Wednesday, June 30, 2010

under the weather and overly ambitious

I don’t get sick very often. In fact, I think the last time may have been in 2006. However, it seems my luck has run out and what appeared to be just minor sniffles and sneezes is turning into a full-fledged summer cold. You know the kind that almost feels like the flu, with the achy headaches, stuffed sinuses, slight fever, and general worn out feeling? Yeah, that’s the one. That’s what I have. I’ve even named it. Fran. (Perhaps because of the ever-so-lovely nasal voice I have acquired in the process.)

It’s in moments like this I like to think of all the perks of working and writing from home. There’s the general assumption that we writers are able to luxuriously lay about, thinking of stories and poems and strange characters, only putting pen to paper when we’re so inclined… er, inspired… and yet… that’s only partially true.

Like anyone who is self-employed and works under the guidance of self-generated discipline, there are certainly perks but there are a few not-so-perky parts of the job as well. Such as, meeting deadlines even when one is under the weather. Such as, finishing up handouts for a class because tonight’s students are incredible and I don’t want to disappoint them. Such as, checking things off the to-do list even though I’d love nothing more than to curl up with a bowl of chicken soup, and drowse off while watching some mindless movie from the comfort of my couch.

Alas, the luxuries will wait. I can’t call in to my boss (the bossier version of my writer self) and request the day off. Not today. Maybe this weekend, but not today. Today I will finish preparing for tonight’s Intro Creative Writing class. Today I will clear my to-do list of a few journal deadlines I promised to meet. Today I will make notes of what else needs to be done to get the summer issue of Poets’ Quarterly out *almost* on time next week. It’s what we writers do.

We write when we’re less than inspired, because the habit is a choice and a commitment we must give our all to. We write when we have a deadline, because we don’t always have the luxury of having a deadline. We write because, even when under the weather, words just feel good when they form something beyond us on paper.

This weekend? Yes, this weekend I will take a breather. That is, if my sinuses clear.

Monday, June 28, 2010

3 days 2 nights 1 good time

I’ve returned and recovered from a few days of fun at the Wilkes University MFA Residency. It was an absolute honor to have been invited to speak to alumni, students, faculty and guests about the literary life and getting connected with both the community and business sides of writing. In addition to my business plenary session “Literary Living: Developing a Creative Career,” I had the pleasure of sitting on two additional panels: Thursday’s agent/editor Q&A panel and then Saturday’s thesis pitch panel.

It was a great time. I adored the students and their incredible energy and passion for writing. The faculty were overwhelmingly welcoming and endearing. And, overall, the community that is developed between the MA and MFA students and faculty was so evident at all points of my stay, even the last remaining hours when no doubt everyone could have used a weeklong nap.

I’ve added a number of photos of my Wilkes weekend to facebook and these are publicly accessible here:

My thanks go out to all the wonderful folks I met who made me feel at home and I’d especially like to thank Bonnie Culver and Jim Warner for being generous, joyous hosts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

review and journal news / Wilkes MFA

Once I wrap up my Intro CW class this evening, I’m headed out for a few days again to attend another jam-packed MFA residency. This week I am presenting at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre PA. I’ll be presenting on the topics of developing a writing career and literary lifestyle, talking about working with editors and publishers, and sharing some general all-round tips for getting yourself out there and in the community-at-large. I’m also pleased to participate as a panel member, where I’ll get to hear student thesis pitches! I’m really excited about this. There’s nothing more thrilling than a ‘new project smell’ and I know the students will be eager to talk up their various works-in-progress. I’ll be sure to share some details and pics from my Wilkes visit upon my return.

In other news, I was very excited to see my contributor copies of Two Review arrive in the mail this week. The 2010 issue is now available and more details are online here. It’s a great issue with contributors such as Jim Daniels, Nicelle Davis, Janann Dawkins, Rebecca Foust, Diane Lefer, and many more talented voices. I'm pleased to have a poem, "Signs of Recovery," included in the mix. Do pick up a copy and see what editors Jeremy Edward Shiok and Brendan Noonan have put together.

