Posted: August 27, 2018 Filed under: Books, Memoir, Nonfiction, Revision, Writing | Tags: Future, Last Call, Memoir, Michael: How my son became a teen suicide statistic, Non-fiction, Past, Time, Time travel, Writing
Time. It fascinates us, captures our imaginations with the possibilities of time and time travel, so much so that our literature and the entertainment industry are filled with stories and songs which follow that theme. There have been countless movies on the subject: the Back to the Future series; Time Cop; The Terminator; Groundhog Day; Planet of the Apes; Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey; The Butterfly Effect; Land Before Time; and Timestalkers, to name a few. And of course, television series: Dr. Who; Quantum Leap; Sliders; Time After Time; Outlanders – not to mention series with one or more episodes that involve time travel. Books and stories about time travel include: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain; The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells; Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving; A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens; “The Langoliers”, by Stephen King (Four Past Midnight); Timeline, by Michael Crichton; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowlings; The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger; and more recently, All Our Wrong Todays, by Elan Mastai. Even the music industry has gotten in on the theme: Fleetwood Mac can’t stop thinking about tomorrow; Tim McGraw deals with it in segments, so he only worries about the next thirty years; Bad Company is ready for love and figures better things are bound to happen looking forward; Jim Croche wants to save it in a bottle; Cindy Lauper comments on the repetitiveness of it, as things tend to happen time after time; and Stevie Nicks would do it all again, even though it’s not always a breeze. These lists don’t even scratch the surface. So, why is it that time so fascinates us?
I had a little Australian Shepherd named Dorchester. I got her when she was a pup. When she was young, she was agile and fast. Man, was she fast. She could smoke both the male Blue Heelers she grew up with to get a Frisbee. Then, she’d run off with it and wouldn’t give it back. She never was much for playing by the rules. But, as she got older, of course, she slowed. Age affects dogs in many of the same ways that it affects people: it gets harder to get up and down; movement is slower, more careful; the senses are not as accute as they once were, etc… Dorchester began to lose her eyesight first, even before her she lost her speed and her agility, so I had to become her seeing eye person. I began carrying a walking stick on our walks, thunking it down firmly on the ground with each step I took, so that she could hear where I was and follow. We walked this way for several years until eventually she was no longer able to go on walks with me anymore due to poor eyesight and other effects of aging.
Dorchester isn’t with me anymore, but I still go on walks with both of the Heelers. We all walk a little slower these days. Our walks are shorter and there’s not a lot of rabbit chasing anymore, but they are are enjoyed, never the less. My son’s dog, Zaar, was Dorchester’s mate. They were the same age, each joining our family at about the same time. As Zaar ages, he is not only losing his sight, but his hearing, as well. He is very frightened of thunder and storms always gave him major anxiety attacks, so his not being able to hear so good hasn’t been a totally bad thing, but it does pose new problems on our walks. Zaar grew up walking on our property, so he thinks he knows where he’s going and doesn’t always pay attention to where his walking companions are headed. He gets into ‘the zone’, nose up, sniffing th air, and no matter how loud I yell, he doesn’t hear me, causing me to have to chase after him, touching him to get his attention and get him back on track. Zaar was also raised around a Heeler who was deaf, so he learned hand signs and once I have his attention, he will follow, but it’s getting his attention that’s the trick.
The exercise he gets from his walks is what keeps him healthy and mobile. As I watch him getting older, I feel a sense of urgency, knowing that time may be running short for our walks and I want to enjoy my time with him while I can. I guess I just don’t know how to be a seeing eye person for a dog that can’t hear. He doesn’t hear my stick. I must figure out how to adapt and rise to the challenge, because left to his own devices, Zaar would soon be lost, especially after dusk, when his eyesight is at its poorest. It seems none of us are as young as we used to be.
It’s easy to look back and see what we’ve lost. ‘Hindsight is better than foresight’, and all that. Looking to the past, all our regrets become vividly obvious, but we tend to embellish the good times, as well. I think happy moments may be remembered as euphoric, more so than what they actually were, because those are the times we wish to hold onto. When I look back, there’s a dividing line to my timeline, seperating my life before my teenaged son died, and post-death, signifying the time when he was no longer in my life. That’s my loss. The time when Mike was alive seems brighter, more vivid in my memories. He was my biggest fan, with aspirations and the ability to be a writer himself. He was a unique soul and a source of inspiration for me.
