Writers Need Thinking Space

Recently, it’s come to my attention, most writers don’t spend as much of their time writing as they do thinking. Though I already know this about myself, I have only just given it some thought. Although it is crucial that the keys on a typewriter are being pounded out, thinking is important. I was watching a marvelous documentary, California Typewriter; if you love typewriters you need to watch it. In the film, writer David McCullough is showcased as one who uses a typewriter. He was talking about how he goes out to his writing shed, and many times people could walk by the window and wonder what he’s working on, considering he sits there thinking. Not typing, Not writing. Thinking. But to a writer, thinking is writing.

I read an essay by Naeem Murr about his poet wife, Averill Curdy.  For those interested in a poet romantically, read this article.—> My Poet.  How as a poet, she spends a lot of time reading or not writing. Staring out a window thinking. Spending a morning madly scribbling ten ‘hopeful’ lines of poetry. I can completely relate. I am a fairly prolific writer, or so my friends and writer colleagues tell me. This last week I wrote 4 good poems, though I swear it was five. Even Lucifer was impressed at the amount since he says he gets out about a quarter of that. It might have actually been a quarter of a poem, but I can’t remember. This is actually unusual for me. One poem a week is grand; two extraordinary. Most of my time I’m dabbling in random lines. A journal entry. Reading. While I don’t have as much time to read, nor the patience, there is almost always a book in my hand. Be it poetry or, hopefully, some fiction. I spend most of my time working out things in my head. Days later I’ll come back to paper and jot it down. I could easily sit out in the sun with a scrap of paper, just in case, and think for ages.

This is why writers need their own writing space. Where they can’t be judged for not pounding out the words. Where, if they spend an hour shooting a rubber band at the ceiling and catching it, no one will say a thing. (I’ve never done it for an hour, but I have done it.)

This last Thursday, I spent the entire day working on a 43 line poem. The whole day to not even fill up an entire page. I’d work on it for a bit, get stuck, go wash the dishes, work again, fix lunch, back and forth. There was a lot of time not writing. A lot of time staring at the page, or pages of ideas, flipping things around until they worked. At one point I asked the family to give me a synonym for a word. The thought was expressed that the reason writer’s needed their own space was so they didn’t have to ask such questions of non-writers. They can go out to their own space and be far away from the ordinary person. I could take the mocking the other day because the thought of my own writing place over a projected garage, sounds ideal.

While I like being around people, and I need it, I also need far away. Or like on Saturdays, a place where other writers gather and are quiet. There is something about being with writers that is calming, even when chatting. It always goes back to quite and writing.

This is ideal…

Lucifer mentioned recently that he loves to go fishing and for the most part, I could do without that pastime. However, I’m going to have to see if he’ll let me tag along once the weather is conducive. He can fish and I can write. Or read. Or, gasp, that glorious feeling of being in nature with the sun, sky, water, and trees around, and think. Now that sounds divine. Granted, when I get with Lucifer, I don’t shut up much, unless he shuts me up. (He’s actually good at it) But I’d like to have some space and peace and quiet. No distractions. . . .Okay, that’s actually conditional as nature distracts me constantly. As well as Lucifer, but it’s the kind of distractions that all us writers need. The power to think. And some distractions are better than others.

…. and this is a bit of an exaggeration, but still….

Non-writers, (there should be a word like ‘muggles’ for non-writers) will never understand the not writing to write ratio. I can’t even fully explain it, but without it, I know I would never write very good things. It’s just one of those factors you can’t explain. This was something I tried to explain to my Chef when I said I needed more time to write. Working over 40 hours a week does not leave time to write, and by write, I mean thinking as well! That was before my crash, but still. Even my family doesn’t quite get it. It’s okay. So long as I have space, and the time to get away here and there, it works for the most part. I could use my butler, Sven, but since he’s constantly not working, well, I guess I’ll have to tackle house work on my own.

