Closing the Box Lid On Poetry

I write poetry all the time these days. Most of it never gets completed, filling out pages in snippets of lines. But there are the special ones; the ones that come from Poem A Day challenges, that go through edits and reworkings until they are shiny and perfect. They get polished and spiffed up till I can read them and sigh with happiness. They get to the point where I am willing to share them with friends and other writers.

And once they are finished, the lid goes on the poem and the box is closed. I forget about the poem and the agony put into it. I forget what it is about. I forget the emotions that were put into it. It’s like it has left me and closed and it get’s forgotten.

I thought I was the only one who was like this but reading Poemcrazy recently, I came across this line.

I like the idea of controlled abandon. In sex this might be tantra. In poetry it’s form. Yeats said that a finished poem “made a noise like a click of the lid on a perfectly made box,” implying that a poem is a box or vessel with a definite shape. When it’s finished it can be closed.

-Poemcrazy: Chapter 46 controlled abandon

So obviously  I am not the only one who ‘closes’ one’s poem and it gets shut. Maybe other poets don’t forget their poetry, but I do. The minute it’s done and sent off to something, or someone, it’s going ‘poof’ out of my head. Days, weeks, months later, I will come across the poem, either in a notebook, or recently the typed up pages I sent off for Writer’s Digest’s Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge.  I had forgotten what they were about; just totally forgot that I had written some of that poetry.  You would think that after having poured so much of myself into it I would remember it. But I never remember.

Funny thing too, most of my poetry is emotional, and relational to what is going on at that point in my life. By the time I finally get around to looking at it again, most of the emotional part is long gone.  This recent spat of poetry relation to someone I was interested in at the time, and now that has faded to a ppfff of a thought.  So now the poetry, while probably good, seems like drivel. I kind of want to close that box back up quickly and lock away the key.

Maybe someday the older poetry won’t bother me as much. If it’s not so personal, or just a part of my life when I was younger, it’s less annoying. Maybe I’m impatient with my slightly previous self. Who knows. But for now, that box closes on most poetry I write.



Life, as we write it…

William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portabl...

William Faulkner’s Underwood Universal Portable sits in his office at Rowan Oak, which is now maintained by the University of Mississippi in Oxford as a museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure why I am writing over here at Escaping the Inkwell since for some time I’ve thought of discontinuing using it. I post most of my thoughts over on Kate’s Bookshelf, including my life in writing these days. But I just wanted to take a moment and vent a little.

Right now I am busy busy with Writer’s Digest’s PAD Challenge (Poem a Day). I have kept up my flash fiction and general writing. I try to write a post a week, or in this case, every day. It’s exhausting at times and I wonder why I decide to do it halfway through a challenge. I’m not really there yet, but I feel the burned out.  I feel it creeping up on me as I struggle to know where to take my writing. I start a piece of fiction and I don’t know what to do with it. I have a selection of poetry and I don’t know where to go with it.

I have things to send to literary magazines and literary agents. But I’m feeling the burn….(does that make anyone else think of Bernie Sanders? I have to admit, I love the ‘Feel the Burn/Bern” of that slogan.)

I’m waist deep in Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I found a copy floating around and started reading it having seen the first two episodes of the show. It’s been on my to-read list for a year or so, but I didn’t know I would get sucked into her work. I am so sucked in that I now know what my summer will be spent reading. The rest of the series.

But it’s also bumming me out because I cheated and skipped ahead by looking on wikipedia on what the second book is about. I can’t believe Diana is going to do what I’m reading she does! How could Claire and Jamie not spend the rest of their lives together? How could she rip the two apart for twenty years?!!!!

But while being bummed, I’m excited to read the second book. And I’m inspired to keep writing because while I feel like I’m not going anywhere with my writing, Diana wrote Outlander at 35. Or had it published. Bla bla. I’m not to 35. I have a year and one month. You can write a novel in one year. And I have several things started.I can do this.

I hope.

So this is just me being a little morose. And tweaked. I’m also tweaked because I really wouldn’t mind meeting a guy like Jamie Fraser… and there ar eno men like Jamie Fraser around here. At least, that I know of.


Support for a Writer

I had a completely other post ready to start tapping away with itself, since most posts tend to go the way they want versus how I actually have them planned in my head.  And this will probably be no different.

This past week, or maybe a bit longer, I’ve been struggling with the plot of my novel.  It’s my newest novel that I’ve been working diligently on for several months.  It’s still in the baby stages and far from even figured out or planned properly.  But it has been my baby and my main focus for some time.

However, I just have gotten stuck.  Not stuck so much as what I want to happen, but getting it out.  I can’t get the phrasing right, or it just sounds flat. I struggle with when something happens and how to get from point C to D.  I blame part of it on reading Emilie Loring and Nora Roberts books. I admire both of those writers to the hilt, wanting to be able to have the genius prose of Loring’s descriptions mixed with Robert’s delightful flow and conversations.