These days, I feel a sense of urgency to make this writing for a living thing work while I still have time to do so. I have certainly taken enough time making it happen. I was 52 when I finally earned my M.F.A. and 53 before I became a published author. I’m sure I have some good years left, but I have to wonder if there will be enough for me to realize my dream. I wish I could go back in time and do things differently, but of course that’s only possible in my fiction.
Now, with time travel, there’s the possiblity of doing things over, making things turn out different. Granted, it doesn’t usually turn out well when you go messing around with time, but things can, on occasion turn out better. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at MY time travel short, Last Call. Things aren’t going good for Derek, but he finds a way to make his life better. Maybe I could go back and get started on this career path a lot earlier in life. That’s not Derek’s solution, but it could work.
I don’t live in Derek’s world and there is no Last Call bar for me. I know I can’t just sit back and wait for things to happen, so if I want to reach my dreams while I’m still alive to see it, I have to take action. I must market what I already have published, but even more importantly, I must keep writing. So, my plan is to just keep at it. Eventually, my efforts will pay off. I have to believe that.
So what if I didn’t earn my M.F.A. until I was 52 and wasn’t published until I was 53? I’m not the only one to get a late start on their dream. After all, according to an inspirational Facebook post by Karen Caron, Stan Lee’s first big comic came out at age 40, Morgan Freeman had his first major movie role at age 52, and Julia Child didn’t make her cooking show debut until age 51. That puts me in some pretty good company.
Young or old, all we can do is look to the future. (There’s that time thing again.)
With that in mind, I’ve begun the writing and compilation of my memoir about my son’s life and death, finally, after nine years. I’ve decided that it’s time to reunite the two time periods that divide my life and my thinking. After his death, I wrote poems and stories about him, pouring my grief out onto the page. I compiled all the photos of him into a slideshow for his memorial dinner. In addition to that, I plan to contact some of Mike’s friends and request them to contribute writings of their own about who Mike was for them. It’s going to be a massive amount of work, but his story deserves to be told and there is no one else who can tell it. It will be my first non-fiction work of book length.
I’ve always said that I never have less than three works in progress. Michael: How my son became a teen suicide statistic, will make the third one, as I’m also writing the first draft of the sequel to my western novel, Delilah: The Homecoming and I’m revising the first book in my science fantasy Playground for the Gods series, The Great Primordial Battle. Writing is an integral part of my life, past, present and future. I may be an old woman, but there is no other direction in which my life can go. Mike would be proud of my accomplishments so far and I think he would be glad that his story will finally be out. After nine years, it’s about time.
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Posted: August 15, 2018 Filed under: Books, Stories, Writing, Writing for a YA Audience, Young Adult | Tags: Converse Sneakers, Details, Writing, Writing for a YA Audience, Young Adult Fiction
When I write contemporary young adult stories, I draw on my own experiences growing up. A huge part of my childhood involved wearing Converse sneakers. Okay, you’re probably thinking that’s a sad childhood, but bear with me. I was always obsessed with shoes. I liked the old-fashioned ankle-boot style. I liked the shiny Mary Janes. I hated regular sneakers. They weren’t cute enough. I endured sneakers only for gym class.
In Junior High, I started seeing the other children wearing Converse sneakers. They came in all sorts of patterns and colors, and they went over your ankle. They were unique, and even though almost everyone had a pair, everyone had a DIFFERENT pair. Some kids even wore mismatched sneakers or used fancy laces. I went home to tell my grandmother I just had to have my own Converse sneakers. (If you aren’t familiar with Converse sneakers, you have got to check out their incredible selection.)
She took me to the coolest sneaker store in the mall (I don’t remember the name of this wicked awesome store) and got me…a pair of knock-offs. They were black and came below my ankle. I fell in love with them because they had a side-pocket. I wore those sneakers until they fell apart.
In the meantime, my grandmother and I went to the nearby outlet mall. We would go once or twice a year. At their shoe store, I saw a beautiful array of colorful Converse sneakers. She bought be an official, high-top pair. They were black with white pinstripes. I wore them so much they started to fall apart…so now I don’t wear them much to preserve their life.
