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Touching Base

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been several days since my last appearance here. I’ve had a friend and colleague visiting for the past several days. Meena Rose graced us with her loveliness and brilliance.

Today has been one of cleansing websites, blogs, and general upkeep on the net. It’s amazing how much crud accumulates on a daily basis and then has to be swept out of the corners during housekeeping. During the process of this upkeep, we’ve been moving our personal blogs over to Two Voices, One Song.

This is an attempt to reduce our continued workload.  Each of us have other projects we’d really like to get back to. Having everything in one place will make that easier for us.

My blog Claudsy’s Calliope is being moved and reorganized as I write this. Claudsy’s Blog will be the next in line for the transfer.

Tomorrow I will post a new URL for this blog so that all of  its followers can decide whether they want to remain loyal and move with it or to cut ties and run. I’m hoping that everyone stays with Claudsy’s Blog and Calliope. I have plenty more to say and things I’d like to work on within the blogs.

There you have it, folks. I’ve so enjoyed having everyone coming here, and I admit a sense of guilt this past month or so for having been absent so much. I should be able to write more frequently on the blogs once all is together. That’s my current plan.

Remember–it will be one-stop-shopping at Two Voices, One Song at http://www.2voices1one.com/

Hope to see you there soon. A bientot,

Claudsy

 

Epiphanies and Springboards

June 21, 2012 4 comments

Have you ever been working to solve a problem within your personal life or your work life and, when you least expect it, an epiphany erupts from your mind and nearly blinds you?

That’s what happened to me an hour ago or so. I’ve been laboring to get a work schedule created for a couple of years now, that allowed me to produce usable work without leaving me feeling as if I’m running a race from the last position each day. You think I’m slow? Possibly.

This morning I was sitting, allowing my mind to flush itself of what had gone before, and it hit me. It was a profound revelation within my mind. I saw the whole problem, and the whys of it nearly floored me. It was so simple and yet, it will be something so difficult to remedy.

This is how works. I am an extremely detail-oriented person. That’s part of my nature. Couple that with the knowledge that I also, as part of my nature, am always looking at the Big Picture. This trait of mine was trained very well to always look at the overview of everything before determining the direction of exploration or explanation.

Add to all of that the understanding that much in my life has been experienced within chaos mode for a couple of years. Throw into the mix a personal need for perfection.

So—that leaves me with miniscule details overshadowed by overview; omniscient’s guide to insanity, if you’re a writer. I cannot look at the details of one project or portion of project without also seeing all of the other projects waiting in the wings. And it isn’t just all of the projects, it’s all of the angles, slants, characters, plots, etc. that scream my name, jump up and down, waving their arms, trying to keep my attention.

And, it’s not a matter of focus. It’s a matter of how my brain works.

I hadn’t really put all of this together yet. Some of my distraction on the situation could be due to lack of solid sleep, or trying to get fifteen things done to perfection finished ahead of a deadline. That couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it. Could it?

As I sat there looking at this situation, I realized just how much humor God has. Consider the scientist sitting in the lab in front of her microscope. A critical slide sits beneath the lens waiting for examination and interpretation. Yet, when she looks through the lens, she also sees the origin of the sample on the slide, overlaying the image. That’s been my view of my work every day for countless months.

Now you know why I may have seemed harried and haggard. It also helps explain why only an editorial calendar has had any effect on my work day. Sad state of affairs.

You may ask how I’m going to remedy this situation. I don’t know that I can completely. I don’t need a greater war waged inside of my own nature.

All I can really do, is be aware of the conflict—brother, wouldn’t this make a great plot—and do what I can on a daily basis to mitigate the disruption and distress. I can dig deeper into the Tao for answers to changing my nature, but until I can set those tenets into place, I must wing it on an hourly basis.

I’m fortunate. I figured out what the problem was and can figure out a more workable solution, given some time. Think about those poor, sad people who’re struggling with something like this who haven’t had an epiphany yet. I would take up a collection for them, but I don’t know yet who they are. Then again, they don’t know either.

