Poetry & Song: “Breath of a Humpback Whale” and Michael Brant DeMaria’s “Ocean”

It’s been a while since the last Poetry & Song post, hasn’t it? I’ve been meaning to write ones for some of my older, previously published poems and the songs that “helped” me write them. But now that a few “newbies” have debuted over the past few months, it’s time to start highlighting those instead. 🙂

So the spotlight turns back to “Breath of a Humpback Whale” today. What’s interesting about this edition of Poetry & Song isn’t what inspired this piece (though the inspiration itself is incredible), but rather the transformation this poem went through from initial spark to publication. In fact, Michael Brant DeMaria’s “Ocean” didn’t become part of the process until the poem’s last round of revisions. But that proved to be the perfect time for music and poetry to come together.

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The 2018 Blogoversary: Nine Favorite Writing Tips of All Time

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.

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Learning to Build My Writing “Cathedral” Again

Last year I read Sage Cohen’s Fierce on the Page, a collection of essays that encourages writers to transform their attitudes and habits so that they can unleash their creativity, overcome fears, and define success on their own terms – all ways in which they can practice ferocity in their craft. One of my favorite essays from the book is Chapter 14, “Build a Cathedral,” which Cohen begins with this allegory:

… [A] traveler in medieval times comes upon a stonemason at work. He asks, “What are you doing?” The man looks weary and unhappy.  He responds, “Can’t you see I am cutting and laying down stone?  My back is killing me, and I can’t wait to stop.”

The traveler continues on his way and comes upon a second stonemason. “What are you doing?” he asks. “I’m building a wall,” says the stonemason. “I’m grateful to have this work so I can support my family.”

As the traveler walks on, he encounters a third stonemason who seems to be doing exactly the same work as the previous two. He asks the man, “What are you doing?” The man stands up straight. His face is radiant. He looks up at the sky and spreads his arms wide. “I am building a cathedral,” he answers.

Wow. It’s such a simple tale, but the shift it made in my perception of my writing was like feeling the earth move under my feet.

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Five Reasons Why The DIY MFA Book Is a Must-Read for Writers

DIY MFA Book Review header

While I love a good book on the craft of writing, I wouldn’t normally say that such a book would be one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA, however, is a exception – and perhaps biasedly so. I’ve been a staff writer at DIY MFA’s website since November 2014. So, not only have I been eagerly awaiting the book’s release ever since Gabriela broke the news to us, but I also agree with her philosophy and the concepts she presents.

Last month, the DIY MFA Book was published last month by Writer’s Digest. I’ve had a chance to read it, and I’m thrilled to say it surpassed my expectations. Writing a review for a writing reference book, however, is different than writing one for fiction. I don’t want to spoil too many of the insights that Gabriela shares. Instead, I’ll give Five Reasons Why The DIY MFA Book Is a Must-Read for Writers. Then, if you like the sounds of it, you can fully immerse yourself in the DIY MFA learning experience. Ready?

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