aladdin, "Beeeeeeee yourself." :-D

Do you struggle with self-doubt? How do YOU silence it?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Conference Aftermath

So for those of you who don't know, I spent last weekend at DFW Writer Conference. I had a blast, made several new friends, and got to do some actual learning again. If you're considering going to a conference, I'd recommend checking this one out.

Me and Kelsey, one of my new DFWCon BFFs

I love conferences because it's one of the only places where I can totally nerd-out about writing in person. Twitter, Facebook, email, Skype, they're all great but there's just something about seeing other writers in person, looking them in their non-pixalated eyes and seeing a kindred soul - *clears throat* okay, I'll stop with the mush. So I love conferences. I've made that pretty clear. But boy are they EXHAUSTING.

I've spent this entire long weekend (thank you, Vets for this extra day) just recovering. Well, getting my requested materials ready to send out and recovering. For anyone considering a weekend conference and not thinking about taking that following Monday off… I would advise you to think again. It's not just the physical fatigue of not getting those two weekend days to sleep in. There's a lot of mental and emotional fatigue that  I'd forgotten had taken a toll after my first conference.

Because here's the thing. Writers are great, right? I mean, we're probably the coolest people on the planet. We spend our free time MAKING THINGS UP. Some of us, the lucky ones, get to do it for a living. But it's a very solitary activity, even with Facebook and Twitter and whatever else you use to keep in touch with your writer friends, the ACTUAL WRITING happens alone, locked in your room with headphones on (for me, anyway). And it's REALLY easy to forget that you're not the only insane person out there doing this. You forget about the competition. And let me tell you, there's a lot of it. Conferences are perfect reminders of this.

And it might take you a few days after you get home and settle back into the real world to remember: this is a good thing.

If you're lucky, you'll have made a few new friends at this conference and maybe agreed to swap manuscripts, and it's always good to have another pair of eyes looking at your stuff. And more people who know your writing means more cheerleaders, and who doesn't want those? But realizing the competition also provides you with a unique opportunity to reexamine your own stuff and see what you can do better. Personally, I always find that critiquing someone else's work offers that "lightbulb moment" of understanding what you did wrong, or what you could be doing better.

Be glad for your competition. They're also your allies and will undoubtably make you stronger. So rest up, conference friends. We've got a lot of work to do!

Have you ever had a moment when you realized just how much competition there is out there? How did you deal with it?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Self-Publish Your Kid's Book

So I read this article today, and I'll be honest. It made me a little angry. Not at the kids, of course - they don't know what they're doing. At the parents. Though, they probably don't really know what they're doing either, and maybe that's the problem.

Let me be clear. I’m not against these kids writing. I’m all for it, actually. We all have to start somewhere, and I was one of these bright-eyed little ones not too long ago. And I remember the feeling of pride in completing my first novel. But I also remember that feeling of unease.
Even looking down at my stack of printed pages, a hand-drawn cover slipped inside the plastic binder to make the copy I let my mother read seem more like a real book, I knew it wasn’t finished. I knew with utmost certainty, even at the age of 12 that my book wasn’t ready to be published. It needed to be edited, and probably completely rewritten. Now, at 12, I had no idea how to go about editing my own work, and I’d already spent a year writing the darn thing and wasn’t about to waste any more of my not-quite-adult attention span on rewrites. I was done. And it was time to move on and write another one.
But even knowing that, if someone had asked me if I wanted them to publish my book, would I have said yes?
More than anything in the world, I wanted to be a published author. It was a dream I’d had since I knew what a book was. And to get to tell all of my 12 year old friends that I was a published author? A real life author with a cover and a book that sold for REAL LIFE MONEY? What kid is going to turn that down?
And here’s where I take issue with this. The books I wrote at that age were… not good. To put it gently. I can ONLY IMAGINE the embarrassment I’d face today if someone had gone along and slapped a cover on them and sent them off to be sold on smashwords and amazon. Because that stuff, it never really goes away. Just today, I saw someone lamenting on Twitter about how even though they’d unpublished their book, smashwords was still distributing it. This stuff sticks, ESPECIALLY now in this digital age.
Everyone deserves the chance to hide their beloved first books in the secret compartment in the top drawer of their dresser, buried beneath their unmentionables. Sure, we hang onto them and take them out, dust them off, and poor through their poorly written pages every now and then. It’s a sentimental thing. It’s humbling. We all want to remember where we came from. But that doesn’t mean I want to show my underwear or my secret compartments to Amazon!! And these kids, they won’t realize it now, but they’ll probably feel the same way in ten years.
Writing, or I suppose any goal, requires a lot of hard work, frustration, adversity, and probably a good deal of disappointment before you can really get good at it. But that’s how it's supposed to be. It’s what makes us reach it. If it was so easy, everyone would do it, and it wouldn't be much of a goal. All of that struggle and toiling away is what makes us better. It’s a process of growing, and it’s a process that these kids are being denied.
Now, let me clarify, I have nothing against self-publishing. I think it’s great, really. I have friends that have done very well with it. But even they weren’t simply HANDED the self-published book. They had to work for it, as hard, if not harder than I’m having to work toward traditional publishing. There’s not a single grown self-published author that I know of who hasn’t faced a good deal of adversity, be it from trying the traditional route and learning that it wasn’t for them, or from small-minded people who call them “fake authors” because they didn’t go through one of the big houses. Most of them have hired editors and have had countless betas and critique partners go through their books with fine-toothed combs.
Now, I haven't read these kids’ books. I don't know if they’ve been edited or critiqued, but I somehow doubt they had more than a few pair of eyes giving them an honest read before they went to the presses. At that age, I didn’t really know anyone else who spent their free time writing. Most of my friends thought I was really weird. So finding peers to be betas would be really hard. And while the internet is great, I don’t know many parents that would want their young teens emailing back and forth with a bunch of faceless writers, prying into their kids’ innocent little heads. Stranger danger, and all that.
Yes. The books will probably be bought. Probably by the same people in Daddy's office who would have bought a box of girl scout cookies to be polite. Does this mean that the book will get read? Maybe. Maybe not. Personally, I grow to resent things that people try to force on me, things I feel obligated to read because so-and-so's cousin's daughter wrote it. And is that really how you want your child's book to be read? Out of obligation, as opposed to enjoyment?
This article makes a point about it not being much different from parents paying for their kids to go to dance lessons, or to take guitar, or join a travelling soccer team. But the thing is, they’re not paying for lessons. They’re paying for the trophies, the gold medals, having the song put on iTunes (I think we’ve all seen what that leads to. Rebecca Black, anyone?) And really, what does buying a trophy teach your kid? That your parents will buy you anything, if you want it enough?
Most towns have SOME sort of creative writing program, whether it be through the park district or a community college, so enroll your kid in one of those for heavens sake! Or I suppose, if you’re a really devoted parent, take them to a writers conference if you feel like they’re mature enough to handle it. That’s where the real learning happens. Because that’s what it’s all about, in the end. Learning. I can pretty much guarantee that these kids don’t know enough about the publishing industry to make an informed decision on which path is right for them. So don’t push them into a decision they know little about and might regret later in life. Help them learn instead.