And there you have the crux of the problem. Are you waiting for an epiphany, too? Do you know if you need one? Feel free to question here. Remember–questions aren’t the problem. It’s the answers that get you in trouble.

A bientot,

Claudsy

The Slow Blog

June 7, 2012 12 comments
Breathe, relax, breathe, let it come through.

Breathe, relax, breathe, let it come through. (Photo credit: honor the gift)

I received a terrific and helpful link this morning to an article by Anne R. Allen. In the article she talks about the Slow Blog Manifesto and what it means, as well as what it can do for the writer in general. I’ve fallen in love. I admit it.

For the first time in three years, I’m getting the kind of advice that makes sense to me as a writer of something other than blogs. Anne enumerated the eight Slow Blog Manifesto rules for long-term success as follows:

1) A slow blog has a longer life-span.

2) You reach more people by commenting on other people’s blogs than by madly posting on a blog nobody reads.

3) Busy people are less likely to subscribe/follow a blog that’s going to clutter their email inbox/rss feed every day. 

4) Everybody has bad days. When you have to think of something to say on the day you got that nasty/clueless review/rejection, your emotions are going to leak out.

5) Nobody can come up with that many interesting posts. When you slow blog, and you don’t have anything to say, you don’t have to say it.

6) Writing nonfiction—which is what you should be writing on your blog—uses a different part of your brain from fiction.

7) You write narrative–remember? The blog is supposed to be about getting your name out there as a creative writer. It’s an aid to your serious writing, not a substitute for it.

8) Trying to blog every day is impossible to keep up, so you’ll constantly feel guilty. 

With these rules to go by, I no longer have to feel guilty for not having new material here each day, or on any other of my sites. I can take pride in having one good piece a week that readers can take away and think about and, perhaps, utilize in their own daily activities or thoughts. And readers don’t have be slammed with announcements, notifications, and guilt for not looking in on my blogs each day.

Suddenly numbers of hits makes more sense to me. If I begin living my blogging life by these eight rules, I have more time to work on large projects, give more quality content to my readers, and still feel as if I’ve accomplished something during the week. That’s a big deal around here.

So, for those of my readers who feel pressured to read here each day or even every other day, rest assured that as the month progresses, your labor here is be lessened and, hopefully, you’ll have some terrific things to take away when you do come by. Perhaps you’ll see an interview with an editor you’ve yet to know, or an indie publisher that you might need in future.

And if you’d really like to look at the original Slow Blog Manifesto, you’ll learn all of the reasoning and the projected benefits to such a course of action.

I’ll see you all in a couple of days. I can’t let go quite that fast. I still have things to do this month.

Please take a moment, as well, to pop over to my new collaborative site—Two Voices, One Song—to view a new post behind the Red Door and one in the Home Theater. I think you’ll enjoy both of them.

Until your next visit, a bientot,

Claudsy

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E.C.’s and Finite Walls

June 5, 2012 2 comments
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently learned that a controversy brewed about the real use of the editorial calendar. I’m new to this tool of the writing business, but I never realized that such a tool could have so many sides. Who knew that which deadline date one uses was controversial?

Here you have spreadsheet with columns and rows of items. Columns, for me, relate to the days of the week. The rows house the activities required for those days. Some people use the opposite approach. Call me traditional with calendars. Days belong across the top of the sheet.

Those activities plugged into the spreadsheet range from book chapters that must go to a critique partner/group to poem revisions necessary before submitting a packet to a magazine. Everything goes on the calendar; at least in my work world. I also need to allot for time spent on said activity. I know. I’m a bit anal due to having so many projects on the board.

The one thing that I don’t understand about this calendar debate is why it exists. Yes, some writers use a submission deadline date supplied by the magazine, publisher, agent, etc. Others like me, like lots of cushion to account for unforeseen circumstances, and plug a project into a day prior to the actual deadline date.

Isn’t it a matter of needs?

Everyone has a specific way of thinking about work and deadlines. I see deadlines as finite walls. There are no doors in those walls. If I can’t make a deadline, it’s my fault. I knew it was there. I knew what I needed to do. If I don’t make it, it’s because I didn’t prepare adequately to get the job done. It’s really that simple.

