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It's Not Friday. I Know. I Know.

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Oct. 22nd, 2012 | 11:02 am

Back at the writing pub, finally getting in gear. It’s been a week of not being in touch, being far too busy, and feeling like a terrible writer (not unskilled,but bad at the process of getting writing done) and a worse friend, totally out of communication with most of the people I love.


I went hiking with my dear British friend, trekking uphill in mud and gravel. Even shrouded in mist, it was a gorgeous view over the beginning of the Downs (like in Watership Down). Looking over the countryside I started crying, absolutely terrified that I don’t have a book in me, that I’m wasting my time.

My friend asked, “Why is it important?” and I realized I don’t really know why I want to write a book. So that’s something to think about. I do think I’m on the right track with my memoir (draft seven, currently in the hands of an editor and in stasis until her response) and the Young Adult Novel (twenty pages in, I know I need to get the characters into the party but they’re stuck on the steps right now), because that’s what I like to read. And I’m discovering what I don’t like reading:

Literary magazines.

God save me from another short story in which all the emotion is just below the surface and there’s NO FUCKING ACTION! We have a name for that in playwriting and the name is BORING. Forgive me, Samuel Beckett. I know you’re literary and respected, I know nothing happening while we wait for Godot is the point and it says something about life and human existence and futility, but I never want to watch anything you’ve written ever again. Not even with Tom McCamus in it. I don’t have two acts’ worth of Tom McCamus fantasies. And I’m not too wild about most literary magazines, either. I can tell because I’ve been carrying them, unread, for three weeks.

What I do like is journalism, and there’s a couple of hybrid magazines like The Believer that combine fiction, non-fiction, poetry, criticism, and interesting new forms, that I think are worth a try. But as far as straight-up, good-for-the-resume, literary magazines?

1) I will feel fraudulent submitting to a venue I don’t want to read
2) Most of them don’t pay. I want to be paid.
3) It feels like a little club I don’t really want to belong to—a lot of the authors credit the other magazines I’m reading in their bios, and a lot of them are academics busy publishing-instead-of-perishing. I don’t want tenure.

REJECTED!
McSweeney’s thinks I’m clever but not funny enough. Which means they’ve processed one piece and I can submit another one. YES. MOVING FORWARD, MOTHERFUCKERS.

I did Bang Said The Gun, the loudest poetry night I’ve ever been to. There were milk-bottle shakers on every table and the music was up to eleven. I thought it was going to give me autism. My poem was met with something between stunned silence and indifference, as expressed through polite applause. On the up side, this means I never have to return.

SCORED!
Two more open mics this week: The Dial Up at the Seven Dials Club near Covent Garden, which is my main stomping grounds in London, and Word4Word at the Theatre Royal.

The Dial Up was terrific – really chill room, lots of great musicians, one other poet, and a magician (my friend who told me about the night). I did two pieces, including a new one where the delivery started to become clearer as I was doing it. Well-received and I’ve been invited to return for a full set.

Word4Word is run by the incredible, very funny Kat Francois, who did a terrific stand-up routine about being “dickmatized”—“Admit it, ladies, we all done some things our mama would be shamed to call us her daughter ‘cause we been sucked in by that thing we suckin’ on!” and about what happens when you meet the woman who "thiefed your man," ten years later. It sounds a little anti-feminist written down, but in person it was very powerful as well as hilarious. I thought I was just blending into the line-up, especially after the two women of Climb Poetree (click for video, it's amazing) did a phenomenal set, speak-singing in unison the words of their very well-written political poetry, but people did come up to me at the break. The best compliment was a guy saying, “I’m with Poetry in London, let us know when you’re back in town, now that we know you’re good we’ll set you up with some shows.”

That said, as awesome as performing is, seeing the ladies of Climb Poetree made me realize that no matter how amazing you are, the world of performance poetry still involves selling t-shirts at the gig to make some money, so we’re going to mark this down as Hobby I Really Like.

OPPORTUNITY OF THE WEEK
The Bridport Prize in short stories, flash, and poetry. It’s a huge contest with an entry fee, which normally I would not promote. However, the 2009 poetry winner was my own LJ Champion, Christopher Buehlman, and the prize is a big pile of money, so I think it’s worth doing if you’ve got a strong entry. You have six months to get ready—and remember that anything you enter can’t have been published anywhere, including the internet, so friends-lock it if you’re asking for feedback online.

Even if you don’t want to enter, check out the Judge’s Reports, which say some very interesting things about what they’re looking for and how they pick the best work from a huge pile. There are reports for each year, and the link path is at the top of that page. Click "report" next to the judge's name.

ME ME ME ME ME: THIS WEEK’S SUBMISSION(S)
Common Ground, an alternative print and online magazine based in Vancouver. They feature articles on personal growth, philosophy, environment, politics and ‘transformative travel’.

Why?
I’d like to get some of my motivational speech sections published as articles to build my platform and get my ideas out there.

How?
I read a couple of issues online, then revised my piece so that it’s more of an article to be read and less of a speech to be heard. Their query guidelines are very specific (always better than vague) and I checked off the list as I composed my query.  They only want the first paragraph, so if they ask for the whole article, I’ll do one more revision.

What?
The Power of Can’t, about discovering your values from what you think you 'can't' do.

And then I hit Send. WHICH IS LIKE STARTING A SLOW CLAP AND HOPING THE REST OF THE CROWD JOINS IN.

Fingers crossed!

LINK OF THE WEEK
Sometimes I look at this when I’ve been rejected, and it truly makes me feel better. You should try it.


