Thursday, April 05, 2018

Average Blogger = More Words Than Not

By Artist Maria Qamar - Burning is better than not trying. Burn on, friends.

I signed up to write at least one blog post a week and for the most part, I've done it. Though, there are periods where there are more than 7 days between posts. There are times when I think, "Omg, I have a blog." 


I realize one of the reasons I haven't been blogging is because it was feeling as if what I wrote wouldn't be good enough.

Lately, I haven't had a lot of interesting things to share, it's why I signed off of Facebook for Lent.


I feel as if my head is bowl of sticky noodles and I can't get my thoughts straight.

When I come to blog, I think, "What could I say that is interesting or useful?" And then decide to turn on Queer Eye and eat pistachios. 

It occurred to me today (and maybe because it's National Poetry Month and I'm writing a poem a day) that I need to lower my standards a bit on this blog, especially if I want to get a post a week. 

There is a quote that "good is the enemy of great," meaning that sometimes we take adequate quality over something. But "great" or "perfect" is the enemy of "done." 

Even if I'm average blogging, I'm at least getting something on the page. One line to a poem is more than not writing.

I once knew a person who started a lot of projects and always had something new in the works (a novel, a book of poems, a screenplay, etc.). Problem was, they never finished anything. I think they were dealing with perfectionism there, some childhood baggage from a parent I think. 

I remember thinking--I'd rather be done and fail than to not complete something. 

I remember thinking I'd rather have one completed project in five years than ten false starts, ten well-I-didn't-finish-that-one. 

For me, not trying is failing.

For me, I'd rather show up on the diving board and occasionally bellyflop than not put on my bath suit and not head to the pool...


So that brings me back to this blog, I'll show up here weekly with my swimcap on and hopefully what I write will be of interest, or useful, or give you hope, make you smile or make you think.

It may not (and most likely won't) be perfect.


But by the end of the year, I'll have my promised 52 blog posts and hopefully, maybe a couple more.

Thanks for reading....



P.S. The abov
e image is By Artist Maria Qamar, you can learn more about her here: https://hatecopy.com/ she's one of my favorites. (Here's her instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hatecopy)



~ Kells 
________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Confession Sunday.. Mini Writing Retreat

Dear Reader,

It has been a couple weeks since my last confession. In fact, I'm behind on blogging in general, also, life in general, chores in general, and ________________ fill in anything else I missed. 

But in between the craziness, I found time to write.

Note: If you are not schedule time to write on your calendar, please do so. Dedicated days (or even a morning) can make a huge difference in both your writing life and your mental/emotional life. 



My friend Ronda came over at 1 pm on Friday and we wrote until 11 pm at night. Since it was so late, she spent the night and we woke up, had coffee, and wrote 3 poems in the morning.

There's a magic to these "mini-retreats" where I sit with a friend and write all day.

Maybe it's the energy of focus, of two people each writing poems.

Or maybe it's just intent--we intend to write poems, and we do.

Sometimes we do prompts, or sometimes we just find a line in a book of poems and use that as our jumping out spot. There are so many ways to begin a poem.

What you need to do your own writing retreat at home?

-- a laptop or journal

--books of poems (for inspiration)

--snacks

--time and a semi-quiet house

Optional:
--A friend can be helpful, especially if you find yourself not making the best use of your time.



I have found the times I've done these retreats (or even writing dates) with other poets, I end up with a lot stronger work than if I just hang out by my own. I think sometimes the interaction, the listening to poems, the talking with another poet can get my mind working in unusual ways. It's the back and forth that is helpful to me.  

Sorry to have been so out of touch these last months. I feel as if there is just too much going on (in my life, in the world, in my head), so I've pulled back a bit until I can feel as if no longer running in place (a quick visual of my life since January (I'm George, not the pets... "Jane, stop this crazy thing...)





Hope to show up here more... and wishing you a relaxing Sunday.

~ Kells 
________________
 www.agodon.com
www.twosylviaspress.com

Friday, March 09, 2018

Naps and Stepping Away from the Party...


Right now, many poets & writers are in the middle of one of the biggest events of the year--AWP. And this year, in Tampa.

Seeing photos come across Twitter--especially of the bookfair, occasionally makes me for yearn for those magical moments of meeting a favorite poet or walking finally meeting the people you've only known from the online world.

Of course, for me, this would not have been the year to go.
I believe all our lives have seasons, seasons of outreach and seasons of pulling back. 

