Monday, July 30, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

It's actually Monday night when I am writing this, but I have told myself I cannot go to bed until I submit some poems, so I am procrastinating my blogging.  Ah, the life of a writer.

To the confessional--

I confess I know that submitting is part of the job of a writer, but I've been terrible (read: TERRIBLE!) at it this year.

It's very sad to see how many poems I've written and haven't sent anywhere.

Maybe sad isn't the right word. Maybe it's disappointing.  Or boring.  Or I-can't-get-any-good-news-if-I-don't-submit-my-work.

When I realize this I wonder what it would be like to be a regular human being who doesn't get acceptances.  What do they look forward to?  Babies?  Marriages? Vacations?  Paychecks? Commissions?

I know I love to receive the validation of an acceptance letter.  Of course, I must not love it that much as it has been 84 days since I last submitted.

Next subject...


I confess I joined Twitter a couple years ago not really knowing what I was doing (Thank you Martha Silano for creating my account as we sat in a Starbucks.)

The other night I was watching the Olympics Opening Ceremonies and following the West Coast funny comments on Twitter.  It was really the first time I had spent such an amount of time on it.

While I was there one of my favorite actors whom I follow who never tweets came on and said, "I'm thinking about following some random people..."

I am a scaredy cat when it comes to such interactions.

If I adore someone, I cannot speak to them. I become neanderthal girl and say things like "Me Kelli."  Well, this was/is an actor I adore.  (There are really only 2 celebrities I adore, this guy and Conan O'Brien.  Though I often act like an idiot around favorite poets too, sometimes I just hide near the appetizers exploring the cheese while others have memorable and life changing encounters.)

Normally, I'd just ignore such a tweet, I mean, why put myself out there for rejection?

But here's the thing-- hitting age 40 a few years ago and having that weird eye disease (optic neuritis) and losing my vision (then getting it back) at 37 has kind of given me this "F-it" attitude.  The life-is-too-short, and if I am rejected, embarrassed, humiliated, so be it.

So I sent Favorite Actor a tweet saying something like "I think you should follow a poet/editor...just sayin'."  And here's the thing-- he did.  95,000 and some people follow him and he follows me, plus 107 other people.  That's it.  Much of this is good timing.  But for me, there was a bit of risk.  No one wants to be rejected or ignored.  No one wants to be embarrassed.

But I guess I'm just at a point in my life where it's easier not to care if I look ridiculous, because honestly, life is too short.  In this world, we act as if life is this long event where we have time not to take take risks or do the things we want to do.  We save that stuff until we are braver, or stronger, or smarter.  But here's the thing-- who knows what the future holds.  Carpe diem.    Seize the Carp, I mean, day.

What --really?-- do we have to lose?

So I'm now am followed by an actor I admire.  1 degree of separation.  And if you're wondering who it is, you can check out the image below because I took a photo of it with my iPhone because that is the kind of dork I am, a smart one who knows how to use her iPhone to take a screen shot.


I confess if Conan O'Brien followed me, I'd truly believe life is a magical place.


I confess these are two of my favorite celebrity people.  There aren't many others I like because I'm picky like that.  And not very knowledgable in celebrity.


I confess I wanted to talk to Robert Pinsky at the Seattle Arts and Lecture event last fall and was invited to the reception before his reading to meet him.  And do you want to know what I said to Mr. Pinsky?  Nothing.  Because I was hiding by the appetizers.


I confess my goal this year is not to hide.  Wish me luck.  (And no matter what happens, at least I'll be eating less cheese.)



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Support Your Indie Press-- White Pine Press Book Sale! Signed books & Collectibles:

For the readers, writers, and book collectors--

Dennis Maloney is selling much of his book collection to help raise money for White Pine Press.

Here's the Facebook blurb--

White Pine Press founder Dennis Maloney is selling off his forty year collection of signed and first editions of poetry and more to raise funds to support White Pine Press. The sale includes significant collections of several poets including Pablo Neruda, Wendell Berry, Joel Oppenheimer, Wendell Berry, Tomaz Salamun, John Montague, John Logan, Rolf Jacobsen, Ted Ensilin, a selection of early work by Native American poets and smaller selections of many other authors.

Some pretty amazing books!

Here's a link if you'd like to browse the inventory.

White Pine Press is a non-profit organization, and sales of material donated to a library or other institution or purchased for above the fair market value of the items will be eligible for a tax deduction. For additional information, questions, or purchases please email Dennis Maloney at dennismaloney (a)


White Pine Press published my book Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room in 2010, so this is a press close to my heart.