After that, I got a pair each time we went to the outlet mall. I even got a pair that reached up to my thighs! I now have twelve pairs altogether in my collection. Converse is still my favorite brand of sneaker.
Why am I talking to you about my Converse obsession? Well, Converse sneakers were a huge part of my childhood, from shopping for them to wearing them almost every day. I loved wearing them to gym class with fishnet stockings. I always write about my young adults wearing Converse because that’s what I wore. I didn’t realize how prevalent the brand featured in my writing until an editor called it to my attention. I went back through my writing and almost every girl character has a pair at one point in their individual stories!
If you were writing about shoes, what shoes would you mention? What shoes are most important in your life?
Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author. Her latest book, a post-apocalyptic novella entitled ROTHAM RACE, released July 14th fron CHBB. If you’re wondering if it features Converse sneakers, you will have to read it to find out.
You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.
Posted: August 13, 2018 Filed under: Books, Interview, Poetry, Writing, Writing to be Read | Tags: Naked for Tea, Poetry, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Writing
Today I have the privelege of interviewing a fabulous poet, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. As well as writing poetry, she also does performance poetry and is fondly called Word Woman. Once you see her perform, there is no question as to why. Rosemerry is vibrant and energetic and enthusiastic about her poetry, and about life, and this shines through in her work. She was Western Slope Poet Laureate here in Colorado from 2015-2017, she leads poetry and in 2016, she gave a fabulous TED Talk in Paonia, Colorado, The Art of Changing Metaphores, which is definitely worth watching if you wish to see how we can use metaphores to help shape our thinking, our lives and even the world around us. Please help me welcome this wonderful Word Woman to Writing to be Read.
Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an poet?
Rosemerry: I have a very strong memory of sitting on the floor in my fifth grade classroom in a reading corner, and finding a poem by Walter de la Mare in a magazine. It was about a snowflake, and it began, “Before I melt, come look at me, this lovely icy filigree.” I memorized it, only 12 lines, and fell totally in love with the sounds of the poem. I had no idea what it meant, I just knew it thrilled me, the way the sounds chimed with each other. I felt it in my whole body. I don’t know that’s so much when I knew I wanted to be a poet, but it is when the love affair began.
Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of being a poet?
Rosemerry: Hmmm. Perhaps it is knowing that I have so much farther to go in my craft—that I am not yet writing the poems I feel I am here to write. Still so many layers of me to peel away, still so much to explore. And no way to get there except to write and write and practice and practice and read and read …
Kaye: Would you talk a bit about your personal poetic process?
Rosemerry: Since 2006 I have written a poem a day, and that daily practice is a huge part of my process. It makes it so that writing a poem isn’t just something that happens when I am sitting in front of a page, it’s something that is happening all day long. It completely changes the way I am in the world—how I pay attention, how I meet the moment. I’ll add that I am an avid reader of poems and read many every day—I am always trying to expand my poem horizons, see what a poem can do in other’s hands, and teach myself based on what other poets have done successfully.
Kaye: As a poet, you sculpt your words to form an image in the minds of those who are listening or reading your work. So, in a way, you are an artist and words are your medium. Are you creative in other ways, as well?
Rosemerry: It wouldn’t be painting (though I enjoy collaborating with artists!) But I do sing with a women’s acapella group, Heartbeat. We’ve been together since 1994, and I love pushing myself musically with them. And in the kitchen, I like to be creative with cooking and baking. And perhaps I am a creative parent? In fact, my son tells me he wishes I were more normal. And perhaps this is a good place to mention that I am currently finishing the first season of a podcast on creative process called “Emerging Form,” which I am doing with science writer Christie Aschwanden.
Kaye: How did you become attached to the handle of Word Woman? Is there a story behind that?
Rosemerry: About twenty years ago I was trying to come up with a business name that would accommodate all my language interests. At the time, I was an editor for a newspaper, freelancing for magazines, writing and teaching poems and performing a lot. Plus, my Master’s Degree is in English Language and Linguistics. I am obsessed with words, always have been. It just seemed to fit! It kind of cracks me up that it sounds like a super hero. The words themselves are the heroes. Poems have literally saved my life.
