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!