Tag Archives: Writing, Revising, Blogging

Do It Standing Up

Among writers who are known to enjoy writing while standing are Vladimir Nobokov, Thomas Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway. This week, take a stand and dedicate at least one of your writing sessions to writing standing up and discover the many benefits, including: freedom of movement and therefore freedom of thought, better posture and therefore less back pain, passive exercise (you burn more calories when standing than you do when sitting), and a general change of pace that may result in clearer writing and fresh ideas.

Not sure what to write on while taking this new approach to working? Try a clipboard, your kitchen counters (clean and dried), the top of a waist-high bookshelf, a piece of plywood resting atop a few bar stools, or one of those tall tables at the library.  If you like the results, you can build or purchase something permanent, like a drafting table, later.

Remember, the best way to get your writing done is to write – so don’t over think it, just write right now!

Pyeongchon Writers’ Group Final Reading a Success

While in Anyang, I’ve  had the opportunity and great joy to work with a small group of Expatriate writers who, from January to August 2010, met  bi-weekly in Pyeongchon coffee shops, office-tels and restaurants to share stories, frustrations, goals, and best of all, creative writings. Some of our work consisted of old stories and poems we hoped to revive while others were  inspired by our experiences in S. Korea. On August 22nd, we held a reading at the home of one of our members to share with the world a few of the more significant fruits of our labor. In addition to reading some of our work, we assembled collection of our pieces in a small chapbook to share with attendees and friends. Both the reading and the chapbook were well received.

Pyeongchon Writers' Group 2010

Pyeongchon Writers’ Group 2010

Author Bios (from left to right):

Gary Jackson is the winner of the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize for his first book Missing You, Metropolis. He was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, and received his Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from the University of New Mexico in 2008.

Lisa M. Hase (back row) holds a Master’s Degree in English with an emphasis in writing from Kansas State University. Her poems have appeared in such literary magazines as Susquehanna Review, Midwest Quarter and Sub-scribe Online Magazine.

Derrika Hunt (back row) was born and raised in South Florida and much of her writing is inspired by the many challenges she faced growing up there. She writes for all of those voices that have been silenced.

Chau Nguyen was born in Stockton and raised in Pomona, CA, and educated by worldly travels and her folks. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

Members not shown: Sonali Maulik and Cereba Barrios

Writing a Poem a Day

Every April I celebrate National Poetry Month by reading lots of poetry, convincing other people to read lots of poetry and trying to get everyone to write a little poetry. I also follow the “Poem a Day” challenge, and this year, for the first time,  completed the challenge by writing thirty-five poems in thirty days.

One trick to writing a poem a day, or writing anything on a daily basis for that matter, is to allow yourself to do it poorly. Because, integral to the creative process is failure and foolishness, hopefully of the playful kinds, and just generally coming to terms with the awkwardness of making something from nothing. It’s all “elbows and knees,” or in the case of writing, passive voice and too many adjectives. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly, I also say, otherwise, expectations of perfection will interfere with the act of creation, a process that in and of itself is already perfect.

With that said, let me admit that the poems I’ve drafted this month are all pretty crappy. They are unfinished, awkward, contain trite beginnings and contrived endings, tired images and many clichés.  But maybe, just maybe, there is a line or a poem’s worth of lines that will evolve into something publishable.

For me, generating poetry to use for raw material is all about the “quantity = quality” equation, one that is still sneered at by many. Maybe for writers like Tolstoy, writing the perfect sentence or paragraph before moving on to the next is the best process, but I for one need the actual act of writing to get where I am writing too, and there is a lot of support for this belief. “Writing begets writing” my Graduate Fiction Writing instructor, Susan Rodgers, used to say. It takes a million words before you can publish, or earn, your fist novel, according to Randy Ingermanson. Obviously, for Chris Baty of the NaNoWriMo phenom, it’s about writing 50,000 words in thirty days for one month out of the year. Finally, according to a wiser author than I (whose name escapes me at the moment), you have to write through a lot of crap to get to the good stuff.

But letting yourself write poorly is also about facing the blank page every day and consistently conquering it, “consistently” being the operative word there. That is, writing needs the same consideration as such daily self-care pursuits as eating, showering, and exercising (or meditating). In my life, writing must receive the same priority as a second job, especially necessary though doubly difficult since I am already employed full-time. As a second job, writing is difficult because its rewards are often delayed and are rarely monetary, its process often tedious, and its available time often gobbled up by greedy employers, needy people or insistent errands. But still I write, and still I fail to write, and still I fail when I write.  But the bottom line is, I write.

But let me return to the topic of writing a poem a day in April and say that the best part of this year’s challenge is that after essentially forcing myself to write a poem every day is that it became easier to start. Similar to keeping a well primed, everything I saw or experienced had potential for a poem. And best of all was experiencing something akin to a runner’s high; moment when I felt like I could go on writing forever.