However, I am not Emilie Loring or Nora Roberts.  Far from it. I am a flat writer. I know I just don’t have it.

This is the part of writing I hate. That self doubt.  The “I suck the suckiest of all and I will never get out of the mire of bad writing” feeling.  Clearly I was at a low point.

So I vented to a marvelous man whom I will introduce now because while I have never mentioned him before, he is a big part of my life and he really should be added to The Cast.  Because honestly, he is a part of my cast.

Boris, aka Campbell Scott

Boris, aka Campbell Scott

Meet Boris. No, that is not his real name and no, he does not look like Campbell Scott playing Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz On Royal Pains.  But he is quite wealthy, works in a business I’m still pretty vague about, is a lot like Boris in that he, um, likes to have his way….  Darling man, since I know you will be reading this, don’t take offense.   Anyways, Boris and I have an epistolary friendship/or whatever it is we have had for ages now, because it’s more than just friends, though we have never met.

So, anyways, back to the story.  I was bummed about my writing, so I dumped on Boris.  And Boris being like he is, charmer that is, was so sweet to reply with this response today.

“Continue with your writing. Please, I know how much happiness that brings you, so never let that lax.”

Now, that isn’t much in the scope of encouraging words, but coming from this man, it is huge. He has been supporting my ‘writing thing’ since I told him about it when we first met.  He has nudged me along when I have written something, and if I don’t tell him something big…. Whew! Watch out, I am going to be in trouble.  He likes to know when I’ve been turned down for query letters. He likes knowing when I’ve won a writing contest. (and when I didn’t tell him or thought it no big deal, I got an earful)  He has been so incredibly supportive in his own quiet way. In a way that is much more helpful than past boyfriends who shoved more than nudged and practically told me what I should write, not commend me on what I did write.

All this is getting to the point that as writers, it’s incredibly helpful to have a support system.  Someone or several someone’s who encourage and help us move along with our moments of self doubt. Boris is one of a couple other people that encourage. I have a friend recently who gave me props for sending out a query. (side note, query rejected via not hearing back. Le sigh)

So, as a writer, do you have a support system?

A special thank you goes out to Boris for being the sweetheart that he is.  You always know how to pick me up when I’m down.

Oh, and while he replied just today, I had gotten out of my writer’s funk a few days ago; sun is an amazing perker upper.  I’ve got an idea of how to fix what seemed horrible. But that aside, I’m still thankful for Boris.

Writing on


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Truer Words Couldn’t Have Been Spoken

 Photo by Kevin Winter – © 2014 Getty Images – Image courtesy

Photo by Kevin Winter – © 2014 Getty Images – Image courtesy

The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine addled, crippled by procrastination, and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.  ~Robert DeNiro via the 86th Academy Awards teleprompter

Now, the really question is, how many good days are there for a writer? I caught this marvelous quote right way the other night while watching the Oscars, and I’m not the only other person who latched onto this statement. Type it into Bing and you will get several blog post pop up with this same quote used as the topic of Monday’s posts. It is a truly powerful statement in regards to writers.

In fact this statement is so true that you know only a writer wrote it for Robert DeNiro to say.  My mother stared at me and at the television, her jaw dropping  because it is so true in regards to me. I have actually been mulling over a post regarding the real issue of being a writer is because of our own fears. So this is apropos. What keeps us from writing are those moments of procrastination, panic, and self-loathing. We drink coffee or tea like fiends , and often we don’t have good days.

Unless you are talking to another writer, you definitely feel complete and utter isolation. Desolation. Non-writers do not understand what is going through our heads and there is no point in trying to explain. Non-writers stare at you, a blank expression on their face, and that’s when you know you are neurotic because obviously it only makes sense to us.

We fail to send in our manuscripts and query letters because we are ‘crippled by procrastination’ and dealing with ‘soul crushing inadequacy.’  “I’ll never be able to write like ____________[FILL IN THE BLANK].

Then there we are at two in the morning pounding out this idea that CANNOT wait till daylight, our eyes heavy and dark. WE wake to circles under the eyes from lack of sleep, staggering to the coffee pot before we are even lucid, only to look over what we had written in the dark and think to ourselves, ‘Utter crap!’

Rewriting over and over, tweaking even after it’s ‘done’ and ready to be sent off to editors, agents, or publishers. It will never be perfect. Twenty years in print and we will still want to change something that everyone else is perfectly fine with. We are never satisfied.

Even this post will be tweaked before the “publish” button is clicked, and three days from now I will want to change something.  (I wrote this yesterday in ink; I’m typing it now; and I’ve already changed a couple things)

The mind of a writer is a terrifying thing. What is going on in there leads to nightmares and moments when you space out trying to solve some plot twist. Random scraps of notes that are all gibberish to the ordinary person, but are pure gold to the author, frequent our lives and flat surfaces. We fill our notebooks with random odd sayings and pieces of conversation that we just might use someday, in some book that has yet to be written. We hoard our dictionaries and thesauruses. We keep books for varies pieces we like that we might include in a passage here or there.

