Friday, October 31, 2008

It Begins...

“The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It’s the lack of a deadline.” – Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo

So, with the big day starting tomorrow, I’d thought I’d let you in on a few things I learned from participating in NaNoWriMo last year.

First, understand that your novel is going to be bad. Really bad. I mean, really, really bad! This is not to say that there won’t be some good parts—because there will be—but most of it will stink.

Now, you might think that going in to something knowing ahead of time that you’re going to suck at it, might be a bad thing. But, you’d be wrong. It’s freeing!! You don’t have to worry about writing the next GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. It’s not going to happen, so don’t stress about it.

Just write.

Who cares if your plot has more holes in it than something with a lot of holes, and that half-way through you decide to kill off your main character because she’s boring or somehow morphed into a space alien. The point is that you sat down, and wrote your little, trite, poorly-crafted heart out!

Second, and this directly relates to the first point, don’t worry about the research. If you don’t know it, make it up, and use as many words as you can think of to do so!

Just put the made up parts in caps, italics, or something, so you know where to go back later and find out the facts. And frankly, you probably know more than you think!

For example, I know that my main character is going to have dealings with police detectives. In fact, a police detective is going to become an important character with the first few chapters (somehow). Now, am I a police detective? No. I’ve I ever dealt with police detectives? No. But, I’ve watched tons of police-detective-type shows! So, for now, I’ll just rack my brain for any tidbits it can come up with and worry about the “facts” of how a “real” police investigation would go, later.

Last year, my book took place in Ohio. Have I ever been to Ohio? Nope. But I didn’t let that stop me! So, use your imagination, and don’t let the fact that you don’t know that “facts” be an excuse for not finishing your book.

Third, you might start out strong, but you’ll soon waiver on your commitment. (This happens to everyone around the 2nd / 3rd week.)

Trust me.

You’re going to be too busy.

You’re going to be too tired.

You’re going to be too bored.

You’re going to be too untalented.

You’re going to be too far behind.

You’re going to be too…something!

But don’t be tricked by your mental gymnastics! It’s just your inner self-doubt coming to the forefront. All you need to do is remember that you’ve given yourself the permission to write the WORST NOVEL ON THE PLANET!

So, pick yourself up, put yourself back at the computer, and keep typing! It will get better! I promise.

Besides, never forget that you have 11 months to fix it. No matter how bad it is, you can change it!

Now, just a few more little things.

If you can, and are on a roll, write more than the required 1667 words per day. Give yourself a buffer. It will help you on those days where you think your creativity has gone on strike and you can’t put a sentence together.

Also, if you’re like me, you want your first paragraph to be awesome. And waiting for the awesomeness to arrive will soak up valuable writing time. So, do what I do: if I really can’t think of a great first paragraph (which I never can), I just write “The super best, most witty and awesome paragraph ever written that tells us about…” and then I just give the facts of what I’d like it to say using the most words as possible.

Later, when the month is over, I’ll go back and make sure that my prose sings like a canary! (But using some other analogy that is far more creative.)

Lastly, don’t use contractions*. You want every word count you can get. Write out any numbers you use (even if it looks stupid)*. And use LOTS of adjectives.

The point is quantity, not quality. So, write your story, and don’t worry about it!

* This post contains 791 words. But, if I write out all the contractions and numbers, I would have 61 more words! For a total of 852 words. And that would mean that I was more than half-way to my 1667 word per day goal. See! Every word counts!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Simple Palette

For Hannah’s art piece, I decided to use only two colors of paint. I wanted to see what I could do with a limited color scheme, and I loved it!

I thought it came out very graphic (not meaning explicit, of course).

It’s still whimsical, and it still has the two components that I include in each of my pieces:

Poetry and Women.

But, it “feels” different from my other ones.

Looking at Hannah’s and then Rachel’s, I don’t know if you could tell that I was working on them at the same time. But, I was!

The pictures, once again, stink. I really need to get a new camera…
The colors just aren't as vivid as in real life.

