Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #4

This week was more prosey than poetic, but writing is writing, and sabbaticalling is sabbaticalling. Amirite?

The amount of reading I’ve completed so far in this few weeks’ time measures about, oh, I don’t know, triple what I’ve read in the past few years. Seriously. This week, I finished reading one poetry collection andread another full one, one of collected works, I might add (which means, pretty long). Granted I didn’t read every single thing in the collected works, but I read most of it. I also continued to read the book I bought (it’s Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast).

In between these books, I scanned through the fairy encyclopedia, taking notes on different kinds of fairies and other magical creatures I might find poetically pleasing. I’m not sure who might publish an entire collection of poetry devoted to gnomes and crones, but it sure is fun to jump into a world of magic.

Speaking of magic, I watched Labyrinth for the first time this past week, encouraged by my workshop partner to do so. It is fantastic in that unrealistic corny sort of way.

Additionally, I began to plan a soon-in-the-future visit to Poets House by researching their holdings for all the contemporary collections I want to read. They have most of them. I’m going to have to visit a few times to cover all the books I want to read.

Also reading-related, I checked out The Rumpus, Booth, back issues of Fence and This, and of course McSweeney’s. I could spend days at a time reading through McSweeney’s. It’s really dangerous. This is why I’m happy I don’t quite get Reddit. If I really understood what exactly I was supposed to do on Reddit, I think I’d live on it.

Oh, wait a minute. Hold everything. Reddit. Read it? Is it called Reddit because after you visit the site, you’ve read it? Have I uncovered something miraculously punned-in, or am I the last one to realize it?

Lots more online work—cleared out all my saved links on Facebook that related to writing and readings, and then did the same with the bookmarks on my computer.

Still online, I corresponded with Jessica Piazza over at Poetry Has Value, and just like that, I became a guest blogger on her Tumblr. I wrote my introduction post and then submitted it. Poetry Has Value is her project that reveals the world of publishing for free versus publishing for a fee versus getting paid by writing and submitting poetry that journals accept. She cataloged a year of activity, and now a bunch of poets are doing the same this year. I’m included!

Keeping with the prose, and back to McSweeney’s because it is ubiquitous, I tidied up three pieces and submitted them.

The weekly workshop with my artist friend once again opened poetic doors. Getting a second opinion on a poem proves to be invaluable (that means so great you can’t put a price on it, right? I’m too lazy to look it up. More on my writing laziness here).

Flying high on the motivation of workshopping, I started two poems, revised a bunch of poems in their third drafts, and then revised my current full manuscript, replacing poems that make me go meh with poems that make me go yowza.

I didn’t submit individual poems this week because I focused on submitting my collection. Sure, I keep changing it around, but I still think it’s strong enough to be published. I submitted it to seven presses. Received on rejection already. What speed!

As a counter to that, I got a piece of prose accepted by YourTango. Here’s where the prose comes in once again. I pitched a personal essay about drinking in college versus not drinking as a fully-formed adult. Then I learned to navigate their platform for publishing. I plan to pitch more in the future.

I finished off the week by blogging right now, listening to a new episode of PoemTalk, and then heading out to the Morgan Library to see the Hemingway exhibit that I just learned about the day before. Since it closes on 1/31, I simply picked myself up, put myself on a train, and went to see it, all the while carrying A Moveable Feast in my bag. Seeing this exhibit worked in lieu of attending a reading. The one I wanted to attend at the beginning of the week had been canceled, and after continuing to plan a few readings, I kind of got reading-ed out this week.

Anyway, back to Hemingway. Poppa was so dead on about the whole moveable feast business. I kinda feel like that’s why I’m tracking my sabbatical like this. It is, indeed, a kind of moveable feast. For those who have an academia-inclined palate.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #3

I almost didn't write this post because of the snow. When a blizzard arrives, we get to blame everything on the snow. Many writers curled up with pens and computers and wrote during the storm. I did not. I watched movies and played games with Eddie, and then we shoveled, and then we watched more movies, unable to move after shoveling. Today the sun has arrived but the snow is still there. Whatever we shoveled yesterday is covered again, but the layer is significantly lower than the new snow around it. Another achy round later today, but first, here's what I did this past week (or, actually, last week, considering today is Sunday of the new week).

