It’s Important to Embrace Your Old Writing

Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash

The first thing I can remember writing was a short story. I was nine years old and in the fourth grade. I’d been a voracious reader for years already, so maybe it was natural I’d fall in love with writing too.

One day, my teacher gave us a creative writing assignment. It’s the first of its kind I was ever given. It was around Easter time, so that was our theme. It was only meant to be, at most, a page long.

I turned in five.

I don’t remember many details about the story, but I know it featured a magical Easter Bunny that was hopping around, granting people’s wishes, and creating all kinds of chaos. My teacher said it was really creative. She kept it for a while and after that, I’m not sure what happened to it.

I wish I’d asked for a copy. My first piece of genuine writing! It’d be so fun to re-read it and share it with my children.

Not much later, I wrote my first poem. I’d always had a rocky relationship with my parents, and once I hit double digits and got my period at 11 years old, things only got worse. I needed an outlet. Naturally, I turned to writing.

I titled the poem My Life is Not a Drag. I don’t remember anything about it but that. I wrote it to try to cheer myself up, listing things in my life I was thankful for, or that made me happy.

I do remember that I wrote a lot about my cats. And books, of course. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit.

I look back on my first forays into writing with nostalgia, but if I still had either of those pieces, chances are, they’d be objectively awful. What does a young child know about grammar, or how to write a good story or poem? Next to nothing. What I did know, though, was imagination and wonder.

And the all-consuming need to write down my thoughts.

Continue reading “It’s Important to Embrace Your Old Writing”

October Art and Writing Challenge Wrap-Up

Though I didn’t share many of the haiku I wrote in October to WordPress, I still want to talk about the challenge, why I chose to do it, and what I got from it–the good and the bad.

I was stumbling around on Twitter and came across this post by Holly. On a whim, I decided to give it a try. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to 1) force myself to write and 2) practice my digital art skills. And it was a prompt list all about autumn and Halloween, two of my favorite things.

Why did I choose to write all haiku? Because I find haiku to be rather easy to write, and I’m good at them. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of time writing long poems as it was my intention to finish a 31-day challenge in only 15 days. Because I’m extra af sometimes.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the challenge. And I like most of the poems I wrote for it, Death being one of the best (in my most humble opinion). There were a few I felt were not my best work, especially towards the end of the challenge, but nonetheless, I’m proud of myself. I did finish the challenge, after all. It’s not very often I get to say that.

Endeavoring to write 31 poems in 15 days did what it was supposed to: it forced me to write. Multiple times per day, in fact. Which is somehow both a positive and negative thing. I definitely started feeling some burnout towards the end of the challenge. The last few poems felt like pulling teeth. I started to hate what I was writing and didn’t want to do it anymore. But I was determined to finish the challenge, so I made it easier on myself in the only way I could: I stopped drawing illustrations for each poem and used stock photos to complement each piece. That helped a lot, and I was able to finish on a high note.

For the last poem, I chose to break away from the haiku format. It is, of course, titled Halloween. Enjoy!

Read the rest of the poems here.

Beware:
when the nights grow chillier
and a red moon turns clouds into rivers of blood —
Hallowe’en is here.

Look:
the pumpkins put on smiles,
jagged teeth gnashing fire into pulp —
Hallowe’en is here.

Watch:
the witches take their vengeance to the sky
phoenixes risen from the ashes of their abusers —
Hallowe’en is here.

Listen:
to the breaths of ghosts on the wind,
the long-lost souls doomed to roam earth —
Hallowe’en is here.

Duck!
The bats in the belfry have awoken,
a black cloud that blots out the moon —
Hallowe’en is here.

Scream:
the doorbell is a too-normal sound
among all these phenomena.
Hallowe’en is here.

Smile:
at the painted faces of the children
dressed as ghouls and ghosts and gross things.
Hallowe’en is here.

Sink:
into warm blankets, autumn treats at hand,
and wait for the next round of haunts.
Hallowe’en is here.

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It Came! It Finally Came!

I was so happy to receive my contributor’s copy of the Inaugural Edition of Copperfield Review Quarterly. After all, I was a contributor! I never dreamed I’d attempt to write a Shakespearean sonnet about Henry VIII, much less that it would be published in such an esteemed literary journal of historical fiction and poetry.

