Ramble

My stomach is the worst!

I really thought that by this point I wouldn’t be writing about it anymore.  At least, less  At least, it wouldn’t be throwing me flareups that wipe out whole days of my life every so often. 

I planned to go to my first musical event this past weekend…a cover band of a group I love, at my favorite bar.  Did I make it?  No, of course not.  Why, oh why, would my pyloric muscle ever allow such things?!  FUN?! NEVER!!

So, after feeling salty about that all day on Sunday, I woke up feeling a little better this morning, but also tired of worrying about my health.  However, I am making major health strides despite my stupid stomach.  For one, my sciatica is much improved due to the exercises I have been doing.  And speaking of exercise and diet related things, I am officially the thinnest I have ever been in my entire life.  I don’t suggest my diet of protein shakes and jello, but hey, it got results, I guess.  I do indeed fit into that bathing suit I mentioned some months ago.  That’s a nice thing.

I mean, I really still don’t give a crap about my weight but it’s nice to accomplish a goal, y’know?

And then the other health thing, in which I attempt to quit smoking.  Again.  They say the average smoker quits seven times before the big one…if that’s so I’m plugging along on attempt number five right now.  Hopefully it’s a good, long run.  In the meantime, I’m on the patch and having crazy dreams.  No, don’t tell me to take it off at night…I often wake up in the night wanting a smoke, so I have to keep it on then,  The dreams are actually mostly fun, not scary or anything, but the realism is something of a brain tease.

So, I’m losing weight and quitting smoking and still my stomach insists on behaving the way it does every time I try to do something fun.  One doc says it’s a fluke.  Another doc says it takes time for it to heal.  I don’t think either of them know what they’re talking about anymore.

I’m sitting in my desk with a pain in my shoulder as I type because I am simply not used to sitting at my desk and typing, as I have been away from the writing for so long.  My blog is in shambles, my poetry practically nonexistent, and while I did drop 350 words in the WIP the other day, that’s it for months now.  But this morning I found a poem.

Just a little something about a fish that I wrote while out one afternoon and forgot about.  Just a note on my phone, that I polished up and put into pretty words and saved in my poetry file.  It gave me a little hope, much like the fishies I wrote the poem about do.

That’s what I need to do!  Go fishing.

Anyway…thanks for listening to my ramble today.  There wasn’t much else on the agenda and I just had to get all these little thoughts out of my mind.

Happy Monday.

Chillin’ with Jesus

Sometimes, I’ll be sitting at my computer minding my business and Jesus will walk in and demand some of my time.

I wrote a poem about that once.

Anyway, today He comes in the door and tells me good things come to those who wait, and I tell him to get off my back already.  As Chuck Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club, “You can’t teach God anything.”

So, I go to check my email and sure enough there is word from a man named Zachary telling me to forward my manuscript to him…the MS that I have had in limbo for a year now, waiting to be put into print.  I understand the mix-up…they had staff changes and, y’know, a pandemic.  The world slowed down for us all.  I am just grateful that this morning I got a little nudge in the right direction.

Jesus looks at me and says: “Get up out of the dirt.”

I intend to accomplish several things in the coming weeks, all of which are scary and foreign to me, but which need to be done to better myself and my surroundings.  Today, I am out here working on my writing, so neglected since before my surgery, when I was at my sickest, and after, when I was at my weakest.  Now, I feel better and stronger, though tentative, but happy, also.  So, I shall take strides to improve the areas of my life that I have neglected, just like my writing.

Today I am going to my preferred bookshop/cafe with Sahar, my port in the storm.  Nothing could kick off my journey towards improvement better than lunch at one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people. 

Don’t get me wrong, my inner self still fights with Jesus.

He’s all “You can do it!  You’re so strong!”  and I’m over here incredulous.  What does Jesus know?  He’s only the Son of God.

National Poetry Month, 2021

It is April, which means springtime and Easter and National Poetry Month!  I have already written about springtime.  Easter was nice, but not too exciting since we are still taking a lot of precautions.  So, let’s talk about poetry, naturally.

For the past two Aprils, I have shared a few poems with you.  Now, as explained then and reexplained now, these are stragglers…poems that I don’t intend to send out for publication.  (Presses frown on blog publications when considering your work.  Even with your own blog, it is still considered to be “published.”)  If I ever do decide to send these guys out or publish them elsewhere, I will remove them from my blog.  But for now, enjoy some poems.