In order to make the deadline, I place a date a few days prior to that of the finite wall. In the back of my mind, I know that cushion is built in. In the day-to-day work, though, that realization tends to disappear. My calendar tells me that I need to have something done on a specific day. And that’s what I do.

Others may not need that cushion. They work better under pressure to make deadline. That’s how their creativity erupts; but a sense of immediate need.

I work on a monthly calendar and a weekly one. One gives a longer overview, especially because of coursework I need to keep in mind. The short week calendar gives me detail on upcoming work and deadlines. They operate in tandem to give me all I need to keep my activity level constant.

I haven’t been doing a calendar prior to May. I don’t enjoy the time spent creating them. For me, it’s tedious, but the hour or two I spend on those spreadsheets saves me tons in frustration, panic, and unnecessary backtracking. It’s time so well spent that I doubt I would ever go without one again.

Tell me about your experience with editorial calendars. Has your E.C. friend saved you from disgrace, time lost, lack of production? Drop it in a comment. Sharing is always good. If you have different take on this subject, let us see that, too.

Later, all. A bientot,

Claudsy

Liebster Award–Surprising Turn from Rejection

May 13, 2012 27 comments

Coming home from any trip, short or long, requires a person to reacquaint herself with location, premises, and obligations therein. Ask anyone who travels semi-regularly.

When I returned today from Central Washington, fatigue schlepped my belongings upstairs, unlocked the door and returned to the car for another load. Sister did the same. Once ensconced inside, again occupying our apartment, the next order of business was computer, email, and whatever had darkened our cyber thresholds during our absence.

Embedded within the hundred plus emails of my main inbox were two from editors. I didn’t need to read them. I knew they contained rejections. They’d arrived too quickly from new venues I’d submitted to the previous week.

Rejection

Rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was right. They sat there, staring at me, daring me to protest. I couldn’t. Rejections are a fact of life for every writer. The first time I saw Jane Yolen post about receiving a rejection for a story, I almost cheered; not because she’d received bad news, but because she’d received bad news was willing to flaunt that rejection on Facebook for all the world to see.

I gathered strength from that act of personal/professional bravery on Jane’s part. She was the first well-known working writer whom I’d seen admit to receiving that palest of pink slips from an editor. Hope sprang to my heart. Perhaps I wasn’t a terrible writer after all.

Now, all this time later, I’ve begun racking in my own pile of pale pink slips. I’ve an area of wall beside my desk which will soon be decorated with them as a constant reminder that if I stop receiving them, it’s because I’m not sending out any work for judgment. The reminder to keep writing will be lurking, available for loud recriminations should I forget.

After I’d dealt with mail, uploaded work to go out for guest blog this coming week and another small bit of brainstorming I’d done yesterday, As soon as I got up from a short nap, I returned to my secondary email inbox and found another rejection. The personal note was nice. Still, it will go on my Wall of Encouragement.

All of this rejection could have turned maudlin, but I was saved by Randy Bell. Randy is a super-duper poet with an engaging personality and talent. I found his comment on Claudsy’s Blog about dropping in to collect my Award. I was confused. Award?

I did as instructed and slipped over to his second abode, “Coudfactor5.” He’d posted a lovely piece about poetry and encouragement and how Jlynn Sheridan had honored him with a Liebster Award for creating and operating a killer blog. This award of appreciation goes around the blog-o-sphere on a regular basis, and personally, I’m so happy that someone felt I deserved one.

Thank you so much, Randy, for this show of your recognition of my work.

The rejections received over the weekend and the anticipated future rejections melted into a puddle of inconsequential trivia. This one small mark of appreciation was worth so much more than all the rest. Suddenly, I was vindicated. The sunshine returned to my day.

There are obligations tacked onto this Liebster Award. They are:

  1. link back to who nominated you (see my “Thank you” below)
  2. nominate five blogs with fewer than 200 follows (see my “blog noms” below!)
  3. let nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites; and
  4. add the award image to your site

I thought long and hard about nominations. I’ve been surfing for weeks, looking into others’ writing, blogging, and aspirations. This was a concrete way to keep the appreciation moving along. I’ve read so many marvelous sites, learned so much about writers, known and unknown, that whittling down to five nominees was ridiculously difficult. I did choose my short list, finally, with regret that I couldn’t send out one to everybody.