I read and finished one longer novel, and then began both a poetry collection and a non-fiction book. This last book is the book I bought last week. Exciting! I also reorganized some of the shelves in my closet/library in my office with all the new books I got for Christmas. Somehow, this counts as working on my sabbatical.

I caught up on almost all the back issues of The Writer's Chronicle that have been in a stack on my side table in the living room for the past year. I have one left and saved it for next week because I want to read almost every article in it, and the articles are long and can be quite the undertaking.

I read some online journals, but not all the ones on my list because I finished the January issue of some of the ones I frequent. So I hopped around online, reading more of the journals I've been finding or have been wanting to read.

I blogged a bit and I'm blogging now because blogging is fun. I also updated my Readings page because I'll be reading soon at different places.

I continued to plan two major upcoming readings, one at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on February 11 (516 572 4066 Call now to reserve your seat!) where I'm reading with a few other poets and one that I'm hosting at Turn of the Corkscrew in Rockville Centre for March. Poets In Nassau is hosting one there in February, too, but I think I'm done planning that one.

The second workshop with my artist friend proved to be really helpful. We workshopped a bunch of my poems, and then we workshopped one of her stories. I came away with revisions in mind and a borrowed copy of Labyrinth on DVD.

On the high of the workshop, I revised a bunch of poems, and then I wrote something new. It's not a poem yet. I found an article about the artist Louise Bourgeouis's house, and I wrote a half poem half page of notes about it. It will be a fabulous poem. It doesn't fit into anything I'm doing by way of collections, but it will still be a fabulous poem.

I also revised the two creative non-fiction pieces that I wrote over the past two weeks, and then I wrote a new one. Clearly, these are short pieces. These are not extensive woven essays. Sabbatical is treating me well, but it has not made me a mega-writer.

I submitted to ten journals, most of which were paper submissions, and one of which does not allow simultaneous submissions. Those require a lot more work.

I received two rejections. One of them stated they really liked one of the poems, though, so there's that.

On the brighter side, three of my poems were accepted to one journal, and I'll be the featured poet in February. More on that when it appears. This acceptance lead me to the fun activity of withdrawing these poems from the recent submissions I've made, and since I've been a submitting machine, it took quite a bit of time. Apparently, I submit the same poems to everyone when I do a lot of submissions at once. Note to some journals: if you accept simultaneous submissions, please make withdrawing easy on everyone.

I'd planned to attend one reading per week, so my reading this week was going to be at a Starbucks in Long Beach on Friday night. It was canceled. Because of the impending snow. See? Blame it on the blizzard.

Omigod, you guys! Copyright! As a followup to Milli Vanilli's 1989 Top 100 Billboard hit "Blame It On The Rain," I'm totally putting out a song called "Blame It On The Blizzard." Stardom? I'm on my way.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Freelancing And That Time I Got Schooled By Scott Baio's Wife

This past week, someone tagged me in a FB post because it was a call for a writer who could write 150-200 words to recap the best moment on The Bachelor every week. I don't watch that show. I've never watched that show except for a few minutes here and there during the very first season at the end of the season to see if the ending was actually some sort of wedding. It wasn't. I did watch that show about the guy who was a construction worker and the women who wanted to date him because they thought he was rich. Because, you know, lying and dating are fun to watch.

Anyway, the reason I was tagged wasn't because I'm a fan of The Bachelor (as aforementioned and to be clear, I don't watch it). It was because I used to watch all reality TV all the time (except for The Bachelor). My online platform for weekly opinionated rants about these shows was Not only did I write for the site, but I also participated on the Message Boards. That's where I learned how to play some whodunnit murder game. I'm still not sure how to play, but it was lots of fun. I was able to geek out and have a reason to watch reality tv. This place was heaven. I have Carrie Grosvenor to thank for it. We all do.

