Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday... 8 Things to be Thankful About

Gratitude Journal:

1)  Birds - reminding us that what may seem like a limitation (small and hollowed boned) can help us fly.

2)  Too much email:  A reminder we have many friends and a lot of incredible projects.

3)  Having the time to write this list.  Having the time to read this list.

4)  Anything chocolate.  Or sweet.

5)  People.  Every smile.  Every extra minute we get with each other.

6)  Sweet frogs that appear unexpectedly in your pond. (This can also be a metaphor.)

7)  Connection.  All of it.  We are all one.

8)  Sky, any sky--cloudy, blue, rainy, windy, starlit, sunset, pink edges, hazy, foggy and not there, filled pollution, filled with birds--if you wake up and see any sky, congratulations, you've just been given one more day of your life.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Confession Tuesday: Wait, What?

Dear Reader,

I know, I'm a day late.  It's been that kind of a week.  That kind of a life (she says in an exaggerated manner).

This is one of those times when it's hard to do anything well...or so it feels.   I am not someone who likes to be busy.  I like to be productive, focused, hard working, but when I feel busy like crazybusy, I know if I don't fix/change things I'll move into overwhelmed.

That's how I've felt recently.  Being a writer and poet seems like used confetti at the moment, I am scattered on the floor--colorful, but not useful.

Sometimes the other roles in one's life come forward: mother, daughter, friend, vacationer, travel assistant, organizer, teacher, mentor, secretary, camper, housekeeper, gardener, helper, caretaker, researcher.

I confess last night I could feel the tears coming though it wasn't because of anything specific, but just a small release of doing too much.

I dislike tears, all though I know they are helpful.  I confess held most of them in, but just allowing myself to realize that I'm feeling overwhelmed and behind in my life felt good.

I confess you can expect a Thankful Thursday post as gratitude has a way of reminding me of the good things in my life and there are many many good things.   Which is why I feel a little crazykookoo.

The wonderful things in my life have made me feel crazykookoo.  No, not having time has made me crazykookoo.  No.  My lack of being able to do multiple things well has made me crazykookoo. Yep, that's it.

Life is beautiful, but I've been too busy to see it.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Social Butterfly: How to Deal With Social Media as a Writer

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . .  

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Am I the only one who reads this and truly believes Mr. Dickens was writing about the internet in regards to writers?

The internet is truly one of the best and worst things that has happened to writers.

It is the best because it brings our tribe closer together.  You, as as author, can reach out directly to your reader, it allows us to skip the middle man or the media, we have a direct outlet to who we want to connect with.  We no longer have to be regional authors, our name can stretch across continents and oceans.  Our world became smaller and our map lost its boundaries.

But then there's the timesuck.  Hello worst of times.

The internet can suck your hours and at the end of the day, instead of a new poem or short story, you can be proud of your Facebook status, your tweet, your response to the political thread.  In other words, you have just used your time and instead of planting seeds--aka as poems, stories, or essays--you have planted breadcrumbs that will carried away by birds (aka a new day when it all starts again.)

Sometimes I see the internet as the spontaneous purchase you make at the cash registers-- Altoids, Star Magazine, a Zippo lighter.  We have something that makes us feel good for a few moments, then it's gone.  Like our money and our satisfaction.

But like Altoids, the internet can be used for good.

Below are the social media & internet sites I think are best for writers and how to use them so you don't lose your mind or your time--

TOP 3 Ways to Have Internet Presence for a Writer:

1)  An Author Webpage: essential!

All writers needs this.  Some people have made their blog their main author website, that's fine.  You just need a main homepage so when people (or editors/readers) google you, they can find you.  

To me, this is the #1, no excuses. If you are writing and/or you want to be a writer, you need an author homepage with contact info.  

I used iPage to create mine and update it--  (   I pay for it monthly, but I love it because I can do it myself.  And I have never been trained on how to design a webpage.  

(By the way, if you do choose iPage to host your webpage, please sign up here as I've signed up to be an associate which means, if you sign up to iPage, I get a commission, and well, as a poet, that's helpful.)

2)  Facebook Page:  pretty essential

Right now, Facebook seems to be the place where everyone still hangs out (even while they complain about Facebook).  