Kaye: Your book, Naked for Tea recently came out and was a finalist for the Able Muse Book Awards. Would you like to tell us a little about that?
Rosemerry: Such a thrill! I was sooooooo hoping to be published by Able Muse. I love their poetry books. The day that I found out that they were going to publish it, even so it wasn’t the winner, I was in the Telluride Library. When the text came through, I started jumping up and down, and was soon surrounded by a host of cheering and exuberant librarians! The library is a great place to find out about a book contract!
Kaye: Naked for Tea is an interesting title. How do you decide the titles for your books?
Rosemerry: Usually the titles come from lines in poems, and that’s the case here, too. The title poem is actually named, That’s Right. The first line is, “I showed up naked for tea.” And it’s the perfect poem to represent the book in that I feel that the whole collection is about the art of showing up as vulnerably, as authentically as possible. I joke that the poems are all about failure, and they are—about finding the beauty in our brokenness, our mistakes.
Kaye : Naked for Tea also has a very interesting cover. How did you come up with it? If you don’t mind me asking, did you serve as the model?
Rosemerry: It’s not me! The publisher, Alex Pepple, had no idea the stir it would cause, because it certainly does look as if it’s my naked spine and long brown hair. The name of the photo he used is Back Story, which tickles me—perfect for a book of poems. I am happy with the metaphorical suggestion of showing up naked.
Kaye: Would you talk a little about performance poetry and how you got into that?
Rosemerry: When I moved to Telluride in 1994, I was lucky to fall in almost immediately with Art Goodtimes, one of the finest performers of poetry in Colorado. He awed me. So physical. So playful. So powerful. Before that I had NO performance poetry skills. What luck to find myself in close proximity to a master—and one who was willing to give me honest, gentle feedback, too.
Kaye: Performance Poetry is really a physical medium, yet when you perform, your movements appear as if they were a natural part of your speech. Your movements flow smooth and graceful. Does it ever feel as if you are doing a dance with your poetry? Have you ever tried adding music to your poetry performances?
Rosemerry: I naturally talk with my hands and body, which, I think, is lucky for poetry performance, though I don’t doubt that the performance enhances it. There are small pieces in a few poems which I have intentionally choreographed, but for the most part, I just let my body do what it does. I have found, though, that it often will move the same way for the same poem, and that these repeated gestures are very helpful for memorization—it’s as if the poem gets in the body which helps it to lodge in the mind.
As for music, yes! I love adding music! Of course I sing myself sometimes—to enter a poem or within a poem—but to have someone else accompany me is one of my greatest pleasures! I perform frequently with my good friend Kyra Kopestonski, a cellist. She and I have so much fun playing around and finding ways for the music and the poem to speak to each other. It’s especially great for very short poems because those are very hard to perform successfully without musical interludes. But it’s especially great for all poems! And I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with many different musicians—guitar, flute, bass, drums, even a whole band. I would love to be like Laurie Anderson and have my own band!
Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a poem you’ve ever had?
Rosemerry: Ha! I’ve written some mighty weird poems. Picking up a grave digger hitchhiker, perhaps? Black widow egg sacs? Wearing a tail?
Kaye: What is the single most important quality in a poem for you?
Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Rosemerry: From David Lee, past poet laureate of Utah and a very fine poet and performer: Surround yourself by poets better than you are.
Kaye: What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?
Rosemerry: Tough to say … but here’s the first thing that comes to mind. Once I participated as a guest artist for the Art & Architecture Weekend in Telluride. The Ah Haa School assembled a team to support me. We used three-line poems (I have thousands) and they painted them on the walls, they made garlands with poems, I had a cream dress covered in poems, white gogo boots covered in poems … and then I stood in the middle of the decorated room at a table with a bowl full of words and the participants came in and either picked a word or gave me one of their own, and then, after a brief conversation with them about why they chose the word, I wrote them a personal three-line poem on the spot—87 in six hours. I felt so in the zone, the day whizzed by. It was absolutely magical. People wept, hugged me, kissed me, laughed. It was an incredible interaction. And then I was given the juried artist award for the whole event, icing on the cake!
Kaye: Imagine a future where you no longer write poetry. What would you do?