Now I need to get my writing place! And it needs to be comfy! Preferably one with a table for my typewriter (and the other one I want to get), my laptop, windows, and lots of bookshelves. A couple nice chairs and a love seat or couch… I’m really dreaming here. Oh, and a good sound system. So I can blast the jazz. Picture it. A hot summer night, windows open and the light is on in the garret as the sounds of trumpets float out of the open windows…. Don’t forget the crickets and the sweet smell of hot summer sun baked pine trees.

Kate

Advertisements

Sounding Like, or Finding One’s Voice

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

If there is one thing I do, it’s read a lot of poetry. I read so much that I keep the poetry section of my library in stock. At all times. I read so much that I have started quoting poets without meaning to do it. I read so much that I randomly mention poets and poems like they are friends I bump into on a regular basis. It’s gotten to the point where my mother starts rolling her eyes because I bring up random poetry all the time.

Now I’m going to preface this next part with a statement so friends who read this don’t start sending me emails and messages about how great I write.   I know I write good poetry and I am perfectly content with the bulk of it. Accolades and compliments come often enough that I don’t doubt myself, so friends, please feel free to pay attention to only this part.

If there is one thing I have found with writing and reading poetry on a regular basis, it is that I compare myself to other poets. I read poetry, and I’ll even do it with song lyrics I like, but I sit there thinking how amazing that poet said something and how in the world will I ever sound that good. Self-doubt is a lovely companion to writing. I think they go hand in hand. Almost like, if you don’t have self-doubt, you can’t honestly be a writer.

So I read poetry and wonder how I will ever be as great as some of the amazing things I read.  Currently, I have been reading a lot of poetry from Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times both edited and selected by Garrison Keillor. The selection comes from all those wonderful The Writer’s Almanac daily recordings. (I’m still so bummed that I can’t listen to that whenever I want these days.)  The poetry in the books is perfect for my life currently, but again, I can’t help compare myself to said poets.

I’m also reading a lot of Galway Kinnell, William Carlos Williams, Judith Viorst, e.e. cummings, and way too many others I won’t get into. Y’all know I love my poetry.

My friends and writing colleagues say I have my voice, but I don’t always hear it, and I want to ‘copy’ the greatness of these other writers. It’s not that I want to sound like them per se, but I want to have people read what I write and feel like I do when I read these other greats.  You would think that after the compliments of my friends it would be enough. And for the most part, it is. I think sometimes too, it comes from wanting one important person in my life to really appreciate what I write. And currently, I think he does. When he sees it.

I have so much that goes on in my head and I am forever trying to get it out.  I feel like I get one good poem a week out. This last week I think I got two. Which isn’t bad. I always surprise myself if I can push a few poems a week out.  I read something that Billy Collins said:  “One of the ridiculous aspects of being a poet is the huge gulf between how seriously we take ourselves and how generally we are ignored by everybody else.”

I feel that is incredibly true. I am quite serious about being a poet and what is going on, and if I can help someone with what I write, and will it matter. Will it all matter in the end. And part of that is making sure you hear me. Here what I am saying, be it in metaphor to use how you need it, or in completely plain speech. I want to say it the best way for me. The best way that you hear the ‘me’ in me. Which is why, while I would love to sound like other great poets, I still want to find my voice.

Obviously, I have enough of my own voice if other say they can see it. And this isn’t really self-doubt here so much as me just semi venting. And being totally blown away by some amazing poetry I’ve read this week. Current poems and authors that I’ve fallen in love with are: Passing Through a Small Town by David Shumate, In Paris with You by James Fenton, Wedding Poem For Schele and Phil by Bill Holm, Any prince to any princess by Adrian Henri, To A Frustrated Poet by R.J. Ellmann, A Millian Young Workmen, 1915 by Carl Sandburg, Ordinary Life by Barbara Crooker,  and lastly, Prayer by Galway Kinnell, which I will type up here because, wow….

 Prayer

Galway Kinnell

Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.

And on that note, I shall end, because Galway says it all.

Happy writing to those starting April PAD (Poem a Day) with Writer’s Digest. I haven’t decided if I’m going to or not, but I’m thinking about it. Just to add to my general writer’s crazy. Cause I don’t have enough things to think and write about.