It's rare to find an independent press that has survived so long and has published such an enormous amount of great work.  Dennis has dedicated his life to exceptional literary talent and supporting poets and writers, so if you want to improve your own library or have some extra money to share with this press, I do recommend that you do.

Also, you can LIKE White Pine Press on Facebook here.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Should You Be Writing Right Now?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

First, thank you for all your great comments on last week's confession (Are Blogs Dead?)  I will be keeping my blog for a few reasons... maybe that will a different post (I'm supposed to be confessing, right?)  Though two main reasons are: it helps me organize my thoughts on things.  And Facebook can tire me.

So with that, let's get on into what we're here to do.  It's time to confess.  To the confessional--

I confess I woke up today with that uncomfortable feeling of imbalance between what I have and what I want.

It's nothing major, but it tells me I'm not feeling grateful for my life and I hate that feeling.

For example--

What I have: a beautiful house that I love.
What I want: a beautiful house that I love with organized cabinets.

It makes me annoyed with myself when I focus on the minuscule and not the big picture.  That said, focusing on the minuscule is what makes me a poet and helps my work become better.

Still, I hate feeling as if that the picture in my head of what my life "should be" doesn't match up to what the picture in the world of what my life is.  I need to take another picture in my mind and this time, focus on the good and what I have.  


I confess yesterday on a walk with a poetfriend, I realized I was getting in that place where I'm ready for summer to end and I'm yearning for fall.

I know, some of you want to bop me on the head for saying that.

But I love autumn, it's my favorite time of year and I feel as if I get a pre-autumn in August when the blackberries ripen and the scent of summer changes so you can begin to smell fall in the air.

While many poets I know write and do much of their writing in summer, summer is the one time of year I don't write, I'm not interested in poetry or writing or doing anything that feels like an indoor activity.  I want to be out and away and on the water or looking at the water or sleeping in the sun or working in the garden or doing anything besides writing.

But I feel that beginning to change.


I confess I plan on doing the Artist Way this fall.

If you haven't done this, you should.  It's basically a 12 step program for creatives.  I do it about everything 3 years, though I think it's been 5 years since I last did it.

Here's the book-- Artist Way Starter Kit (with Morning Pages Journal)
or if you just want the Artist Way book, go here.

Maybe this year, I'll post my weekly responses on my blog and maybe if others want to do the Artist Way as well we could connect here.  Hmmm...

I hadn't thought to do that, but doing the Artist Way as a group is much better.  I have a few writers whom I'll be checking in with via email, but I like the idea of putting it out here for others as well.  Would anyone be interested?

I'm thinking we're going to start the Artist Way in mid-September and then it will go 12 weeks from there-- so through much of November. (November seems like a long way away...)

Anyhoo, if you'd be interested in doing the Artist Way this fall as well, drop me a note or leave a comment.


I confess I'm going to shake myself out of this-- my life would be better if I had organized cabinets mode-- and get on with loving all I have.  Bad perfectionist controlling voice...



Monday, July 23, 2012

7 Habit of Successful Writers

The blog Beyond the Margin has a great post on 7 habit of successful writers-

Here's 3--

  1. Write. Daily if at all possible, even if it’s for just a few minutes. Grit and drive are arguably more important than raw talent in achieving even artistic success.*
  2. Read. Scrutinize every good story you read to see how the writer accomplishes what s/he does. Good reading inspires, and moreover, provides specific insight into how you can engineer your writing for maximum effect. Francine Prose offered a personal example of this in Reading Like a Writer: In the process of writing a story she knew was going to end in violence, she was struggling to make it sound natural and inevitable rather than forced and melodramatic. At the same time, she happened to be reading some stories by Isaac Babel and noticed that in his work, a violent moment is often preceded by a lyrical one. “It’s characteristic of Babel to offer a lovely glimpse of the crescent moon just before all hell breaks loose. I tried it – first the poetry, then the horror – and suddenly … the incident I had been struggling with appeared, at least to me, to be plausible and convincing.”
  3. Nurture your inner schizophrenic. When you have written a draft of your story and it’s time to revise, you have to be able to look at it with a cold eye and take the ax to it as needed.  If, on the other hand, you sit down to write the first draft while agonizing about how not original or not interesting your work will be, and how many grammatical mistakes you’re bound to make, odds are your work will be…neither original nor interesting. You’re actually not one person, but two: a dancer and an ax murderer. Love both of these people who live in your brain, but keep them apart. (This is, by the way, really, really hard to do. Dorothea Brande’s book Becoming a Writer is helpful in guiding you to live this way.)

Read the rest here...


