Wind, Work, and Writing

As I sit here, I can hear the wind howling outside. My phone tells me it is 7 degrees Fahrenheit, and -15 is the “feels like” temperature. I spent the morning mostly outdoors, safely bundled but wishing I had put on a third layer because it was certainly colder than I expected. It wasn’t, however, as hard as I expected to work in the cold, and at one point I did think to myself that if it were a nice summer day it would be an enjoyable morning of work. Really though, it was an enjoyable morning of work. I can’t really explain to you why I like working at Avis, because you would probably find it to be a slightly dull job. But, I suppose it is more exciting then sitting at a desk and working on a computer or answering the phone, or sitting on a factory line, or maybe for me, sitting is just the equivalent of dullness. Anyway, I am almost always on the move at Avis, even more so than I am at the school job. So it was easy for me to keep warm despite the frigid temperatures coming off Lake Erie.

After I got home, I sat down to write but nothing really came up. I was going to do a poem about the cold and the weather, but no new words seemed to needed to be said about the subject. Then I realized I updated the blog on Wednesday, which means it’s due to be updated today, if I want to keep up with my twice a week postings. And since I am doing a terrible job of sticking to Tuesday and Thursday as planned, I am insisting upon myself to at least keep the numbers up. So I tried to write this blog, but nothing really came up again, and so that led me to organizing the files that are saved to my phone.

I edited three poems, and put them together as the beginning of a submission packet. I haven’t sent out a packet in over a year; in fact I haven’t sent out much of anything in over a year. That’s not to say that work has not been produced (you can find everything new on Patreon on Wednesdays…hint.) However, I have not find tuned anything and presented it for reading in quite some time. So today, I started to work on that.

I need a publication. Even if it’s just a tiny poem in an obscure journal, it would be a delight- simply because I haven’t had anything out in a while and I could use a little boost of serotonin. See, I am still very stressed out about a certain mini-chap that should have gone to press over a year ago. I still do not know what is happening with it, and have been completely unable to contact anybody. I am about to take it elsewhere, because I think I could find another home for it- I just really loved what this press had planned. It’s just a disappointment, and frankly I am not in the mood for anymore of those.

So here we are, on a day where I don’t really have anything to write about, but I feel like I have to write, anyway. I guess I just take a minute to write about writing? I have some big writing goals this year, and a month has already disappeared in a blink. So, I guess I need to get myself organized again. Wish me luck, and happy Friday.

Writer’s Burnout

Oh my God, I think I have writer’s block.  I can’t settle on a topic, can’t choose a project, and have started this blog seven times. I can’t focus to edit the WIP and I can’t decide on anything for the blog, and I can’t create something new for the Patreon, so I am panicking.  I finally have a little time to write, given that school is out for the day for elections, but I have nothing.

Election Day in the USA!  Right??  No!  I tried that topic, but I don’t have anything to say that I haven’t said already.  Any seasoned reader knows this is one of my top five holidays’, and I of course did my civic duty bright and early.  You should do the same…and that’s literally all I have to say on that. 

I opened my WIP and stared at it for a few minutes, so if that counts as writing then I am doing just fine.  And I also tried to pen some Patreon poetry, but it is lacking.  So instead I will obsess over what to post tomorrow until I finally force something out of myself that I don’t quite love…ick. That sounds terrible.

A weatherman on Twitter said that if you live within 200 miles of a Great Lake, expect the snow this weekend.  Since I live literally two miles from one of those guys, I suppose autumn is over now.  Maybe that’s why i feel so tired.  We just changed the stupid clocks again, so naturally it feels like 6pm right now though it is not even three in the afternoon.  I want a cup of cocoa and a good movie and a blanket, but I am pushing myself to live life…which I shouldn’t, in a sense.  There’s that quote, that if you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.  That is so true, and I am trying to remember that as I sit here and try to convince myself that taking a bubble bath would be a productive thing.  It doesn’t feel that way…but it is.

No.  I refuse to bend to writer’s block; I will only suffer a little writer’s burnout.  Easily remedied by an easy to make dinner and a Hulu subscription. Away I go.

NoNoNaNo

Earlier this month I set up my profile page for this years National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, or henceforth, just NaNo.  I decided I would do my “final” draft of my novel, assuming as one does that by the start of November my life would be a little more in order…and it is.  However, time is now a factor.  I work every afternoon at the school, and 3-5 mornings a week at Avis.  On top of that I have writing responsibilities, household responsibilities, deep-dive motherhood on weekends, a mother who is sick in another state, and my own mental and physical well-being to deal with.  It can get overwhelming, so why am I trying to throw 1,667 words a day on top of it?

