I have been holding off publishing 2017: A Year of Poetry while I ponder what to do about the changes I mentioned last time. I should have it published by this time next week. I had some last minute prep work to do for one of my classes because I wasn’t sure it would have enough students to run, so I’ve already failed to live up to my resolution. However, I have been doing more writing-related activities this year than I did most of last year. Unfortunately, most of it hasn’t involved any actual writing but the kind of grunt work that goes on behind the scenes. So, aside from a few poems, there hasn’t been much wordage. Perhaps this week I’ll get back into writing fiction by proofreading and revising what I have for I Will Be King. At least I’m starting to think about that book, which is a positive sign.
With Age . . .
My age is not reflected in my years—
though they are many more than once they were—
but in the youthful eyes my students bring
into the classroom. They are so young!
And I? I am on the cusp of middle age—
and then some—with the downward slope tilting
toward the grave. I see it waiting, six
feet deep, the headstone chiseled—all except
the date. It could be years from now or to-
morrow. And them? What future will they know?
What will they see when they look back from here?
Will they blame us—their elders—for all their
problems? Will we be deserving of their wrath?
Or will we find the wisdom for a different path?
© 2018, all rights reserved.
So far, I have been keeping to the schedule of doing writing related activities for at least an hour a day, but there hasn’t been much actual writing. Mainly, I’ve been organizing and revising the poetry I wrote last year into this year’s collection. I have it ready for a final go-through and have the cover, so I plan to publish it as an e-book this weekend. I’ll update the other books I’ve published to include it in the list of the books I’ve written, which will take quite a bit of time despite being a simple addition of one title. If I decide to make Aftermath book 5 of the Angus the Mage Series instead of the first book of the Aftermath series, I will likely do it then to save time. It will delay the publication, though, since the cover for Aftermath and some of the other books will have to be changed.
Anyway, “Humanity” is the only poem I’ve written this year; it was inspired by “The Mice,” an episode of The Outer Limits (the original series, not the remake).
© 2018, all rights reserved.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Hopefully 2018 will be a more productive year for my writing than 2017. I finished 2017 with a lot less fiction than I had intended and fell short of my poetry goal by about 30 poems. I’m going to learn from that lesson and refrain from making specific commitments this year. Instead, I’m going to have a general writing goal of spending at least one hour a day on writing-related activities, whatever they might be. I think this will be more productive than not completing the things I say I will. If nothing else, I won’t feel as guilty about not finishing things.
When I was screening the comments in my blog’s spam folder, I came across one that might contain a legitimate question. Since I am not sure it is genuine, I decided not to post the comment; however, I am going to respond to it here. The question was: how do I “center [my]self and clear [my] head before writing?” The person who asked this question also writes, but struggles to be productive during the first 10-15 minutes of a session and would like some advice. So, here is my response:
- I have obsessive compulsive tendencies, so I generally don’t have problems with focus while I’m writing, provided I have a general idea of what I want to do. In fact, I usually spend a lot of time thinking about what to write (consciously and subconsciously) before I start working on it, so much of the prewriting takes place in my mind instead of on the page. Also, I sometimes call my mom when I am toying with different ideas to see what she thinks about them, and those conversations have certainly helped to generate ideas and motivate me to continue with the novels I’ve written.
- Usually, if I start to write, I don’t have any problems doing it; however, that doesn’t mean what I write is always good. I’ve deleted quite a bit over the years because it wasn’t salvageable.
- One of the things I learned in graduate school is that it usually takes 15-20 minutes to become immersed in an activity. So, if you are struggling during those first 10-15 minutes, it’s pretty normal, since it takes that long for your brain to get in gear (so to speak). I have the same issue, but most of the time, it doesn’t take that long for me to get in sync with my writing. In addition to doing most of the prewriting in my head, I usually start a session by revising previous scenes in order to recapture the mental state I was in when I wrote it. Even though doing this helps a lot, there are still times when I start a story or scene half a dozen times before it feels right and I am able to finish it.
- As for advice, don’t worry about the quality of the first draft; you’ll be revising it. The important thing is to get something down that is decent enough to work with. My first drafts are often about half as long as the final revision, since I focus a lot on dialogue and the plot sequence in first drafts. I add in descriptions and make changes as needed during the revisions. Revision generally doesn’t suffer from writer’s block the way that first drafts do, and making revisions can invigorate the creative juices (so to speak).