I would like to thank the editor of CRQ, Meredith Allard, for this amazing honor.

I’m proud to finally share with everyone A Day in the Life of Henry VIII. Such an infamous monarch’s daily to-do list couldn’t possibly contain such mundane things as cleaning and errands. In this sonnet, Henry VIII takes it upon himself to change his marriage, the church, and God Himself, all in the pursuit of securing his progeny.

The image of God in his ire does speak
that a more painful hell than this awaits.
But I am King and this one change I seek:
‘tis my desire and creed which should dictate
the right of man to set aside his wife
who through devilry and spite does founder
to achieve her purpose to create life;
whether by ties or death should he sever
them from this most sacred and solemn vow,
he can be assured of his rightful choice
and take such succor as offered him now,
be it food or skin above a rich bodice!
Whoever she be, shall she be my queen
or be hanged for failure to make a king?

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New Avenues

I’m always searching for ways to branch out with my writing–or maybe I’m just someone who likes to start a lot of projects and overwork myself until I, inevitably, shut down.

I suspect it’s a little of both.

Regardless of the reason, I’m happy to announce I signed up for a Medium account. The social media network for writers. It seems like a fun place. As most writers know, it can be hard to connect with other people and get them to engage with your writing, so that’s what I’m hoping to gain from Medium.

I don’t have any concrete goals about how often I want to post to Medium. Ideally, I’d like to post every day, but I know it isn’t feasible. I did just start an October art/writing prompt challenge that will keep me busy for a little while. Afterward, who knows? I don’t want to post only poetry and short fiction pieces, so I might cook up some personal stories and listicles too. The point is to write more frequently. I’ve got to build better writing habits, or none of my writing projects will ever be finished.

I’ve already posted a couple of things: A few poems for the October art/writing challenge I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Check out my profile, cheer me on, and follow me. Let’s be friends!

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She’s Ba-aaack (Kinda)

Ack! It happened again. My apologies. My mind is as fickle as the weather sometimes. I also haven’t been writing lately, so I haven’t had much to say about it.

Unfortunately, I don’t foresee myself getting back on the writing horse anytime soon. I’m going back to work soon, and all my attention has been laser-focused on preparing for that. Mostly I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do for childcare. This shouldn’t be so hard, but here we are. It’s ridiculous how expensive it is. Why should I go to work to pay someone $1,000 a month to raise my children? That’s an entire mortgage payment!

I’m going to end it there, before I get myself worked up. Keep your fingers crossed that I’m able to find a cheaper option. Otherwise, going back to work may not even be an option.

I miss writing. It’s always this time of year, with NaNoWriMo looming on the horizon, that I feel the worst about my inconsistencies as a writer. I have the creativity and the talent, but none of the discipline writing requires. It makes me fear I’ll never finish a novel, or any writing piece longer than a short story–and I can barely finish those!

It’s so frustrating. I wish brain transplants were a thing. Since they aren’t, I should probably follow through on seeking out the therapy I’ve needed for a long time, but I can never make myself take that step.

If only I was still of an age when my mother took care of all my medical business, then I’d have no choice.

It’s Publication Day!

Finally, the day I’ve been waiting for. My Shakespearean sonnet A Day in the Life of Henry VIII has had its debut in Copperfield Review Quarterly and I couldn’t be prouder. Seeing my name in print for the first time, and in such an acclaimed literary publication, has me feeling a little teary. I hope this only means good things for my future as a poet.

Please consider supporting me and this great publication. You can purchase digital or print copies of the quarterly on Copperfield Review Quarterly’s website. There’s so much on offer in this edition! Read about handling resistance with Steven Pressfield; Ann Taylor is in the poet spotlight; and, of course, there are plenty of short stories and poems to enjoy.

Get your copy today!

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Here Comes the Bride

I married my significant other of nine years yesterday! Honestly, it was about time. It was a simple ceremony performed by a Justice of the Peace, but I got to marry the man I love in front of all my friends and family, so it was simply perfect.

In honor of my nuptials, I want to share a poem I wrote about us a few years ago.

Units of Measurement

How do you measure a relationship?
In years?
We’ve lasted four.
I’d try to get it down to the second,
but I’m bad at math.

