sunday words: some pleasures that are final

“Yet who reads to bring about an end however desirable? Are there not some pursuits that we practice because they are good in themselves, some pleasures that are final? And is not (reading) among them? I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards — their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble — the Almighty will turn to Peter and say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under arms, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.”

from Virginia Woolf’s essay, “How Should One Read a Book?”

sunday words: then at dawn

…A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

      Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley…

For anyone on a journey. For anyone battling the singing voices (Spiteful Gillian is the lead soprano). From T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Journey of the Magi”; whole poem here. Blessed Epiphany to those who celebrate it, and good journeying to all of you.

sunday words: if you take the stand

“Sometimes you have to endure a phase of discomfort before you learn how to be comfortable in your own skn. The majority of writers don’t have the patience for tolerating the awkwardness of learning, growing, adjustment. So they quit after they can’t sell their first effort.

If you take the stand that you’re going to do this writing gig:

–no matter what
–regardless of what others think
–until you learn it better
–every day
–until you die,

then one day, when you least expect it, you suddenly are good at this business.”

Words by Hope Clark from her Funds For Writers newsletter.

little bit of crazy mixed in writing residency days 5-7 & S.O.S. week 9 update, or, daybreak in the house of brakes

One of my favorite things about the Peninsula is all the crazy, funny, imaginative signs and the names of the mom-and-pop businesses they bear. Barbecues Galore. The Happy Donut. The Glass Slipper Inn. Psychic Cleaners (my personal fave). The House of Brakes.

After today’s post, I’ll be stepping on the brakes, taking a short sabbatical from blogging and writing while I get the kids ready to start school (in 7 days, but who’s counting). Every year, I manage to forget what a colossal effort it is to get ready for the school year — medical forms, meds for the health office, school supplies, haircuts, new shoes, etc. By taking a break from my writing life I hope to make the back-to-school transition a little easier, and to give myself some time to breathe, stir the literary compost pile, and sleep in. But first…..

days 5-7 of the Self-Designed Part-time 7-day From Scratch With a Little Bit of Crazy Mixed in Writing Residency: Apparently I can’t do anything for seven days, but five is fairly doable. I last wrote about false starts on day 5. Day 6 was more of the same — a few lines toward a draft, but no draft. This is where I’d normally throw in the towel and not even attempt day 7, but I gave myself a little pep talk and sat down at my desk yesterday morning. I continued working on the scraps of a draft from day 6 and ended up with a draft I’m excited about. I also re-read the non-draft, false start lines from day 5 and decided that some of them are pretty good — I can pluck the lines that feel worth saving and try again. The rest of the drafts are in the resting drawer, where I will attempt to leave them for the next week.

Meanwhile, I’m glad I tried this little gig. It wasn’t seamless, but it was doable. Yes, the kids interrupted. Yes, there were a couple days of the work going nowhere. But rather than see these as small failures, I’m choosing to see them as the inevitable unfolding of a writer’s days. There will always be interruptions and small failures, but we keep going. And now I have 5 new drafts to work on. Yipee.

S.O.S. week 9 update: Those who have been reading along know that I have a goal for myself of two submissions a week this summer. Yes, even now, nine weeks into the gig, that goal feels so small. And yet, just having the goal has kept the idea of submissions active in my brain from week to week. I didn’t finish two submissions this week, but I did submit one packet of poems — and it was a submission I felt really good about.

For the first time I sent poems to a journal that doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions (for the non-writers in the readership, this means that by submitting you agree not to submit the same poems to other journals for consideration). In general, I don’t like to have my poems held up for months (or sometimes a year) at a time only to get rejected 9 times out of 10. But I found a journal that I respect and that promises to be quick with rejections if the poems aren’t a good fit. So that seems like a good thing (ha – I’m just now wondering if there will be a rejection in my inbox this morning). Writers and poets out there, what is your feeling on journals that don’t accept simultaneous subs?

Ok, Reader, here’s where I step on the brakes and put the poetry car in park for a week. Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you here next Monday. Which is the first day of school. Yipee.