I hope you like it, Hannah! (If you want a different one, let me know.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rachel's Collage: I think I feel queasy...

Full Confession: I almost threw Rachel’s collage away not once, not twice, but three times.

And when I gave it to her, I almost puked.

You see, I tried something different with Rachel’s.

I wanted it to be a little more whimsical.

I wanted brighter color. (Hence using blues, greens, and oranges.)

I wanted more texture so that people would feel compelled to touch it.

So, when you look at the pictures, keep that in mind. Because I don’t think I succeeded, but that was the goal.

Oh, and once again, my camera betrayed me.

I don’t know why it doesn’t like me to get close and zoom. It just won’t focus correctly when I do that. I suppose if I read the instructions it would tell me. But, I can’t be bothered with that…

Rachel, I tried my best...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Birthday, Another M.M.A. Piece

Well, the Other Liz had her birthday on Saturday!

So you know what that means?

Yep, I finished another painting/collage as a less expensive birthday gift.

(Except, they actually don't turn out to be less expensive. By the time I buy the canvas, specific colors the person requested and other doodads that go with the theme, it turns out to be roughly the same price as a nice gift. But, it's a heck of a lot more fun than just buying something! So, I'm sticking with it!!)

I think Liz liked it*. I didn't give it to her when all the other people gave their gifts because I was sitting at another table at the farthest point possible while still being considered a member of her party.

So, I didn't want to pass it across to the other table and then have everyone look at while I was a mile away and couldn't give my disclaimers.

You know: "It's just for fun." "It's not perfect." "I tried some new techniques that didn't really work." "I'm sorry it's crap."

So, I waited until the party** was about over and people were leaving and I could pull her to the side really quick and give it to her.

I know. I know. I should be more positive and confident in my art.

But, it's scary for me.

Scary in a good way because it means I'm stretching myself. But still. It makes me feel a little panicky inside. You know what I mean?

Well, blah blah blah, here are some pictures of it.

(I had a hard time with the glare and focus factor. Sorry.)

*Oh, and Liz, I forgot to mention that yours was the first piece I've done with a picture of one of my ancestors. I have no idea how I'm related because my great aunt didn't label the picture. So, I don't even know her name. I call her Molly.

**It was really a fab party at this Indian restaurant. And I had a fun time talking with my new bff's Joey and Emily. It was nice to get to meet new people! So, I'm not complaining about being at the other table of outer darkness, or as Joey coined it "the short bus." It fact, if I were Liz (and I am A Liz), I'd feel loved because so many people came they couldn't even fit at the main table.
P.S. Hannah, I've finished yours. I just need to find you!
P.P.S. or P.S.S. (which ever it is) If you left a comment on my other M.M.A. post indicating that you wanted one, I've written your name (and any colors, etc.) down, and will get to it as soon as I can. (Even if I we haven't met. Hi Annie of Blue Gables!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

M.M.A. --Or, Mixed Media Artist (Not Mixed Martial Arts which is what pops up first if you google MMA.)

In an effort to keep this blog alive, I’m going to start posting on anything remotely creative I do. That way, I’m hoping this blog becomes less scary to me and I’ll be visited by the poetry muse again.

With that, I’ve finished it!

“Finished what?” you ask.

Katie’s birthday painting!

“But, Liz, wasn’t Katie’s birthday like 5 months ago?”

Yes. I’ve had some issues with it. But, I pressed forward and finished!

I gave it to her on Saturday, and of course, she was kind and gracious and said she loved it. (I’m taking her at her word even though she could just be sparing my feelings.)

Do you want to see some pictures?

Well, here you go!

Now, for those of you with a birthday coming up, guess what you’ll be getting!!!


(I’ve planned a cruise through Asia in a year and a half, and I need to save all the money I can. So, you’re all getting a painting, or a birthday “High Five.” Take your pick!)