Oh, and should you be interested, you can always support a poet and purchase a copy of A Lovely Wreckage!

Pasted as photos, because I can’t figure out how to format a poem on WordPress.

(Un)Requited

There’s a stack of papers next to me.  I just printed them off my dad’s computer, and brought them home to my little office to be sorted.  They are poems, and they will soon be a book.

I wrote about my decision to pen another chapbook a little while ago, and I am now in the sorting and final editing stage.  Poems are good to go, in my opinion, and now I just have to check for the rouge commas and such.  I also have to decide how to order them, which is an art of its own.

The thing about chapbooks is that they are small and focused.  In A Lovely Wreckage, I started out with Sick Since Sixteen, a poem about my illness that signifies the age in which my journey started.  I closed it with a poem called A Good Day, which was, conveniently, about the good days I get to experience made all the better by the bad ones.  It was a hopeful note to end the collection on.  In between, I sorted the poems so that they were evenly dispersed-in that I made sure that not too many mental health or physical health poems were grouped together, and I also tried to make it have a rhythm and flow.  Now, today, I shall be doing this for my third little baby.

My second chapbook, a mini-chap, is called Me and Jesus on a Tuesday Afternoon and will be out sometime in 2021.  That one is essentially just one long poem, so I didn’t get to do the sorting phase for that.  I realize now that is something I enjoy, putting my poems in the order I want the reader to experience them. 

Over the summer I did a mockup on PowerPoint of my illustrated kids’ book (I’m sure there’s better software to do this on, I’m just a noob.) I am unable to work on it at the moment, but am hoping to get it off the ground sometime in the new year.  However, while assembling this little presentation I realized how much I enjoy seeing creations come together.  I always have…but I’ve never really applied that to my writing.  When I worked in theater, I was always amazed at the magic that happened on opening night, but I have neglected it amongst my words.  So today, that is what I am focused on.

I’ve had a couple of people (total strangers, mind you,) comment that they enjoyed the flow of A Lovely Wreckage, and I hope I can capture that in (Un)Requited.

Yep, that there’s the name. 

I wrote the final poem yesterday.  I have known which will be first, Monster, first published at Pink Plastic House, A Tiny Journal in May 2020.  And last night, I penned the last, Scrapbooks.  Now it is time to figure out the in-between.

Then, comes the publisher hunt.  I don’t know what to do there…do I send it to my previous publisher first?  What if I’d like to try someone new, or a place I think is more suited to the subject matter?  What’s the plan of action here?

Stay turned for the answers to these and more questions, on an upcoming episode of Brigid’s blog.

Happy Monday.

The Next Verse

So, as you may know, earlier this year I released a chapbook of poetry regarding chronic and mental illness.  I like chapbooks, because usually they revolve around a topic of some sort, and I like poetry that speaks to a certain thing.  They’re smaller than your regular collection, but if you’re looking for a certain area to read about, you can find it easier.  A friend asked about a month or so ago what was the next for me on the poetry front, and I said I was composing a chap of love poems.  Not the usual “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” sort, mind you.  I don’t write like that. 

This book will actually be about love that is obsessed over, brutally mismanaged, and often unrequited. 

Then the other day, I was sitting on the couch watching the news and Hubs was playing his phone game, and I thought gee…maybe your husband might not like it if you publish a book of poetry about other dudes.  Maybe he will feel threatened, or jealous, or betrayed somehow.  “Babe, how would you feel if I published a chapbook about other men?”

“I honestly do not care.”  He didn’t even look up from his game.

After he won his round, he looked up and went on to say that he felt himself to be the winner in the situation and as such was not worried.  He didn’t really need to explain though, because when he said he didn’t care, I knew he was telling the truth.

I have been writing poems since I was fifteen years old.  I have been with Mark since I was 27.  That is over a decade of angsty poems about various guys I encountered during that time, and my husband is not so simple that he thinks I was just waiting around for him. 

Some of the poems are crap, but could be well-fixed with edits.  Some are good.  A couple even rhyme, something I used to do all the time but rarely do now, as a lot of mags won’t accept rhyming poems.  Which I think is crap…it’s harder to write a good rhyming poem than a good free verse.  But I digress…

Anyway, I’ve got all these poems about these men.  Some are wonderful dudes that I am proud to have  known and loved.  Others are not.  Now, when I edit, I try to read though once from an outsider’s perspective, as best as I can.  How would I relate to this poem were I not me?  Could I relate to it, even?  Sometimes the answer is no, and I cut it from the project.  Sometimes it’s a resounding yes.  Sometimes it’s a maybe, and I edit it to make it more adaptable.  I’ve done this with twenty poems so far.  I may be able to scrounge up a couple more, which would be nice, but that’s a decent length for a chapbook.

