On Writing: Squeezing in Craft

Bye, Bye January! You were anything but dry. I mean that in all senses of the phrase.

You will see some changes around the site – I am in full marketing mode as we are only a month and a half away from the release of both books. I know. The arc of publishing is looooong. It seems like forever ago that I was announced I would be a published author, and at every incremental step, I have been reminded of what a process this is. Thank you for hanging in there with me.

Meanwhile, I had a short story, “Patching Leaks” published in issue #8 of the beautiful literary journal, Midnight & Indigo. If you are a Black woman who writes or wants to write, please buy a copy and get inspired. They offer classes that will take you from blank page to by line. This is for us. If you are not a Black woman, please buy a copy and support our work!

Meanwhile, The Plentitudes published a poem I started while at the incredible Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center, which I hope to return to this summer. It was such a healing and generative place, and I tried to convey that in the piece. When my mother read it, she shivered afterwards. It’s so strong, she said. I took that as a complement. Still, my poetic skills feel nascent and there are a few applications out for residencies and workshops that I think will be transformative. I realized last year that even if it never becomes my primary genre, I need poetry. It is how my heart speaks.

Meanwhile, it’s been so much harder to focus on craft. And that is hard after a year of workshops and residencies and experimentation and growth. How to squeeze it in to the slivers of time that exist between teaching, mom-ing, and adulting? Here is what has been working.

Short Stories: I only have time to read short stories. I need the satisfaction of a story arc in one sitting. I picked up Night of the Living Rez during Native American Heritage Month, and Morgan Talty is a talent. His stories are modern yet written in such timeless language. I love how the protagonist stays the same, but we meet him at different ages and with different priorities, responsibilities, and relationships. Each story offers the satisfaction of a familiar face, but the novelty of a new lens.

The Slowdown: Omg I love this podcast. It is 5 minutes of glory. A whole new poem. A related essay. All beautifully read by a spectacular poet. I entered while Ada Limón, our National Poet Laureate, was hosting and definitely recommend every episode she recorded. Tracy K. Smith didit for years before, and now I look forward to Major Jackson‘s perspective. The best part is, there is time for this. And it grounds the day like nothing else.

One Sentence Poetry: My amazing colleague, Thu Anh Nguyen, introduced me to the idea of monostich last year when she embarked on a personal project to create them regularly. She even sent me a card with my very own poem handwritten on it. Then I found resources about daily Haiku, and I am proud to say that I ended every day in January by writing one small poem that captured the essence of the previous 18 or so hours. I’ve never been a journaler, but it felt good to capture events and feelings in such a compact container. Here is my favorite:

Come home to yourself.

Nestle in your own harbor.

Anchor down and rest.

I am so grateful to have this blog – it holds me accountable for reflecting on some aspect of my writing or teaching each month. I am grateful to you for reading it. Drop a comment and let me know how you are squeezing in literary delight.

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