Rosemerry: I can’t imagine it. Really. I think if I were deserted and alone on a desert island, I might still write poems in the sand. But if I try really really hard to not be me and think of what else I would do, um, drive race cars. But I would never do that.
Kaye: It seems like poetry really is ‘in your blood’. Can you give me an example of how poetry flows out into the other areas of your life?
Rosemerry: Well, it does feel like an integral part of me. And I guess it does leak out! I have a little game with myself to see how poems might make their ways into the hands of people who think they don’t like poems. Part of that is doing readings. Part of that is leading collaborative workshops with other teachers, pairing poetry with meditation or painting or healing from grief. Part of that is writing short poems on river rocks and leaving them all over town (in stairwells, public bathrooms, on street corners, etc). Like a poetry easter bunny, any given day of the year. I’ve left many hundreds of rocks out there, and they are always picked up! But I would say that more than poetry flows out, it flows in. I feel as if I am always finding poems, other people’s poems and poems waiting to be written. That’s such a thrill!
Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a poem for you? What’s the least fun part?
Rosemerry: Most fun: The blank before the poem arrives. All that potential! And then the thrill of the seed of the idea showing up. That AND when the ending shows up and you know, “Yes, yes, that’s it.”
Least fun: realizing that I have already used the words blossom, sometimes, moon, shine and invitation a million times and I need to come up with another word.
Kaye: Which poet, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?
Rosemerry: Only one?? And I think you mean besides the poets I presently hang out with. Hmm. Gerard Manley Hopkins. I think it would be awkward, but to be that close to greatness?? I would be happy to sit there in awkward silence as we ate our boiled potatoes.
Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring poets?
Rosemerry: Surround yourself with other poets. Though the act of writing is solitary, as Ammons would say, you “sit alone picking away at your own liver,” the art of it and the communion of it is in community. Most of my best friends are poets—they inspire me, chide me, keep me in line, offer me a life line.
And of course, read. Read. Read smart—with a pen in your hand, taking notes on what you love and why. Read for pleasure.
And last, memorize, or, better yet, learn poems, as we say, by heart.
I want to thank Rosemerry for sharing with us today on Writing to be Read. Her energy and enthusiasm seems to be contagious for me. I hope it is for all of you aspiring poets out there, too. You can learn more about Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and the amazing things that she’s done on her Word Woman website, where you’ll find calendar, book sales, writing prompts and more. Her poetry books are avaiable on Amazon and you can visit her Author Page , too. You can also find her daily poems here. Please take the time to like the post or leave a comment to show your support for Rosemerry and/or Writing to be Read.
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If you are an author, poet or screenwriter and you’d like to be interviewed on Writing to be Read, drop Kaye an email at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com with “Interview Request” in the subject line.
Posted: August 1, 2018 Filed under: Inspirational, Pep Talk, Writing | Tags: Inspiration, Jeff's Pep Talk, Motivation, Writing
Learning to Let Go
By Jeff Bowles
The first Wednesday of every month, science fiction and horror writer Jeff Bowles offers advice to new and aspiring authors. Nobody ever said this writing thing would be easy. This is your pep talk.
To tell you the truth, I never wanted to be a writer. So many authors–successful and unsuccessful alike–seem to have been aware of a certain literary calling from an early age. Stephen King began telling stories as a kid and never stopped. One of my personal favorites, Frank Herbert, creator of the Dune series, told his parents when he was little, “I want to be a author.” Adorably so, I’m sure, even if in basic syntactic error.
I had precious few moments like that. At the age of eight, I began an ambitious Star Wars fan fiction novel in which Luke Skywalker was forced to confront an evil dark Jedi clone of his poor dead Uncle Owen. I never got off the fourth page. When I was a teenager, I wrote about seven chapters of a complex space opera. But even though I showed clear aptitude, the process was long and boring, and I had better things to do, like playing music with my friends and spending hours on the couch in front of my PlayStation.
I didn’t decide to devote myself to writing until I hit my mid-twenties, by which time the life of a coffee-house-playing singer/songwriter had lost its appeal. Nobody listened to me when I performed. They were too intent on their dark roasts and shallow hipster conversations. I reasoned that even if I someday made it as a musician, I’d have to spend all my time on the road touring, and I’d just gotten engaged to a wonderful woman and had future plans to start a family with her. It made sense at that time to go after a new dream, and I’d always liked telling stories, even if I’d never demonstrated the necessary discipline to actually finish them.