And those are the good days.

Bad days are more frequent, in my opinion, and lead to giving up saying you’ll never write again. Days you want to rip up every typed page or shut down your blog because, hey, you’ll never write again. Depression where you are in such a funk that every living thing avoids you. The bad days feel like the depths of despair and there is no light at the end of the tunnels.

Oh, but we are writers, and it’s a wondrous thing.

(for those who follow Kate’s Bookshelf, I’m being lazy and posting my post on each blog)

Writing on


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The Fates Are Against Me or Clearly I’m Nuts

For the past few years I’ve been writing quite a bit, looking up grammar questions online, but not enjoying that version of information at all. What I have needed was my mother’s Hodges’ Harbrace College Handbook.  All grammar all the way. It has everything you could ever want to know about grammar. However, the handbook has been packed away in storage for heaven knows how long and I had no idea what box it was in.

Three Harbrace editions.

Three Harbrace editions.

Okay, so I had had enough of that. ‘I need a Harbrace’, I tell myself. I’ve had enough of trying to Bing grammar questions. I pull up and hunt for a decent edition of the Harbrace. And I find an eleventh edition, whereas my mom’s was a 7th edition. (there are a lot of editions.) I order the book, and within a couple of weeks I have a Harbrace! Finally.  I can now answer all those questions about how many commas do I need, and does that adverb work there.

Fast forward two weeks.  My family and I are purging. Deleting, as I like to call it. It’s where we go through all our things in storage and start to eliminate. First order of business are all the book boxes.  You can guess where I’m going with this, right?  You guys are all smart people and you know what I am going to say.

Yep, I found my mom’s Harbrace.  It wasn’t very far into the book boxes, unsurprisingly if you consider Murphy’s Law.  So, now I have two Harbraces. Granted, my new one is in much better condition than Mom’s, who’s cover is falling off in parts.

Now, fast forward to a week ago. Yep, the fates really were conspiring against me. I stopped into my library and there in a box of donations is a 5th edition Harbrace. A nice blue cover, very good condition, and with a local name as the owner inside the cover. I brought it home just to show my family and laugh about it… But I think I am actually going to keep it.  I know, I know, why would I need three?  Honestly, right now I don’t need three, but I love each edition. Though the 5th edition is actually my favorite because it is blue and the inside marks are all blue.  So it’s calming whereas the other two have red as their main color. (I hate red for the most part)

Honestly, I think it’s hilarious that three copies have fallen into my lap when all I needed was one. Had I waited a month longer, I wouldn’t have needed to use Bookmooch to find a copy. Oh well.  So for now, I have three.

On a side note, I highly recommend owning a Harbrace if you write.  It has essential information regarding basic grammar, along with word spelling and misspelled words. They are compact little books, being only about 5 by 7 inches and about an inch thick. They are take along books with a ton of information.

So then, me and my nuts like book issues.

Writing on


2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


A Bit behind in posting this, but I always like to ‘brag’ a little. Not that this is the blog to brag on since I do not update regularly. I hope to be a bit better about that this year, but we shall see.

Writing on


I’ve Done It! And What is That? Read This Post!

I have finally done it. I have submitted a manuscript and query letter to an agency. Finally. It has been two years since my last submission and it was high time I got something of mine out there.

For those interested, the manuscript is for Lulu Buys a Hat. I have written about this story before, including asking my readers to help me edit my query letter. I want to thank Meghan Masterson who took the time to give me great query letter edits, and thanks go to Shala, who took the time to edit Lulu Buys a Hat, and help me make it all ‘pretty’ (by pretty I mean, trimmed, cut, punctuated, and looking better than it did)

I’ve spent the past three days working to get my manuscript into standard manuscript format, which I might add, is a pain in the —-. No, really, I never knew how much of a hassle it would be to format headers, page tabs, and other such niceties that are required of manuscripts. I did this on five pages. I can’t imagine doing it for a novel. Well, it was good practice.

And just for those wondering, here are two great sites I used for figuring out manuscript formatting.

I submitted to Adams Literary agency, having picked them ages ago as they were one of the agencies I liked. I have a couple more I want to try, but it’s a start. A new year, and finally putting myself out there. I’ve been putting off querying for too long, and it has bothered me that I am afraid. Come on, we all know that is why we don’t query. We are afraid.

Well, it’s time to push fear out the window. Like I have read a quote regarding the deathtumblr_mgnm1cBHIu1r7zr74o1_250: see the image —->

Well, just replace ‘Death’ with fear and the same principle applies. I have to stop hiding from fear. I can do this.

So, one agency queried….. Too many to go.

Writing on