Baton Blog Hopping: Hey, it’s Cindy’s turn.

It’s my turn to talk about writing for the Baton Blog Hop. 

                                              Showing off the muscles

Writer Cindy Zelman posting her picture for no apparent reason…except vanity.

This is the baton

This is the baton

The official blog hop BATON was passed to me by…

 

Author Mariam Kobras!

Author Mariam Kobras. This is a blog hop in which writers discuss their work and their writing process. Mariam is a successful author of five novels, three of them published and available for sale and two to be published in 2014 by Buddhapuss Ink. The three currently available are known as The Stone Trilogy. Mariam has won awards for the quality of her novels.  As Mariam describes her own books: They’re not romance, not mystery, not crime, and somehow, not even women’s fiction. They’re less than each of these pieces, and yet, taken together, more than all of them combined. Mariam’s books are absorbing reads, so if you want to get lost in a good story, please see her wesbsite: www.mariamkobras.com

And now I answer the baton blog hop questions:

1. What am I working on?

Right now, I’m trying to sell my new chapbook, What’s in a Butch’s Purse and Other Humorous Essays. It includes seven short essays that you can read in less than an hour. Most of them have been published online, but now they are available as a collection. Hopefully, the writing will make you laugh, as you read about me bumbling through life and especially tripping over my romantic relationships with women.  I have found that both men and women, straight or gay, enjoy these pieces, because really, relationships are relationships. A dysfunctional romantic interlude always leads to disaster no matter who you are.

20140329-215956.jpgThe chapbook is available for pre-order as a print book and available immediately as an e-Book. If you want to order my book, please see 

www.wingedcitychapbooks.com.

Selling the book is important to me for many reasons, not the least of which is raising money for the the gay and lesbian population of Uganda. For those of you who don’t know, Uganda’s government recently passed a bill that punishes gay people with up to a life sentence in prison just for being gay. Even if you are suspected of being gay, you can be arrested.The bill was passed by Uganda’s Parliament and signed by the president. The specifics of the bill make it impossible for gays to work or rent apartments, as those who give them jobs or homes can also be arrested for helping to “promote” the gay lifestyle, as the government so erroneously labels it. The populace has essentially been given license to beat up and torture anyone they suspect of being gay without consequence.

So if you buy the chapbook, you also help the persecuted people of Uganda. I am donating all proceeds to help them escape. I have gotten to know several Ugandans personally, and I call some of them friends.

Uganda head

He cannot show his face because he could be arrested.

In addition to selling the chapbook, I’m working to complete a full length book of memoir in essays that examines my relationships with women in more depth and with more seriousness than the chapbook does. The working title has changed a few times, but right now, I’m calling it Romantic Defectives, Narcissists, and Other Dykes. That’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek title, and it may just be reflective of the sardonic mood I’ve been in lately. I think that title may not do justice to the serious essence of one woman’s struggle to find a life partner. And here she is middle-aged and has never had one — that’s the why the word “defective” came to mind, as in “What the hell is wrong with me?”

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, first I need to say that I don’t write in what most people think of as genre; I don’t write mysteries, or romance novels, or inspirational books, for example. If I work within a genre, it is within the broad one known as creative nonfiction (or CNF) which includes, among many “sub-genres,” personal essay and memoir. I guess we could ask how my essay and memoir writing differs from others.

Any author who has developed a distinct voice makes his or her work different. Once you have found a voice as a writer, no one else sounds like you. There may be similarities — a few people have called me a female David Sedaris — but I don’t write like David Sedaris and he doesn’t write like me. What we have in common is that we can both be funny and we can both be jerks. He is much higher paid jerk than I am.

A reader can identify a writer’s voice, even without looking at the title page, assuming the reader is a fan and reads this person’s work on a regular basis. That’s not to say a writer doesn’t jump into a different voice and persona throughout the course of his or her writing life, but generally speaking, no two writers sound exactly alike. When I state this,  I’m not talking about those mass-produced titles where you don’t even know who is writing the book, and perhaps the name on the cover isn’t even a real person. I’m talking about creative writing or literary writing or whatever term means the opposite of supermarket paperback.

