Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Confession Tuesday

Taken at Wicked Good Books, Salem, MA



Happy Tuesday, folks. Time to confess!


Not sure which was worse today: completing my reappointment file at work, seeing the my ob-gyn for my annual check-up, or realizing that today would have been my 14th wedding anniversary. All of the above. 

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So I had a Margarita at dinner. 

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I also skipped out of my writers group tonight for time at Starbucks. I need a few hours to process. But it looks like Tuesday are the best nights to hang out at Starbucks (read: cute boys!) 

There's also a group here with a spinning wheel. I kid you not. 

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The last few weeks in the poetry world have been cray. Really. But there's been some good news too, such as today's announcement of the National Book Awards long list in poetry. So many friends on the list. Good luck to everyone. 

And, today Mass Poetry announced the call for proposals! Submit between September 15 and October 30. (I just can't believe it's that time of year again.) Feels good to celebrate the achievements of these fine poets. 

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And some good news for me. Misery Islands is in its second printing! And, my third manuscript is finished and with a publisher for review. All this on the heels of a dynamite interview I did with David Roderick at The Rumpus Late Night Poetry Show (with two bonus poems), and this article at Old Dominion University, my alma mater. 

Couldn't be happier. I'm feeling grateful tonight, which takes the edge off a difficult day. 


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

How to DIY a Writers Retreat

Steepletop Barn

A few weeks ago, a group of five of us went to Millay Colony of the Arts in Austerlitz, New York. We had a terrific time, each of us working on poetry and fiction projects in various stages of development. It was not lost on us that we were on the property once inhabited by Edna St. Vincent Millay, a true rock-star poet in her day. There were times when I swear we felt her spirit move through us.

All of us had participated in different writers’ retreats in the past. But this one we planned, meaning, we rented the space and designed the week to our specifications as a group. It was self-directed, with enough interaction to keep us from getting bored. And, of course, we were surrounded by the spectacular vistas surrounding the Millay property to keep us engaged. The threat of bears also kept us on our toes.

Poet Jennifer Martelli lovingly captured our experience for Mass Poetry’s site. But for those who want a more practical approach to a do-it-yourself retreat, here are some tips

Pick a good location
It all starts with comfort level. Retreats don’t have to be expensive. But you need to feel as if you have everything you need, from a quiet space to access to a printer.
Limit the distractions
If you’ve on a retreat, be on retreat and limit checking email and social media.

Have a plan for your time
Are you trying to complete a manuscript or meet your daily word count? Whatever the goal, write it down and follow it. Even if the goals change, at least you have a base from which to start.

Stay open
Follow through on any idea or word. Get it down on paper. Don’t get discouraged. Or maybe it’s better to be discouraged if that’s part of your process. Give yourself permission to try, fail, and fail again.

Have good food
I won’t lie—we ate well. But we also walked, swam, talked, workshopped, fretted, and read lots of books. Chocolate helps.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Confession Tuesday


Happy Tuesday, folks. Time for confessions. Share and share alike.

September is here and we are back to school! I have to say, I'm sad to see summer go. For the past three months, I've taken a break from all duties and obligations. And for the last two months, the kids and I have goofed off, had many water gun battles, eaten too much ice cream, and just enjoyed the warm weather. But not, classes have started for them and I'm back to teaching at Salem State.

Summer, we miss you already.

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I didn't write very much during the past few months. I'm probably being too hard on myself because I finished my third manuscript. But I didn't have that desperate ache to start a poem, or keep pace against any self-imposed schedules. Admittedly, I was OK with not writing, so I think this has to be a new part of the process. This fall, I'll teach three creative writing classes and one composition class. No way I can get out of writing. That's one of the benefits--even if it's bad writing. Now that classes are back in session and I have three creative writing classes, I'm looking forward to working with students and getting into a more regular routine.

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This fall I have a lot of travel, more than I would normally take on in a semester. I'd forgotten what it's like to promote a book. By all accounts, Misery Islands is doing well with adoptions and general sales. I'm doing my best to support my little book.

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You know you're getting older when you start saying things such as, "Where has the time gone?"

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