Anyway,
I think I’d rather measure ours
in moments:

Like the first night we spent together
and stayed up until 3am talking
about…you know, I’ve forgotten,
but the sound of your voice
was a roll of thunder over my skin,
and, oh, how I wished your fingers had chased the sounds.

We were so silly
the day we decided to move in together
as a solution to our first real argument.
But I was frustrated–I missed you,
and you, you won’t admit it,
but you missed me too,
and even though it was stupid,
it worked out all right in the end.

I remember the night I came home
from visiting my parents
and you said my new hair color was beautiful
and we tumbled into bed together
and some months and days later
we named our son after your grandfather.

It’s weird, isn’t it,
that buying a house together was scarier
than those 16 hours of pain.

A lot can happen in four years.
I’m curious to see what the next
three years will bring–
maybe a daughter?

We did get our daughter, by the way. She has her father’s eyes. ♥

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Third Time’s the Charm

Writers have to have thick skins. By putting ourselves out there, we risk the possibility of being told no. It’s easy to take such rejection personally–we put so much of ourselves into our writing that any rejection of it feels like a rejection of us.

But it’s not. Receiving a rejection doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It simply means your writing was not meant for that place, but there are hundreds and thousands of other places it may find a home in.

I have been rejected three times now. I won’t lie, it stings a little, but I try to keep in mind my own advice. I allow myself to be sad for five minutes (okay, maybe more like five hours), and then I try again.

And my perseverance has paid off. I am happy to announce I have just been accepted for the third time! My poem A Day in the Life of Henry VIII, which you can preview here, was accepted by The Copperfield Review and will appear in the Summer 2021 July edition.

As this is a poem I am most proud of, indeed, it may be one of the best poems I’ve ever written, I am beyond happy. And to think, I almost backed out of the query!

If you’re struggling, if you feel like your writing will never be published, if you’re considering giving up–this is your sign not to. Keep going. Keep fighting for your writing.

Your time will come.

Writing Goals

It’s no secret that the biggest roadblock along my path to success is my lack of self-motivation. Depression, anxiety, and ADHD team up to make sure I rarely have any. Anything I manage to create is done so whenever the fog of mental illness dissipates enough for me to see a little sunshine through the clouds.

I keep trying, though, and for that, I applaud myself. It’d be all too easy to give up for good. But I won’t. Though writing is hard, unbelievably hard some days, it’s still something I love to do, and I think I’d go crazy if I couldn’t write.

I have a couple of writing goals I’d like to accomplish this year. I’m going to record them here for some accountability. By the end of 2021, I would like to have at least 15,000 words of my novel written. I would also like to have my poetry chapbook ready for publication. I plan to go the traditional route first. If that doesn’t pan out, I will consider self-publication.

I’m both excited and not. It’s going to take a lot of work. Depression is telling me I’ll never be able to do it, and anxiety is telling me even if I did manage to finish my chapbook, no one would want to publish it. I wish there was a way to make them shut up forever.

All I can do is try my best. Onward!

Getting Back on the Horse

I feel I should apologize for my sudden absence but doing so sounds exhausting. So, I’m going to spare myself that hassle and just say: I’m back!

Some explanation is in order, though. Mid-September of last year, I descended into a sudden depressive episode. I’ll spare you the details, but essentially, it killed all desire to do anything but read and play video games. It’s taken me this long to feel marginally okay again.

It’s really disheartening how mental illness can be a roadblock to success. I was feeling super excited about all kinds of prospects last August. A couple of my poems were accepted for publication, and I was working on a novel that I was super excited about and felt positive was going somewhere.

In what felt like one day, it all unraveled. I didn’t want to write anymore. I lost all confidence in the quality of what I had already written and felt like the couple of successes I had with publishing my poetry were flukes.

In short, I felt hopeless and like I wasn’t good enough, wouldn’t ever be good enough, so why bother trying?

I’ve been telling myself that for most of my life. Boy, I’m really tired of me.

With the turn of the weather, I’ve felt much better. I’ve started writing again! I even submitted a couple of pieces for publication. Keep your fingers crossed for good news!

I feel more like myself again–it’s good to be back. And this time, I hope to stay for a long, long time.