That said, readers of my work and other writers have described my essay and memoir writing  as wry, humorous amid great sadness, raw and honest, tender yet robust. I think I tell a good story, I think people tend to get absorbed in my work, but a lot of writers can say that. I tell my stories  in my own voice and style and that’s what makes me different.

3. Why do I write what I do?

In answering this question, I will describe what happened to me more than two decades ago. I enrolled in an MA (no MFA available) program at the University of New Hampshire. The year was 1988. I was accepted as a fiction student. It’s not that I didn’t have my glorious moments (few and far between) as a fiction writer, but at UNH I received a great deal of (not often nice) critique that went t like this: That’s not fiction! That’s not a credible character! You’re just writing about your life!

So, fast forward twenty years and I am having my first mid-life crisis and find the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing program of Pine Manor College. This time I am accepted into a genre called “creative nonfiction.”  People have been writing creative nonfiction since humankind learned to write, any sort of writing that is based on the actual experiences and “characters” of the writer’s life. But when I was at UNH all those years ago, the “genre” of creative nonfiction was just on the verge of being defined as a genre. Sometimes it’s referred to as the “fourth” genre, with poetry, fiction, and drama, being the other three.

Regardless, writing personal essays and stories about my own life felt entirely natural. I read somewhere that fiction writers like to “imagine” the world and that creative nonfiction writer’s like to “record” their “observations” of the world.

While no one has to be just one or the other – fiction writer or nonfiction writer – I definitely fall into the camp of wanting to record my observations of the world, my life, and the characters who have inhabited it or merely crossed my path. It comes more naturally to me to write an essay that tells you the story of a relationship in my life that fell apart than to imagine a fictional character who may experience something similar. So, I write what I do because it’s my natural tendency.

In terms of topics, I do write a lot about my life as a gay woman, but also about my battles with panic disorder and agoraphobia, and about my family,  mother especially, although I am hoping to write more about my father going forward. He was quite the character. Even in saying that just now, I have a vague notion of an entire book I could write about my family.

4. How does my writing process work?

I don’t know if this is the correct term but I call myself an “organic” writer, meaning my process doesn’t usually involve a lot of pre-planning like outlining or storyboarding. I think those methods are very important for long works and especially for novelists who have complicated plots and subplots and many characters. I have no idea how they keep track of all that and I admire them so.

But for me, my work may start with a word, a phrase, a memory, a feeling, a song lyric, a smell, or the way the sun lights the cars in a parking lot. I might write a sentence about whatever small thing has latched onto my brain and emotions. If it feels like I need to say more, I keep writing, but without a plan, so I make this big mess on the page, so to speak. I try not to worry about organization or grammar or spelling or the quality of the prose.

The piece grows sideways and upside down and inside out as I keep adding to it, with a vague notion as to where I want to take it. I think I know what it’s about but as I keep writing, the piece tells ME what it’s about, and once I hear the piece tell me, then I can start to shape it and work toward an end.

For most of my process, the prose is pretty weak, because strengthening prose comes later for me, but I feel a lot of excitement in the beginning and middle of my process because I am creating something from nothing.

Of course, to make the piece coherent and well-written takes many drafts and involves the use of “craft” in terms of being conscious of sentence structure, cadence, scene, dialogue, reflection, transition, paragraphs, and how to create a beginning, middle, and end. Even an essay should have some kind of story arc. People tell stories, fictional or not.

Unlike most writers, I can’t count my drafts because I don’t start at the beginning and go to the end, at least not every time. I do that more often when I’m close to a final draft, and I’m checking for stupid errors of diction, grammar, and typos. 

But during the really tough revisions before we get near the final, I jump around in the piece. I may randomly open up a page and start working on the sound of the paragraphs and sentences. I may take things out — that old “kill your darlings” writer’s cliche — or add in some new darlings that I kill the next time. Once in awhile I marry my darlings and keep them. All the while I’m doing this, I have in my head the idea of where I will end this work.

All this jumping around leads to strengthening pieces of the essay, but at some point I need to make sure it all makes sense as a whole. I need to make sure I have a coherent beginning, middle, and end. I accomplish this by multiple revisions and rereadings, until I am so sick of what I’m reading that I can’t look at it for quite some time. Shorter pieces come together quicker, but I have been known to work on a piece periodically for years. I recently had an essay published in Tinge Magazine that I started working on seven years ago. And if you think tha’ts a long time, I just had a short story accepted by Steam Ticket: A Third Coast Review that I began working on nearly 20 years ago!