So when it’s your birthday, this is what I need you to tell me:

1. What colors do you want? Be specific, and if possible, give me an example. Don’t just say “blue” (unless you really don’t care).

2. What theme(s) or idea(s) would you like to be included? You know, maybe you want one with fairies, or trolls (if you’re Brett), or love, or freedom, or birds, or houses, or reading. Stuff like that.

Oh, and if you had a birthday already this year, and would like one, let me know!

And if you’re interested in what I used to make this painting, here is a list of some of the materials:

Acrylic paints
Oil pastels
Watercolor pencils
Charcoal pencils
Shimmery stuff
Metal brads
Paper (all different kinds)
Olden days writing and images
Mod Podge
Gel medium

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hi, do you remember me?

So, despite my best intentions and efforts to make it otherwise, it seems that announcing my plans to the world of posting a weekly poem has crushed my creativity under the weight of fear.

Seriously folks, the well has run dry.

Even when I tell myself that I can write a poem and just not post it, I still clam up—or self-edit so greatly that my original idea becomes a bland piece of junk.

This has weighed heavily on my mind.

I want to improve. I want feedback. But, I’m not sure if a blog is the answer.

So, the next question becomes, what to do with it?

Should I morph it into something else?

I have been thinking of expanding the purpose of my blog from dealing only (or mainly) with poetry, to dealing with anything I do of a creative nature.

I mean, I do mixed media art, maybe I should post pictures of my latest work?

I participate in ATC (Artist Trading Cards). Maybe I should show you what series I’m working on?

I’m trying to get my freelance career started. Maybe I should give updates, and track my progress?

I’m starting to write another book. Maybe I should talk about that, and post some stuff?

Or, maybe I should just hit “delete blog” and be done with it?

I don’t know. I’m still thinking on it.

I only know that every time I announce something on a blog, I seem to lose interest it or feel a deep sense of crapdom.

What do you think that says about me?


Friday, April 18, 2008

P.I.Y.P. Day: The Results

So, did you put a poem in your pocket yesterday, read it constantly, and share it with others?


Did you at least think about a poem?


Did the word “poetry” ever cross your mind?


That’s okay.

You can give it another shot next year. I’ll remind you, don’t you worry!

Do you want to know how it went with me?


Well, I’m going to tell you anyway!

The poem I chose is by one of my favorite poets of all time, W.B. Yeats.

When You are Old is the first poem I ever memorized for no other reason than love. When I heard it, I knew I had to make it a part of me.

So, I buckled down one night about ten years ago, and read it over and over again until I could say the words with my eyes closed. And it’s been with me ever since.

Anyway, Wednesday night I decided that I would make copies of the poem and pass it out to all my co-workers (since I lacked the courage or desire to stand on a soapbox in the middle of the university and recite it out loud).

Then, yesterday morning, I made my rounds and handed out the poem. I had quite a variety of responses. Most simply seemed surprised, and stammered a “Thank you.” (Boy, that was a great alliteration sentence, wasn’t it?)

But, a few reacted differently:

1. One co-worker looked at me like he thought I expected five bucks in return. (I told him no payment was necessary, words are free.)

2. One said “Oh, I don’t have a poem for you!” (That made me laugh--Like we’re on some sort of poetry barter system.)

3. One sent me an email telling me how much the poem meant to her, and that she loved it.

4. One gave me a big hug.

5. One said I was so thoughtful to think of her and seemed really touched.

6. One pulled me aside and explained to me what she thought the poem meant, and then asked me if she was right. (I told her that, usually, any interpretation could be correct.)

7. One co-worker came in late (so I had just left it on her desk) and I heard her say “Who left me this poem? What a great way to start the day!”

Overall, the first national Poem In Your Pocket day was a great success for me!!

I loved being able to share some beautiful words with people I see every day and to give them an opportunity to pause, read, and think (if only for a minute) about the wonder of words.

So, get ready for next year! It’s a great way to liven up an ordinary work day, I promise!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Come On, Fill Your Pockets With Words…

In case you haven’t heard, tomorrow is a very special day. And I’m asking you, as a friend, to consider participating in it.