Like so many young hopefuls, I was convinced literary success and stardom would be just around the corner. Ehem, they were not. What can I say? If you’ve been at this thing for any length of time, you know well the real hard work comes in the form of keeping your head down, applying butt to chair, and pounding out thousands of unsuccessful words before a single one catches the eye of an editor or an agent. Maybe you’re just starting out, in which case you might be wondering what the long-term odds of your success are.
Sad to say, but instant recognition is pretty rare. I know some very talented but also very lucky writers who hit it big their first time out. Ultimately, their jobs and their lives haven’t been made any easier. Sometimes the work is actually harder for them, because big success comes with big pressure. Each morning, they still have to make that basic choice: to write, or not to write. And that isn’t easy. Nothing about this job is. Anyone who tells you otherwise … actually, I seriously doubt someone with experience will tell you otherwise.
If you’re like me, your first stabs at storytelling were bad. Like really, really bad. I wrote at least thirty short stories before I snagged a single decent pub credit. I had a couple things working against me, and so did you. First off, I had to learn to write. And I don’t mean in the general sense; writing a blog post like this and writing a fully realized novel are two incredibly different beasts. That probably goes without saying, too.
Secondly, most of us have to build a name for ourselves slowly and over time. Many of your favorite authors didn’t get anywhere near success until they’d generated an incredible amount of published content (that’s published content; the unpublished stuff doesn’t count). The difficulty curve inherent to all this is enough to derail the majority of us. Everybody wants to write a book at some point in their life, but actually finishing one, submitting it through the proper channels, and receiving scads of rejection letters … well, may I just say, fresh meat, welcome to the great literary meat grinder.
At this point you may be asking, “What gives, Jeff? I thought you were going to give us a pep talk. This is more like trash talk.” Well, yeah, I guess it is. But it does no good to approach creative writing as a profession with anything less than a level head. You’ve got to know the odds. Or at least, I feel you should know the odds. The truth is–and this may seem counterintuitive–recognizing your likelihood of failure is just as important as having your writing dream in the first place.
I’m a dreamer by nature. Most creative types are. When I close my eyes at night, I’m just as likely to see book signings and red carpet movie premieres as blank white pages with blinking, unfulfilled cursors … taunting me, taunting me … the horror, the horror. Just because I recognized a long time ago instant success would never be mine doesn’t mean I no longer do what I can when I can to get there. Actually, and this is the important part, the slow and steady nature of my career thus far has allowed me to let go my prodigious and unproductive white-knuckle grip, helping me at last to relinquish just enough control so I could, say, have a life outside of my stories.
That’s kind of the point. Failure teaches us more than success. Failure hurts, no doubt about it, but it also heals. Failure is not a four-letter word. Count ‘em, seven letters, not even close. Nor is it some cosmic slight. Don’t be afraid to fail. In the grand scheme of things, there’s no difference between the careers of a thirty-year vet who hit the mark right out of the gate and a thirty-year vet who had to slowly build an audience with each successive work. In other words, it isn’t the destination, it’s the journey.
Here is your pep talk in four simple words: learn to let go. Seriously, that’s it. Let go of your need for recognition, for validation. Let go the desire for royalty checks the size of the annual Defense Department budget. Letting go doesn’t mean giving up. Far from it, in fact. Some very big writers love to spoil it for newbies. Gleefully, they hand out advice like, “If you can quit, you should,” implying of course this job sucks so bad you shouldn’t even bother.
I’m not that guy. I like to build people up. Learning to let go of your expectations, your insecurities and personal timetables, it’s actually a cure-all for life. The day-to-day of a writer really can be challenging. There are just so many lows, sometimes more than there are highs. You’ll have days you want to give up. Heck, you may have entire years or decades you don’t write a single word. So I find it’s better for the mind and the soul to consider writing a lifelong journey rather than a pass/fail vocation. Do you know what happens when you let go? You actually start enjoying what you do. Some time-tested philosophies think of this as living in the now, embracing the flow of life, or choosing to let the stream carry you rather than fighting its currents. It’s a healthy attitude to cultivate, especially when you’re in a creative industry that hands out disappointment like local discount car wash flyers.