Because I am a writer, and I am crazy.

As evidenced by the fact that I’ve been up since 3am waiting to write this, but there wasn’t enough light until now at a quarter to eight.  I am really missing my office right now…it is the only thing i have missed from the old apartment.  I hate having this noisy old computer in my bedroom, and I don’t feel as much good energy as I did when there was a door that I could fling open and let in the air and sun.  I wrote the first draft of my novel there, and I am a little sad I will be finishing it elsewhere. 

But then, will I ever finish it?

I like NaNo because it pushes me to write, and I work well with deadlines.  It helps me get organized and stay focused on the task.  Last year, I ate, slept, and breathed my book throughout the month of November, and I won NaNo, and I got my +50k words.  Just like I did when I won in 2019 with my novella, The Second Before.  The following year, I planned on starting my first draft of my novel, and broke my pinky.  Then last year, I accomplished the feat.  This year…well, I think it’s a broken-pinky year.  Seriously…there is something wrong with my hand.  Same pinky, but this time it is a pain in the knuckle.  Anytime my doctor would like to call me back would be great.  But I digress…

My point is that I feel like I will maybe give it a go, but I also think it isn’t going to work out, and I don’t know if it’s my self-doubt or my psychic abilities talking this time.  Thing is, I know deep down that finishing this is my key to financial freedom…I don’t usually brag about my stuff, but if I retained wide publication with this book, Netflix would come calling.  As a theatrical person, I can confidently say it would make a great little script.  Alas, I am stalled because…life.

I think of Stephen, of course, tossing the first chapters of Carrie into the trash, certain no one would read it.  That was me, last year.  I think about JKR a lot, too (despite not wanting to anymore,) but I imagine her sitting in a little coffee shop or something penning Harry Potter on napkins and waiting for the welfare check to come in the mail.  That is me, right now. 

My book is this lovely little cup, see.  It’s a little mishappen…think of a Rae Dunn mug, Many imperfections, not quite circular, but sturdy and simple…useful.  That is what I have right now.  I mean, I started with just the lump of clay and formed me up some pottery, so I am pleased with what I have accomplished and if I stopped there, it would still be a valiant effort.  But what I want is an ornate teacup.  The teacup is beautiful and perfect and free of flaws, usually with an accompanying coaster (read: film option.)  Or maybe I want a Yeti thermos, scientifically proven to work, perfect for on-the-go situations and new opportunities (read: sequels.)  The point is that I really love Rae Dunn, but my mug needs a little more shine.

So that’s what I intend to do in November.  Provided my hands and head and stomach all get together and cooperate, but it’s been days since that happened so I am not holding out much hope.

In other news, my reading is tomorrow night, and I have it all planned and timed and everything.  I’m a little nervous, but not very.  I just kind of wish it was tomorrow already, is all.

Poetry in October

Everything, of course, is garbage.  Meaning, everything I write; meaning, complete hamster-cage liner.  I mean, yeah, I know that’s not true; just let me have this meltdown for a moment, ok?

So, October is coming up pretty quick, huh?  Many things are going on in October for me, like moving to a new apartment, my husband’s 40th birthday (E has a b-day, too,) my first weekend running the shop on my own, at least one trip out to Erie to see mom, and Halloween/my sister’s birthday, wherein she turns 26 and I finally live in a neighborhood that hands out candy.  Also…poetry night, featuring yours truly.  Clearly, we are going to talk about that, since I started this post by telling you all of my writing is garbage.  Hot, stinky trash. 

Nope, that’s just me psyching myself out.  I know what I want to do: a couple of pieces from, A Lovely Wreckage…gotta sell those books.  A piece from the yet to be picked up (Un)Requited.  Maybe VII from Me and Jesus etc.  Some outliers…the ones I really like that I haven’t read yet.  And maybe The Squirrel, and Halloween…y’know, because…Halloween. 

See, I know what I’ll read, and I know I’ll read well.  I don’t have the panic I had a few years back.  Still, old habits die real hard, and I find myself judging my work through my most critical eye-which I despise, of course.  I thought that my imposter syndrome was dead and gone, at least at the level of writing I have achieved.  This is new, however…being a featured reader.  I get like 15-17 minutes or something crazy when I’m used to doing 3-6 minutes at a time.  I’m going to have to figure out timing on my performance as well.