There isn’t much you have to do.

In fact, for a poor lazy person, it’s an ideal challenge. You don’t have to run a marathon, donate thousands of dollars, or give up hours of free time.

No, all you have to do tomorrow is pick a poem, any poem, and put it in your pocket.

That’s it.

If you want to go the “second mile,” make a few copies of it, and pass them out to others. But, really, I’ll I’m asking you to do is to put a poem in your pocket. (Even if it’s only a few lines.)

You see, tomorrow is the first national Poem in Your Pocket Day!!!!!! And I think it is a super cool idea!

If you don’t have a favorite poem, or a favorite poet, the website I linked to provides plenty of options in pocket-sized versions. So, download one, print it, and put it in your pocket.

And then when you have a few spare moments tomorrow, whip it out, and read it. And if you’re feeling really brave, share it with someone!! (I'm planning on giving a copy to all of my co-workers.)

Actually, I’d love for you to share your choice with me! So, come back here and post your poem in the comments (if you want). And I’ll post mine!

Let’s make the first national Poem in Your Pocket Day a great success, and get the word out about words!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Like to Pretend I'm a Poet

So, I haven’t completely forgotten about this blog. No, it’s been hovering over my head, constantly raining down failure.

But, in an attempt for Present Liz to keep a promise Past Liz made to Future Liz, I’m reviving my commitment to the initial premise of this blog, and am going to begin posting again. And I’m going to try not to be negative about it all (which is harder than I think it would be to dig to China).

With that, I’ll proceed with the purpose of this post.

As some of you may know it’s National Poetry Month (NPM). And I’ve been receiving a poem-a-day from 3 different websites. I’ve enjoyed opening up my email and being surrounded in words—some that have resonated with me, and some that have made me say “Huh?”

This is why I love poetry. It makes me ponder. It makes me cry. It makes me want to be better. It makes me look at the world differently. To me, all poetry (even the bad ones) is worthwhile.

So, I wanted to share (with the two of you) a little bit of new stuff coming out of aspiring (and a few established) poets. The university I work for has a writing program, and in honor of NPM, they published "Poetry Sleepover.” Basically, it’s an online literary magazine. They had poets submit whatever they wanted, and then over a period of 24 hours, they selected, edited, and published this online version.

(I submitted a brief poem modeled after one of my favorite poems by Ezra Pound and they selected it.)

If you have a minute or ten, read through a couple of the poems. There’s a great variety of different styles and topics. Something for everyone!

And, if you have a few more minutes to spare, why don’t you write a poem of your very own in support of NPM? It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. Trust me on that. I’m an expert at non-spectacular-ness.

Yay for words!!!*

*Tomorrow I'll be posting a special request. So, stay tuned!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

1910 Novel: Part III

Looking back over it all has been a little embarrassing. But, that's what this blog is about: public flagullation.

So, here's the last bit:

Now, I know what you’re thinking. But that spot was sacred to me. So much so, that I didn’t ever notice if it had a smell. It was actually part of the venting system, I think, and I could just pry off the screen and slip right in. The time I remember most about my spot was when I was seven going on eight, and I decided that I was going to be a writer.

An older girl had snuck a Harper’s Bizarre magazine into FCF. And inside there was an article on some man, who’s name I can’t remember anymore, but I do remember hearing girls talk about what he did for a living. He wrote stories. And I couldn’t believe that someone could actually get paid for that. It was then and there that I decided that that’s what I wanted to do.

I ended up stealing that magazine and taking it to my spot. I tore out the page like they were covered in gold and pasted them to the walls. I couldn’t really read all that good then, but I could dream like a champ. That was one thing that we all learned at FCF. Dream or die. And in my little spot, which really wasn’t any bigger that three feet squared, I imagined the world. A world where I was paid for writing the stories of my mind, and I was wanted, and I was loved. That vent in the bathroom was how I survived those first twelve years at FCF. And I’ll never forger when I realized that I had outgrown that place. I was afraid that since I couldn’t fit into my spot anymore, that maybe, just maybe, I couldn’t fit into the dreams I created there. When you’re a kid growing up in an orphanage, you have silly thoughts like that.