Writing on

Kate

The Romance of Writing Love Poems

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
…wishing I could fly. Excerpt from the poetry collection “This Is For The Women Who Don’t Give A F*ck” by Janne Robinson. Published by Thought Catalog Books | ShopCatalog.com

I wrote the other day about how I was delving back into Foolsgold and I might find myself writing love poems.  I can’t say as I am a very good writer of those types of poems. I have to actually be in a state to write them. I did write a form of a love poem, and  I am prone to sharing those poems with the person they are for. Actually, if I write something for someone, I give it to them. What I mean by writing for someone, is that I will give the person a poem they inspired.   Lil, my coworker, got a poem that was about this brave wildflower pirate girl. Lucifer was given a poem that was to him. Mrs. Austen was given a poem years ago about tiny letters. (I think that is somewhere on this blog).

I guess you could look at poems to friends as a form of a love poem. One of the ladies in my writing group has two poems in my rejected manuscript. Actually, they aren’t so much as love poems, but inspired poems. That lady can inspire poems that are super incredible. At least to me.

Going back to reading Foolsgold, the heading for a chapter had a part of a Hafiz poem that just hit me hard.  The line was:

Tired of Speaking Sweetly
 
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
Isn’t that so incredible?  I love the manhandle part. I’ll post the rest of the poem at the bottom, but the thought of how love grabs a hold of us and rattles us to the core… Oooh, wait, I needed that line right there for the poem it inspired. Hold on. I’ll be back………..
Okay, I’m back.
So we’ve been wrecked and grabbed, rattled, thrust away, pulled back. Sometimes love has that ability to turn us black and blue and breaking things. I love finding poetry that hits me so hard that I have to start writing myself. The feelings contained inside are too much and I just wish I could hug the poet and say ‘thank you’ for saying what I’m feeling. Or what I needed to feel.

Galway Kinnell

Last week…. no wait almost two weeks ago, I was at a used book store and found a Galway Kinnell poetry book. I believe, though I can’t remember, I first heard his poetry on an episode of Poetry Off the Shelf podcast, but either way, oh does his poetry hit hard. It hits you right in the gut; right in the heart and mind. While I can only read small doses of his poems, I am in love. It’s beautiful.

 I don’t often find poems that are really good love poems in my readings. I’m very selective, as I don’t want just a lovey-dovey type poem. I want something that destroys you inside. Leaves you raw and trembling because you totally understand it. That is how I feel about this Hafiz poem.

Tired of Speaking Sweetly

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

From: ‘The Gift’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Currently I have the complete works of e.e. cummings headed my direction via the library. He had the ability to write some of the most provocative, erotic love poems. They have the ability to make you want to grab someone and kiss them desperately, they are that raw. I actually want to print them off, type them up, and hand them to people to make their heart race. To feel.

Even Shakespeare had that ability to thrust you into love wow. Oberon’s love of Titania is in my opinion, epic. Though currently I can’t find what I’m looking for in the darn play to post it here.

Love poems come in many forms. Sometimes, we even need to write love poems to ourselves. One I wrote this last Saturday, titled “You Can Be A Good Girl and Wear A Black Lace Bra” is a love poem to myself about how sometimes what you see isn’t what’s hiding beneath the surface, but it’s all intermingling with the outside to make you (or in this case, me) who I am. Thanks again goes to Mel for the title, though I added the ‘lace’ part because I want to emphasize the fact that there is total girly girl lace going on here.

So, how about anyone else. Do you write and share love poems? Have you read any good ones lately? I’d love to know about both, yours and other poet’s love poems.

Kate

Spring Fever Obsessions Bursting Forth

Photo by Asa Rodger on Unsplash
West Highland Way, Glasgow, United Kingdom

I’m not sure what it is about this time of year, but I always get so stir crazy, word crazy, that I’m like one explosion away from stardust. A supernova of sorts. I pull out Poemcrazy and Foolsgold, stumbling through words and lust, emotions, passion. I crave base things. I crave human touch. I crave words filling me up and spilling out of my mouth, a fountain of ink. It’s definitely a Spring Fever right now.