____________________________________________
Do you ever get terrified you’re wasting your time?



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Comments {20}

notodette

(no subject)

from: notodette
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
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I never feel like I'm wasting my time because every day is such a gift, and whether I write the words I want, or the words I need or I just write nothing at all, even if I just think, it's not been a day wasted.

You see, after you've had children, your life becomes a vehicle for their lives. So that, yes, you are still your own person with your own needs, but if you get them through another day alive and healthy, you've not wasted your time.

Yep, after you squeeze a few bbs out of your vag it all makes sense.


HAHAHA. JUST KIDDING.

I ALWAYS feel like I'm wasting my time. Like, three out of every seven days I'm like, I AM WASTING MY TIME, BLARGH, AND WILL YOU TWO JUST SHUT UP ALREADY! I'M TRYING TO WRITE A FREAKING SENTENCE. GAWD.

It's like, how can you ever succeed in writing endeavors? We don't even know what we want, so there's not a clear way to achieve it.


(I totally had you going there, didn't I?)

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blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
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You totally had me going, and I must say again that I just fucking love you. You crack me up so much. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC)
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OMG you so did. And I just read your comment out loud to my friend who is the mother of 12-year-old twins and you had her going, too.

I love you. Have I said that recently? Not enough.

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blink

(no subject)

from: yachiru
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
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Oh I might try that Bridport one! >_> Although I don't like things with entry fees either. I'm glad you've had success with the open mics! Those always seem so so frightening to me.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC)
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They scare me, too, and my leg shakes :) But it's cool to get the applause.

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blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
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The question is, do I ever feel like I'm NOT wasting my time?

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
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Arrrggghhhhhhhh, I say. Arrgggghhhhh.

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blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
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Sorry. This caught me full on during a "why am I doing this" moment.

Clearly I get something out of it, because I just keep doing it.

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dragon

(no subject)

from: dragonwrites
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
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Re: literary magazines...thank you, yes! That was my hugest problem at WMU, all the accolades given to people writing boring narratives where nothing ever happened. You may have heard my previous rants about a *particular* student, whose every story unfurled as follows: 10 pages of overt metaphor with zero action, followed by 1 thing happening, followed by the story ending with no followup or resolution or even a reaction to the 1 thing that happened.

Here it is, in full: http://raincoatflashers.blogspot.com/2010/07/petty-rant-creative-writing-workshop.html

I only feel like I'm wasting my time when I'm not writing.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
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I love that story. So true. Sometimes I just want to shake all those "literary" writers and say, YOU KNOW WHAT GENRE DOES? IT SELLS. WHILE YOU'RE SUCKING DICKS WITH OTHER WRITERS AND TAKING TUITION MONEY FROM PEOPLE WITH NO TALENT, GENRE IS MAKING MONEY AND MAKING READERS HAPPY AND EXCITED.

Fuckers.

(One day you'll have to whisper to me who you mean :) )

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dragon

(no subject)

from: dragonwrites
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
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It's not a major secret: Kaye Longberg. I don't care who knows it...that story is 100% true, except that her reference was to /Harry Potter/ not /Lord of the Rings/. And the world has proven me correct: if you Google her, the only thing that comes up is that she teaches at Grand Rapids Community College, so I guess her story about a bird in a cage did not set the world on fire with its originality and literary greatness. Also, Stu was never my favorite writer, although, despite this anecdote, he's certain my favorite teacher.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 1st, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC)
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Nothing feels good like the mediocrity of our enemies :)

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SuperCAILEfragilistic

(no subject)

from: caile
date: Oct. 23rd, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
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That story is hilarious. And awful.

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dragon

(no subject)

from: dragonwrites
date: Oct. 23rd, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
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Thanks...I think?

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Oct. 23rd, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
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Not awful in the telling or about you, but awful that it's like that!

I never actually met her, and I think because I was so involved with theatre, I missed out on a lot of the MFA stuff in the department - I pretty much only hung out with other MFA's when we were all in Prague.

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Epiphanyrun

(no subject)

from: epiphanyrun
date: Oct. 22nd, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
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Sometimes, when I first wake up from a really deep sleep, for a couple seconds, I can't remember who I am, and whatever the hell I've done is entirely irrelevant. What matters isn't the after but the now, e.g., how much awesome did I cram into this moment?

In the long run, what other people think doesn't count for anything, unless you're a historian. The ultimate goal is to enjoy what you're doing. Whatever you do, you've only truly wasted your time, if you failed to make your heart zing.

Hey, if writing a book and getting it published is what makes you love your right now, then write and book and get it published! It's the perfect opportunity to exercise a highly specialized form of procrastination: what happens when you neglect your doubt and fear? Are they always there, when you need them, or do they get bored and walk away?

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Lindsay Price

13 simple steps

from: Lindsay Price
date: Oct. 23rd, 2012 12:31 am (UTC)
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That was the best. It truly did make my day better.

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whipchick

Re: 13 simple steps

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 1st, 2012 04:26 am (UTC)
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Amazing, isn't it? I try not to use it too often, don't want to dilute its power :)

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Ellakite

...

from: ellakite
date: Oct. 23rd, 2012 02:37 am (UTC)
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Do you ever get terrified you’re wasting your time?

...

As tempted as I am, I will *NOT* answer this question... because once I start ranting I may not be able to stop.

I'm trying to break my bad habits. Really.

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carcrash heart

(no subject)

from: genesisdesire
date: Oct. 23rd, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
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Thank you for Climb Poetree. Their sound was somehow what my soul needed to hear today. So soothing and yet so haunting.

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