After my decision to become a writer, I worked hard in my studies. We were all required to attend class from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon. We had one 5-minute break at 10a.m. in which we closed our eyes and placed our heads on our desks to “reverence our thoughts.” Lunch was at noon. We would have 20 minutes to eat, and then we had to run around a path that was in the courtyard of FCF for 15 minutes. Then, it was back to class.

Maybe a few more descriptions of the actual building of FCF would give you a better idea of what I’m talking about. So, let me tell you here, that FCF was shaped like a square horseshoe with the two sides leading away from the main road. Looking straight at FCF you wouldn’t even know that it extended down those two sides. You see, it was imposing from the front because it had five floors while the two sides only had three.

But, enough of that. Like I was saying at the age of seven I decided that education was going to be my ticket to life. And that writing was going to be my train through the world. In fact, when I look back on it, those years flew by because they were filled with learning. That was one thing the orphanage did really well. They made sure to provide all of us “lost souls” with a solid education. And although they wouldn’t allow us any contact with the outside world through radio and magazines, they did allow us to learn about the world through great works of literature.

It’s just occurred to me that I haven’t told you my name. That’s funny. I got so involved with my story that I forgot to include myself in it.

I'm going to retire this story for now. Maybe down the road, I'll decide to do the research, and flesh out my ideas more. But, I'm inherently lazy, so who knows? (It took me an hour to write the stupid thing, and that's all the time I wanted to dedicate to it.)

Thanks for reading and not saying "You suck, Liz!" (even if that's what you thought).

Friday, February 15, 2008

1910 Novel: Part II

So, I’ve already decided to not continue to write my 1910 novel. Why? Because I’ve gone over the list of things I have to research and I’m completely overwhelmed. I think I’m just going to write some young adult fiction. That doesn’t require going to a library. And no research = easier job.

To prove to you how much I’d have to investigate, here are just a few things I’ve come up with:

1. Orphanage policies at the turn of the century.
2. Dialect of North Carolina in the 1900’s.
3. Speech patterns and vocabulary of the poor in 1900’s N.C.
4. Detailed map of the area including small roads, towns.
5. Stores, entertainment, overall culture of the time.
6. 1950’s culture/language/etc. (because of the prologue that I haven’t shown you).
7. Laws of N.C.
8. Laws of S. C.
9. Policies for dealing with mentally handicapped people in the 1900’s.
10. Relations between African-Americans and white people during that time. (You have to be really specific about these things. You just can’t say: bad.)

Well, that gives you a small taste of what I’m up against. Maybe in a few years I'll try to tackle it again. I think there’s an interesting story in there, somewhere.

Here’s the second excerpt from the 1st chapter.

And, I guess my story could have ended there. But, it didn’t. You see that’s where it just began. In fact, it wasn’t until I found out the truth of my origins that I began a journey towards my real beginnings.

But, before I tell you where I went, let me tell you where I left.

My whole remembered life, up until I was eighteen, was spent at the Franklin Children’s Facility, or FCF. Now, FCF was famous all over North Carolina, mostly because it was the only orphanage in the state to hold over eight hundred children on any given day. And the children came from all over, not just from Franklin County. There were kids form Raleigh, Charlotte, and even as far as Wilmington.

From the outside of FCF, you wouldn’t know that children lived on the inside. And on the inside, only seeing children let you know that it was an orphanage. Looking at FCF was like looking at a black and white photograph even though you were standing right in it. And dull was the only color found on the building or the grounds surrounding it. There was absolutely nothing to “stimulate overzealous activity” as our caretakers would say. No pictures. No radio. No magazines. No flowers. No life, really. In fact, there was a joke that if it were at all possible, FCF would place a permanent cloud overhead to stop the sun from shinning and keep all us children “obediently subdued” as the director of the orphanage, Mrs. Wilkins, would constantly remind us.

