Poetic Strategy

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Last night, my husband asked me out of the blue, “How do you write your poetry?” Well, that’s a loaded question! It largely depends on what kind of poetry I’m writing.

My chosen forms of poetry are haiku, black out, and free verse. It’s no accident that each of the forms has a certain amount of freedom and spontaneity involved. I like the concept of having no idea what a poem is going to be until it is finished. Perhaps it’s my trust in my muse or maybe I just like to be surprised!

Haiku is the most structured form I write, but I ignore the 17-syllable rule completely. Instead, I favor the modern english language haiku where the focus is less on syllable count and more on capturing a moment (as per the Japanese tradition). I prefer to keep my haiku under 13 syllables, but it’s not a steadfast rule.

The appealing element of haiku for me is the focus on a singular moment. All I have to do is look up or conjure a memory of somewhere I’ve been and the words just come. Rarely, do I need more than a few minutes to compose a haiku and it’s always amazing to me that they come so fast.

Overthinking haiku almost diminishes the purpose of a form that is so rooted in Zen. It’s about being one with nature, a moment, or a feeling. If you think too hard, you miss the point.

Black out poetry is very similar. While Zen isn’t the central influence, the idea of singling a few words out of a page of text requires a little selective observation. They key is choosing just a few words that string together. Too many muddles the poem into a long piece of verse that doesn’t make sense. Or worse, the “poem” becomes an overwritten mess!  I liken it to a student highlighting an entire page of text instead of just the important sections!

You have to let go of the instinct to circle every single interesting word. In many ways, it’s a lesson in letting things go and making decisions without fear. Overthinking it makes it impossible to single out the words that work the best together.

For years, free verse was my chosen (non)form. The lack of rules made poetry seem far less daunting. To a certain extent, I still enjoy writing free verse. However, it does take me longer to compose than haiku or black out. The lack of rules is very liberating, but it also widens the field of inspiration and possibilities which can be overwhelming.

No matter what kind of poem I’m writing, I employ one simple strategy: trust my muse. I don’t try to force anything or rack my brain trying to write the perfect poem. The words always come if I just breathe and trust myself to find them.

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c.b.w. 2016

OMG. I Wrote Fanfic!

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Every writer has a skeleton in the closet. Bad poetry, failed attempts at short stories, journal entries that should never see the light of day – you know, the stuff that seemed good at the time, but now lies forgotten in a file or a shelf somewhere.

This is the writing that makes you cringe when you see it, but don’t be too quick to chuck in the trash. This is also the writing that had to happen in order to become the writer you are today.

In my case, I have journals filled with page after page of poetry (some good, some not), spirals of horrible short stories (definitely not my thing), and journal entries from a writing group I no longer attend, (prompt based writing is a little distracting for me). I learned something from every piece of writing I’ve ever done. Even the horrible, awful, bad stuff served its purpose in that I learned what not to do!

These physical reminders of my writing past sit on a shelf next to my desk. They remind me of where I’ve been and where I want to go. For that reason, I treasure them even if I pray no one ever reads them!

I thought I had all evidence of my writing past collected neatly in one place, but I was wrong. It turns out I had a little skeleton in my closet  that I totally forgot about and its out there for everyone to see.

The process of revisiting some old writing (See Getting All Nostalgic), lead me to a fansite for The Office called More Than That. It’s a fanfic site that specializes in fanfic for the characters Jim and Pam, but also includes fan created stories for The Office as a whole. The moderator of this site reached out and asked for message board posts I did for the show years ago.

I remember visiting the site often to read fanfic when the show aired, so I already had a username and password. When I signed in and clicked on My Account, I was shocked to see that I had written several pieces of fanfic. I totally and completely forgot that I had indulged in the sappy, fan obsessed practice of writing fanfic.

OMG. *slaps hand on forehead*

I did it all – fluff, angst, and romantic sappiness. Everything an obsessed shipper could ever want for fictional characters. I was afraid to click on the stories. Who knows what I had done or what they were about!

It turns out they aren’t half bad. The writer in me today wants to fix them, but they will remain as is. Part of me can’t believe I wrote fanfic, but the rest understands my muse was trying to tell me something a long time ago. This is where writing fiction became a reality to me. This is where I learned I could do it if I really tried.

At first, I was embarrassed to discover I had been a fanfic writer, but then I realized I had no reason to be. Fanfic is an art form. Many of the writers on More Than That are incredibly talented and I love reading their work. It isn’t easy to create new stories for well-known characters. There’s a fine line between challenging characters with new scenarios, while also maintaining the established canon of the character’s personality.

I may focus my attention on non-fanfic writing these days, but I am well aware that fanfic is one of the reasons I was brave enough to write not one, but two novels. I proudly acknowledge my fanfic skeleton!

Writing is writing, no matter what the genre. Tap those keys or scribble with that pen. Your muse is waiting.

