Entering Into the Work

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Life has been incredibly hard these past two weeks. Hard and sad. So sad that at times I wonder what the heck I’m even doing and I don’t even know what to do. Losing my dog has been one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to not have him around and to want desperately to be holding my puppy. I miss him so much that it really is an ache that hits out of nowhere.

I’ve also lost the camaraderie of someone I would have classified as a close friend. That person is still a part of my life, but I don’t trust the person, per se. I struggle what to tell this person and how to act around them. It’s all gotten very challenging. It’s led to lots of crying and lots of moments where I am really not sure what the heck I’m doing. I can honestly say I don’t know what to do. I really am at a loss.

I stress about work and succeeding, and today was one of my first days back after a tiring schedule last week. This week is bound to be tiring as well, but at least I have a general schedule. Today, for the most part, I killed it. At least I believe I did. Sure, I had a few scattered moments, and times when I thought I wouldn’t make it through the day, but I did.

Mels asked me what I was going to do to deal with the anger I have inside. Because it’s there. A lot of anger, deep anger. Sad anger. My reply was, “write. And cook. Do the best to my ability to make it happen.”  Cooking has kind of flowed into my blood. Duh,  of course, it has.  I wake up thinking about baking and improving recipes, I finish out the day looking at cookbooks, watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and just today my new book to read is Sous Chef by Michael Gibney. Lucifer has it in his car and told me he would loan me his copy… I didn’t want to wait, so Better World Books delivered.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life, other than being a poet and published writer, but this cooking thing gives me a bit of passion that is so hard to explain, but I like it. I read this Sous Chef and I drool about the luxury of a well-organized kitchen. I think in kitchen terms: deli containers, 9-pans, cambros, half sheets, whole sheet pans, mis en place, roux, the line…..   I want to yell ‘behind’ at home. I slide my hand along the backs of people to let them know I’m there.

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Today there was this flow that was actually the best I’ve seen in a while. To the point where I was doing things, my head down, but I could duck out of the way as things went past my head to land in the garbage. As pans were passed off and handed off, pots caught as they dropped, things shifted back into place with a well-aimed hip, pilots lit, ovens restarted, butter melted, luxurious sugar-free lemon mousse that went out to a diabetic guest. (I did not make said mousse, Lucifer did, but I did zest the lemons) I like being able to get whatever it is someone asks me to get. To be able to put out a lunch dish that is not my responsibility, and know that it went out looking the way it was supposed to. I’m rather proud of that. Not sure Lucifer actually noticed, even those D-man told him I sent out an awesome burger. (Okay, so it’s not super fancy, our lunch menu, but a burger at our place is an art. I felt pretty proud of myself)

My pies have finally leveled out to looking gorgeous and elegant enough for my tastes. I like that I can make pretty food. I’d like to do more in that department. I want to work with Lucifer in updating and revising our desserts menu. I am classified as the pastry chef. I want pastry to look damn good. I want it to be something you come in and drool over. I may not want to nibble on many sweets these days, myself, but I want you, the guest to fall in love with it and when you see me on the street, think back to that luscious dessert you had.

I may not have any classical training, I may not have a culinary degree behind my name, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be the best at what I can do… all while being a runner, and a closer and a prep chef. I have too many hats right now. I like closing, and I can do that well, but whew, it can be exhausting.  I’m getting off topic.

I hope to god I am important in my hierarchy within the kitchen. I’d like to be invaluable, though not so invaluable that if I need time off they panic without me… Okay, well if they panic without the chef, why not the pastry chef? I’m being silly, but still, I want to be valuable in my job. I like my job. Despite all the stress, all the inconsistencies, all the crazy, all the moods, the romantic interests, the betrayals, the turn downs, the frustrations; despite all of that, I like my job. So I am trying to deal with life by ‘entering into the work.”

All of this came out of reading Sous Chef today and this lovely prompt above from Dona. I want to think the best ideas are going to come out of the work, the process and work itself. So. Okay then, now that I’ve rambled on long enough, I’m off to read more of Sous Chef, and I think I need to pick some rhubarb for work. If there is one thing I have found, you can get the sexiest moan out of Lucifer when food is involved.