But, despite all of their best efforts, we children found ways to be. There were lots of hidden places in FCF, places that only small, skinny, forgotten kids like us could find. Most of us had our own special place, a spot where no one else could own your imagination. Mine was located in the bathroom on the third floor.

If you can think of anything else to include on the list, drop me a line in the comments. And, if you can stomach it, my next post will be the last part of the first chapter (and the final post on this story).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Change of Pace...

Well, since I've started this blog especially dedicated to all my creative endeavors, my creativity has put on cement shoes and is now swimming with the fishes.

Seriously, I feel like the crapity crapest poet on the planet. And it's making me afraid to write because I know I'll have to post it. And then the world (i.e. three people) will read it, point and laugh.

So to say I have writer's block is an understatement. I have writer's coma, or writer's amnesia, or writer's "Holy Moly! What was I thinking? Me? A writer! You've got to be kidding!"

In order to get myself out of this phase (fingers crossed that it's only temporary), I thought I would switch gears. Mix it up a bit. Not think about poetry. In fact, completely forget that I ever thought I wanted to be a poet.

Don't worry though. I'm still going to share something painfully bad exposing. That's what this blog is for, after all!

Now, you all (the three of you) know that I participated in NaNoWriMo in November and wrote a novel. Well, before I wrote that one, I had started another. And, recently I've been working on it a bit, trying to decide if it was worth continuing.

It's a novel about my great-grandma’s experience of being in a small North Carolina town in the early 1900’s, and dealing with the fact that she was a product of rape (and that her mother was mentally handicapped), and the journey she embarks on to discover the truth of who she is. The book is part family history, and part fiction.

So, I thought I would share some of it with you. That way you can tell me if you think it's worth the bother of all the research it's going to require.

Keep in mind this is a VERY rough draft. As in, a lot of it will be tossed as I continue to revise it.

I guess I'll stop talking about it now, and just let you read it.


When you find you’re a product of rape, and how that rape happened, it changes the world. Really. Now, I’m not saying that the sun stops being bright yellow or the green grass turns bleak, but it does color other parts of life—mostly, what you think about yourself and how you fit inside, way down deep where there’s no wind, only a stillness that tells you who you are and where you belong. So, I guess it doesn’t so much as change the world, but changes you in the world.

At least that’s what happened to me. And it’s kind of funny when I look back on it. I thought that finding out the truth about who I was and where I came from would give me a sense of everything else. And with that knowledge in my hands, I would be able to be me—at last—and the life that had been living me wouldn’t be real anymore because I was finally real.

But all the truth did was add to my already unknowness. Now, don’t get me wrong, it did provide some fundamental answers. It explained how I found myself in an orphanage on the outskirts of Franklin County in North Carolina, and it also answered why nobody ever loved me. But it didn’t tell me what I was hoping for. It’s a hope that all us orphans dreamt about—that our families lost us, not left us. And that if they only knew where we were, they’d pick us up quicker than coins at a card game. But, all the truth did was tell me what I feared—that I was left and I was nobody.

Stay tuned for Part II...

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Toughest Part…

There are two steps that one needs to accomplish to become a writer.

The first step is actually calling yourself a writer (out loud, and said to a real person—no imaginary friend counts), and as I discussed in my previous post, this is fraught with fear and trembling.

But once you get this painful right of passage out of the way, you can begin the second step. And this one is even harder because it’s a step that never ends: namely, you have to write.

Yes, I’m sorry to say that to be a writer, you have to write! And you have to do it pretty much every day. That’s what separates writers from idea-jotter-downers.

Now, in this post I’m not going to talk about the quality of what is written, and whether or not this could be labeled as “crap” (which, incidentally, most of it could probably be the poster child for crap). No, I’m just going to focus on what stops us from actually making our writer-butts sit down and come up with something intelligible. Not good, mind you, just real words on a page.