Most of the time, I can get a piece into publishable form much sooner than a decade or two, but  it’s a good thing I’ve been writing for most of my life and have a body of work that’s ready or close to ready for publication as I continue to churn out new work that will take some time to be good.

In case you are interested in reading some of my pieces. Just follow the link. And again, you can find my chapbook of humorous essays at this link: www.wingedcitychapbooks.com.

Thank you for reading, everyone.

I now pass the baton to two wonderful writers:

Angie Foster and Deborah Cass-Camacho, who will be posting on April 21st.

 

First, Angie Foster: Angela Foster

Angela Foster is a poet and memoirist who lives in Pine City, Minnesota. She teaches memoir at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, MN, and holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Pine Manor College in Boston, Massachusetts. Angela’s poetry book, Farm Girls, co-authored with her sister, Candace Simar, was recently released by Riverplace Press of Brainerd, Minnesota. For more information about Angela, please visit her website at www.angelaffoster.com.

Below is information about her book:

Farm Girls: Reflections and Impressions

Written by Angela F. Foster and Candace Simar

If you learned to swear in Norwegian or shared a two-holer outhouse with your cousin, you’ll enjoy the poetry and prose of these sisters. From memories of Norwegian ancestors and growing up on a Minnesota Dairy farm, to dreams of Oprah’s couch and rapping with Eminem, Farm Girls will take you back to the days of rural schools, moon light, star light, hope to see a ghost tonight, and the auction of the family farm. n or shared a two-holer outhouse with your cousin, you’ll enjoy the poetry and prose of these sisters. From memories of Norwegian ancestors and growing up on a  swear in Norwegian or shared a two-holer outhouse with your cousin, you’ll enjoy the poetry and prose of these sisters. From memories of Norwegian ancestors and growing up on a Minnesota dairy farm to dreams of Oprah’s couch and rapping with Eminem, these farm girls will take you back to the days of rural schools, moon light, star light, hope to see a ghost tonight, and the auction of the family farm.

And now Deborah:

Deborah Cass-Camacho\Deborah Cass- Camacho is a freelance journalist, author and blogger.  She specializes in uplifting human interest articles portraying the gifts, talents and inner strength of everyday individuals.  Her work has been featured in several publications, including the Newburyport Current in Massachusetts and the metropolitan Dayton Daily News in Ohio.  In addition, she is an author in the process of completing a memoir and a children’s book. Deborah is originally from the Midwest and today calls Boston’s North Shore her home.

Please visit Deb’s blog, “Painting Portraits of Humanity…with Words. It’s worth a read! http://debcasscamacho.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blogs, Creative Nonfiction, Essays, LGBTQ Movement, Solstice MFA Pine Manor College, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s in a Butch’s Purse will soon be available for download and pre-order

20140329-215956.jpgHello out there,

I have yet to mention to my blog audience that my chapbook, What’s in a Butch’s Purse and Other Humorous Essays, will soon be available for pre-order for hard copy and as a download for e-book, according to my editor at Winged City Chapbook Press. She says it’s just a matter of days. When it’s official, I will provide the link for ordering and/or downloading.

The chapbook (meaning a short book) is a compilation of some of my briefer essays that have been published on lesbian.com and in Gay e-magazine, as well as on  my blog, The Early Draft. One essay has never been published at all, so this will be its debut in print!

butch's purse#2

I wish I had a cool purse like this!

 

Last summer, I entered the Winged City chapbook contest, as I saw they were looking for creative nonfiction submissions, which seemed unusual, since most chapbooks are poetry books. My manuscript was one chosen for publication, which has been very exciting for me.

I have since learned that the shorter form of the chapbook is becoming more and more prevalent for both fiction and creative nonfiction writers. I say hooray to that. It’s a great way to showcase an author’s work along  a common theme or voice or something that pulls together the writing. In the case of What’s in a Butch’s Purse, the overarching thread is the wry humor, and dare I say it, the self-deprecation.

From a completely dysfunctional relationship with a woman named Jan, to seeing my first and last name linked to a hardcore porn site, to meeting a man in the coffee aisle at a supermarket and contemplating my “hetero-curiosity” in middle age, you will see the narrator (me) bumbling through her life. I certainly hope you will enjoy all that bumbling.