Raw attraction is filling me up right now, and like anything that’s a semi drug, there’s this addiction factor that makes thinking a little hard to focus on reality. Words start meaning too many things, or not enough. Being surrounded by by someone’s presence in my mind and part of the week is overwhelming at times. Obsession might be a close word to describe the feeling. Or maybe it’s, ‘I just can’t get enough’, not being sure if I want more. It’s this weird flip back and forth world.  Impatience that I can’t be around Sampson more, who I’m renaming Lucifer, because he is most definitely a devil at times. The Angel and Lucifer. Me being the angel. He even asked me the other day if I was hiding behind a facade of ‘good girl’. What can I say, I am what I am. I am this nice girl. I am the non risk taker, the sweetheart, the ‘square’ at times, even with a slightly deviant side. There is a part of me that feels like people are waiting for me to mess up. Trust me, I don’t have plans to, and this ain’t no facade.

When I say I get like this every spring, I do get antsy. I mean, like really antsy. Just having a person you are interested thrown into the mix almost makes me want to run off to the wilds and rip off my clothes and skin and bare it all to the sun, mountains, wind, stars.

I was in a different place last week and in a spat of a few hours, I had started or written 6 poems. I have the March winds and spring blowing into me and my head. The fickle weather, Gaia at work, the sweet fecundity of leaves bursting forth, rivers filling and life all over. (bonus points if you know the meaning of fecundity, which sounds like a bad word, but isn’t.)

I’ll be like this for the rest of the month, into April and May, which always tweaks me out being that it’s my birth month and I always get a little wonky around my birthday. Another year older and all that rot. It’s rather lovely everyone at work doesn’t take issue with my age and thinks I’m younger than I am. I’m flattered finally. It took years to not be bothered by people thinking I was in my early twenties.

I’ve pulled out Poemcrazy, as usual, and I’m hunting down Foolsgold, wherever I may have shelved it, but it’s around. I’ll find myself reading these for days now, filling up my head with words and thoughts. I’ll probably find myself writing love poems. I do that sometimes, but again, when there’ someone you want to write love poems to, it’s even better. Whether or not I’ll send them, now that’s the real question.

Does anyone else get a little spring crazy, Spring Fever, this time of year? Share what makes you go a little bonkers.

Kate

 

Related Posts:

Metaphors Seemingly Abound

Recently, and much to my annoyance, chagrin, and well, I’m going to go with annoyance, Sampson, my sous chef, told me I write in a lot of metaphor. I had just gotten done handing him a poem that is riddled with metaphor, I get it, but it irked me. He, on the other hand, writes quite literally.  Okay, not always; he did just use Othello in one of his raps he shared, and it was a metaphor.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The poem I wrote was filled with metaphor because I hadn’t wanted to state the obvious. The obvious is feeling like I’m in the middle of an ego war between my chef and sous chef. Do you honestly think I am going to spit that out as common knowledge? So metaphor is the only way to deal with it if I’m going to share it. Sure, using two chess kings and a queen make for a really good simile. Maybe because I feel like I’m on this playing field that is very much like a game at times. I’m the queen, by the way. I wrote the poem, read it off to my lovely writing group, but I did explain it to them. They got it.

I guess my question is, when is it too much metaphor? If I wrote it so that not everyone, unless I explained it, would know what I was talking about, but also anyone could read it and use it how they wanted, is that unreasonable? To me, no, but maybe I am going to metaphorical at times. I read Ada Limon and half the time I don’t know what she’s talking about, unless it’s a literal poem. I read many other poets that use metaphor all the time, or I don’t know if they are using metaphor because well, gosh darn it, I don’t know the poet. But do you think things can be too metaphorical at time?

I find it hard to always express myself in literal terms because it means being vulnerable if someone reads exactly what you are saying. So metaphor is a reliable tool when you want to say something, but don’t want to show your hand. Which is a lot of my life. That being said, I have used metaphor as just a way to express something more emphatically than if I was just stating it literally.

Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s Sampson. Maybe it was the day, or my mood or his mood, which was feisty, and I was irritated with him already because he left me hanging in a conversation and never answered. He still hasn’t answered.  I’m sitting there on a ledge, dangling off or waiting for that push from behind and the push isn’t coming. See, there’s my form of metaphor.

Below is a sample part of a poem I’m still debating on how to title. Basically , I was in the car with someone and he said something that literally shut me up and had me flushed super red. Trust me when I say it was really kind of sexy and the car got very hot, but at the same time it was good.  This is the metaphor that came out of it. Is it too ridiculous? I have another friend on the other hand, that said I have a gift. So basically Sampson is making me second guess myself. And now I’m back to being annoyed. But readers, what say you?

Want and need are two very different things here
in this game being played out with nothing more
than just a few words tossed onto the playing field.
It's a glance, thrown back and forth; a tennis volley.
I can see he's waiting for me to center
my lady and take what he's offering; a parlay;
what's mine for the asking, as he drives nearly
every thought out of my head; watching, reveling
in every glance tossed my way, filling the spaces
in between with tension so thick
it would take more than just a simple move,
it's no mere pawn stepping into arrows flying
back and forth in the small places between the attack.

So maybe I’m just trying to figure out my voice. I don’t think second guessing myself is a bad thing. How do we become strong writers if we don’t take criticism with grace? Compliments are all well and good, but we need criticism as well to survive. The bitter with the sweet. (bitter of course is the criticism) We can’t spend our whole lives eating sugar, we need some bitters to digest it all.

That being said, Sampson has irked me.  And all metaphor aside, I could lovingly stab him with my knife. (pardon the kitchen gallows humor)

Kate

And The Meal Was. . .

Fancy Toast by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

She was served a lovely open faced sandwich of the nicest white bread, toasted lightly with thinly sliced green bell pepper and tomato topped with an over-easy fried egg. The floral plate was sprinkled with cilantro leaves and pinks. Another plate held a slice of the same white bread spread with only the best butter, whipped smooth and fresh strawberry jelly. A delicate teacup held a fragrant brew scented with rose and a fine oolong tea.  -Katie Lyn (just me describing the above photo if I were to write it in a book)

Have you ever paid attention to a meal when it is written about in a book?  Surprisingly, even though my eating habits lie along the lines of “have to” at this point in my life, I still appreciate good food and how it’s written. I think my first example of paying attention to food was a child’s books where bread, butter, and jam sandwiches were served. I can’t recall what book per se, but I have always paid attention to food. I aught to as my sister is forever keeping her journal which is basically recording down the day’s food. She reads  The Food Lover’s Companion like the Bible, and we collect cookbooks to read.

Emilie Loring books revel in good meals. The delight of delicately prepared vegetables, with Hollandaise sauce! Fragrant cups of coffee after dinner. Delightfully delicate sandwiches. Emilie must have enjoyed food. (let me check… Yep, read the second half of this blog post by Patti Bender. Emilie Loring: Good Company ) Food is what makes us all exist and what is the point of living without good food? (My current predicament is odd as I’ve always enjoyed food it’s just become a bit mundane at times for me. Go figure.)

I just started reading  What She Ate by Laura Shapiro and one chapter talks about the British author, Barbara Pym, who delighted in describing meals. She noted them in journals and never left out a simple meal. Apparently. I’m off on a quest to find one of her books as they sound marvelous. The thing that caught me the most was how Ms. Pym (don’t you just love that name?)  kept those notebooks where she wrote everything down. When she would go out people watching, every little detail was written down, especially the food. Describing a simple salad, or a boiled chicken. (They are very decidedly British after all) But food is described.

I’m in love. I mean, what better thing to focus on to slip into various bits of storytelling? We eat. I mean, I find it rather interesting that we never describe our daily ablutions in books, unless a woman is dressing and putting on her face. Granted, we don’t know all the daily doings of our characters, though I find it rather interesting. Personally. But back to food, most people enjoy eating. And we all want to eat well. What I think is eating well  might not appeal to others as I like fairly plain food, but I have never known someone to not enjoy a meal at our home. Simple is nothing to scoff at.