Don’t give up. Don’t do it. And don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you that you should. If you find you’re getting frustrated with your progress, take a break. That old chestnut, writers write, applies only to very unhappy people and very well-adjusted robots. Writers are just average folks, and like every other warm body on this planet, you need a life that’s fulfilling on more than one level. You know what you can do instead of pounding out words until you tear your hair out? Fall in love. Go see a movie. Have kids. Start a stamp collection. When you let go of the desperation, the incessant need to be somebody, you can be anybody, and that, my friends, is freedom itself.
You know who you are. You know you love to write. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here on this blog. So why not trust yourself? Trust life. Tell a story for the joy of it. One moment, one second, one word at a time. If you worry too much about the future, the next rejection, the next failure, if you obsess over the past and all the ugly moments still living there, you’re doomed to forever hate right now.
It’s okay to admit you’re no superstar. At least not yet. Trust me, it won’t hinder your ability to create awesome stuff. I’ve met some big name talent. Many of them feel imprisoned by their careers. The grass is always greener, right? So while you’re busy fuming with jealousy over their magnificent sales figures, they’re busy resenting you for what they perceive as your complete and total freedom. The joy of writing is in discovering what’s just around the corner. Imagine if a new entry in your favorite book series telegraphed its epic ending on page one. Wouldn’t that be disappointing? Life, like any story worth reading, works best when you don’t know what comes next.
So don’t try to predict the future. Live free, focus on today. And that’s your pep talk for the month, folks. Read ‘em and weep! Just don’t weep too hard.
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Posted: July 25, 2018 Filed under: Blog Content, Inspirational, Poetry, Writing | Tags: Art, Art Rosch, Humor, Inspiration, Opinion, Poetry, Poets, Writing
Poets are more important than the poetry they write. Imagine a world in which there are no poets. How dismal! The poetry, though…that’s merely a by-product of what work is done by poets. The work of being a poet is the act of being different, unique, distinct. That’s what poets are for. They represent the odd, the inspired, the depressed, the struggling, the eccentric. They do this work with language, with words. The poetry may rhyme, have meter, or be abstract, modern, free and strange. No matter. Poets are like Christians or policemen. There are times when we need them, desperately. We count on Christians to keep promises. We count on policemen to help us when our neighbors get into a fight that’s keeping us awake all night. We count on poets to be slightly off-kilter, to be weird and unique. Their weirdness gives us permission to also be weird, because I’ve never met a human being who isn’t….weird.
If poets are weirdlings, madmen, people who view the world through a creative filter, then we must sustain them. Losing poets would be a calamity, an apocalypse. It would be like having all the glaciers melt. Where will our water come from? Where will these pieces of verse that are of little utility, yet so necessary, where will they come from?
Dewdrops on spider webs;
sit lightly with life.
That’s the shortest poem I’ve ever written. Or this one, also eleven syllables:
So coos the mourning dove:
come to me, my love.
I began reading and writing poetry because my girlfriend in high school loved poets. It came easily to me. I am, after all, one of those weirdlings, a true eccentric. The poetry has far outlasted the girlfriend. I’m still interested in poetry. I still love this ability to take a virtual word-photo and bring life into its papery texture. Okay, okay, I’m done. Now I’m reaching, I’m crossing that thin membrane between inspiration and bullshit. We don’t need to do that, not with poetry.
The poets will take care of poetry, hopefully for as long as humans exist.
The greatest thing that ever happened to Arthur Rosch was his awful childhood. Growing up in a dysfunctional family he had no choice but to get angry, rebel and follow his path to becoming an artist. His first duty as an artist was to cultivate obsessions. He proceeded to do this with gusto and learned that there is no substitute for a good obsession, compulsion or addiction to gain insight into human nature. It was a girl who inspired him to write poetry and novels. Writing is the refuge of his later life, after forty. It took him that long to wear out the obsessions. Rosch believes that part of a writer’s apprenticeship is to spend at least twenty years being mentally deranged. He loves jazz, science fiction, literary fiction, Rumi’s poetry, travel, history, dogs and cats and his wife, who is half Apache.