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Confession Tuesday: Are Blogs Dead? Edition

Dear Reader,

I confess it's harder for me to write in the summer and maybe the sun has gone to my head, but I'm wondering -- Are blogs dead?

I ask this in that joking way, the way people ask "Is Poetry Dead?"  Of course, it's not.  Of course, there will always be blogs and bloggers, but have we moved past it?

Jeannine Hall Gailey used a term when talking about blogs, facebook, twitter that intrigued me.  She said that more people may prefer easy connection without all the words.  The terms she used were-- "long-form content" versus "short-form content."

Long-form content are blogs, articles, editorials.

Short-form content are Facebook status, Twitter, Pinterest.

I was intrigued as I hadn't thought about it.
Do people still read blogs?  Are blogs needed?  Does anyone still read my blog?

After our discussion, I wondered why I still have a blog and if it was still helpful, necessary, if anyone is reading and if it's worth it to keep it going.

I confess sometimes I feel as if I don't have anything more to say.

But maybe this is my summer mind, the one who likes to read clouds.
I'm not sure.  But do you still read blogs as much as you used to?

I know I don't as much.  But it's not a reflection on the blogs, but on my time.

I guess this makes me think about blogging and whether to continue.  Right now, I'm leaning towards yes.

We'll see how it goes.

Right now, I'm going to keep this blog.  But are we moving to shorter words/phrases to connect us?



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Brian Andreas Story People on Maintaining Control in Life...

If you hold on to the handle, she said, it's easier to maintain the illusion of control.  But it's more fun if you just let the wind carry you.

~Brian Andreas, Story People

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Incredible Book Recommendation for Poets: Poetry in Person

Jeannine Hall Gailey gave me a copy of this book and I have fallen in love with it.  It's called Poetry in Person: 25 Years of Conversation With America's Poets by Alexander Neubauer.

It is one of those books I'm going to be sorry about when I finish it.  I will want to read more.

Basically, the book transcribes 25 years of cassette taped interviews from the most amazing poets talking to an audience of poets.  Writers talking to writers.

It starts out with Maxine Kumin in 1973 and goes from there.

If you love interviews or hearing poets discuss their craft, struggles, fears, insecurities, creativity, passion, will love this book.  I cannot get enough of it!

Here's the Amazon Book Description:

“In the fall of 1970, at the New School in Greenwich Village, a new teacher posted a flyer on the wall,” begins Alexander Neubauer’s introduction to this remarkable book. “It read ‘Meet Poets and Poetry, with Pearl London and Guests.’” Few students responded. No one knew Pearl London, the daughter of M. Lincoln Schuster, cofounder of Simon & Schuster. But the seminar’s first guests turned out to be John Ashbery, Adrienne Rich, and Robert Creely. Soon W. S. Merwin followed, then Mark Strand and Galway Kinnell.

London invited poets to bring their drafts to class, to discuss their work in progress and the details of vision and revision that brought a poem to its final version. From Maxine Kumin in 1973 to Eamon Grennan in 1996, including Amy Clampitt, Marilyn Hacker, Paul Muldoon, Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, and U.S. poet laureates Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky, Louise Gl├╝ck, and Charles Simic, the book follows an extraordinary range of poets as they create their poems and offers numerous illustrations of the original drafts, which bring their processes to light. With James Merrill, London discusses autobiography and subterfuge; with Galway Kinnell, his influential notion that the new nature poem must include the city and not exclude man; with June Jordan, “Poem in Honor of South African Women” and the question of political poetry and its uses. Published here for the first time, the conversations are intimate, funny, irreverent, and deeply revealing. Many of the drafts under discussion—Robert Hass’s “Meditation at Lagunitas,” Edward Hirsch’s “Wild Gratitude,” Robert Pinsky’s “The Want Bone”—turned into seminal works in the poets’ careers.

There has never been a gathering like Poetry in Person, which brings us a wealth of understanding and unparalleled access to poets and their drafts, unraveling how a great poem is actually made.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

Summer has FINALLY hit in the Northwest.  The weather is perfect!  PERFECT!  I can not get enough sunshine or beach time.

And when I say beach, I mean, water.

So let's just get to it and I'll explain. To the confessional--

I confess (and I've said this before) I have no idea how people who live in warm sunny climates get anything done or written.

When the weather becomes nice here, I drop email, internet, inside living, writing and anything else I can.  All I do is 1) sit outside  2) SUP (stand-up paddleboarding)  3) eat ice cream and fruit and grilled shrimp

I do not write, care about writing or anything else that happens inside.