Because of RealityShack, I watched shows that I never thought I would have watched. I'm not saying all the shows I watched were because of this website, but I am saying I watched more than what I would have. I watched a show called The Gastineau Girls. Did you even know that was a show? Probably not. There were so many shows on channels like VH1, E!, and Bravo that I stopped recapping one particular show and started writing a column called And THIS Is Why I Love Reality TV that selected a show a week to uncover.

Some of the writing I did was over-the-top snarky. At that time, I figured, if you put yourself on television and act like an ass, then you are giving everyone permission to talk bad about you. I made fun of a lot of people. The more yoga I've done over the years has mellowed me out to be a lot less snarky and a lot more compassionate. Like now when I watch Bad Girls Club, I wish I could swoop in and mediate their differences rather than ranting online about who wore what. As a side note, I don't think I ever wrote anything snarky or otherwise about any of the girls on BGC. I was not looking to get my ass kicked.

I did receive an email from a very enraged wife of Scott Baio once. I know it was her because someone else on the site had interviewed her, and the emails matched. I'd written a column about his ever-evolving show about getting married and having a baby (I think that's what it was about--it may have been about him getting married and playing golf). I wrote something flippant about how he would probably have a show in the future called Scott Baio Is Now Divorced. Right now, that doesn't seem witty at all. It was much wittier at the time and in the context. I mean, Scott Baio had risen in the reality tv ranks quite a bit back then. I didn't think much about the column until I got this raving email that defended Scott Baio and told me, in an actually very nice way, that I knew nothing.

And I did know nothing. I knew nothing about anything. I really didn't get why the column struck such a chord until I remembered that line about the future show about his divorce. Then it clicked that I was writing about real people, and sometimes those people would be hurt by things I wrote that I thought were silly and meant nothing.

I didn't really apologize apologize. I did write a follow-up column about her email to me. It was completely self-deprecating. It was also a reminder that I never did research and knew nothing. That was kind of my writing-personality back then. I constantly called myself a lazy writer. And I was. I never looked up how to spell names or to check on specific places or dates. When I received messages about incorrect items I'd written, my response would be: Let's all remember that I'm a lazy writer.

This new thing about The Bachelor has me excited. I don't know if I'll get the gig, but in my email to apply for it, I dug through miles of cyberdirt to uncover a trove of reality treasure. I found the archives for In those archives are some of the best and worst columns about reality television I've ever written. I don't know if I've uncovered all the articles--there were hundreds, I think, and I wish I could find them all!--but a large smattering of throw-back reality programming still lies in the depths of the interweb. I sent along one of my recaps of Jersey Shore. It's laden with drunken Italian nights and a little bit of judgement. Writing recaps of that show took hours. I remember sitting on the floor of my living room, laptop literally on top of my lap, my ass falling into a coma as I watched, paused, typed, watched, paused, typed, watched, paused, typed. It was exhausting, but the overall end-product, for me, was always worth it, not because I loved this show or any particular show for that matter, but because I was writing and people were reading and I was making people react, and that's what writing is all about.

As for the archives: here you go. Go ahead and click on it. You know you want to.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Golden Globes For The Win

Every year, we bet nickels with S, R, and whomever else might join in to watch the Golden Globes. I always lose. Eddie studies the categories and then loses. This year, Eddie didn't study, and I still lost. But Eddie won. So after a fun night in a new place with yummy food (Southpaw Sweets salted caramel cookies and buttercrunch matzah--seriously yummy food) and great friends, S capped off the night with this surprise:

It's a trophy, y'all.
Eddie asked if he could put his name on it. We decided, yes, that's a fun idea. The next day, S texted me that he can write Eddie 2016 and then next year we'll write the next winner. So I was like, you mean he needs to leave room for other winners.

We began the next morning with Eddie parading around the house with his winning ballot. For someone who does not watch much TV or many movies, he sure loves the Golden Globes. Now.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #2

Sabbatical means make your own schedule. I'm still figuring out how to not be manic. As soon as I wake up, my mind has its own mantra: I must justify my time I must justify my time I must justify my time. I am a highly efficient person when I'm teaching classes and doing committee work, so now that I do not have those obligations (and since the semester still hasn't begun, I wouldn't have them right now, but I would be writing and revising syllabi and setting up courses on the online platform, so same thing), I have found that my efficiency has gone into overdrive. For fear of burning out before the actual semester begins, I'll need to take it down a notch. Not yet, though. Here's what I did this week.