I chose those who’ve worked hard and long to bring a blog into fruition and who have given the reader thoughtful content and peeks at talents yet to emerge. I’ve awarded the Liebster Award to:

Cindy Brown for all of the humor rolling down the aisle of her blog “Everyday Underwear”

Lori Tian Sailiata (aka Lara Britt) for her honest and exploring blog “Writing Space”

Jeannine Bergers Everett for her “tell it like it is” parenting blog  that’s funny, real, and masquerades as the reason she writes great poetry.

Linda G. Hatton for her blog which doubles as a collector of loyal customers for her poetry challenges, discussions, and encouragement.

Kirra Antrobus and her quietly provoking blog “Thoughtful”  where the reader is required to pause, ponder, and prepare for answers unexpected.

Thank you again, Randy, for finding me worthy of both your attention and you nomination for this Liebster Award.

Poetry’s Microscope: PAD Challenge 21

April 21, 2012 4 comments
Price Gun

Price Gun (Photo credit: Magic Robot)

Participants were handed an interesting writing challenge this morning. We were asked to write an “under the microscope” poem; either literal or metaphorical.

I doubt many of us can leap into our labs, scan a few slides and take up the scientific poetic slant, but you never know. I may try one later today; I do have a couple of ideas that travel that path.

My first attempt to satisfy this challenge is below. I’m not sure why Muse took me on this tangent, but it was the first thought to jump up and demand my attention.

I hope you enjoy the resulting fare.

What Price Celebrity

 

What price paid for fame

That we seek this scrutiny?

What price extracted in a game

Of hide and seek and infamy?

What price do innocents pay

For camera shots at school,

Where others are brought to bay

And thrill-makers stand to drool?

What price for bodies abused

For weight, highs, lows, or sleep?

What price to be so pursued,

In the name of love, admiration deep?

What price paid for a moment’s peace

Within the fish bowl of personal making?

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A Poem We Will Go

April 1, 2012 16 comments

 

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse and paragraphs, not in lines or stanzas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Poetic Asides’ annual April Poem-a-day Challenge has begun. Today’s prompt dial landed on aspects of communication.

Love poems, rejection poems, personal and impersonal, fast and future, funny, and poignant; words flow from diverse poems worldwide in this marathon of lyricism.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw the prompt this morning was conversation. People communicate on multiple levels the majority of the time. A voice’s tones, a word’s inflection, all communicate a separate message. Otherwise, sarcasm wouldn’t be as cutting as it is.

My mind focused on what one could overhear that says one thing on the auditory level. On the visual level, however, another conversation would take place. Meanings take on a depth that sometimes has to be seen as well as heard.

This was my first post on Poetic Asides (PA) this morning.

Five-Star Dining

“Did you eat?”

“Some hours ago.”

“Oh? Disappointing?”

“I hate dining out now.”

“And why is that? Please tell me.”

“I get no satisfaction now.”

“In what way?”

“Salivation.”

“Oh. Did you get bored?”

“My server had no taste.”

“Do you need help finding new foods?”

He shook his head as he drew her near,

Nuzzling close.

“You’ve got me spoiled.”

She threw back her head,

Laughing with abandon.

Power came with submission.

“Drink, darling, of my vintage wine.”

He drank deep,

Her essence warm,

Her love new again.

“You’re intoxicating.”

His bloody mouth left her throat.

“You’ve never learned. Home cooking’s best.”

For those who’re connoisseurs of fine poetry, forgive my liberties with form and subject. I had deliberate intent.

There is opportunity later in the day to post more poems for this prompt, and I might do just that given spare time.

I hope you enjoy my efforts throughout this month. Drop by often to see where prompts and personal thoughts take my poetry for this challenge. Be sure to drop in a comment when the spirit or Muse moves you.

© Claudette J. Young 2012