July 2017 News

Summer is not for writing.

At least that is how it feels now that I am a mother. Summer is for spending time with my family. All of us are together, all day, every day from June 1st through August, and it’s difficult to carve out much time for my solitary work. The tension is always there between wanting to be with them and wanting to separate myself for blocks of time to write.

I am lousy at saying, hey family, I need an hour all by myself to write every day. I don’t know why this is so difficult. I’m a much more disciplined writer during the school year, when my wife and child are both at school, and I know that I will have alone time to get my work done, all while they are thoroughly engaged in living their lives away from me.

At the very beginning of June, when I was still under contract at work, I taught a short writing workshop for the Denver Writing Project. I was able to write along with the workshop participants and managed, in about 10 minutes, to draft the beginning of a new CNF/lyric piece. I love that “holding my breath” feeling that happens when something urgent hits the paper, as if it was waiting by the door for me to sit down and let it out. I want to get it polished up and sent off to a few magazines during the fall submission period to test the waters with it. But this 700-word piece is pretty much my only real writing accomplishment from June and July.

I’ve heard writers say that they set up three submission waves per year to send work into the world. That seems like a great goal. This year, I’ve sent work out in January and March. Two of those pieces got picked up and ended up being paid publications. I also got some encouraging rejections. (Of course, I want to be real here. I also got some pretty blah form rejections. I have started to learn not to get discouraged.) I’m hoping by October or November I will be ready to send at least one or two pieces out for consideration.

I’ve signed up to take an 8-week intermediate poetry workshop at Lighthouse Writers Workshop that begins on August 15th. As an essayist and CNF writer, this will push me out of my comfort zone. I’ve never taken a multi-week poetry workshop, though I’m in love with the work of so many contemporary poets (Ocean Vuong, Mark DotyNatalie Diaz, Li Young Lee, just to name a few). My hope is that this poetry class will prime my focus on the aesthetics of language for the sake of improving my prose and learning a couple of the “secret handshakes” that poets use. I may even end up with some finished poems to send out in October.

Cheers to August and beyond and finding more time to read and write.


Why I Write

So many of my stories seem to recount times I’ve stayed silent when I wanted to scream, how I’ve swallowed words for fear of upsetting someone, yet so many of my relationships have ended with silence, without explanation. How can I hate someone else’s silence without interrogating my own?

I regret the moments when I was too chicken to use my voice, to speak up and say, this is what I am feeling, this is what I mean, this is what I want, this is what I need, this is why I’m angry, this is what I fear, this is what hurts me.

I suppose this is what has led me to writing. It’s a chance to say what I didn’t say and wonder what the hell happened, to turn the possibilities around in my hand like a glowing cube and say, maybe this, maybe that.