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p.s. Here they are in all their glory:

More Than That: scrantonbranch’s stories

c.b.w. 2016

Off the Grid . . . Kinda

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If this space seems a bit quiet this week, its because I’ve wandered into the woods of Indiana for a little vacation. And I’ve left my laptop behind. I’ll pause for a moment as everyone gasps …

I won’t be totally disconnected as I’m bringing my phone and kindle fire, but I intend on spending more time outside than on the internet. Instead, my trusty pen and journal will be my chosen tools for writing. I’m looking forward to getting back to basics.

If my muse can’t keep quiet, I may post a poem or two from the app on my kindle. Stay tuned for the possibility of some impromptu poetry!:-)

Otherwise, its time for some much needed time away from everything on my worry list!:-)

Hello trees … I’ve missed you.

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c.b.w. 2016

Kinda Sorta Goals For 2016

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I’m trying something a little different this year when it comes to setting goals. I’ve been very specific in the past and that has served me well as a planner, but my muse has been less than cooperative. For example, one of my 2015 goals was to start writing the sequel to The Muse. My muse disagreed with that goal and remained stubbornly silent on that project. We’re still not on speaking terms when it comes to this sticky subject.

I’m as driven as ever to get my novel published (somehow, some way). I have a million ideas for the The Muse’s sequel and truly do want to start writing the continuing saga of Amanda and Ian. As far as poetry goes, I’m writing haiku for multiple competitions and forums. There’s also this blog and a shelf full of craft projects!

Clearly, I have a lot of projects burning a hole in my muse pocket.

Instead of setting incredibly specific goals my muse ignores anyway, perhaps big picture goals are the way to go.

Kinda Sorta Goals:

Write, write, and write some more.

At the core of everything is my fierce desire to write. Whether it’s poetry, novels, or funky articles about knitting, my central goal will always be writing in any form.

My muse takes me a in all different directions and frequently changes her mind! I’m just going to go with the flow and keep my pen moving.

Stay optimistic and keep trying.

My go with flow mentality doesn’t mean I’m losing my determined edge! The Muse is a still a huge priority and I’ll be doing everything I can to get it published. Whether its through the traditional channels or self-publishing, it’s about time this thing saw the light of day!

The same goes for poetry. I’m going to grab onto any opportunity I can to submit to competitions, journals, etc.

Join the community.

My participation in the Poetic Asides community has inspired me to seek out other groups of writers. I’ve joined a few new groups, but have yet to fully participate (sometimes I just like to sit under the radar and get a sense of how the community functions). As 2016 unfolds, I’m hoping to find my groove in new poetry communities, but also among Young Adult writers.

This might mean searching for communities in the blogosphere and/or social media. Either way, I’m looking to connect with more people who like to write what I like to write. Maybe they can offer some advice on publication or some good old fashioned encouragement? We’ll see!

Experiment.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Writing the same thing in the same way all the time. I want to see my writing continue to grow into something fresh and engaging. That means playing with fictional techniques and haiku formats. In addition, I want to see myself write something totally different.  The possibilities are endless if I consider a different genre or poetic form.

This same sense of experimentation also applies to my craft table. I want to try new crafts (like painting and beading) and expand my knitting and photography skills.

Trust the muse.

My muse always knows best. I have to remember to get out her way and let her speak.

Word of the Year: Enthusiasm

Weird goals aside, I want this year to be about hopeless enthusiasm that can’t be cured. No matter where this crazy journey takes me, I’m jumping in with everything I’ve got.

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What are your kinda sorta goals for 2016?

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c.b.w. 2016

As I Wander

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My blog has always been a mixed bag of topics ranging from poetry, musings, and crafts. This space started with the idea of simply following wherever my muse leads me. To my great surprise, I ended up with an audience of readers. More surprising still, after five years you’re all still here and growing!

As I look back on early posts, it’s amazing to see how much this blog has evolved. This year, in particular, has seen a major shift towards poetry as opposed to lengthy articles on crafts, books, and travel. As much as I still love reading and traveling, that’s not where my muse wanted to go. I believe this change is the direct result of both inspiration (thanks to a growing fascination with haiku) and the need to write poetry as a form of catharsis.

In the early stages of the poetic shift, I second guessed myself, wondering if my readers would continue to make this blog part of their day. Let’s face it, poetry (and haiku in particular) is not everyone’s thing. However, I realized very quickly that I didn’t start this journey using smoke and mirrors. Following my muse meant being honest about what inspires me and what that inspiration creates. To do anything less defeats the purpose of this blog!

As the new year approaches, I’d like to thank all my readers for the continued support. I’m amazed every day how many of you show up to read, like, and comment every time I post. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t boost my confidence and encourage me to continue this quest of creativity.

I don’t know what my muse has in store for me in 2016, but I will surely be listening to her with an open mind and motivated pen. Change is certainly in the air as poetry and other pursuits are finding a bit more balance with one another. My muse and I look forward to continuing the journey with you, dear readers.

Here’s a look back on 2015, courtesy of WordPress.com. It was a great year in the blogosphere!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 49,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

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Happy New Year!:-)

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c.b.w. 2015