Goodbye, November

Dear, November, you brought with you yellow-orange-brown-gold-red crisp leaves and cold weather. Time continues on without my permission. The trees that once bloomed with white flowers are bare now.

Photo taken by StarFire Teja https://pixabay.com/images/id-4583228/

With you, you also brought life lessons. Be more flexible!, everything seemed to shout at me. Shift your mindset so that you’re not repeating the same and same mistakes again.

Even though I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo, I kept showing up to blog writing ✍🏽 that is until the last week of November because I felt like I deserved a much, much needed break from EVERYTHING. 

November,

you brought with you some foggy days that reflected my state of mind and spirit. As much as I think I know what I’m doing, for the most part, I was left feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. 

Some days I know with clarity what I want. Other days, I’m left wondering if the choices I’m making are the best for me. That’s when the fogginess settles in.

Photo taken by StarFire Teja https://pixabay.com/images/id-4583229/

November,

you were a 5-month milestone of what it means to live outside my comfort zone, to live in a completely new city on my own. 

I can sometimes see what’s coming ahead: a two-week break from work in December & the year 2020.

For now, I’ll accept this fogginess that doesn’t let me see the answers to the important life questions I’m currently grappling with.

If there’s anything fog has taught me is

  • to drive with caution–to slow down,
  • to enjoy the view when there’s no fog because you CAN actually see clear, from a distance,
  • & that foggy day’s aren’t permanent.

Goodbye, November. 🍂


Photo credits & inspiration:

The photos in this post were taken by StarFire Teja over at the StarFire Teja blog. Please support her by following her on Pixabay & on her blog StarFire Teja!

Also please check out her post “StarFire Teja on Pixabay!” where I got the inspiration for this post.

(A while back, when I was really into watching Booktube videos, a booktuber would create “Letter to [insert month]” videos, so I thought it’d be a great idea to do one of these in the form of a blog post.)

Thank you, Teja, for capturing and sharing these beautiful photos on Pixabay for the world to use!

One Tip for the Uninspired Writer

The greatest lesson I learned about writing was to treat writing as a conversation. Before then, I thought academic writing was formal, an assignment to turn in to teachers and professors.

Writing can have personality! Treating writing as a conversation took the weight off my shoulders because I could now approach writing as a conversation over coffee.

Looking at writing as a conversation felt like a new concept for me. But it made sense. For a conversation to work, you take turns discussing a topic, you sometimes give a counterargument, and you add points.

When I think of the word conversation, I usually think about in-person conversation and hearing people’s voices and the tones of their voices. We talk about pretty much everything from the weather to our troubles to our loved ones. This also applies to writing.

The underlying structure of effective academic writing–and of responsible public discourse–resides not just in stating our own ideas but in listening closely to others around us, summarizing their views in a way that they will recognize, and responding with our own ideas in kind.

They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Gerarld Graff and Cathy Birkenstein

One of the things that has helped me with blogging on the days when I don’t know what to blog about is approaching blog writing as a conversation. It becomes easier for me to write a post and to ignore the voice in me that says: “You’re out of ideas!”

To give you another example related to this, I remember more than a year when I completed a connotation and denotation activity with one of my classes. I explained to them that denotation is a fancy word for the actual definition of a word and that connotation is the feelings and associations of the word.

To explain connotation, I wrote the word mother on the board, and I got different reactions from my students, some were positive, and some were negative. One word sparked discussion with my students.

So if you’re feeling uninspired, try this approach of treating writing as a conversation. What are your thoughts on something going on in the world today or something that happened in the past? What was the last idea you agreed or disagreed with? If you were having coffee with a friend today, what would you tell them?

On Polishing Dusty, Old Poems

Last week, I felt a desire to finish two poems that had been in the draft folder for more than a year. Finishing these two poems allowed me to let go and move on (hopefully into more poetry writing).

One poem is about my experiences of working as a pharmacy technician and the other about how thoughts can keep me awake at night and how they sometimes become louder than the sounds coming from the world. They’re written in a stream-of-consciousness style.

Polishing & Submitting

These poems were inspired by a poem I’ve mentioned quite a bit on this blog: Louise Gluck’s “October”. Gluck uses the questioning technique throughout it. The two poems that I wrote also use questioning. I’d stacked a lot of questions, and I decided to connect the questions with commas, so that there’s only one question mark until the end of the poem. I did this after reading advice from an editor who said that connecting all of the questions with only one question mark would have a better effect.

Blogging has taught me so many lessons (I’m hoping to post about this soon), and one of them was a renewed confidence in my writing which seems to also be impacting my poetry writing. I’m starting to feel okay about writing bad poems again in hopes that with showing up, polished poems begin to form.

When I revise and edit poems, I usually record myself. I listen to the recordings to find the lines that I want to edit or revise. I worked on them last week, and the results were poems that feel as polished as they’re going to get.

After the polishing, I decided that it was time to submit them to literary journals. These poems don’t feel mine anymore, and I have faith that they will find a home. After submitting what felt like a million job applications in the past two weeks, submitting the poems felt like a much easier process. The submission process usually calls for a short cover letter and a bio in addition to the pieces one submits.

Connections

I’m finally finding some things that link the small collection of polished poems that I’ve accumulated so far. For one, I seem to be addressing specific people or groups of people in my life. One poem is addressed to my father, the other to my mother, and another to my students. I’m not surprised to find that I’ve been writing letter poems. I have always been the quiet one, better with words on paper, and I show my love better through actions than through physical touch.

Image by Cina Erikson from Pixabay

When I go from poet to analyzer of my writing, I see that the poems are not poems. They are letters from the heart. Some of them include emotions that I still don’t feel capable of expressing in the real world.

Some of the poems are also full of questions that at one point I felt that I didn’t have the answers to. To a certain extent, I still don’t. Maybe in letting go of the poems, I’m letting go of the questions and accepting the questions without the need for answers.

Friday, March 29, 2019