Really, there are tens of thousands of reasons not to write. But for the sake of brevity, and because all of those reasons can be boiled down to two things, I’m just going to list those two.

So, without further ado (to use a trite phrase that all good writers should avoid), here they are:

1. We don’t want to. I mean, we do, but we don’t. It’s the whole failure thing. What if what we write stinks more than a dumpster of dirty diapers? (Some of it will.) What if what we write has already been written and we’re not original? (Some of it has been, and we never are.) What if people laugh at us? (Someone is lined up for that job, don’t you worry.) What if…blah, blah, blah!

2. We’re too busy. We just have too much going on, right? I mean, someone has to organize the pots and pans in alphabetical order by brand name, dust the collection of thimbles given to us by our grandma, and search for that episode of that show we watched that one time that we think we liked! Those things don’t happen by themselves, do they? Of course not!

Well, there you have it. Yep, that’s it. And if you’re an astute reader, you will see the connection between one and two (for the less perceptive, here’s a hint: fear leads to procrastination).

Now, what are we going to do about it? I have few ideas, but I’ll save them for another post.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Poem 1, Rough Draft 1

Sorry, I'm a day late...

I don't know what's going to be harder, posting a new poem every week, or not complaining about the quality of the poem.

Right now, I'm struggling with both aspects...

This was a poem a wrote in December that I've been trying to work with. But, before I show you what I've done with it, I thought I'd show you the original.


Before I knew
what competition
was, I knew I wanted to
best you. I wanted to win,
and run home to regale
my family with stories
of my conquests,
the details of
your defeat.

But, you, Lucy,
with hair ribbons
matching your dress
—hair cutely curled,
dress with pink butterflies—
your hand in the air,
answer on the tip of
your tongue. You
never gave me
a chance!

Yes, before I knew
what competition was,
I knew jealousy, and it
came wrapped in
pink butterflies.

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Mind--The Problem

Here's the thing: it's week one, and I'm a failure...

I don't know how else to say it.

I've been trying to write a poem all week and all I have are bits and pieces of phrases that I like, but can't use.

And why can't I use them?

Because they have to do with God/religion. And so, for the purposes of my chapbook for grad. school, they are useless.

I hate having to conform to fit in. But, it's the truth. If I have poems that deal with God as a real "entity" (as my professor puts it), I will be hard pressed to be taken seriously as a poet, and it will be even harder to get into a graduate program.

I could write about god, but not God (if you understand what I mean). And for some reason, that's the only poetry coming out of me.

So, I have nothing new to post here, and I suck.

With that, here's an acrostic poem for your perusal. I wrote it last month.

Sacred space
Approaches my soul.
Covenants broken by sin,
Renewed by blood and body.
Anguish replaced by peace as
Minutes visit paradise, and
Eternity slips into spirit.
Now, I am whole.
The Lord is with me.

This is the kind of stuff that's coming out of me, and I'm going to have to figure out a way to break away from it (at least for the time being).

Any suggestions?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Re-Used Blog Post #1

So I thought I would post on this blog the posts I write for the University's literary magazine blog. (Hmm, this is a confusing sentence. Sorry about that.)

I feel it's okay since a) I wrote it, b) It's about writing, and c) It kills two blogs with one stone.

Here it is:

What? Me? A Writer?

Last year, I became a novelist.

I say this with trepidation, because who am I to call myself that? Can one merely write words on a page, in some sort of order, for the required amount of pages, and then proceed to call oneself a novelist?

Well, I hope so!

That’s what I did when I participated in NaNoWriMo this past November. I sat down for 30 days, writing approximately 1667 words per day, and ended up with a little book of over 50,000 words. And presto chango, I’m a novelist, with a certificate, and everything!

Labeling myself a novelist is very hard for me; the same for calling myself a poet. In my mind, I’m just Liz, a woman who spends her free time trying to come up with the perfect metaphor for eating spaghetti, or the last line in a story about a Martian who hems drapes.