Speaking of new issues… If you haven’t already, please do visit to see the Summer 2010 Issue. In addition to a number of regionally based authors, there are some guest contributors from states far and wide who have all come together to share poems about the MI and ON region. Submissions are accepted year-round, too, so if you have something that might fit, be sure to check out the Submission Guidelines.

Finally, I’d like to thank Bernie at BerniE-Zine for the lovely review of stains: early poems. Here’s a link to the full review.

Happy reading, writing, and summering! Until next time…

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life after deadline / KY / Spalding MFA

There is something completely satisfying about getting a manuscript in on time for its deadline. There is something even more satisfying about receiving an editorial ‘thumbs-up’ and the knowledge that a complete overhaul is not in order. [Insert sigh of relief here!]

Now that I’ve wrapped up what seemed like, on many days, the project-that-would-never-end, and now that I have taken a few days to reacquaint myself with the world [aka – cleaned the office so I can once again see my desk], I am back to business as usual. In the time since I last posted to my blog I have met a few smaller deadlines for magazines, fact-checked this and that, wrote a few poems, drafted some ideas for new projects, and generally allowed myself to detox from the daily ritual of working on a monstrous (but fun!) manuscript. I also caught up on just a little bit of sleep, something that seemed to be at a premium whilst completing said manuscript.

It’s also time I share some of my adventures from visiting Kentucky a couple of weekends ago. I had the pleasure of presenting a session during the Spalding University MFA residency in Louisville. With an audience of students, alumni, faculty, and visiting writers, I shared some tips and tales of using social media and building an online literary community. I have to say, the hospitality in Louisville is spectacular. The lavish accoms at The Brown Hotel were enough to melt away any last-minute manuscript stress, and the food… oh, the food. Not only does Louisville have some very fine restaurants along the 4th Street Live district, but these MFA folks really know how to put out a good spread in between sessions.

And speaking of sessions! I was so pleased to sit in on the lecture right before my own; the speaker was none other than the beloved Molly Peacock, whom I think is absolutely adorable, frank, and funny. Molly gave a remarkably honest account of the writing life as she knows it, urged us to ignore everything but our writing before 10:30am, and encouraged us to draft up some writing development plans. It was encouraging, touching, and down right fun to listen to her.

I must thank the wonderful folks at Spalding for bringing me out to the residency: Kathleen Driskell, Sena Jeter Naslund, Karen Mann, Katy Yocom, Gayle Hanratty, and all the other wonderful faculty, students, alumni, and admin folks who made the visit a wonderful time.

I also want to thank Katerina Stoykova-Klemer for hosting a fantastic reading at Morris Book Shop in Lexington KY. I had the pleasure of joining in on the Accents Publishing reading with wonderful authors such as Barry George, Brian Russel, and Jim Lally. By the way, if you have a poetry chapbook manuscript looking for a home, Accents Publishing is accepting entries for the 2010 chapbook contest. I posted details a while ago here, but you can visit the Accents Publishing website directly for full details.

So, now that I am back on track, I’ll be picking back up with my usual blog schedule. Stay tuned for updates and news, reviews and interviews, and I’ll soon be sharing a Q&A with Gringa author Melissa Hart!

Until next time….

Friday, June 4, 2010

the deadline cave

I'm in The Deadline Cave. I'm wrapped up in the joy of seeing each chapter edited to satisfaction (which is a feeling that can vary throughout the day, depending on how much sleep and/or coffee I have had).

As such, I regret my usual blog schedule is out of whack and will be until I type "The End" and send this ms out the door.

When I come back to the real world, I look forward to sharing my wonderful experience of presenting at Spalding University's MFA residency last week and catching up on all sorts of literary news.

Thanks for your patience! See you on the flipside of The Deadline Cave.