Anyway, that’s what I’m going to go work on during this rainy Monday afternoon.  If you’re here in the area on October 28th around 6pm, do drop in and hear me read.  On one hand, I want to pack the place.  On the other hand, I’d like no one to show up at all, besides the regulars I am already comfortable sharing with.  But it would be nice, I think, to see some familiar friends in the crowd.  So come on down to Dog Ears, and I’ll read you a poem about a squirrel.

Happy Monday.

Scarce Stories

I don’t have a topic, ok??

I’m over here with the world on fire, what with my mother being bounced around hospitals and needing to move apartments in less than 18 days.  I have to pack and clean and find a place, all while dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of my mother being sick.  Ergo, topics are scarce.  So scarce that I didn’t write last Thursday, and then felt all guilty about it.  I hate that; I always try to tell myself that this blog is FREE-I do not make money off it, so if I take a break one day, it is not a problem.  I am disappointing no one, and if there is one dissatisfied individual out there who looks forward to regular, biweekly postings…well that’s just too bad.  I ain’t getting paid for this.

But then I think about Wednesday, when I post on Patreon, over where I DO get paid.  I haven’t written any new content, so I’m going to have to deep dive the computer archives to find a piece.  For Patreon, I will put in the effort, and I will certainly make the time, because there is a paycheck involved.  Again…this blog is free, now and forever.  So, forgive me if I take a break.

Speaking of paychecks, work is also a priority that has sidelined some of the writing.  I am working mornings at one job and will soon be starting afternoons at another.  Work saps my energy, which leaves me plenty creative but with very little follow through.  Like, I want to write today, but I also worked this morning and would love to go sit on the sofa and watch tv when I am done here.

God, that sounds good.  Ok, I’m done here.

Happy Monday.

Poems in the Past

The other day, I received a memory notification on Facebook that 2 years prior, I had been published in The Buffalo News.  This was a momentous day which I wrote about in my blog back then, and am writing about now, as well. 

See, long story made very short, I wanted to be published in The Buffalo News poetry column since I was about 15, and I did not accomplish it until well after I began my publishing career in 2018.  On Fire was a special little poem I wrote for a poetry contest that I won, and I liked it enough to throw it into my submission packet, and then one day I got up the guts to actually send it to The News, with literally no expectation whatsoever.  In fact, I forgot I even sent it, until the day it appeared in the Sunday paper.

I felt so accomplished.  I know to some it may seem like hardly anything, but for me it was a dream 20 years in the making. I had already published several pieces, and my book had been out for a few months, but that was the day I truly felt like an actual author

Well, folks, the paper dropped the column.  Shocking, isn’t it?  This left me with a hollow feeling, as if now the newspaper is completely devoid of hope.

The column has been run by Robert D. Pohl, a man I have never met but know of via socials and friends of friends.  Despite not knowing him, I would run up and hug him if I could, because in my opinion he gave me the gift of a dream come true, and I am sad to see his legacy leave the newspaper. 

Another thing Robert did was keep the literature calendar, which I believe I heard he will still try to continue to do, which Is a blessing to all us writers.  The literature calendar told us who was reading where and when, and also who was hosting open mics and other events.  Buffalo has a pretty broad writing community, and I am hopeful that we will still be able to figure out how to get together. 

Anyhoo, I am very sad to see this feature go, but I am very grateful to have been published when I was.  What we need here in Buffalo is an arts magazine again.  We used to have one, but it folded, and now we have nothing to promote and discuss our incredibly vibrant arts scene.  I wish someone would step up and create such awesomeness…I can tell you, you would not be short of content.  We have enough writers in this city to bring it to life-shame I don’t know a single entrepreneur, though.

Enjoyment and Enlightenment

Once upon a time, I had a librarian.  Her name was Mrs. Priester, and she worked at my elementary school.  Kevin was quite fond of her, because she encouraged reading in him and even took it upon herself to find books that she thought he would enjoy.  She didn’t need to do this for me, because the day I met her I told her, in the bragging way of a 5-year-old, that I already knew how to read, thank you very much.  In fact, I even had a library card already.  (I thought I was hot shit.)  What Mrs. Priester did teach me, however, was the difference between fiction and non-fiction.  I don’t know why the concept confused me so much as a small child, but I kept mixing up the terms, until one day she made it very simple: fiction was Fake.  Non-fiction was Not Fake.  It stuck, I understood, and she further explained that the books I wanted to read were not just called “chapter books,” but novels, and that novels were fiction: made-up stories for one’s enjoyment and enlightenment. 