I suggest starting a Facebook author page.  Here's mine:

It felt very weird to do at first, and I found myself apologizing to my non-writer friends after doing it.  What I've learned is, no one cares if you have a Facebook page.  They don't think you're showing off or think you're fantastic.  They have a Facebook page for people who hate Croc shoes.  Most people realize this is just part of the world we live in.

3)  Linked In:  Important, but not necessary.  More necessary if you are actively looking for work in writing.

I signed up to Linked In because well, someone told me to.  I don't go there often, but I'm glad I have an account.  If I ever need a connection, Linked In and Facebook will be my first sources.

Here's my Linked In Account.

As I said, I'm still new to this, but the one thing I noticed immediately were the opportunities for writers in paid work.


Other Tools for Writers to have Internet Presence, A Voice, or Just a Lot of Fun-

1)  Twitter:  A nice way to connect with other writers (not essential)

My feelings on Twitter is: start an account, you don't have to use it.

That's what I did. It took me about 3 months to actually understand Twitter and hashtags and to figure out who sees what.  

Twitter made me feel icky at first.  As if I was just yelling things out a window.  Well, that's kind of what Twitter is, but you can only yell 140 characters, which bugs me sometimes because I'm talky.

However, it's a great way to promote others' work as well as poetry events, books, reading series, literary journals, etc.  Also, I can share articles on poetry and poets I loved. And that's what I ended up liking it for. 

Though honestly, it probably took me about a year before I felt comfortable with it and remembered to actually *go to Twitter* --most the time I forgot it was even there.  Just allow yourself some time to get used to it.  

Also, most of the short names have been taken up, so it's better to get a Twitter account sooner than later.

My Twitter Account:  kelliagodon

2)  A Blog:  Dealer's Choice

This is another item I think completely depends on your personality and if you want to have a blog.  

I kind of think blog readership is down, but I really like having a blog because when someone shows up at my homepage, they can see I'm alive and thinking real thoughts.  It also allows me to highlight the things, people, authors, and books I love.  

I think I used to be a better blogger, but that was pre-Facebook & Twitter.  The shorter content world can take over.  But I like a blog because of what I'm doing right now-- sharing information I think will be helpful to others.

3)  Instagram: Facebook for the Younger Generation

For me, this is just a fun way to share photos and look at others' photos.  I don't see it as anything more, but a place for me to store interesting photos I've taken.

I've heard a lot of younger folks are opting for this instead of Facebook.  Since it's now owned by Facebook, they may be joined no matter what. But if you like to take photos or document daily life, this is a fun option.

My instagram account:  agodon

4)   Pinterest:  Definitely not needed, but a good way to keep track of things you like

Of everything I've mentioned, this may be another big timesuck for writers, so I hesitate to mention it...however, it's a great place if you're a visual person to keep track of visual images you like.  You create a bulletin board, say "Books I Want to Read" --then whenever you find a book you want to read, you "Pin it" to your bulletin board.

Everything on this site is PUBLIC so be aware of that.  If you're trying to maintain you are literary fiction and you're pinning 50 Shades of Grey to your Pinterest bulletin board, you will be found out.

4) : not essential at all

I used to have a Tumblr account until I read this article about Tumblr and its porn&spam issue.
According to TechCrunch though, they may be cracking down on it.

But the whole brouhaha creeped me out and I opted out of Tumblr and really, I didn't use it that much. It was another account I basically forgot about it.

I'll be doing another post coming up with user names, consistency, and things I learned too late in regards to social media.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Confession Tuesday: the Lost iPhone Edition

Dear Reader,

It's been a week, one lost iPhone, one sunburn, one Haystack Rock, and one busy summer since my last confession.

Sorry to have been away. Let's get going.  To the confessional--

I confess I was running from waves at dusk after taking photos of starfish with my iPhone when I lost it. I put it in my pocket then went running through the sand like a nut.  When I returned to my hotel room I realized it wasn't in my purse.

So back onto the beach. I met a group of people who were beachcombing with a flashlight.  Two guys came up with the idea of calling my cellphone and we would all stand watch to see it light up in the sand.  Ring ring....nothing.  Ring ring...nothing.

At that point, I decided the waves must have come in and made my phone a brick.  A wet brick in damp sand next to Haystack Rock in the Pacific Ocean.

But here's the thing... I wasn't sad.

In fact, I actually felt free as if all my worries had been (literally) washed away.

I couldn't check email.  No one could reach me.  Life became easier.

