Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Worry" Also Means...

"To worry" is also to shred a thing into unrecognizable pieces. Poets know they can revise a poem to death. So I told myself, no, don't tear open that sealed envelope addressed to the literary journal, already stamped and packed with poems and the SASE. Do not worry them to pieces! What's done is done, and for pete's sake, let the thingies go! Yesterday finished a poem that had been unsatisfactory for two and a half years, with a good beginning and an undeveloped middle. A "continuation" of that poem existing only in draft form (or "drat form," as a misstrike told me) finally got woven into it. So many temptations to add more! add less! break the line differently! change that word!

I remember Langston Hughes quoting his teacher: "Always finish." For this one I required a deadline, August 31, to force me both to finish it and let it go.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It'll Be An Honor

I've been asked to be Keynote Speaker for the Missouri Writers Guild Conference 2010 (April 16-18 in Chesterfield). What an honor! More about this later when it is confirmed....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Write or Die"

To draft a lot, and do it quickly, I recommend this entertaining app, "Write or Die," which will let you set your own time-period and word-count goals -- and send warnings and then a "punishment" if you aren't filling the page with writing! You may choose a "gentle" mode, a "normal" mode, and a "kamikaze" mode -- and in that last one, the "punishment" is that your document starts ERASING ITSELF -- absolutely terrifying!! Will drain the blood out of your face!

If you're one of the "I will write a novel in 30 days" people, this app could be very useful. Don't want to risk it? I recommend then watching the five-minute Write or Die YouTube video for a good-natured demonstration. Got a friend with writers' block? Pass this app on. If it makes people write, I'm for it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Insanely Low-Cost Self-Publishing

Last night attended a St. Louis Publishers Association meeting at Mira, a midtown-St. Louis digital-printing company that sustains itself on self-published books. I kid you not. Cut to the chase: Here is their pricing chart for the printing of paperbacks (pricing is per book, from a print-ready PDF file; full-color cover with gloss lamination, b/w interior and perfect [glue] binding):

Across: Book Quantity

Down: Number of pages in book




































My meaning is: Don’t be tempted, or let your friends be tempted, by a self-publisher who wants $3,000-$8,000 to publish your book. Save your money and publish it yourself. Mira and other competing printeries in the area also have design and editing services; bizcards, posters, banners, etc. are printed there too. If you are or want to be self-published (hey, poets) or small-press, the world is now your oyster.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Ideal MFA Program. . .

. . .for writers in these times, when opportunity poses challenges and challenges hold opportunities, would look something like:

4 workshops of the usual kind
2 business courses: one in business basics/personal finance, and one "running your own small business" (because that's what writers do)
2 electronic technology courses: hands-on, one with a multi-media project as a final exam
1 course in basic journalistic reportage, must pass with high grade
1 course in the psychology of the arts and the artist
1 course in Classics
1 course in publishing

At 3 credits each that's 36 credits -- and you really would be ready to be a working writer.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sylvia Plath and the Tee-Shirt

Wore this today to town and to the gym. This tee-shirt (I thought) was in bad taste on any occasion -- I mean, a depressed poet, dead by suicide -- so I owned it for two years before I finally wore it to a buncha-writers dinner party, but today it was the only clean shirt, so I wore it to town: to the Christian cafĂ© (it has wireless), to the gym, the post office, and pharmacy. The lone comment came from pharmacy technician. Squinting at the image she said, “Is that one of those shirts that they give you at high-school reunions, showing what you used to look like back in high school?” Sylvia’s my main lady, but I never expected to be mistaken for her.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

22 Poems in Two Days

The notebook exercise, done the past two Fridays, yielded first drafts of 22 poems (!!!!). There were more but I chose to transcribe only those. Got my crafting and editing work cut out for me for probably the rest of '09. So nice to have something on paper.