Why, the other night, I came home late from work where I was sending off fancy dishes, and my kept meal was pan-fried pork chop, sauted kale with garlic, farfalle with Parmesan and butter, and a simple salad (head lettuce and tomato, if I recall). Simple, basic, but pleasant after smelling so many exotic scents exiting my Chef’s kitchen.

If there is anything I can learn and glean from this essay on Barbara Pym, it’s to keep track of food better (not to mention people watch better)  and write it down. Even if watching a cooking show. Oh, I imaging Ms. Pym would have loved Barefoot Contessa!

Do you pay attention to food in books? Do you collect cookbooks and recipes? I certainly do, even if I never plan to cook them. My Library has plenty of lovelies. I carried on an online correspondence with a British man who said in England Delia Smith is a Goddess. I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve paid attention to food due to little things like this. Ratatouille is the best foodie film ever, in my opinion. And Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books have Monsieur Wolfe a true epicurean, albeit a bit extravagant in my opinion.

So, again, foodies and writers alike, comment please. I’d love to know your thoughts. Any good meal descriptions you’d like to share? Please do!

Eating/Writing On

Kate

 

 

I’m Not Myself These Days

All rejections aside, because they are very good at putting doubt in your head, sometimes I’m not sure where I’m going. I was reading Ada Limon’s Sharks in the Rivers today and her poetry has a very good way of either making me feel accepted or completely lost. Today was the latter of the two. Not lost as to what she’s saying, but lost as to how I feel.

I’m slowly regaining myself from my leave of absence, but at the same time, I’m not back to my full self. “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself , you see.”

 

How do I not feel guilty for not wanting to do things for other people? I asked Mrs. B. today. “Baby steps.” was all she replied with. I guess if I can’t even bring myself to go to the library, my ultimate favorite place to go, then I’m just not myself these days.

I bake once a week at work, pasting myself into another world; I spend the rest of the week in a state of suspended animation. Wake, drink coffee, exist, try to write, drink coffee, try to write, go to bed too late, repeat. It’s not the healthiest of lifestyles, but I’m so tired all the time that it’s all I can focus on. That and feeling guilty that I haven’t sat down and tried to submit anything else this week. Next week, I think. Or when my poetry gets better. I was turned down to the journal I submitted to, not because it was bad, but the selection of poems wasn’t what they wanted for this issue. It’s not a rejection so much as a ‘maybe next time’, kind of thing. It could have been a flat out ‘No.’

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash
Having a seat on the swing of life — Start to see the world in the colors you choose.

How do I even know what to send into magazines? How does anyone? How do I even know myself?  All very existential questions requiring way too much coffee to answer. (let me get another cup and try to ignore answering that question.)

I always feel restless when it’s late January going into spring. Spring is seriously not long away, I mean, it’s now February! So I feel rushed for no other reason than I just feel rushed.

I read a line from someone who I can’t trust, who has threatened me, who a part of me hates with a fire, but his words made me stop and ponder a bit ago.

a woman, who simply has to breath[e] on any barrier she wishes to pass and watch as it all crumbles.”

I honestly never thought I could have that much power. Maybe because I feel like everyone else has the power to crumble my world. I feel like I have power when I’m not in my Chef’s kitchen, but when I’m there I forget that “I am woman, hear me roar” power and I go back to my meek self. Hence, I’m not myself these days.

Maybe I should go read some more Ada Limon.

Kate

Rejection Affection

Photo by ål nik on Unsplash

If there is one thing that is truly unique in the world of writing, it’s what happens when you get a rejection letter. The rejection letter itself, that simple piece of paper with a couple paragraphs (or email, as the case may be with most rejections coming in an email form letter) is actually something quite spectacular. It’s a sense of belonging. A sense of accomplishment. Why rejection is a compliment is funny to nonwriters, but to us, it’s like a trophy.

