When my previous DIY MFA post went live, I might have mentioned it was the first of two posts I’d write about literary themes and poetry. 😉 So today’s post is the unofficial part two! It’s about identifying themes in the poetry you write using the original source of the poem’s inspiration (or, rather, what the poem’s about), your reasons for writing it in the first place, and the emotions you were feeling that influenced the poem’s tone. I also share examples from my own poetry to explain this process, then end the post with a thoughtful question: Why is it important for a poet to know the themes they cover in their work?
When I was preparing my final poetry submission of 2018 during the last week of December, a surprising question popped into my head: “How many submissions did I send out this year?”
You see, I don’t set goals for a certain number of submissions each month or year, especially since poetry is still a part-time endeavor for me. Instead, I continually write and revise my poems, read various journals, and submit to places that I think would be a good fit for my work. And while I track my submissions, it’s mainly to remind myself of the facts, like which publications I’m waiting to hear from and which poems are currently out on submission.
So, for those reasons, I really had NO idea how many submissions I’d sent out in 2018. (*lol*) And not knowing that number made me curious. So I reviewed my tracking sheet, did some math, and decided to blog about what I found, with some relevant tips to boot.
Every Monday evening, instead of writing for 60 to 90 minutes at my laptop, I spend that time on my yoga mat. It’s a habit I’ve consistently maintained for 2 years, though I was first introduced to yoga about 5 years ago. Sometimes it’s with a class, led by a teacher who has become both mentor and cheerleader to me.** Other times it’s at home, thanks to the TV awesomeness known as YouTube OnDemand. Regardless, yoga has become an essential part of my life, much the same way that writing has.
Maybe that explains why I came to this conclusion recently: Yoga and writing sessions have a lot in common.
I’m sure some of you might be thinking, “Um… OK…. But how?” That’s what today’s blog post is all about. 😉 Here are five ways in which yoga and writing are similar, and how I’ve benefited from having both in my life.
I had an idea while preparing the Favorite Fiction Reads of Summer 2018 post recently. Even though I read nonfiction (mainly on writing and creativity) and poetry as well as fiction, I only ever blog about fiction. But I’m not just a reader. I’m also a poet, a dabbler in speculative fiction, and a perpetual student of the craft of writing. So why not blog about the other kinds of books I read, since they’re just as important to my literary life?
Hence this week’s experiment. This round-up shares mini-reviews of five poetry books and four “writerly” nonfiction books I’ve read over the past few months. If any of them pique your interest, you can check out more information on Goodreads via the link in each title. Most importantly, if this kind of post is something you’d like to see again (maybe every 3 or 4 months), let me know in your comments. That’s the best way for me to know whether this is worth continuing as a blog series.
I haven’t touched my novel-in-progress since the second week of July.
Yeah. There’s no way of sugarcoating the truth. The good news is, I haven’t stopped writing altogether. But the first draft of the manuscript I’ve been working on for the past year? The desire to open the Word file isn’t there right now. In fact, I think it had been gone for a while, but it took me several weeks to realize it.
Maybe this has happened to you. At some point during a writing project, despite the passion you felt early on, the fire goes out. You might not know the reason why right away. You might not even recognize what the feeling is at first, so you keep pushing on. But once you do… well, depending on your personality, you might have a hard time accepting it.
Today, I’m here to tell you something important: It’s OK. You’re not alone in this, and maybe something in this post might help you get through it and figure out what to do next.
Recently I was interviewed by Jennifer Sparkman for her online magazine The Articles of Antiquity. And what did we talk about? Writing, of course! 😉 Poetry, DIY MFA, all-time favorite writers, sources of inspiration, and a few other topics. I had fun answering Jen’s questions, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading the end result.
Here’s a question for any writers who are reading this: At what point in the writing process do you start paying attention to your story’s themes? Does theme even cross your mind as you’re brainstorming, drafting, or revising a story? If you answered “no” – don’t worry, your story probably still contains themes . However, it always helps to have a strong awareness of themes. So in my latest DIY MFA article, we explore ways in which you can develop that awareness at each stage of the process, and how that awareness can improve more than just the story.
Also, a fun fact for you: The conversation I mention during the article’s introduction eventually inspired me to pitch the Theme: A Story’s Soul column to DIY MFA. 😉
First things first: I miscalculated how old the blog is. We’re celebrating its ninth birthday today, not its tenth. (*face turns red*) Sorry about that!
Regardless, a ninth blogoversary is impressive. I launched this site in 2009 mostly because blogging seemed like fun. (Not to mention I was always happy to find a new outlet for writing.) Since then, I’ve grown so much as a writer and as a person, and the blog has evolved as well. So, from a perspective of reflection, it’s appropriate that this year’s blogoversary post centers on all-time favorite writing advice. (Thank you for the suggestion, Zezee!)
It was challenging, but I narrowed it down to nine favorites to coincide with nine years of blogging. I hope you find these tips as motivating and inspiring as I did when I first came upon them.
Guess what, everyone? I created a blog hop! 🙂
The truth is, I’ve had a hard time thinking of topics to blog about now that I’m back from my (unexpected) hiatus. It’s as if my brain is a car engine that’s having trouble starting… and it’s a strange feeling, to not know what to write about. So I figured, maybe the best way to get those creative juices flowing again is to do something easy and fun. And that’s how the Some of My Favorite Things was born.
I also had a goal for this post: to choose “favorites” I haven’t blogged about before. In other words, you won’t find anything bookish, writerly, or tea-related (well, at least not tea recommendations *lol*) here. So I think you’ll discover a few new things about me today – and maybe we’ll find we had more in common than we did before. 🙂
So, what did I choose as some of my favorite things? You’ll have to read on to find out. 😉
Do you listen to music while you write? Has a specific song or music artist ever influenced one of your stories, poems, etc.? This has happened with a number of my published poems. Thus, Poetry & Song is a limited-run series where I share one of my published poems and the song that “helped me write” it. I also offer insights into why I chose that particular piece of music, as well as any other inspirations for the poem.
With the past two Poetry & Song posts, I’ve realized – or, rather, remembered – how personal some of my sources of inspiration have been. Today’s is no different. A few times while writing this post, I felt… well, uncomfortable, but not in a negative way. It wasn’t so much the idea of sharing the story behind this poem, since other people in real life already know it. Rather, it was the act of revisiting that inspiration, and reliving the warring emotions tied to it, that made a heart-wrenching situation from the past fresh again.
So, yes, “At A Loss” isn’t a happy poem. Neither is the song that helped me write it. But what makes this Poetry & Song combination unique is that, together, they provided some much-needed insight on an unraveling friendship. If it makes any sense, this post chronicles the first time I learned an important life lesson from my own poetry.