I tell you this so that we are all very clear on what a novel is, and what fiction is.  I want there to be no misunderstanding, because this is the key piece of the thing that is infuriating me right now.

Let me paint for you a word-picture.  I, a writer, who lives in the Western New York region, and writes fiction, awoke Friday morning to learn of a tragedy that befell a fellow author.  Salman Rushdie was attacked with a knife onstage at the Chautauqua Institute while doing an interview.  I quite literally choked on my iced coffee, and my reasons are twofold.  First of all, Chautauqua?! I live in Buffalo and we just had a grand scale community tragedy about 3 months ago, and now we got crazies rushing stages and stabbing authors just an hour away? Not to mention, I can’t tell you how many times I have fantasized of being some famous writer who is invited to speak at Chautauqua-that’s like life-goal stuff.  And now, that place is marred, too…just like the damn grocery store.

Secondly, and more importantly: violence against a wordsmith.  I know of Rushdie, though his book, The Satanic Verses, sits unread on my shelf because I simply haven’t picked it up yet. But I know a little backstory, like the fact that Iran’s Ayatollah issued a fatwa in the 80s against him, which is basically an edict saying an Iranian should kill Rushdie. The man has been living with death threats for years, all because his book supposedly goes against Islam.  I think it’s because, from what I have read online, one character abandons the religion.  But again, I haven’t read it yet.  The point is that it doesn’t matter, because The Satanic Verses is a novel, and therefore, fiction, and fiction equals fake.  It’s not real; it’s just a story-a made-up situation in a guy’s head that he put down on paper and then an entire country took it the wrong way and decided he needed to die. 

How easily that could be any one of us.

I mean, I just finished the first draft of a book that features an exploration of the concept of religion as a shackle that keeps one from living their authentic life.  I do not expect death threats for the thoughts I come up with in my own head, but I’m sure its gonna piss of an evangelical or two.  But as mad as they get, do I deserve to be stabbed in the face for my imagination?  Absolutely not. 

So, when I head about Salman Rushdie, I was crushed.  I tried to explain to Mark why it was bothering me so much, but I couldn’t find the words.  Maybe it’s just that I am so sad that someone was hurt…just for playing pretend. Because that’s all we’re doing, really, when we write fiction: make-believe, in verse.  And I just do not believe anyone should be harmed over such innocent enjoyment.

Ode to a Tip Jar

Ode to a Tip Jar 

A ringing noise upon my ear
tells me that an email's here,
so, I look to see, and sure enough-
a WordPress logo, bold and tough!
Oh, perhaps has someone read my tome?
I wonder aloud as I start to roam
my way around the website’s format,
hoping to find a like or comment.
But look! Oh no! It bears bad news!
No, not a troll with too tight shoes,
no, not a bot trying to sell me a cruise;
it’s the company telling me it’s time for my dues!
But woe is me, I’m out of work,
and what little is coming is already marked,
so, what is a writer-girl to do
when her tip jar is empty
and her wallet is, too?
Shill yourself, honey, sell them a book!
Better yet, a Patreon subscription-those are off the hook!
Or if they really love you, the tip jar they will find…
to the very right of the blog page, no waiting in line.
See, usually it doesn’t matter, I get by on what I get,
but I lose quite a chunk if certain needs are not met,
like the webhosting bill that comes due every July
and makes me suddenly want to vomit and cry.
So here I am asking a favor of you,
my dearest readers, I hope you come through,
and offer to me maybe a buck or two,
so I can keep this site running for me and for you.
Ok, now that my rhyme is done,
I’m off to pen some delirium,
because I just got a new notification
and it has brought me great exasperation.
So hopefully you find some happy in your day,
because mine is slowly ebbing away,
and I urge you please to consider a donation,
so I can keep on writing these quotations.


Solicitous Histrionics

Open a dictionary. Pick a word. Now close it.

Open it again.  Pick another word.  Close it.

Now, write a poem using those two words.

This is a fun little game taught to me by my favorite local poet, Justin Karcher.  Back in January, I discovered he would be doing a workshop at the Just Buffalo Literary Center, and my mother was kind enough to purchase me a ticket.  It was in May, so it was a long wait.  There were only 9 or 10 of us, but it was great…to me at least, who had never been to a writing workshop of any kind. 