Kate

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You Have Permission To Not Write

Sometimes the words just don’t come. Sometimes they are there, but locked up tight and you just can’t get them out. And being a writer, well I’m going to tell you, you will feel guilty that you are not writing. I’ve felt it. Other writers have felt it.

Currently, I have a writing colleague who is feeling it. She told me the other day that she just hasn’t written. She can’t push it out and she just stares at the notebook, unopened. Hopefully that’s what she said. I thought it was. She was feeling guilty that she has so much to say, but just can’t get it out.

Well, I’m here to tell you, you have my permission to not write. You do not have to feel guilty one bit that you are not writing, because even as you don’t put words to paper, words are still forming in your head.  You still write without writing, by every single experience you have.  Ever little twist and turn of your day to day life is a constant moment for you to ‘write’. You write when you walk out the door and see something interesting. It may not be much, but the weather could spur on some thought. For me, it was hearing the words Orpheus and Eurydice and the letters they sent back and forth via Hermes. It’s from a series of sonnets by Rainier Maria Rilke.

Sometimes my writing well feels dried up. Like I just cannot get another thing out. I feel washed up. A hack…. Oh we writers are so dramatic sometimes. We go three days without writing and the world has ended. Lord, if I only could feel that way about laundry, or dishes.  More often than not, the days I’m dried up come after I’ve pushed myself to the limits and pounded out a 97 line, 16 stanza poem….. that was today. I know tomorrow I won’t be able to write. I’ll be too exhausted. But come two days from now, I’ll be wandering around with my journal or notebook feeling guilty that I haven’t penned anything profound.  Because I was just hacking it the other day. I mean, 97 lines for a poem is no small feat. But I will have forgotten it in lieu of my lack of more.

We writers are a greedy lot.  It’s never enough. We could write till we are blue in the face, our fingers falling off and it still would never be enough. You would think that my two to three poems a week would suffice my desires. But oh no, I feel it’s never enough.

So writer, dear, who vented to me. Don’t worry about it.  In fact, take a break. Drink some tea and watch the spring birds and flowers. Enjoy the sunshine and spring that we are having. The words will come. Probably at the most inopportune moment, such as when you are in the shower or washing dishes…. In fact, I highly recommend doing something where your hands are wet or dirty. Because then, trust me, the words will come, because it is at that moment you won’t be able to grasp a pen, the words do fly.

Kate

Sounding Like, or Finding One’s Voice

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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

Spring Fever Obsessions Bursting Forth

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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

 

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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.

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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

Rejection Affection

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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

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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

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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

Pushing Poems

Maybe it was the effect of having to complete a poetry manuscript by October 1st, which I did (yay for being on Milkweed Editions desks) or just spending the entire summer writing poetry, but lately, I am finding that to finish a poem takes an incredible effort. I’m having to push it out; flipping things, starting over, banging my head on my notebook.

I’ve never been in the position where a subject, poetry, in this case, has consumed my life and where I would go so far as to call myself a poet. I’ve never focused solely on one area and pushed at it for months on end. Oh sure, I’ve been writing off and on for years, but never like I am now where I think about writing every single day of my life. If I’m not thinking about writing, I am actually writing. Every day something spurs on a poem prompt, though not all actually become something. Because I have started trying to work with blank verse again (unrhymed iambic pentameter) my writing has slowed a bit as blank verse is hard. I think it’s easier to work in rhyme with iambic pentameter (maybe my mind is fuzzy because if I recall, sonnets are not easy).

The hard part though seems to be finishing anything I start. I get almost to the end, then it’s like the idea drabbles off and I’m left with a ‘dangling participle’… Joking, that’s a line from Sylvester Stalone’s Oscar film. But the poem is dangling by a thread and I don’t know where to take it. Or there is the case of trying to write a poem about how war and fighting has changed so much from the Revolutionary or World Wars where there was a front and a line in the sand and whatnot, but the poem has started about five different times, in different ways, and I just can’t seem to make it go anywhere. I think the idea is good, but it’s just not going anywhere. Sometimes I have to just tuck the idea away for another time, and oh gosh if there aren’t tons of ideas in the backs of my journals that I forget to look at, and come back to it later. I just recently found about ten ideas I need/want to work on from just the last 2 months journal entries. Gosh, I’d hate to see what I’ve missed if I go back to the last three years in my journals.