I have a Facebook Page devoted to the chapbook, so if you can link to it here, please LIKE the page and make me a very happy butch. :-) On Facebook (please scroll to the thumbs up button and click on LIKE.)

And if you can’t link to the Facebook page, no worries. I will keep you informed here on my blog.  Thank you, everyone.

Cindy

 

Posted in Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Facebook, Humor, publishing, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Humor | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A new laptop or people’s lives?

Treasure Uganda LgbtRecently, I complained to my brother that my laptop was slow, so we ended up window shopping at a local Best Buy. It’s so enticing to drive  into the parking lot where the blue and yellow sign is lit up as bright as a full moon. The layout of the store welcomes you into a fantasy world of electronic gadgets: tablets, laptops, smart phones, flat screen TVs, all to make you a happier person. If you have a passion for electronics, the lure of Best Buy is hypnotic.

So we amused ourselves as we investigated the latest laptops with Windows 8 and touch screens and computers called “Yoga” that literally bend over backwards and become a tablet, as well  ones that twist and contort, and which would take me months to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing with it in each position.

We moved on through the aisles to the TVs and were jaw-droppingly dazzled by the 50″ 3D ulta high definition televisions. We were equally enthralled by some of the new tablets with laser pens, with screens so high def you can’t stop staring at them. And when you hand-write your name on the screen with the pen, it turns into typed text! 

One could really dwindle her life away staring at so many screens and playing with laser pens.

In the end, we both left the store having bought nothing at all. My brother had his reasons and I had mine. I am going to tell you mine (you’d have to ask him about his.)

You know, I really do love America and believe there are so many wonderful things about this country. I hate it when Americans put down their home with blanket disgust. But of course, we have our issues and serious ones: economic inequities, racism, poverty, crime, and in a prime example of of what Best Buy showcases: excess. There’s not one thing in that store you need to in order to live.

I have partaken of American excesses in the past and will likely do so in the future, but not today, not yesterday, and not tomorrow. Right now, my mind is on other things.

With so many causes screaming for attention at home and around the world, I find myself connected to one cause in particular — the plight of the LGBTI population in Uganda. Why would an American girl like me, who lives a fairly comfortable life, feel so much connection for gay Ugandans?  Perhaps because I have come to know several of these people via Facebook (FB has to be good for something) and I have grown very fond of them.

For the most part, the continent of Africa is a terrible place to be gay or what we often refer to as “queer” in this country to cover the gamut of sexual orientations that are not heterosexual and genders that are not our “norm” of male or female.  Uganda is among the worst of the worst countries in which to exist as a gay person in Africa, or anywhere. And as is usually the case, white colonialism in the past, and current misguided American religious fundamentalist missionaries have had a hand in making life miserable for these people.

At the prompting of such America missionaries, the Uganda Parliament has been trying for several years to pass a “Kill the Gays” bill. They toned that down due to international pressure, but the Ugandan Parliament recently passed the Anti Homosexulality Law which requires up to life imprisonment for living as a gay person.  Passed near the end of 2013, the speaker of the Parliament, a woman named Rebecca Kadaga, said the the bill was a “Christmas gift,” to the people of Uganda. At the end of this blog entry, I will provide you links if you are interested in learning the particulars of the Ugandan bill and situation, but for now, I will keep this at a personal level.

Gay Ugandans support LGBT rights in Russia, but who is supporting the gay Ugandans?

I have been in touch mostly with Uganda men, who had informed me of their lives. Not one ever asked me for a dollar.  But recently, I spoke with a Ugandan woman. She said she had to get out of Uganda. I said I didn’t know how I could help. She said outright, “I need money.” I asked, “How much money do you need?” and she responded “80 dollars.”  She added that she could use another $15 for food because it was a two day bus ride to Kenya. Kenya is no panacea for gay people, I have learned, but it is the closest and easiest country for Ugandan gays to get to, and it also is by degrees, less dangerous for them. They have a small chance at a better life.