My first book was about chronic and mental illness.  All the poems in it were a reflection of myself at my most vulnerable.  Having succeeded in overcoming my fears regarding such things, I am ready to tackle another vulnerable side of myself, the part of me that gives permission to love.  And who on earth can’t relate to that, in some form? 

Anyway, this is just my brain working.  It’s a ways off before I send it out to folks, but I’m thinking of it today.  My next chapbook out will actually hopefully be a mini-chap though Pen & Anvil Press, but I am still waiting to hear back from them regarding editing and publication dates.  But this guy, this little book of love and hate and loss and lust, that’s what I’m working on next, poetry-wise.

But probably not until December.  Because, you know, 10 days until NaNo. 

The Sleeping Muse

Sometimes, as a writer, you start to think the muse is dead.

At the end of every three months or so, I prep my poetry submissions for the upcoming season.  There is a site called Entropy that publishes a huge list of journals accepting submissions every three months, and I work my way through it with my seasonal submission and hope for the best.  I haven’t encountered any hiccups (this is since starting submissions in 2018.)  Until now, that is.

I won’t call it writer’s block, because I am writing.  I’m pecking out my bi-weekly blog, and the occasional note or dialogue for the novels, both that in editing and that in planning.  But my poetry has been stifled, somehow.  It’s just not flowing.  And this makes me nervous, because poetry is my lifeline to writing on the whole. 

Usually, it happens spontaneously.  Something will happen, or occur to me, and I will have to write it down in a rush, then edit it, then voila!  A poem.  Bam, just like that.  A few a week, usually.  But lately…nothing.

Yesterday, I made myself write one.  It was about the Out of the Darkness Walk that I do every September.  I decided I would write it as a warm-up…give myself a topic (the walk, as yesterday marked one more month until the event,) and sit down at the computer and write something about it.  I surprised myself, in the end.  Which is a good sign.

Any time I surprise myself while writing, it means it’s pretty good.  If I’m reading back what I’ve written and I’ve forgotten I was the author, then it’s really good.  These are the standards by which I judge my work.  It felt like, for some time, this wasn’t happening for me.  Nothing was surprising me.  I feel very hopeless in these moments, as though the muse has left and will never return. 

But then I wrote a little poem, and it’s kind of good.  Then, I wrote another…not as good, but the fire was there.  I wrote a third.  And a fourth…

By the end of the day I had my fall submissions ready to go.  Yesterday morning, I had nothing.  I had the feeling of self-doubt that consumes the writer who doesn’t know what to write about.  I had the voice in my head whispering that it was all crap.  But, last night, I had a full submission packet and several new poems. 

The muse is not dead.  Sleeping, perhaps.  But not dead.

Sunday Surprise

I used to keep journals, religiously.  Until one day, a terrible thing happened and I destroyed them all in an effort to burn away my memories.  It didn’t work at first, but with time and no pages to look over I gradually let go of things that I held onto for too long.

I have one journal left, that chronicles a chunk of my 20’s.  I don’t read it; I just keep it because someday there might be a story in there.  Aside from my journals, there are my blogs.  I have kept many blogs over the years, ranging from the personal to the professional.  I suppose this is as close as I come to journaling these days.

Now, if I did still keep one, I would certainly have written in it about yesterday.

I was sitting in bed eating carrots and watching 30 Rock on Hulu when my dad called me.  “Are you sitting down??” he says.  Oh, no.  Someone is dead.  Wait, no, he doesn’t sound upset.  Must be good news?  What could it be??  I, of course, run crazy with thoughts in that moment, but then he says something about the newspaper and it takes me a minute to put the pieces together and suddenly I realize what he is telling me.

I am in the newspaper.

Now, I’ve been published all over the web.  And I have a book of poetry out.  But I really don’t think anyone was as excited about any of that as much as they were about me being in the paper.  Mom came and took me to the gas station to buy a copy.  When I got home, the poetry editor from the News sent me a friend request, with an image of my poem.  He tagged me in a Facebook post that I shared on my socials.  And still…I was in shock.

See. I dreamt of this before anything.

