Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on what the next project should be. 99 days of poetry has commenced on Instagram, now through October 31. If you want to instafollow, find me @mamezirro or search #99lines.
For the past 93 days I’ve participated in #The100DayProject put on by The Great Discontent on Instagram. My Insta feed is over there somewhere 👉.
I’ve been learning to watercolor, and it’s been awesome! I’ve even done a few paintings that are actually good.
When I finished the first draft of my novel last year, I fell into the deep depressing pit of not knowing what to do next. I’ve decided not to let that happen when the 100 Day Project ends next week. I need to line up a new challenge before this one ends. It doesn’t have to be a 100 day thing, but 21 days is not nearly long enough for me to build a true habit, AND I don’t want to think about standing at the edge of the Abyss of Not Knowing again for a good while, AND I kinda sorta have an idea for NaNoWriMo so this needs to carry me until November 1.
So. Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with. If you have something better, please comment!
• 100 memories — do I want to focus on the past?
• 100 quotes from awesome people, books, songs. Other people are pretty cool. It’d be a curating thing.
• #100happydays — can I choose to be happy (I can choose. But can I actually make it happen?) for 100 days in a row? That’s an awful lot of happiness.
• 100 hopes and dreams for the future. I’m not good at saying what I want. Often it’s because I don’t even consider what I would like; I tend to think only about what someone else might want. Sometimes I do know what I’d like, even one hundred things I would like— like a cat, and a bicycle with a basket on the front, and a flat above a bakery in the south of France— but I shy away from speaking them out loud for fear of ridicule or rejection. Dumb, right?
Was that a dumb question?
• 100 questions. I’m not always good at asking questions. I ask, but often they’re the wrong questions. I assume. I put words in your mouth. I ask if you feel a certain way, rather than simply, “How do you feel?” I pitch my view by the way my question is worded. So maybe 100 days of practicing asking questions, and thinking of really good ones, would be a smart way to build better habits.
• 100 days of word play. I do love a good play on words.
• 100 snippets of my own poetry, possibly illustrated. I could even watercolor some of them.
• 100 bits of micro fiction. Maybe 100 paragraphs of one story. Or a hundred 100-word stories? That would be epic.
Punk says 100 dreams for the future sounds too hard, so I’m kind of gravitating toward that one— not to be rebellious, but I want a challenge! Because if it’s easy, what’s the point?
Was that a good question?
What would you do?
Recently I was asked to read some poems by a person who just started writing, hoping I might suggest ideas for publication.
Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the ground.
I’ve been writing my entire life. It takes a couple of months or longer to write (and edit, and rewrite, and edit…) even one poem I’d consider showing someone else. Most of what you see here at WMBØ is the result of between ten and 60 revisions.
Write My Brains Out is not hyperbole.
“This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again.”
― Oscar Wilde
Right you are, Oscar. I, too, nitpick my brains out.
Yet I remain unpublished.
- The submission process frustrates me. It’s long and tedious. I’d rather be writing.
Life is busy. There are dozens of things on the to-do list. Submitting stories remains, regrettably, on the should-do list. But as Punk likes to say, you make time for what’s really important. (He also likes to talk about smashing the kids’ faces into a pizza, which is hysterical to a five year old, but does call into question the scope of his sagacity.)
I think my stuff isn’t good enough. (This is the biggie.) I don’t necessarily fear rejection, I just expect it. If something’s not perfect in my book, why should I think it’s up to anyone else’s standards, right?
Because you know what else is not perfect? Practically every published piece ever written. Typos, misspellings, wrong words, dangling participles and misplaced apostrophes can be found in the best work.
Two Sundays back I heard a man speak about stepping out in faith, having courage to do something you’ve never done before. “Today I’m crossing the boundary of my limitations,” he said several times.
What does that mean?
It means this: We limit ourselves. What we believe dictates how we behave.
Numbers 1 and 2 are hurdles, but number 3 is the boundary I created. The first two can be climbed over or gone around; they’re just excuses.
The only limitation is the wall we ourselves build.
And today, we can choose to cross over the boundaries of our limitations— and smash pizza in their faces.
There’s an aspect of writing I’m bad at.
Not just bad. Awful.
Suck stinky raw eggs awful.
Can you guess what it is? Of course you can, because the title tells you! But that’s not always the case ’round here.
Enter Section Title Here
How many times have I labeled a poem “A poem”?
How many mind-numbing, uninspiring, nondescript blog post titles have I heaved into cyberspace?
B.J. Novak is good at titles.
I’ve barely read any of the stories in his book yet, but just looking at the table of contents, I’m immediately struck: His titles kick butt (and some of them even take names).Confucius at Home Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Bicycle No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg
They’re intriguing. They’re fun. They inspire me to read on. They make me wonder if Confucius kept a neat and tidy home or left his dirty underwear face up on the bedroom floor for his wife to pick up.
In short, they sell the stories.
Punk says I write for myself. When speaking, I’m cognizant of my audience. When writing, it’s as if I think no one will read it. Fair enough.
- Is it wrong to write for myself? Writing is how I think, learn, process, grow. You’re welcome to look over my shoulder.
If I were writing titles for myself, why wouldn’t I name them so I knew what they were? Even I don’t know what “A poem” is about unless I click on it, and I wrote it less than a week ago.
Some songs have obscure titles. Punk’s band plays a song called Oceans that has nothing to do with the sea. But maybe it’s a personal title for the dude who wrote the song. Maybe he wrote it at the beach, or while flying over that place in Alaska where two oceans meet.
My other problem is an excessive fondness for brevity. I especially love one word titles. My son would say I’m “fabulated” by them. I hear angel choirs proclaiming the birth of perfect, spunky, kick-to-the-groin titles, born to save us from the glut of wordiness plaguing the world today.
Check out these beauties from Amazon’s Best Books of the Year:
HECK YES. I want to read these books. But titles can be wordier and still retain their catchiness. These broaden my horizons a bit:
We Were Liars
Everything I Never Told You
They don’t knock the wind out of me, but they do blow my hair back a bit.
So I sifted through the archives. When I came to a title and didn’t know what the post was about, I renamed it. Hopefully choosing titles that:
- or at least mean something to me.
That poem that was set after a dinner party? Now titled “After the dinner party.“
Confucius say BAM.
>Enter witty encapsulating end paragraph here.
I made you something.
It’s a poem
To hang on your fridge
To remind you we’re friends.
I thought I was writing to hide my pain
Making fun of scrapes on scraps of paper,
A black ink ruse to salve my battered blue bruise,
Hoping no one would see the sad.
But then I noticed you were sad, too
(Smiles don’t hide pain from one who is looking for it)
And I put away my selfish
When I realized it was really for you.
Would you like to play on my playground of words?
Come ride a twisty slide of nounish nonsense
Spin merry on my rhyme-go-round
Swing on a string of silly sentences. Can I give you a push?
Squeeze your knees round my monkey bar trapeze
Laugh a little at alliterated adverbs
Totter on a teetering tale of onomatopoeic wit– or nitwit.
Run with a pun and for once we’ll have fun.
Collapse on grass in fits of laugh
And when laughter subsides, with tears in our eyes
I will catch you being you and
You will snatch a glimpse of true me.
Maybe you’ll flash a ray of sun smile.
Not the fakery traded in fine Sunday shinery
But the pearl in the oyster one–
The true smile of secret shared friendly.
You don’t have to know my hurts
And I don’t have to know yours;
We’ll face each other’s comfort next time
If pain remains unspoken.
The eye corners of my heart crinkle with wincing tiniest joy–
I confess my gift is for us both–
For writing this little escape from your mundane
Is the closest happy I may ever know.