I did not know this woman or necessarily trust her, but I asked her to have Bryan (not his real name) be in touch with me. I have been talking with Bryan for more than a year, and I find him to be earnest and kind and loving. He was in touch with me very quickly after my request, so I figured the woman was probably legit, and I sent money for her and her girlfriend to get out of Uganda. I hear she has made it to Kenya, although I have no real proof. I have asked that she send me a postcard from that country.

Today I had a conversation with Joseph (not his real name) who also wants to go to Kenya. I asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

He said, “Yes, his name is Ron.”

I said, “Would you go to Kenya without Ron?” To this, Joseph sent back to me a resounding, “NO!”  And in the end, Joseph told me he was very grateful for my offer to help him out of Uganda, but Ron is in the middle of his studies and wants to stay in Uganda, and he “would not go without him.”

Joseph would rather stay in a country that persecutes him than go to one where he might have a chance, if it means leaving his lover – or should is say – his love – behind.

The love is so pure, and yet, most people in his country, as well as many in our own, would call his relationship “abnormal.”

Have you watched episodes of that ridiculous show, “The Bachelor?” Don’t try to tell me that Joseph and Ron are not okay, but featuring one man and a bunch of air-headed women fighting and screaming over him are okay. Let’s not even talk about how such a show sets back women 100 years and is an insult to our entire American culture and intelligence.

To make a long story short, instead of buying a new PC that could bend over backwards and become a tablet, I decided to send money to a number of Ugandan gays who want to go to Kenya as their only chance at a better life. Right now, Harold is on his way to try. Harold could not stop crying when I spoke with him. He has been jailed several times due to his activism on behalf of the gay community in Uganda. He was evicted from his apartment for being gay (that is legal in Uganda.) He is desperate. I hope he makes it.

My lovely friend, Bryan, recently tried to get out, was questioned at the border, realized he needed to bribe the Kenyan border guards with much more money than he had, was nearly jailed, and then sent back to Uganda.

Bryan and I got upset with each other recently because we were so disappointed that he didn’t make it.

“I threw money at a problem,” I said, “and it was a mistake. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve anything!” Of course, had Bryan gotten out, it would have solved something, and it provided him some small hope for a better life. It showed him someone cared.

“I was unlucky,” he said to me. Sometimes, people do get lucky and are allowed to cross into Kenya, he added. 

I have spent a certain amount of personal funds to try to help a number of gay Ugandans cross over into Kenya. I am still waiting to receive proof that even one has made it. It could happen, if one or more of them gets lucky and doesn’t run into a corrupt border guard. I’m waiting for postcards to be sent to me with a Kenyan postmarks. Then I’ll know someone or a few have made it.

I am not telling you this story to show you what a great person I am. I am telling you this because it’s what I did recently rather than partake in American excess yet again. In the last year, I have learned that a friend of mine, just 50, died of cancer, that my own mother has stage 4 cancer, and these events, along with other issues, have me reassessing my priorities.

These Ugandans are young people, in their 20s and 30s,  who deserve a better shot at life. I could write a similar statement about any number of gay people in other African countries, but it so happens that it is the Ugandans that I have gotten to know.

Below are links to tell you more precisely for the situation of LGBTI people in Uganda.

This is a good article from NPR that explains the Uganda situation well.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/12/20/255825383/uganda-passes-anti-gay-bill-that-includes-life-in-prison

And although the Ugandan President vetoed the anti-homosexuality bill, he did not do it to protect homosexuals. He calls them abnormal. He believes they need to be repaired. He has been known to support corrective rape for lesbians and god knows what to cure gay men. His veto can also be overthrown by Parliament. And regardless, gays are persecuted severely. See this article:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/ugandan-presidents-veto-of-anti-gay-bill-a-rare-victory-for-homosexual-africans/article16384374/

Eventually, I will buy a new, faster PC from Best Buy. I live in America and I have this option. It is a privilege I have. And eventually, I hope to wrap my mind around a way to raise money to help gay Ugandans find a better life either within their own country, or by leaving Uganda.

Posted in Activism, homophobia, LGBTQ Movement, Queer Movement, Uganda, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Peanut Butter Cups” has been published by Tinge Magazine

English: Peanut butter cups, sticks, and piece...