It's that same feeling I have when we lose power.  Oh, I guess I have nothing to do, better read. Or go to bed early.

I want to feel like this every day.

For the first 3 days after losing my iPhone I was researching phones without internet and was almost ready to buy this phone (the iNo phone-- for elderly & children):

I know, they are pretty awesome.  They look like calculators.

What sold me was they only have phone, text an FM radio AND a flashlight.

I was really wondering if I want to carry my email with me.  I am beginning to hate email.  It drags me down.

With the iNo phone, I would be everyone's best friend at night with my built-in flashlight.  And when we need to dance, I come with FM radio.


I confess I will probably end up getting another iPhone, but I realize I am not racing down the Apple store to pick one up.  Instead, I am enjoying this time being phoneless.

I have a lot to learn on how to live better, how to be in the moment.  That is what I feel my iPhone takes from me.  It gives me convenience, but takes away my ability to just be.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Confession Tuesday & 9 Lessons I Learned from Paddleboarding 7 miles #SUP

My Board, My Typewriter

Dear Reader,

It has been a week (I hope) since my last confession.

To be honest, I don't remember. I don't remember what or where I was last Tuesday as the last 5 days have been a wild ride and a mindnumbing stumble.

Let me explain...
To the confessional--

I confess I signed up to do an extreme relay race last January --10K SUP (stand-up paddle on my board), a 12 K beach/trail run, and a 12K mt bike ride-- and I confess it's was one of the hardest things I've done, but I did it.

The calm after the storm-- Here's me coming in after the longest paddle of my life - I did 7 miles in 1 hour & 23 minutes.  That's Seattle over the hill behind me.  I felt over-the-hill after I did this.

I was the paddleboarder for our 3 woman relay time and before the event, I was incredibly nervous.  So nervous, I could only do timewasting things--like watch The Big Bang Theory and hang out on Facebook.  The day after the event I was so sore, I did it again.

If you need to waste time, Facebook is the place to do it.  It's procrastination central for writers. It's immediate gratification, let's eat a lot of sugar and play with strangers instead of doing our homework.

It's a big MindNumbing Escape that honestly, I've appreciated having for the last few days because it allowed me not to have to think that I was getting on a surfboard and paddling 7 miles down Puget Sound.

I must love paddleboarding because I didn't even get a medal, and those who know me know I do hard things for medals.  Our team finished in 6th and our gifts were shirts, socks, and a bag of chips.  It was 10x harder than the half-marathon I did in June.  In the half-marathon, there were not boats, and waves washing over my board, and winds pushing me into shore.  Also, I didn't run the whole half-marathon, had I, I'm sure I'd be feeling differently.

At one point about 3 miles into the relay competition I started talking to myself-- "Don't fall off, don't fall off."  Then I realized by focusing on negative, I was actually focusing on falling off.  So I started saying, "Sturdy and fast, sturdy and fast."  This is when these huge rollers were knocking me sideways.

I made my many mistakes.

I didn't think the wind would be as strong as it was so I chose a smaller board  which was faster instead of more stable. I should have chosen a 12' boat.  Mistake #1

I used a camelback (which is a way to get water, a sort of water backpack) without trying it out first.  I should have known my equipment and not been so fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants on race day. Mistake #2

But there were a couple things I did right--

A good breakfast, cutting people off by taking shorter distances in the water, and not falling in.

The last time I was on my board in the rough part of Puget Sound, I thought about my manuscript and almost fell in.  I didn't think about anything else except paddling.

I'm the one in the blue lifejacket -not what you'd call poetry in motion.

And I made it.  The photo above makes me laugh.  In my mind, we were graceful birds in our tag-off looking at this photo I see the plastic monkeys from A Barrel of Monkeys--

Tagging my runner here was the best feeling because I was done. And I did it.  And while I complained left and right about signing up, doing it and then being mad at myself for not doing better, I will say, I'm actually glad I gave it a try.

And I learned a few things to.

So here they are, the 9 lessons I learned from paddling 7 miles down Puget Sound, maybe they'll be helpful to you--

1) I can do hard things then after they are over, the pain is forgotten and goes away

2)  Focus is important

3)  I can live outside my comfort zone (a tough one for me as I *love* my comfort zone)

4)  You don't have to be the best or even qualified to sign up, you just have to sign up

5)  Sometimes waves hit you, but you stay standing

6)  It's okay to push yourself, to try harder and it's good to do that (this goes back to #3)

7)  You will make mistakes, have poor judgment and many errors, but you will still get through it

8)  Sometimes it's more important to be stable, than fast.