I even went back so far, recently, to find poems I’d finished and type them up. I don’t know if I can use them for anything right now, but maybe. I have found that I really, really forget about poetry once it’s finished. That “door on the lid really” closes.

But right now, oh gosh, I’m pounding a nail into concrete trying to pound out that poem.

(hey, that’s a good prompt…)

Kate

Truths About How Hard Writing Is

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Hello, dearies. Sorry, this blog has been a bit bleak this summer. It’s been rather chaotic and I have spent more time writing in my notebook than writing online. (my book review company, BookLookBloggers) finally said, that’s it, you do not have an account with us because you are not blogging or reviewing enough…. My bad.

So I have been focusing on writing my poetry for weeks now; months. I had read that Ada Limon needed just a few more poems for her new book. I can’t say when it was that I read that. Somewhere on her Twitter account a while ago, and I totally get that feeling. I have a 62-page manuscript right now, and technically that’s all I have to have for the publication that I plan to submit to, but I’m not stopping. I feel like once I started focusing solely on poetry, the floodgates opened for the most part.

Poetry doesn’t always come. I struggle sometimes with getting anything out and when I go to my writing group sometimes I sit there for 45 minutes while everyone else is writing and at the end I have maybe started or dabbled in something but the response is “I got nothing.” I have weird blocks where I have all these ideas and I start an idea, or ten, but it never goes anywhere. Recently I had something in my head about being in a western bar and I was just kind of blanked out on that. Partly because I don’t go to western bars. I stay in at night. Drinking coffee.

But last night one of our new breweries was having live music and I have been meaning to get up and have a pint, so I went up. It was technically a total waste of my time because the music wasn’t clear enough to hear, though the tunes were good, and the brewer’s own brew was out….. And I only visited with people in my parent’s age… Pardon the complaining… But the blip of time I was there drinking a porter gave me a few lines to get me over the hump of what I’m writing. It was good research even if that wasn’t the reason I had gone. Sometimes it’s the funniest things that help switch the storyline.

I have a story I started writing a couple of years ago about kid friends who meet later on in life and it was a struggle to get anywhere with it till I had a dream last year that changed the whole narrative. Now it’s actually got a place to go.

I was reading an article last night; The 8 Hard Truths All Aspiring Writer’s Must Accept Despite The Pain. One paragraph explained how we chisel out and poke, prod and eek out the right line, the best sentence, the perfect way to say something. Poetry for me is that. I sit there sometimes and I’ll write a line and go, okay, this isn’t bad, but after reading it over and over you know it just isn’t right.

I wrote a poem in regards to Jack Kerouac the other day and I was really happy with it, but one line kept irking me and I couldn’t figure out why. In the line

‘Lost boy, did all the stars fall down and burn out?’ where the word fall is, I had the word come and it was nice, but it wasn’t just the right thing. Why such a simple word change makes a difference I don’t know, but it does. This is where I get why other poets say trimming the fat on poetry is hard. You have so little to work with that it really is a challenge and a struggle. Does it come more easy to me? Sure, but that doesn’t make writing poetry easy.

I have taken to writing longer narrative type poems, introducing a character that is the writer for the poem, not me, and seriously, one poem takes the oomph out of me for days. It takes days to write it, but afterwards, I’m kind of wandering around feeling like I have run a marathon. Sometimes I only write one poem a week.

This writing thing comes easy to me, but it’s still hard. If that is one thing I could tell nonwriters it’s that. You may think being a writer is glamorous, and there are times when you get an accolade from a friend or colleague and it’s a nice boost, but all those other times when you are in the dark, pounding, scribbling, or fighting to get it out it’s gosh darn hard. Would I give it up? No, but sometimes I wonder where my sanity lies and I wonder if I will ever make it.

Everyone says I will, but that self-doubt… well it’s a doozy.

Read the article, because it’s pretty cool in its succinctness.

Kate

 

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