I wanted to be on that poetry page since I was a teenager, discovering it one afternoon while searching the Gusto for acting gigs.  It seemed…attainable.  And yet…my early poetry was only published at the now defunct poetry.com. (Side note: the website still exists, but I don’t know where my poems went.)  I didn’t think any of the early stuff good enough, anyways.  Then, after my self-imposed writing hiatus and comeback, I saw the news as UNATTAINABLE, because I just wasn’t good enough.  I didn’t have a book yet, or a signing, or an interview.  I was nobody.

Now, I disagree.  I have stats to back my writing up, a little.  So, I composed an email and sent it to the poetry editor and waited, hopeful.

And then this.

The poem was the one I won the Poesia contest with, too.  So that little guy is having a good summer.

I am reminded a little of the tale “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”  In it, her father tells her “If you see it in The Sun [their local newspaper,] it’s so.”  That is how I feel today.  I saw it in the News.  It must be true.

So, if I kept a journal, that’s what I would write about today.  Maybe a little about how E is spending the week and I am looking forward to lots of time with her while Mark is at work.  Today we are going to the park to do a photoshoot for a new author pic for me.  Tomorrow she wants to go fishing.  She has never been here solo before, so this is a really fun new experience for us.  I would write about it, because I would want to remember it.

I don’t keep journals anymore, and by default, I don’t do scrapbooks anymore either though I still have about seven of them.  I kind of wish I did, so I would have somewhere to put my newspaper clipping.  Ah, well. 

A frame will have to do. 

Me and Jesus

Listen, I know everyone’s having a crap year, but I am just killing it, writer-style.

In March, I wrote a little poem.  It was for a contest for Poesia, and you had to take a line from another poem and start your poem with that line.  The other poem was Sophie Robinson’s “Art in America.”  I chose the line “Honestly, I am sick of helping Jesus count the days…”

I won the contest.

Afterwards, I was surfing though Pinterest one day looking for pins for my development board for my next project, when I saw an old quote I have always loved.  “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.”   This is how I felt about my little Jesus poem.  So, I went back.  I deleted the first line so as not to be a plagiarizer, and then started writing.  And I did not stop, for 12 pages.

But what to do with something too short to be a book and too long to be a regular submission?  Ask Twitter, of course.  Mention that you have just finished a long poem about smoking a joint with Jesus, and see who bites.  And when they do, and they did, send them the poem and wait.

Then, one day, the email.  I have an uncanny ability to know when I’m getting an acceptance.  I can tell before I even open it.  I’m a little bit psychic, which makes it very difficult to surprise me.  I will admit I knew it was an acceptance before I clicked it open, I just didn’t know for what.

Me and Jesus on a Tuesday Afternoon.

That is the title of my poem, which Pen and Anvil Press will soon be offering in their chapbook catalogue.  “Delightful” and “poignant,” she called it.  I would use those words as well.

I rarely love something I write, but I loved this guy.  I wrote it for my aunt Ka, who passed away several years ago, and I hope that if she is in her heaven, she can read it and understand me as the person I am now.  I wrote it because I am a lapsed Catholic, but Jesus is still my homeboy. 

Anyhoo, I have been added to the P&A queue and am awaiting further details.  I have no other information at the moment, just the knowledge that my not-so-little poem is going somewhere special. And plenty of joy over the fact that I LIKE what I wrote.  Genuinely 100% like it. 

So rare, I tell you.

Waiting on Opportunity

Oh anxiety, my old foe.

Today I am thinking about my friend Sahar’s husband, Rob.  For the new reader, they live in Kentucky currently, which I abhor.  They are simply too far away from me and that is unacceptable.  So last year when Sahar told me that Rob had a chance of a new job in Cleveland, I was almost as excited as they were.  That’s an easy weekend trip.  I had my fingers crossed, hoping they would hear something soon.

Again, this was last year.

This summer, he finally got the job.  Sahar is busy scouting out houses in Ohio.  They are very excited.  I am very excited.

Yet, right now all I can think of is how Rob waited A YEAR for this opportunity.

I have two things I’m waiting for right now, and if I had to wait a year, I honestly don’t know if I’d even bother.  I’m not that patient-it’s one of my faults.  I have enough anxiety waiting a couple of weeks.  I can’t imagine an entire year of that.