For me, my rejection letter came 3 months and 11 days after I submitted my poetry manuscript to Milkweed Editions. It arrived on a Friday morning, 6 days after I had ‘quit’ my job and I was still reeling from that feeling. I took my news of my rejection to my writing group, and to the chorus of “Congratulations” my writing friends reminded me that a rejection is a good thing.

Yes, it’s truly strange to be congratulated on ‘failing’, so to speak, but what nonwriters don’t understand is that it is a badge of honor to have that letter. It means someone has read your work. It means you were brave enough to send something out. It means you are trying.

This is my second….. nope wait I forgot the short story……… this is my 5th rejection letter. But for an actual manuscript. My poetry manuscript wasn’t quite what Milkweed Editions was looking for, but that’s okay. It’s my first real manuscript. My first rejection letter came from a query letter. This is an actual manuscript!

But it doesn’t mean I’m lost. In fact, just yesterday, but an amazing twist of fate, someone on Twitter, contacted me and asked me to submit some of my work to their journal. Oh. My. Gosh. Someone actually wanted me to send them my work. Now that is an honor. I mean, sure, I have my lovely ladies reading my work, but sometimes you wonder how biased it is. No offense Dona, Mel, Sera, Maddie(Piper) et al. but I do think you are biased.  I mean, you know me. But to have an unknown editor want you to submit. Whew! Mr. Streeby, I am truly honored. (and my ego has been supremely boosted)

Ah yes, rejections will keep coming in, but it’s a good thing. I have my very first rejection letter somewhere in one of my writing files. It’s an actual print letter. And one day I will frame it a la Richard Castle in the episode The Old Haunt……. I think that’s right. It’s an honor, and now I can edit the said manuscript and fix it for another publishing house because inevitably, I have found serious flaws and grammatical mistakes the minute I sent the darn thing off. Ah, perpetual editing comes when you can edit your own work. Mels, said it best the other day, but I forgot how she phrased it. It was good.

And I have new things to add. Infatuations with an Eskimo, working in a kitchen, which I have ‘quit’, but am more on a  temporary leave of absence due to stress causing major health problems to creep back in. So I do have ideas for writing about kitchen life. Sorry Chef dear, but I can’t not write about a crazy kitchen!

So, if you have had a rejection letter, first of,  “Good for you!” I’m proud of you, whoever you are. It’s an honor because someone read your work. Keep up the good work. We are all rooting for you in our own way. It’s nice to have friends and family root for me.

Kate

Merry Christmas, Writers, Poets, and Friends Alike

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Hello, Dearies, and Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas (for you British lovelies), and Happy Holidays! Talk about a whirlwind year. For all of us. Writers alike; people in general. Life has changed dramatically and will probably never be the same.

My life has continued to be a zoo. A tired zoo. The tigers and lions need a serious dose of coffee all the time! I have been on crazy mode all this week with KP (kitchen patrol, for those who don’t know White Christmas or military terms)

I have been having late nights and ups and downs; burns and cuts. And a world of writing ideas. I never knew what kind of people worked in a kitchen. I never knew how a kitchen even functioned. While I still am a total newbie and this is my ‘first rodeo’ (my chef rolled his eyes a that statement. I guess he has never lived anywhere near the country) I  am slowly learning how things function. I had our new sous chef ask me how long I have been in the kitchen world and I replied, “Since November 20th.”  I have to laugh. Just over a month.

Christmas came too fast this year and I haven’t had much time to enjoy it like I usually do, which has dampened my spirits some. A lot. But I have three days off, including today, which is Christmas Eve, so that helps. I have Christmas ideas in my head and I am working on my Hallmark new story. Basically you have Noelle, a personal assistant to a retired judge and his wife who own a large mansion. Noelle Snow has been decorating the house up to the nines, or rafters, because the whole entire family of the judge and his wife’s are coming home for Christmas. Including one of their favorite grandsons who just so happens to disapprove of Noelle and all she has done for the Carson’s, even though they have never met in person.  Well, of course Noelle is going to win him over! It is Hallmark after all. Of course there is going to be Christmas music, and gingerbread cookies with kids, and snow, and maybe a sleigh ride. Lights everywhere.  A house decorated with a Christmas tree in every room. And Noelle? Well she happens to always have Christmas music playing in her room. Why wouldn’t she?  Did you see her name?  Can you just hear the disapproving tone of a handsome lawyer grandson when he says “Miss Snow.”?  Too perfect.

