Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gratitude List

Because There Aren't Enough Lists on the Internet

 Dear Reader,

Thank you, again, for your patience as you awaited this post, which was delayed due to the November madness known as Thanksgiving. Thank you too for your tolerance of a literary blog that has recently looked like anything but a literary blog, due to the November-Decemember madness known as finals. I guess, even at the end of the day, even a writing student is still a student, so thanks for putting up with my craziness. I promise I'll start sounding intellectual and geeky again soon.

As my last full-time semester of undergrad draws to a close, I've begun to realize how easy it's been to focus on the negativity of it all. Hands down this has been the toughest semester of my life -- academically and emotionally. Exceptionally challenging courses + grad school apps + senioritus + sad about graduation + life = one horrendous roller-coaster ride. Thanksgiving break was good for me as a time to wind down and contemplate it all with a calmer mind. In the busy-ness, it's so easy to get lost in the misery of things that I'll miss, things I wish I did better, and things that I've just plain hated. But at the end of the day, Self, look where I am. Even if I completely fell apart, failed every course this semester, and got rejected by every grad school I've applied to, I've still accomplished so much, and lead such a rich life.

So, fully aware of the cliché involved in this move, here's my list of things that I'm grateful for -- this semester and always:
  1. Books: because a well-turned phrase is more delicious than a box of chocolates
  2. Notebooks: because a scattered mind requires a place to keep scattered thoughts
  3. Mornings: because they have possibilities
  4. 2 a.m. Writing Sprees: because "even night is not night enough" for the inspired writer (Franz Kafka)
  5. Bribed Proofreaders . . . I mean friends: because my writing is close to my heart, and deserves nothing less than to be discussed heart-to-heart with someone I trust
  6. Art: because every so often, I need to break from being the artist and to simply appreciate someone else's art
  7. Music: because it is the one force that exclaims what even words cannot
  8. Silence: because it makes the inner voice so very talkative
  9. Deep Conversations: because there is no subject, no drama, no story, without people made vulnerable
  10. Love: because, at the end of the day, everything is worth nothing without it
Grace and peace to you.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Flash Poetry

More Lazywriting under the Guise of Metawriting

Reader, finals are kicking my senioritis-infected-but-still-a-perfectionist-bitch tush at the moment, so I'll keep it brief.

As I was reflecting on my last post regarding freewrite (written in freewritten form), I thought it might be helpful to try a few more let-loose writing techniques that allow me to release a creative flow without the burden of polish. Oh trust me, it hurts -- it hurts a lot. We all know how much I shudder at the thought of producing anything that isn't my best. But I'm gradually trying to embrace the idea that, for creative output to be the constant habit that I want it to be, it can't possibly all be perfect -- it will slow me down, and make me go insane. So -- at your expense, reader -- here's another attempt to write without polish, one big chaotic mess of words:


make me   your hideous diary   your cave of secret despair
the bright little jar to hold your joys   i will encompass you
contain your mind-movements   and unspoken pinings
i know i lack           the arms or mouth
to give back to you        some kind of
velvet comfort, a warm scarf of words
but the least i can do is
be the outside place
to keep your hurts
and smiles away
i will gladly hold them:
to me they are flowers

(Hey, that actually wasn't so bad.)

Grace and peace to you.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


the importance of being lazy

Alright. *Intellectual side off* Here we go:

so this weekend i had a little bit of a breakthrough regarding writing habits, because we should all know by now that my habits are terrible, but more so i'm terrible at changing them, i just tend to assume that i can only write successfully the way i've been writing because hey, i seem to be producing pretty good stuff so it must be working, right? wrong. or, maybe some of its wrong. but the point is i psyche myself out more than i should when i don't really need to. anyway, i discovered this book by janet burroway called writing fiction (oh hey look an excerpt just for you!) which remind me that i really ought to read more metawriting / writing about writing / writers geek heaven resources when i have the time, but this book had a chapter -- the beginning chapter actualy -- that talks about what has always been the hardest part for me in writing which is simply how in gosh darn's name do i start the damn thing?? by now you should kno that i'm someone who is perfectionist i hate putting anything on paper that isn't bperfect not just in terms of proofreading (ah now you know why i didn't spellcheck here) but int its content effect language WORDING holy crap that beginning has GOT to be the hook that draws people in and every line after that must work smoother than butter on warm toast (shit where did that anology come from? corn central) plus i am a student working with deadlines sooo not a moment can be wasted, so i think. full day of complete concentration must be applied to the production of this story and yes of course as a writer writing should be THAT dedicated, that meticulous, but i stress myself out to the point where i stare at the computer screen that intimidating white page glaring at me and can't put down anything for the sheer fear of it. FREEWRITEmy teachers say IT'S LIKE A MUSICIAN WAMRING UP WITH SCALES hey don't pul the musician one on me i AM a musician so i know this but musicianship and writing are two very diffrent things, in music THE PIECE IS THERE, it's RIGHT THERE in front of you, now you just have to interpret, whereas the book is not written nothing exists until you put down each and every word. ugh sorry i'm getting carried away. anyways those are usually my stubborn responses, but reading janet burroway is the first time i've heard the freewrite advice and actually decided to apply it. because freewrite emma might very werll seem like a waste of time to you but trust me, in the long run, it'll relieve that awful headache of staring at a blank screen, the dread of STARTING. so let your start be ugly YES FREAKING UGLY nobody ever has to see it but you, it can mean nothing, or it can be a dialogue with yourself about your work, for example two boys on road-trip (to where??? maybe fishing -- maybe their grandfather(?) or uncle always took them fishing?) I don’t know too much about fishing so what’s something I can do instead . . . camping? . . . you see? you just avoided an obstacle before you got to it, and you did it in an ugly fashion, and it saved you time and stress in the longrun. or even if its not about your story and you're only complaining about intimadating teachers or how much this writing process is absolutely awful the point is to write SOMETHING, just DO IT, even if its only function is to be lazy about a blog post during finals. :)

Grace and peace to you.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Always a Student

Learning to Think -- for Life

I'd like to take a step back from the purely writing-related topics to talk about something more general and personal. The college experience, as a whole, has been haunting me relentlessly in recent weeks. Most likely, this is because it's currently November of my senior year. Finals are closing in, grad school applications deadlines are approaching, and my amazing, all-too-short years as a college student are coming to an end.

All-too-short? It's funny I should say that. After all, I've been in the higher education world for almost six years now. I was an early starter at college, going part-time at a community college at sixteen, so by now I've been an undergrad for a little over half a decade. That's a sobering thought. I'm only barely under 22, which means I've spent almost a quarter of my life in the college setting. By now I should be sick of it, shouldn't I?

But I'm not. In fact, I'm mortified that it's ending. Particularly at Westfield State, my college years have been the happiest I've known. If I had all the money in the world, I'd go to school for life -- and that's not an exaggeration. But it's not because I'm in love with all-nighters (which suck) or parties (which I never go to) or the delayed immersion into the "real world" (which is scary, but not paralyzing) that I wish to prolong the experience. My attraction to the academic setting is due to -- dare I say it -- a love of learning. I'm a scholastic glutton. I adore the intellectual stimulation, intelligent discussions, and detailed investigations. And of course, in an English degree, such pursuits are entirely useless -- how will analyzing the nuanced metaphors in a Keats poem achieve anything for society? How, indeed, will much of the knowledge we acquire in college -- particularly outside our field of interest -- help us professionally down the road? (I mean, Botany 101? How will plants make me a better writer?) Why expend our energy in so many areas of learning?

I can't speak much for society. But as an individual, I know that the act of learning itself has made me a better person. It's taught me to be curious, to examine closely, to never passively accept an idea without first exploring it myself. And I will never regret taking such a diversity of courses -- especially the "useless" courses; in addition to producing a well-balanced brain, they have shown me how a person ought not to be narrow in their interests. They've taught me to appreciate how multifaceted our world is, how vast and unknowable even as we constantly strive to know it.

To put it in the simplest terms, learning has taught me to think. In such a practical society that praises production and great works of progress, it's difficult to imagine that contemplation, on its own, is so valuable to human experience. But life is so much more than what we make; it is also how we see, how we feel, how we react. Contemplation is what keeps us from being utilitarian robots and makes us human. For my part, I've always believed that to be "a better person" means to strive for the best in our human capacities -- emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical. Constant learning, then, betters the individual as our perception becomes deeper, wider, more balanced -- that is, as we make the most of our mental faculties.

Whatever the reason, learning is an art that I will cherish for life. I hope to never stop being curious. I hope never to stop exploring and asking questions. Most of all, I hope to never get so lost in the doings and happenings of daily life that I forget (God forbid) to think about it all.