From my very first post I wanted to pay homage to the speech which inspired the title of my blog, Ain't I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth. Such a beautiful speech, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful woman. It is one of my favorite pieces. I strive to emulate this style in my own work. Poetic and powerful. Honest and unafraid. Memorable. And I like brevity. It too is beautiful. This is the standard I wish to be held to as I explore the question with you ~ ain't I a writer?
"Obliged to you for hearing me, and I do have a few things more to say..."

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Friday, March 5, 2010

If at first ...

     Got a big fat rejection letter yesterday. Most I take in stride, but this one was tough because it had looked like there was a real possibility that the publisher was interested, and I was very hopeful. After several months they decided they weren't. On the up side, it was the best rejection letter I've ever gotten. Personal, and reflecting that the book had been given very serious consideration. That's something I guess. In a soothing and slightly serendipitous way, when I went to a reading last night at my local indie bookstore given by Heidi Durrow, whose debut novel just won the Bellwether prize, I was struck that her book, which has just been rushed into a third printing, was rejected 24 times. She had a rule that every time she received a rejection for something, she would send it out twice elsewhere the very same day. Good, and practical advice that I guess I better take seriously.
     I did get some writing done this week, but have been on a reading binge. Really enjoying the dog POV in my reading group novel The Art of Racing in the Rain. It's brilliant. Got a lot out of my Susan Sonntag class assignment on Illness as Metaphor. It inspired my next piece which I will write for the class but is really (ultimately) part of a historical novel I plan to write based on the small nugget of truth I know about the life of my great-grandmother. I'm inventing her life, the way I imagine it went down, without any real info about how it did. Why do some people disappear into history?
     Ordered a bunch of used books for research on that novel, and I always get giddy with exciement when I do that. I'm like a crack addict just getting back from a successful venture into the zone. And last night at the bookstore I picked up a copy of The Essential Donald Murray: Lessons From America's Greatest Writing Teacher that I think I will learn a lot from. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about that, but for now, back to work. As Don loved to quote Horace;
     nulla dies sine linea ~ Never a day without a line.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Me and Charles Simic!

     Come on, concede it was a little clever of me ... I linked Charles and I together, by offering both of these links. Well hey, at least we are both New Hampshire poets. I am going to try to get to the exhibit described in The Globe and will blog a bit about it when I do. I actually have been getting into the idea of ekphrastic poetry this year. It's a lot of fun.

Tea for Two: John Russo: 'Don't try to change Portsmouth" SeacoastOnline.com

http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2010/02/28/artist_george_nama_and_poet_charles_simic_collaborate_in_boston_athenaeum_exhibit/?page=full

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Failure to Launch Flash Fiction

     Ok, here's a good example of me screwing up. Something I do with alarming regularity. I wanted to enter this writing contest; http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105660765. Liked the concept, wouldn't take too much time, had an idea about the photo right away, and of course, I'm a big fan of NPR. So I got the story written in plenty of time ... but failed to get it submitted before the end of the month deadline. I will just offer it up to all of you now. Please critique at will. This was an ekphrastic exercise, so you have to take a peek at the link to see the photo I was responding to.

In Peace

     He liked this spot. It was rather peaceful sitting near the iron grate where the warm air could reach him as he sprawled on the edge of the sidewalk trying to stay out of people's way. His head lolled side to side as if he might find a comfortable spot in the concrete wall just under the plate glass window of the coffee shop, and he was both comforted and tortured by the smells from the shop that made his stomach come alive. Some days he could get so relaxed here that he could remember, way back, before the drugs, before he went to Iraq, way back to when he'd been a different man. When he had a family and a home. He closed his eyes, and tried to return to that time, and his favorite thought of all, to remember his little sister, and how she had always looked up to him. His foot fell to the side as his happy little recollection softened into a dream, and a little spittle escaped the corner of his mouth and meandered into his messy beard.
     A woman inside the coffee shop, on the opposite side of the wall he lay against, could no longer control her disgust. The skinny latte and scone she had ordered could not be called inexpensive, and she fully expected to enjoy them and her magazine in peace, without having to watch some filthy vagrant wasting away outside the window. She got up and demanded the barista notify a manager immediately.
     "Something needs to be done to clean up the scenery on the street for all of the patrons," she implored. With her finger pointing outside in an angry salute, she seethed, "That is not the America that my brother went to war for," thinking of the beautiful young soldier she hadn't seen in ten years.