Normally, when I am lucky enough to have my work published, I just announce it without disclaimers; however, “Peanut Butter Cups,” is an exception.  Just published by Tinge Magazine, this is a difficult essay — it’s long, and it’s full of painful subjects such as rape, abuse, and mental illness. There is some raw and raunchy lesbian sex that may startle some readers. It may not be apparent as to why I’ve written this piece; I think it’s more apparent when you read it as part of a larger work – what comes before and what comes after – in the book I am trying to finish.

If you are inclined, give “Peanut Butter Cups” a shot. If it gets too painful for you or too boring for you, by all means, please stop reading.  If you can get through it, thank you.

This is a work of creative nonfiction, but I have changed the name of the main character and some insignificant details to protect privacy.

So, give it a go, if you can. Here is the link:

http://www.tingemagazine.org/peanut-butter-cups/

Posted in Creative Nonfiction, lesbianism, memories, Panic Disorder, Sex, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Less Candy Crush, More Writing

【APP遊戲】Candy Crush Saga

The most addictive drug of all

Last week, I threw all the games off of my iPhone: Candy Crush Saga, Words with Friends, Dice with Friends, and Ruzzle; although, I may have forgotten to delete Scrabble. Regardless, I notified those I played online games with that I was no longer playing. For me, the games were like an addictive drug that consumed my consciousness. I can’t do actual drugs so I did smartphone “drugs.” I’d come home from work and flop on the couch for an hour or more, trying for the 50th time to move past level 23 in Candy Crush Saga, while meanwhile, the Words with Friends games were piling up — six people were waiting for me. I might be in the bathroom stall at work trying to catch up on Scrabble. Oh, yeah, that’s embarrassing.

Where did Cindy the writer go? Oh, hell, where did Cindy the reader go? I have been so busy playing online games that I neglected my reading as well as my writing, not to mention my cats, Timmy and Mia, who can’t figure out why I stare at a 4 inch iPhone screen for so many hours rather than play with them.

Not quite intentionally, I went on a  writing hiatus that started at the end of August when a number of Huffington Post readers ripped me a new asshole over my views on smoking pot in public. It’s one thing to disagree with my views, but it’s another to attack me and belittle my experiences. Sometimes, blogging for The Huffington Post is like living in Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery.” Public stoning, in this case, by the vehemently stoned. My apologies to my pot-smoking friends who are responsible; such comments are not directed at you.

Ironically, the most read and most re-posted piece of writing I had this year was that very Huffington blog about smoking pot. If only I could stand controversy, I might become famous by writing blogs that piss off hundreds of people and then get re-posted across the country, for thousands more to read and thus hate me.

In any case, I began questioning every word I wrote, every thought I had, and I began to feel illegitimate as a writer, as a thinker, as someone who once thought she had important things to contribute through the written word. I was embarrassed as I had been in the 7th grade when I made a fool of myself, apparently, writing a paper on “anything you want,” per the teacher, who proceeded to give me a D for a writing on a “nonsensical topic.” My very first Early Draft post, called, “Embarrassment,” is about that very issue: becoming embarrassed to write because of someone’s reaction to my writing. I didn’t think it could happen now, in my 50s, as it did at age 12, but, well, yes, it can.

After 8 months of doing a good job in 2013 of getting my writing out there and read –

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

This is where I keep my drugs

maybe not in the most literary of venues — but still, in “literate” places, let’s say, I went on hiatus. I went into hybernation. I worked on becoming a bitchy middle-aged cat lady, something I’m actually quite skilled at, I’m finding.

I’d had some small “success” in terms of publishing in 2013, and won (minor) Honorable Mention Awards for two essays and one short story. I even had a chapbook of my humorous essays win a contest and be accepted for publication. But even after all that, as well as many posts on Huffington and Lesbian.com, and the TMI.org and the It’s All in her Head websites, after all that presence and so much readership, I felt like the same fucking loser who got a D on her first 7th grade paper. In fact, the reason for listing my successes here is to try once more not to feel like the loser I feel like. 

Also contributing to my hiatus was feelings of inadequacy in reading of the successes of my writer friends, and indeed, reading their recently published work. It occurred to me: while I may be a good writer, perhaps even an above-average writer, and a better writer than someone who doesn’t write at all, I will never be a great writer, like every else in my life that I do – I am good, often competent, but never great at it: work (at work), sex, driving a car, friendship.