I read three books, a novel, a poetry collection, and an anthology about poetry form. I also began reading an encyclopedia of fairies, which I've owned for over ten years and have yet to read. It's simply a pretty book, but since I've been writing about magical creatures, I'm going through it now. I suppose this is research. Also included in research: I transferred some notes jotted on random pieces of paper to their appropriate notebooks and files for safe keeping and use.

I'm blogging right now. Because I'm meta.

I worked on planning two readings. Planning a poetry reading seems to take more energy than planning a wedding. At least for a wedding, you get to eat cake.

I had my first weekly workshop with my artist friend. We've collaborated on a lot of things in the past. This time, we are not working on a project together. Instead, we are making sure we each keep on track with our own projects. It's good to have someone telling me what to do.

I read all my online haunts, and then I wrote one prose piece and revised the one I wrote last week.

Two mundane errands that now count as sabbatical work: went to the library and went to the post office to get stamps and mail things.

The things I mailed were submissions. I needed to address envelopes and print out poems and include a SASE. I haven't sent out paper submissions in years. The process is so different. In total, for paper and online submissions, I completed 12.

I received two rejections from what I sent out last week. That's an impressive turnaround time. One of them was so thoughtful, suggesting two other journals to which I might submit to find my poetry a home. This was the best rejection ever.

I worked on revising my current manuscript. I wrote seven poems and revised one from last week. Two of the seven poems are form poems I revisited through reading the anthology.

Finally, I went to a reading for the Boundless Tales Reading Series at Astoria Bookshop. This series features prose writers mostly. It also is unique in that it starts on time, which is amazing. While there, I bought a book. I will read it this decade. Such wonders of sabbatical!

I would like to point out the obvious--this reading series is in Astoria. That means, I. Drove. To. Astoria. Under the El and everything!

Actually, the driving is not the hard part. Parking is the challenge. I never know where I can park. I actually called Eddie and then sent him a picture of the muni meter I was parked in front of to see if I was okay where I was. He was like, Read the signs. I was like, I did and I parked where the arrow pointed to. Then we had a very confusing exchange about what it meant to "park behind the arrow." We decided that my car was fine, and I'm guessing it was because it was still there intact when I got back to it after the reading.

I suppose, then, that a small portion of my sabbatical can be dedicated to learning how to park in Queens and Brooklyn.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #1

I'm on sabbatical! Actually, the start date of sabbatical is tricky. The Spring semester hasn't technically yet begun, but the sabbatical application includes these early weeks in January. I've felt like I've been sabbaticalling since the Fall semester ended (you know, when I reacted with such joy?). So I consider this sabbatical time. Here's what I've accomplished thus far.

I've read seven books. I also reviewed most of them on Goodreads because I consider myself an expert on book reading.

I blogged. I am blogging right now. Mind? Blown.

I've continued planning three different poetry readings.

I researched and calendared a plethora of open mics and reading series.

I researched several small presses.

I've tweeted silly comments about what I'm doing on sabbatical. Because if you don't tweet about it, it isn't real.

I started my weekly reading of The Rumpus, Volta, McSweeney's, Booth, Fence, The Paris Review, and This. If anyone has recommendations for online reading I should be doing, let me know. Consider this list my recommendations for you.

I updated the Poets In Nassau Facebook group page. Finally.

I submitted poems to 21 journals. I heard back from one already that two poems have been accepted. (Stay tuned for more on that in February).

I submitted a full manuscript--the one I have completed already-- to three publishers.

I wrote one creative non-fiction draft.

I wrote two poems. One of them might be relevant to one of the current ideas for collections I have in mind. One of them might be relevant to the idea set forth in my sabbatical application. Who knew that would happen?

I'm going to a reading tonight. More poetry to be written as I listen to live creative works.