Craft, Editor, Fiction, Novel, Poetry, Publish, Query, Short story, Writing

The long and short of it

Yesterday, I spent hours—again—researching literary magazines. My goal is to have at least two stories and maybe a poem in submission by October. I’m not sure I have a talent for writing short stories. I feel more confident in my novel writing ability.

I give story writing a good shot every so often, but somehow, the voice I have when novel writing weakens in my stories. Some feel if you truly have the skills for writing fiction, you should be able to write it long and short. But I know other novelists who either stumble at writing short fiction or refuse to even try.

Story writing is a challenge to me. For some reason, I feel obligated to succeed at it, at least once. I feel the same about poetry—even though that definitely requires a different skill set than fiction writing. Maybe I’m just a bit masochistic.

I have a couple stories I think are worth submitting. But, like querying a novel to the right agent, it’s important to find the right magazine for your story. The few literary magazines I’m subscribed to now, are far beyond my level. Only in my dreams would they accept my work.

It takes an enormous amount of time to read online journals, looking for a good match. And I’ll confess that, like agents, a few mags I thought would be perfect, did not agree with my assessment. A rejection yesterday, came so soon after submission, it seems they didn’t even need to read the whole story. That’s a real confidence shaker. Or maybe that editor’s a speed reader. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Now, your turn. Do you write both short and long fiction? Do you write them equally well? Do you also write poetry?

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Inspiration, Musings, Poetry, Reflections, Writing

Morning Meditation

Hush. Night fades to silver, holding its breath, waiting, waiting. Pink rises from the mountaintops, trailing gold from its toes, lighter, lighter. You hear it in your soul, feel it, see it, the rising chorus, the symbol crash, the sun breaking, glorious, as dawn arrives triumphant. Sing.

Most of my days, I rise before dawn. It’s a magical time. Still. Quiet … a few bird twitters. I am awake, yet not. If possible, I would spend the first few hours of my day silent. It seems appropriate. Listen before I speak.

Summer sunrises are my favorite. A pastel wash over dewy grass. A cool appetizer before a sizzling day. A promise. For even when you despair of life, dawn offers you the possibility that today will be different. Today will be a new beginning.

Today.

This day.

Take it and fly.

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Blog Stuff, Creativity Workshop, Novel, Poetry, Polls, Writing

Monday Melting Pot

In a previous post, when I talked about Tim O’Brien’s book, I told you I was reading two short story collections and had planned to write about the second one today. Alas, I haven’t finished reading it yet, so I’ll just catch up on a few other bloggery things.

From the results of my last poll, it appears that most of you don’t really care to read samples of writers’ work when you visit their blogs. In light of that, I should be thankful I got even a handful of comments when I’ve shared a flash or poem in the past. I haven’t figured out what you do prefer to read—maybe another poll is in order. If I possessed that particular golden ticket, and my blog readership skyrocketed, I could brag about my “platform” in my agent query letter. How soon do you think I could increase my daily post hits to at least a thousand? 😉

I’m sure you all remember the momentous day I blogged about bacon presses, so I thought I should update you. I did buy the one pictured, and as you can see, it works perfectly to keep the bacon flat. The bacon cooks evenly, but it also cooks faster, so I’ve had to watch the timing. What is it about bacon that people love so much? Within my circle, there is only one carnivore who doesn’t like it, but then she doesn’t like any pork product.

Because I’m a research addict, I went online to further my bacon knowledge. What we in the USA call bacon, is not necessarily what the citizens of other countries know as bacon. Americans refer to fried, smoked pork belly when they speak of bacon. Non-Americans may call that “streaky bacon” because their preferred bacon is leaner, cut from the sides and back of the pig—although there’s also “fatback” cut from the back, which is almost pure fat. What we Americans call “Canadian bacon” is back bacon. I also discovered that what I grew up calling jowl bacon, was not jowl at all, but just belly bacon with the rind left on. For the record, my favorite bacon is applewood smoked. And now I really, really, really want a BLT.

If you’ve been keeping track of my Creativity Workshop progress, you may have wondered why there was no update posted yesterday. Well, the simple answer is there wasn’t any progress to report. My goal last week was to write a short story, one of four connected by place, but I only managed to write maybe half a story. I know the rest of the story, so I’ll get it written eventually. I also failed to do Merrilee’s writing exercise, in fact, I forgot she posted an exercise. But I’m giving myself a pass because this was a busy week, with the end-of-school awards and a high-school graduation.

That’s not to say I did no writing this week. I wrote three little poems; it seems all I have to do is be quiet in the morning, especially on the way home after driving my husband to work. I also finished my final polish and format clean-up of my novel. This time I know I’ve done all I can do because I’m down to deleting and inserting commas.