“I’ll never be great at anything,” I said to myself. And so I took a hit of Candy Crush Saga.

Then I heard from the editor/publisher of my forthcoming chapbook who said edits and artwork and contracts would be coming up soon in early December. The update on my chapbook reminded me that much of its content derives from shorter works that I’ve published online, some on this blog, and some on other websites. I realized, too, that I have another chapbook nearly ready to submit, and that, too, was a result of the accumulation of work that I’ve pushed out a little at a time on a regular basis. I have not yet submitted the second chapbook to a publisher, but I intend to. The pieces for the second book came mainly from work I published here on The Early Draft, on Lesbian.com, at TMI workshops, and again, other websites.

So, if I want to realize in a year or two that I have yet another chapbook pretty much written, I had better stop playing Candy Crush Saga and start blogging again, as I did for nearly three years with little self-consciousness. It’s funny how we change, because that woman with little self-consciousness has left the building and I am here again, still sitting at that desk in the back of the room in 7th grade, staring at that huge D on my first paper. “Nonsensical, ridiculous….”

Get over it. Get over it. Get over it.

If I want a steady stream of work that may be publishable, I better start pushing out those babies again.

I don’t have to be a great writer, just a good writer who keeps at it.

And so I have ended my writing hiatus.

Posted in Drugs, Embarrassing Moments, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Writers Helping Writers!

Help fund a writer!

I really said this: The Solstice MFA program provided me with a life-changing experience. I didn’t just earn an MFA, I found a new family, new friends, a new life, and a renewed sense of myself as a writer, a writer with a lot more power and potential and breadth. I gave to the Writers Helping Writers scholarship fund to help another writer find all of this, to change his or her life, too. Everyone is competing for our money these days, but give what you can, no matter how little or how much! Every dollar goes to a student, not down some administrative black holeSolstice MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College

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Message from a Blue Jay – Cover Reveal for Upcoming Book!

FayeMy friend and fellow writer, Faye Rapoport DesPres, will have her debut book published in spring 2014! I’m very excited for Faye, who I know personally from having attended the Solstice MFA Program of Pine Manor College. We were students together. I knew her when!!!!!

I know, too, the personal journey Faye took to create this beautiful book. I feel honored to have read her work in various stages of drafts and see the work come to fruition in a published book.

Today is the publisher’s “Cover Reveal” showing the world the cover of Faye’s book, entitled, Message from a Blue Jay – Love, Loss, and One Writer’s Search for Home.

Let’s take a look at the tag line and then the cover:

“From an astonishing blue jay to an encounter with a lone humpback whale, travel with debut author Faye Rapoport DesPres, as she examines a modern life marked by her passion for the natural world, unexpected love, shocking loss, and her search for a place she can finally call home in this beautifully-crafted memoir-in-essays.”

Blue-Jay-Cover-10.2-for-webuse

Here is more detail about the book

“Three weeks before DesPres’ fortieth birthday, nothing about her life fit the usual mold. She is single, living in a rented house in Boulder, Colorado, and fitting dance classes and nature hikes between workdays at a software start-up that soon won’t exist. While contemplating a sky still hazy from summer wildfires, she decides to take stock of her nomadic life and find the real reasons she never “settled down.” The choices she makes from that moment on lead her to re-trace her steps—in the States and abroad—as she attempts to understand her life. But instead of going back, she finds herself moving forward to new love, shocking loss, and finally, in a way that she never expects, to a place that she can almost call home.

Readers who love the memoirs and personal essays of such rising contemporary writers as Cheryl Strayed, Joy Castro, and Kim Dana Kupperman, will appreciate Faye’s observational eye, her passion for the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it, and her search for the surprising truths behind the events of our daily lives.” — publisher’s synopsis.

Having read earlier versions of this work, I can tell you personally it’s a beautiful read. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon. You will get a discounted price if you order it now.

Here are other links to learn more:

Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MessageFromaBlueJay

Publisher’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Buddhapuss

Author’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/faye.rapoport.despres

Publisher’s blog: http://buddhapussink.blogspot.com/2013/10/cover-reveal-message-from-blue-jay.html

Publisher’s website announcement: http://www.BuddhapussInk.com

Author’s website: http://fayerapoportdespres.com/

On Twitter: HASHTAG #BlueJayCover

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