Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Put Down the Phone

07 Apr

I have to do it. I do.

I have a strange new addiction to watching videos in the evenings on my phone. Comics, beauty, organization. It’s like a visual, moving Pintrest of ideas and music and smiley faces. Games. And social media, memes … just flipping, flipping, flipping through … crap on the Internet.

It is quite the opposite of reading books. And I kind of miss those. Books.

I spend my days, quite naturally, reading. E-mails, manuscripts, proofs. Researching and fact checking. Often when I’m actually working on an actual story, I’m not “reading.” I’m editing. Or proofing, or looking something up in a style book …

The truth is, at the end of the day, cracking open a book, which used to feel like freedom, is often the last thing I want to do. Hence, the videos.

But I do miss it. I do like a time when I can read for reading sake, without taking an editorial eye to it. People who are not in the biz always make the assumption that editors will be quick to correct a person’s grammar when they’re speaking. This is simply not true. And not just because correcting someone’s grammar would make said editor seem like a pretentious a-hole. But because people talk how they talk, and verbal communication is very, very different from the written word.

Ergo, it’s so very difficult for me to take off an editorial hat when reading a book. Especially if it ain’t all that great. Know what I’m sayin’?

A great book, however, can totally bring out the writer in me. I find myself thinking and writing in the voices of characters I’m reading. I’m envious and appreciative of the actual writer, because they thought of this genius and I did not. I often find myself inspired and contemplative.

It’s what most often makes me put the phone down.

So it’s my goal, a new goal, to dive into a pretty good stash of books I’ve yet to read, and to start working them back in to my professional life. Another assumption of editors is that we are well read. And we are, up until the point where we start reading for money, and then the only thing we’re reading is our work. See the cycle?

So with this is my own pledge to start reading. And start reporting back. Stay tuned.


Reflections on NaPoWriMo

09 May

Last month, I took on the NaPoWriMo challenge: to pen thirty poems in thirty days. The exercise was to write a poem every day, and I nearly stuck to that. Poets work on an honor system, which involves pretending that we sat down to write a poem every day, instead of five in one day, or five poems for the entire month.

As a writer I try not to compare my writing with others, rather, I read as a reader. After the month of April was finished, I decided to check out some of my fellow NaPoWriMo-ers (at least, those that linked their web-published works to the NaPoWriMo site.) I thought during this project that I was constantly falling behind; that there was this demand for my words. As I clicked through more and more poetry blogs and sites, I realized many of the fellow writer’s did that whole artist thing … posting for the first few days, leaving off the last three, continuing past the month of April. Very few posted complete April collections.

I get it. The process itself was not an easy one. I kind of catalog it in “Writing,” how at first it was exciting, ideas falling out of the sky really, just by opening up my eyes to look around the room. By week three, it was more like: Dammit I have to finish a copywriting job, edit twenty more pages, unload the dishwasher, call my mom, give the baby a bath and finish the three poems I started four days ago …. Crap! And write today’s poem.

That isn’t to say that daily poetry writing is all bad. Some poems are a force; they just come right through you; the written equivalent of bursting into song. Other poems, like “Ritual,” just whisper themselves to you while you’re in the middle of the act itself. Others are woooorrrrk … it may be a great spark of a concept that never takes off; the words just lie there like dry seeds. Some experiments with topics (mothers, or love or tacos) soon fizzle with a sing-song like mediocrity. Many poetic starts just stayed in my notebook, not even making it to a Word file.

And yet. NaPoWriMo was a satisfying process, not just accomplishing the feat of writing 30 poems in a month, and not just jump starting creativity. Now, as I read back over the verse, it reads like a lovely little catalog of my days … my regular, everyday life is there, along with the spectacular thoughts and feelings that come with them. It is a sort of picture album of poems; which I am taking great pride in creating.


In Memory of Adrienne Rich

29 Mar
“A thinking woman sleeps with monsters.
The beak that grips her, she becomes.”
-Adrienne Rich, “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law”

There have been many bloggers discussing the life of Adrienne Rich this week; she passed away on Wednesday at the age of 82. And the Baltimore-born feminist certainly left a legacy in life and the written word, one worth visiting again and again.

There is a special sadness when one you have studied leaves the world; like losing a teacher you have never met. In trying to honor her, I began to do what one does to gain insight to a poet: I began reading, and sometimes re-reading, her poems. And in doing so, it seems only fitting that this blog became a poem itself, to one so fearless, and so beloved.

She Becomes

Like the luxury of copying famous quotations

Into a notebook,

On a bed in Tuscany.

That same author brought

Me to write of women monsters,

Springing forth from Adam. From Earth.


They didn’t call you a monster,

The chosen insult was: “political,”

What they really meant to say was, “liberal.”

They didn’t know—

Couldn’t know as a poet knows. Not provocative

In order to provoke;

But merely to respond to that

Which made you move.


I don’t believe

You would have wavered into that space … or carried

Old knives.

Had we met

I am sure we would have discussed the moon,

And light waves and men and their teacups,

And touched on the importance of

Style and form.

Yet your letters make me wonder,

If you will wander the halls still,

Who is your Rilke? Your students.

We will write our own requiems,

And then act upon them.