I’m going to go ahead and risk jinxing myself and tell you about these opportunities that I am waiting on pins and needles about.  First, the nearest opportunity…I entered a poetry contest.  I used to attend a group called Fourth Friday at my local bookstore…usually it was a featured reader followed by some open mics.  It took a lot, I mean A LOT of courage for me to go in the first place, then to keep going, then to read my work there.  Sadly, due to Covid, this is no more.  However, the groups organizer, Rachel, moved it online.  Now it has morphed into her own Facebook live poetry broadcast-a featured reader gets interviewed, they discuss current topics, and the reader shares their work.  The contest remains, judged by the feature, and she usually wraps up by sharing the winner. 

So, I wrote a little something the other day and sent it off on a whim.  As usual, I think it’s crap, but I thought the one I sent in March was crap too…but I won, and I ended up turning it into a micro-chap.  So who knows.  Anyway, this month, the winner will be given a seven-minute slot on her show to share their poem.  Since I am currently trying to hype my poetry book, this would be a truly perfect opportunity for me.  But the anxiety…half “I don’t know if I want all those people to see me” and half “everything I write is crap.”

The second thing that is weighing on me is that I recently sent some poems to the Buffalo News.  I grew up reading the poetry page, and always dreamt of being on it.  For some reason, though, it seemed a far-off hope.  Until the other day when I mustered the courage to send some pieces to the poetry editor.  I emailed him first with a couple questions and he was kind enough to respond, and then I sent off the poems.  Now, I have no idea how long his deliberation process takes, or how lucky I will be to be included, though he does favor folks from the Western New York area.  I also mentioned that I have a book out.  It is my hope that he publishes something, and I get a little local press.

Which is kind of the same thing with Rachel’s show.  I have some people giving me great feedback on my book who are Twitter followers, but it’s not really out there in my community.  It’s harder to market locally due to Covid right now, so anything that can help would be great.

Alas, anxiety.  Mostly, the anxiety of the wait.

I am no longer nervous to share my work like I was back in October when I went to my first Fourth Friday.  These days, I will scream it from the rooftop, if you’re willing to listen.  However, I hate the waiting, and the uncertainty that comes with that.  Usually I log my submissions and forget about them until I hear back, but I am obsessively checking my email for any word from the News.  Not to mention anxiously awaiting 830pm Saturday night when Rachel’s show airs.  (BTW-if you would like to check it out, it can be found on Facebook HERE.  This month’s featured is poet Oli Wiggins.)

So here I am, thinking of Rob, and wondering how he didn’t just lose his damn mind waiting.  I mean, I can barely stand a couple of weeks…a WHOLE YEAR?  Unacceptable.

The only way I can combat it right now is to just try to keep my mind busy.  When it wanders, it wonders.  Can’t have that at the moment.

Anyhoo…wish me luck.  Both opportunities would be huge for me in regards to marketing to my local community.  And I’ll tell you what, that is HARD.  I’m sure there’s a future blog post about it somewhere in my brain, but for now, I will just wait.

National Poetry Month

Getting real sick of every topic I come up with to write about being Coronavirus related, so here’s one that has nothing to do with that whatsoever.

It is National Poetry Month!

Poetry is my first love, writing-wise.  I wrote a poem in 9th grade, found I had a knack for it, and never stopped.  I had my first poem accepted for publication shortly before graduating high school.  But, circumstances being what they were with my serotonin levels, I dropped off writing altogether for a bit and what I did write I didn’t dare show to anyone. Then something happened when I hit 35.  I was sick of keeping all my work to myself, so I sent off a poem on a whim and it got picked up by a journal I enjoy.  That was just the confidence boost I needed to hit the ground running.  You can check out Potatoes for that little guy and everything I have had published since.

Now, I would like to share a couple of poems with you, in honor of Poetry Month. I usually do not do this for a singular reason: a mag will not publish your work if it’s on your blog.  However, I don’t really intend to find homes for these stragglers, and if I do I will just take the photo down.  Why photos, you ask?  Because the formatting on my blog is flippin’ weird and it just doesn’t look right.

Anyway, have some poems.


SIDENOTE:  It is also Autism Awareness month.  The monthly poetry reading I attend has gone virtual, and is taking place via Facebook Live.  This month’s reader is poet and artist, Kristin Maggio-who also happens to be a 13-year-old with autism who was non-verbal until she learned to communicate through her art.  Which I think is pretty amazing.  So, if you’re quarantined and bored on Friday night at 7pm EST, you should check it out: click here!