One of the first questions he posed was what poetry meant to us.  It’s a simple concept, I suppose, but if you don’t have a grasp of what your craft means to you, then what are you even doing? I responded to this question with a poem of my own, naturally:

Poetry
By Brigid Hannon

Poetry is my voice, 
louder in word than in action.
My pen on paper. 
or my mouth and teeth and tongue,
no different from each other.
Each meter should lift darkness into light. 
Each verse should move a heart to break, 
each stanza another gasp from muted lips-
poetry is power and 
opinion and 
might-
the never ceasing beat 
of our living hearts.

Now, a lot of Justin’s stuff has to do with our shared home of Buffalo, NY, which may be why I love it so much.  I have long held a hope to write a collection of just Buffalo poems, so when he said we would be writing poems about “home” in some fashion, I was delighted.  I started free writing some thoughts down, and eventually I took those bones and pieced them together into a skeleton of a poem, which I took home with me to work on further.  I knew it wasn’t the sort I could pound out in an hour-long class.  I did, however, write this little guy as well, which I have no intention of doing anything with, so I might as well share it with you here:
Safe Shoes
Also by Brigid Hannon

No flip-flops today;
no sandals.
Sneakers?  But no...
laces come untied.
Little ones, so scared,
and yet prepared,
and I cannot choose a shoe.

An adult counterpart,
I've no active training.
"Where's the exit," I ask myself,
looking to the black sturdy Sketchers
I picked out,
with rubber soles and no laces-
shoes that keep me safe,
like I keep little souls who find me,
willing to sacrifice for such.

She tells me she likes her school;
she feels safe:
"We hardly ever have a lockdown." 
Hardly.
Look to the ground to keep from crying, 
seeing only sturdy safe shoes-
shoes that make me RUN.

Anyway, the workshop was lovely.  I went home and worked on my main poem for a bit, and when it was done, I emailed it to Justin to show him.  A few days later, he got back to me and asked if he could publish it in the June edition of Ghost City Press, which is the mag where I published my first poem, so, I mean…yeah, dude.  Of course.
So, in honor of that, I made a TikTok for it, which I will share at the end of this post.  It is a poem about my city, but also about my grandparents.  We were supposed to write about what home means to us, and my city is my home, where I would not live were it not for my grandparents, who gave me this wonderful home without even realizing it.  
Finally, I tried to write a poem using the dictionary game, and I tell you, friend-I have failed.  I have been drowning in the words “solicitous histrionics” for weeks now, because those are the two words that noodled their way out of the book and into my brain.  Eventually, I will write that poem-it will probably be a weird one.
So, that’s all for today, I think.  Happy Monday!

Auditory

I guess you can thank my friend Carey for my summer project.

See, school ends after this week’s Saturday program, so I am in pursuit of something to do over the summer.  I did score a nice gig as a theater teacher for a kid’s summer camp, but that’s only for a week.  I took it mainly to pay for my trip to Salem this Autumn.  That leaves several more weeks with little to do.  I intend to find a few more jobs to make a little extra cash…maybe babysitting or home care or something.  But my big project for this summer is the seed that Carey planted.

Carey is my self-proclaimed biggest fan, in that she would still like my stuff even if she didn’t know me.  And she LOVES when I share videos on TikTok.  One night, after reading my book, she came over and said that she wanted me to read it to her someday.  She said that the poems are good on their own, but spectacular when I bring them to life with my voice.  I simply took this as a lovely compliment and moved on with my life, and didn’t think much more of it…until I got similar compliments from other people.  I also was coming of the high of a good open mic night, and the wheels started to turn.

See, I have a background as an actor.  In fact, if there is a job to be done in the theater, I have done it.  So, when I read my poems, I’m not just reading them, I’m performing them, and that makes a lot of difference, apparently. Then I read this article about using Audible for publishing audio books, and pieces slide into place.

It’s not too hard, and it’s not too pricey, and it’s a great way to expand on what I already have with A Lovely Wreckage.  So, I called in the troops…Sahar came to the rescue by donating funds to buy equipment needed, and Kevin will be directing and recording.  A lot of articles say not to voice your own book…I don’t care about that.  I’m not just a writer; I can hack it.  Also, narration is the biggest cost in the process, so I am cutting that one right out, right away. 

I annotated the book, and will be offering this special edition only through Audible.  It shall also contain an extra poem or two, written since its release, as bonus material.  I don’t expect to make a lot of money, but I do hope that my friends and family give it a listen, as it has, in my opinion, more depth and interest with the annotations…but then, I am a sucker for annotated poetry.  I guess I’m hoping you are, too.

So, that is my plan for the summer months, to turn my words on paper into a song for the ears. I hope you will enjoy it…I know Carey will.

Happy Thursday!