In fact, I confess I'm not even writing this on a Tuesday.  I'm writing this on Sunday morning and scheduling it for today.  I'm drinking coffee, wearing PJs and deciding when it will be best to paddle -- I'm a servant to the tides, you know.


I confess to keep my summer more open, I've started checking email on Monday and Friday morning only.  I think I may keep this schedule into the fall.

Yes, I say this, like I'll only go on Facebook on Fridays, then the weather turns wet and yuck and I'm stuck inside looking for distractions and I'm reading Facebook statuses.  But really, in my best life, this is my schedule.


I confess I constantly have to work on myself as a writer.  I know all the things I shouldn't do-- distraction, procrastination, internet-surfing-- and still I find myself on Facebook liking someone's photo of their cat.  I suck that way.

It reminds me of that car commercial where the daughter is thinking her parents have boring lives while she has 650-some friends on Facebook and spends all her time there-- "what, that is not a real's too small to be a real puppy."

Summer reminds me that I must live outside the house, outside the box, the computer.

This is when I fill up, when I remember I am a body and not just a mind.  When the birds are at their best, the sky is blue, and I am not locking myself indoors because I hate to leave the house.

Oh and here's the commercial for anyone who hasn't seen it.



For my Writer Friends: Elvis Costello (& 2 amazing Charles & Di impersonators) video Everyday I Write The Book

One of the best videos I've seen from 1983.

You have no idea how much I love this guy--

Monday, July 09, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Confession Tuesday - The Kayaking Edition & My Thoughts on Prologues

Dear Reader,

I am back from yet another vacation where my comment when I walked in the door was "I am so glad we all lived."

My family and I went 5 day kayaking expedition on the Northern tip of Vancouver Island.  As a Northwest Native, I know I'm truly optimistic setting a vacation at the end of June considering our summer doesn't start here until after July 4 (if then).

Thankfully, we had pretty good weather, but it was an adventure.  I'll tell you more now as this is starting to sound like a prologue and I realized last night, I hate prologues (more on that too)

To the confessional--

I confess I wanted to kayak with orcas, but ended up kayaking with white-sided dolphins.

Here's a photo of the grand finale of our trip--

Here's what they look like out of the water (this photo wasn't from our trip)

I have kayaked with orcas before and it was a very spiritual, amazing experience.  I wanted to relive that.  I had never considered a pod of dolphins and what that would be like.  It was truly amazing and breathtaking.  They were really putting on a show (they were actually fishing, but I like to believe they were performing and showing off a bit) and kept traveling back and forth around our kayaks.  It was truly a magical moment in my life.

That said to get this to this moment, we had a lot of crazy moments before that from the van we were in hitting a deer and being stuck in a town that consisted of one gas station/store until someone came 2 hours later to pick us up, 20 knot winds and whitecaps, me become dehydrated on the second paddle of the trip because I only had 2 cups of coffee before a 6-mile paddle...

I am considering doing a couple nonfiction essays with this experience and how many times we need to push through the tough times and what scares us to reach that point of magic in our life.

After we hit the deer, I seriously considered turning back and going home.  I thought-- well, this is going to be one of those trips...  I thought--hmm, not a good omen to hit a deer before we begin and blow out a radiator...maybe it's a sign.

But I continued on and focused on what went right--  No one in the van was injured when it happened, we didn't swerve off the road and down the ravine or into oncoming traffic.  We were 3 miles from a town and while our radiator was smoking, we still all made it there safely.  The gas station we were at had bathrooms.  And food.  And we had lunch in the van and it wasn't raining, so we sat on a picnic table with two ravens and a blue jay watching us and played gin rummy.

As I said, I hope to write more about this adventure...we'll see where it goes.


I confess I started a few books on this trip and last night opening up a new books I've been craving to read, I realized how much I dislike prologues.

And when I say "dislike" I mean hate.

When I open a book and see a prologue I feel as I've been giving a homework assignment before I begin.

Here's what happens in my head when I open a book with a prologue (my voice is sans italics)--

Oh no, a prologue! Yuck! I just want read what happened.

I want to tell you a story, but first you have to know this, this, and this.

No, I hate this part-- I just want to hear your story.

Sorry, Reader, you must read this me, it's part of the story.

It's not part of the story.  It's all the boring stuff you feel you need to tell me, but you really don't.  In fact, this is like someone trying to tell me about a movie before I see it, I hate that too.

Reader, this is what you need to know first, read it.

No, I'm skipping ahead.

I have 4 pages of prologue, you're going to skip ahead then feel you missed something and go back and reread it like you always do.  

Please just start with the story.  Now I'm too tired to read.  I'm going to bed.


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