His multi media blog can be found here: www.artrosch.com
Visit his photo blog at http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv
Posted: July 16, 2018 Filed under: Blog Content, God Complex, Poetry, Writing, Writing to be Read | Tags: Art Rosch, Blog Content, Changes, Jeff Bowles, Poetry, Writing, Writing to be Read
I started Writing to be Read on a site called Today.com, as a pay-per-click blog. I was just beginning to create an online writing presence, and was unsure what to write about on a blog, but whatever my subject matter, I ended every post with a poems. One day, I tried to log into my account and found that Today.com no longer existed, and neither did my blog. I was forced to seek out a new home for my blog, and I found WordPress. That was back in 2010, and the author’s blog and website before you is what Writing to be Read has morphed into in the interim.
I no longer include a poem with each post, (that went the way of Today.com), and I don’t get paid per click, (or at all for that matter), but I feel that my content has expanded and improved over the years. I still believe poetry is an important aspect of writing. I feel in love with poetry when we studied Hiaku in the forth grade, and the first piece of writing I ever sold was a poem, (for five dollars). Poetry is sculpting with words, crafting a piece to fit our vision and communicate that vision to others.
There have been many changes along the way, which helped to make Writing to be Read what it is today, including my 2016 publishing series: The Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing, my 2017 series on marketing and promotion: Book Marketing: What Works?, and the most recent this past year, my Ask the Authors series, where a panel of authors were interviewed on a variety of elements concerning writing. (Watch for a second series of AtA this fall.) Also, in 2017, we were fortunate to have Robin’s Writing Memo, with Robin Conley and The Pep Talk and Jeff’s God Complex, with author Jeff Bowles. I have attempted to include content that addresses all the elements of writing, but as I’m not very active in areas such as poetry, children’s writing, screenwriting or YA fiction, there have been only a few post in these areas, and I want to extend the scope of the blog to address all aspects of writing.
So, we’re about to change it up once more. I’m calling in the experts, or at least, those more expert than I in specific areas. I’ve asked a few guest bloggers to join the team in order to expand the scope of Writing to be Read. Our guest segments will be featured on Wednesdays. Here are some of the exciting changes you can expect to see in the near future.
I’m happy to announce that Jeff Bowles will be joining us once again with Jeff’s God Complex the first Wednesday of every month, starting in August. Jeff is an independent author with an awesome power of description and an amazing imagination. He has published three short story collections, which I have given top notch reviews, including his latest one, Brave New Multiverse, which will post this Friday, July 20. Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Godling and Other Paint Stories. Jeff’s post topics cover just about anything and everything if it regards writing.
Starting Wednesday, July 25th, we will have our first segment of The Many Faces of Poetry, with Art Rosch. Art is an independent author, poet and photographer, who is into jazz. He draws many of his stories from his own experiences and creates his own book covers. He has published three books, all of which I’ve reviewed with high quills: Confessions of an Honest Man, The Road Has Eyes: A Relationship, An R.V., and a Wild Ride Through Indian Country, and The Gods of the Gift. Art is a talented writer and poet and I’m pleased to have him join the Writing to be Read team.
Also joining us with a Writing for a YA Audience segment is Amazon best selling YA author Jordan Elizabeth. Jordan has written many books aimed at a YA audience in a variety of genres: steampunk, time travel, fantasy, historical and ghost stories, to name a few. I recently reviewed her most recent book, a post- apocalyptic dystopian romance, Rotham Race, and I have reviewed many of her other works, including her very first novel, Escape From Witchwood Hollow, and several anthologies which include her stories. Jordan’s posts will be concerned with concepts and issues involved in writing for young adult readers. Writing to be Read will feature Jordan’s first post on Wednesday, July 18th.
This blog is a labor of love for me, and as such, these great writers are donating their time and efforts, so please help me to welcome the new members of the Writing to be Read team by liking their posts and leaving comments. Every writer wants to know they are being read.
I’m still searching for willing bloggers in the areas of screenwriting or children’s writing. I feel these elements of writing are important and deserve our special attention too. If you have expertise in these areas and think you might be interested in joining the Writing to be Read team, please email me at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.
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