Okay, that’s that. Thanks to all who participated in my weekend discussion on publishing options. Today, I hope to finally get my new dishwasher installed, and then I will—once again—ignore the crabgrass that is taking over my flowerbeds because it’s supposed to be 100° F here today and I truly, totally cannot stand to sweat.

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Creativity Workshop, Goals, Poetry, Writing

Creativity Update

Despite my focus on introspection this past week, I did accomplish writerly tasks. I not only reached my Creativity Workshop goal, I also continued polishing my novel, as well as read and wrote feedback on submissions from some of my critique partners. And in related matters, I finished reading two novels I had started weeks ago. All in all, I had a productive week.

One more step up! Here’s the breakdown of how I met my CWS goal for week 3:

Monday: I took another look at the words I jotted down on Saturday for my haiku. Most of the words were okay, but they didn’t produce the right number of syllables. In the second line, I changed sees to mourns and passed to lived. Then I revised the final line and by the end of my CWS session I had the 5-7-5 pattern and a draft of my Winter haiku done.

Tuesday: Woke up in a black mood that just would not relent. All of my work looked horrid to me, even my beloved novel, so I shut down the writing room for the day.

Wednesday: Did no work on the poem today.

Thursday: I read an article by Jane Reichhold on haiku technique. I have much to learn before I can say I have a reasonable understanding of the form. Even the 5-7-5 pattern has been challenged. I played with my words moving them around, making substitutions. My third attempt felt right, so I declared this haiku written.

Friday: I thought ahead to the next poem, which will focus on Spring. I don’t know which poetry form I’ll use, but I’ve narrowed down ones I want to explore to the cinquain, triolet, and rondeau. It’s possible I’ll end up not using any of those, but I will definitely use a form I’ve never written in before.

It’s hard for me to believe that two years ago, I rarely read a poem because doing so made me very uncomfortable. It almost felt I was reading something in a foreign language, and I was sure I never understood what the poet was trying to convey. Many times, I still don’t, but I’m not afraid of poetry any longer. Pamela Villars may be right; I just might become addicted to writing poetry … but for me, it will never supplant writing fiction.

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Creativity Workshop, Goals, Poetry, Writing

Week two, during which I entered Poetland

Today is the day I update you on my Creativity Workshop progress. My goal this week was to research poetry forms, necessary because I’m basically ignorant of everything connected to writing poetry, and then to write the first of four poems. My theme for this set of goals is the four seasons. Certainly not an original concept, but it meets the requirement for connection, and I’ve never written poems specifically on seasons before. Also, each season will be personified as maiden, mother, or crone. I recognize two stages to motherhood: birthing and rearing, so Summer and Fall will both stand for mother.

I confess, by midweek I began to question the wisdom of signing up for a workshop when I was this close to finishing the final polish of a novel. Only two weeks in, it’s become a struggle to keep focused on the workshop goals. I don’t write well in short spurts, and at this point in my life, I usually don’t have to. I can and prefer to take the time to “get into character” before I let the story flow and then work until my brain exhausts itself. Breaking up my writing time with a bit of this and a bit of that is taking its toll on the quality of my output.

As requested, I recorded my progress in writing the first of four poems for the Creativity Workshop. This week I did not keep to the daily schedule I drew up before the workshop started. Obviously, I’m not doing so well on marrying discipline and creativity. I did, however, step up a rung on the ladder.

  • Monday: This was meant to be my research day, and I did some, but not as much as I’d planned because the words came first. I wrote some “poetic” thoughts on summer as I recall it from living the first half of my life in Indiana.
  • Tuesday: I researched more on poetry forms. One form I kept bypassing on Monday was the prose poem because it didn’t seem challenging enough. But early this morning, I took another look at the what I’d written and saw that it had already matured halfway to prose  poem–so prose it is. I worked far beyond my scheduled time and finished a decent draft of the poem by the end of the day. Also, viewed Merrilee’s three photo prompts and wrote down nine ideas/thoughts inspired by them as requested.
  • Wednesday: This is the busiest day of my week, so I had to stick with my allotted CWS time. Edited the poem to choose words better fitted to this poem. I consulted with one of my musician sons on use of one term.
  • Thursday: On second thought, I may not keep the prose poem form. I revised to free form, which is not a new poetry form for me, but I think I like the poem better this way. I spent the rest of my CWS time sitting in the sun and reading poetry.
  • Friday: I let the two versions of the poem sleep today. I researched more poetry forms to prepare for writing the next three. My aim is to fit the poetic form to the theme of the poem, but I’m not sure I will be able to do that.
  • Saturday: I re-read the two versions and decided to go with the free verse. I changed one word and added another. At some point in the future, I might know enough to write this better, but for now, I’ll consider this poem finished.

Words for the next poem came to me in the shower yesterday morning. I had been considering haiku for a winter poem and these words were already a close fit. So, it seems I have a head start on next week’s goal.

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