9)  Sometimes it's good to do things just to do them, not because you're going to get a prize at the end



Friday, August 10, 2012

David Rakoff Quote from Half Empty...

Just learned writer David Rakoff died today or late last night.  He was 47.  

Many of you may recognize his name (and his distinctive voice) from This American Life.  Truly someone I loved to listen to...  Sorry to hear we've lost such a talent.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Have Typewriter, Will Travel Series (Photographs)

From my series *Have Typewriter, Will Travel* with Ms. Corona, my favorite vintage typewriter.
Photographs, 2012.
Kelli Russell Agodon


Confession Tuesday

Dear Readers,

I should be jumping in the shower right now and heading off to a dentist appt., but there's a lot on my mind... Let's just begin.

To the confessional--

I confess I've been thinking a lot about my existence on this planet since last week when I learned a friend of mine from high school died unexpectedly. She was 42.

Yesterday driving home from her funeral, I just kept dwelling on how temporary we are in this place. Yet, knowing that, we mostly live our lives as if it comes with unlimited mileage.

As someone who has always found myself thinking about death, it's not surprising for me that the unexpected death of a friend hit me so hard. Honestly, I still can't put my head around it. I still can't believe it was her body in the casket.

But it was a wake-up call to me.

It made/makes me look at my life and ask--

1) Are you living each day in a way that when you look back at your life you'll have no or few regrets?

2) Are you putting people and living things first?

3) Are you following your goals and dreams and visions of the life you want to lead?

And the final question to myself--

4) What can you do better?

This last question doesn't mean become a workaholic or try to be the best, as many of you know, one of my favorite things to do is sit on my deck, or in a lounge chair, or in my bed, or at a coffee shop, and do nothing. Just to watch the world. Just be.

But the question is -- when I see myself living the life I don't want to live, how I can I change it to make it better, to make it what I want and not what I accidentally let happen.

Gandhi said, "Actions express priorities" and I connect with this. Am I living my life in a way that is good and kind and helpful and in sync with my values?

Seeing my friend's life cut short is a reminder to me that we are all on limited time. It's hard to believe. I tend to think we all get about 70 years. 42? It's not the answer to what is the meaning of life, it is a life cut short.

So I think and think and think, what can I learn from this? as I know the feeling the end and I'll return into a word of petty complaints, into a world of overscheduled weeks and the feeling that we are all going to live forever and there's always more time...  But I need to continue to check-in with myself.


I confess this year was my 25th high school reunion and I didn't go.  I didn't go because I thought I'd just see everyone at my 30th.  

And yesterday, at the funeral, I realized - this is my 25th high school reunion--as I reconnected with so many friends.  Bittersweet.  A sad event brought us all together, but there we were.

And what is an amazing thing is that I feel so connected to these people, these friends I haven't seen some in 15 years, some longer.  We have a shared experience, a sense of place and togetherness, even if we didn't hang in the same groups.  I kind of love walking into a place and seeing the faces I grew up with. It's the Cheers theme song, "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name..."  


I confess this funeral and death stuff brings me back to my writing and my favorite people.  

It puts the priorities back into my life.  

It makes me clean out my desk drawer and organize my office.  It makes me sit down and think about my next projects.  It makes me write a poem and send it to a friend just because I haven't done that in a while.  



Monday, August 06, 2012

Find the Vampires in your Life & Let them Go--

This is so true for writers, artists, and actually for all people. I've rid myself of a few vampires over the last 10 years. It's a good feeling.

I also think of "Sometimes you have to burn bridges so the crazies can't follow you...."

Anyway, something to think about--

Show Your Work! Episode 1: Vampires from Austin Kleon on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Another Great Poetry Project that Needs Funding in NYC @kickstarter

I just backed this project and I'm not anywhere close to NYC, but here's the thing-- this project helps bring poetry to a larger audience by creating a website and videos of poets reading their work in landscapes that reflect their subjects.

Realize, any amount helps.

I'm a big believer in we all need to help each other out. If you can spare $5 (or more) and want to support the literary arts, you might want to check this out--

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