I need happy right now. I need ridiculously cheesy Hallmark Christmas romances. I need to write it. Life is too funny and fickle to not have it in your life. I don’t care if I sound like a goody two shoes. Apparently in my job I am the ‘too nice.” I don’t care. If everyone were too nice, the world would be a lot happier place. I have acutally had people ask me if I get up in the morning as perky as I am when I come into work. Haha. Oh the miracles of makeup and a boatload of coffee. It’s nice to think that people think I’m perpetually happy. It’s a far cry from the truth, but I figure they shouldn’t know my problems when I’m out at work. Unfortunately my family gets the brunt of that when I come home. I vent. A lot. But I try to get through every day with a decent attitude.

My not so positive attitude comes out in my poetry. That gets to the heart of my heart. I have something started about being flayed open. Cooking terms. Filleted alive. A pound of flesh. Goodness, that’s depressing.  I get through some days realizing that I have a manuscript on editor’s desks right now! It’s been there for almost three months. I have a manuscript on editor’s desks!  Even saying it still blows my mind. I mean, it’s legit. I am a poet. I may not always have the time, but I am a poet through and through.

It’s rather funny to think about sometimes when right now my life doesn’t even have the time to think. My chef, bless his soul, thinks that me working 40+ hours a week and getting paid overtime will make it so I’m not a poor writer.  Doesn’t he know that the reason writers are poor is because they can’t work if they want to write? Doesn’t he know that half, no wait, three quarters of a writer’s life isn’t writing, but thinking about writing? I have to think days and days to write! I haven’t had times to even think, so writing has been severely killed. Murdered. Knifed to death. (there are a lot of knives in my life right now)

Anyways.  Merry Christmas, darling writers. Readers alike. I’m off to watch a Hallmark film with the family. I think The Holiday is in the near future, but that’s a prerequisite. Oh and Charlie Brown! I need Charlie Brown.

And I know this may sound strange, but I now associate Meatballs, the camp movie, with Christmas and winter. I am going to make that a tradition. My parents don’t know this, but I so love that film now.

Joyeux Noel!

Kate

When A Writer Becomes a Chef de Partie

bank-phrom-349420

Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

My life went from ordinary to whirlwind in moments. An application, an acceptance, and suddenly my simple life of get up, run the house, and write when I could, went to get up and be a prep chef in a brand new restaurant.

My days, and nights (the dreams oh the dreams!) are filled with working in a kitchen for the first time in my life. Writing has definitely taken a backseat, but like you know your kids are there, you still have to pay attention to them. I still write. Poems here and there, and a new story started on Sunday with a boom. A Hallmark-esqe thingy. I have three pages. Whoo-ee! I laugh because I’m notorious for starting things.

Being a prep chef is interesting. I’m learning a lot, I’m in charge of a walkin cooler, can you imagine? I make pizza dough by the pounds (40 yesterday) and I direct traffic. I yell at waitstaff, I find things, I’m a gopher. I have too many bosses and not enough time. I’m getting up early, I’m working late, I’m feeling exhausted all the time. And oh wow, where did some of those muscles come from? I have no idea, but my collegue and I compare bruises all the time. Or where we nicked ourselves with the very sharp knives.

I’ve cut up 20+ chickens and sous vide just as many. I’ve helped prepare for an 80+ person Christmas Party. I’ve joked with the chef, and the staff, and the bartender, and made myself the brunt of jokes. I’m blonde, what do you expect.

It’s been good, it’s been bad, and it’s been strange. But that’s what comes when you go from writing to cooking.

So if I’m a little lax on writing here on this blog, part of that is due to just being busy all the time and my life is cooking, not writing. But I have learned one thing, a kitchen is like a pirate ship. Now that’s a prompt I’m working on.

Kate