I’m certainly not a writer! Ugh, that’s the BIG word I avoid using to describe myself.

As I’ve been thinking about why I fear calling myself a novelist, poet, and/or writer, I’ve realized this avoidance stems from how I’ve defined these terms, a definition I began to forge somewhere between elementary school, and Satan’s armpit, or junior high.

In my mind, a writer (et al.) is someone who is a) super cool, b) super smart, c) super witty, d) dresses in black, e) has unkempt hair, f) wears really big glasses, and g) takes black and white pictures of themselves on an angle like he or she can’t be bothered to look at the camera.

I don’t possess any of these traits (well, maybe the crazy hair bit, but without the black and the glass, I just look unhygienic). And so you can see my problem: I’ve defined something that excludes myself. And I think we’ve all done this at some point.

Why do we do things like this? (And by “we,” I mean me.) Are we afraid of ridicule? Of failure? Of having to explain to our grandma that although international business communications would be a more lucrative career, we’d much rather live off Cup O’Noodles while we write our collection of sonnets dedicated to the musical stylings of REO Speedwagon? (Rock on, guys!)

The answer, of course, is unique to each of us. But, it’s one that we all have to face.

It’s taken me a long time to let the fear go, and to actually accept that I am a writer. I am a novelist. I am a poet. (FYI: Writing these last 12 words have, still, almost made me go into spastic fits.)

But, there you have it.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the great geniuses of the last century, Popeye the Sailor Man, “I Yam what I Yam.”

And I am whatever I define myself to be.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My First Post-The Goals

I thought I would start out with a list of things I hope to accomplish with (and within) this blog. That way, my readers (Hi, readers!) will know what to expect when he/she comes here, and I’ll be able to remember why I started the whole dang thing.

So, with that, here’s what I’ve got (I’ll probably add to it as time goes on).

Goals for My Readers

1. Accountability. I need it. Desperately. Please hold me accountable! If I don’t follow the rules I’ve set for myself by posting, etc., please become a monkey on my back, screeching in my ear, and pounding me with bananas. Okay? I’ll even supply you with the bananas if you need them.

2. Feedback. You don’t need to be a literary-type person to help me. If you don’t understand a poem, or you think part of my story is confusing, let me know! It will help me hone my skills. And even if I don’t agree with your assessment, it will still give me valuable insight into how my writing is read.

With that being said, please be kind about it, though. I care about what you think! And I have no problem accepting criticism (I got a lot of it while I was in school, after all), but it still smarts when people think that something you’ve been working on for months is crap. So keep that in mind. It’s far more helpful to point out a line of poetry that doesn’t make sense than to say “Your poem is stupid, trite, and you are lame!”

3. Tips and Advice. Have you read any book or article that you’ve found helpful with your writing? Do you have any techniques for effective editing? Have you taken a class or been involved in a group that has been helpful? Pass that info along! Let me know about it. I can use all the help I can get!

Goals for Myself

1. Remain Positive. I will try my hardest to just post my stuff without disclaimers. You know, like “This one sucks.” or “Best of luck trying to figure out the last line.” or “Why do I bother?” I will post my piece and let it stand on its own.

2. Post Weekly. I will post a poem every Monday. Even though it will, BY NO MEANS, be complete. It normally takes me a few months (sometimes longer) to have a finished poem (even though I never feel like a poem is “finished”). It’s not about the end result here. It’s about using my creative mind, and giving myself pieces that I can work with in the future in order to build a chapbook to help me get into grad. school.

3. Tips and Updates. I will post any kind of helpful tips I come across, mention books I’m reading about the “craft” of writing, and I’ll also give updates to what I’m doing aside from the writing (e.g. classes I take, workshops I attend, writing groups I’m involved in, readings I go to, etc.).

Well, that’s all I have for now!

Thank you in advance for all the help you’re going to give me. I’ll be better for it!