This year, I have a lot going on personally in my life, professionally at TwoSylvias Press, and even creatively--I'm writing more poems and am finishing up my 4th collection. I've been busier than ever and working to make sure I get time with my IRL (in real life) friends and family. 

I've also needed a lot more sleep this year. I've been coming home from work, walking into the house and taking a nap from 5 - 6 p.m.  I know, right? People are sitting down to dinner and I am falling asleep. I wake up, have dinner, some family time, maybe a walk, and then return to bed at 10 p.m. And then I sleep a full 8-9 hours.


While a part of me is silently freaking out that I have been needing (wanting?) so much sleep, another part says-- You did even catch a cold this winter and that terrible flu blew right by you. It also says, When you wake up, you feel good, you're ready for the second part of the day.

A few times, I've taken a nap at work around 1 pm when I can't even make it to evening.


I started a bullet journal and really realized how much offline time I needed. I'm returning to books and walks. Like how we try to monitor our kids' screen time, as adults, we should be aware of our own. 

A few days before Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday, I deactivated my Facebook account. After a week of not showing up, I thought--maybe this is what I should give up for Lent... so I did. I stay on Twitter because it never pulls me in the way FB does. If Facebook is the spotlight on our lives, Twitter feels like the candle and it's so big, I'm just a flicker among the galaxy of poets.

As creative people, I think we need to listen to what our bodies and mind needs at all times. Sometimes we need to go big, reach out, interact, tweet, post on Facebook, bloggity-blog-blog. But other times whether it be because of news, our own personal life or families, our own creative work, we need to go smaller and explore less.

There is no one way or one right way or one forever way. I am pretty sure, I will return to Facebook once I feel the need to be there again. I've got a strong circle of friends who keep up with me whether I'm on or off Facebook, and are still in touch. You learn who misses you and who your true people are when you slip away from a big party. Who notices you're no longer there, who reaches out. 

The kind of funny thing about this blog is I promised to blog once a week (which I have been keeping up), but when I'm feeling smaller, or more inward reach than outer, I think-- I really have nothing interesting to say! So hopefully there's something you're finding useful here--maybe it's just to say, social media is one big party that you can leave or hang out in as much as you like.  Make sure it's a tool *you* are using, and not vice versa.

And take more naps. Yes, that's exactly what I can offer you.


Continue on, friends. It's almost spring!

~ Kells
 ________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Confession Saturday: How To Float

Dear Reader, 

Sometimes I do a confession Saturday, but it's the last day to get my weekly blog in, so I thought I'd do a confession Saturday since I realize I've kind of disappeared a bit from social media --I have been tweeting less and am off Facebook.


I confess when life feels too big, I get quieter. I don't disappear in my own life, in fact, I've been busier than ever, but I've quit showing up online as much. 

I confess I am not into drama, not my own or not others. I do not like conflict nor watching people treat each other poorly or to see one person act terribly or even just rudely towards another. Sometimes this is when Facebook feels like middle school and I can't/don't tolerate that.

If I could give you a recommendation, I recommend surrounding yourself with people who help you float on and who do not try to pull you under. 

Know the friends in your life who you can write to, turn to, text, email, call, when things feel hard or heavy. Know the friends who you can pick up after 3 months or 3 years. These are your people.

Know who will help you float through this world.


I confess in general, my real life has been busier than ever, not quieter. I have spent a lot of time with friends--seeing Fran Leibowitz, teaching at Western Washington University, dinners, lunches, teaching a class in Seattle, and other moments that have dotted my calendar.

Yesterday I floated for an hour in a sensory deprivation pod. It was a surreal experience where you feel as if you might be in space, as if you are weightless.


this looks like a giant toilet, but it feels like a galaxy


I was hoping for some huge breakthroughs in my writing or my life, what I received was 55 minutes of absolute quiet and relaxation with minor breakthroughs about life.

While I did manage to get salt in my eye and forget to put my eyeplugs in & turn off the light and have to immediately exit the tank to reset myself up, I found that I need just time to meditate, to nap, to sit, to quiet, to float.

I would do it again.


I confess my weekly blog post has been harder for me because of a busier than normal personal life, but also because I feel much more like I am like a pod these days, more self-contained. 


I know eventually this feeling of smaller life and smaller world will pass and I will return to a more interactive online life.

I just have a lot on my schedule and figuring out life on a personal level as well--how these next four years will look, or even smaller--how summer & fall will be, what are my plans, where I am going.

But know, I'm okay and just trying to get through these next few months with a lot on my work schedule and in my personal life.

But currently floating on... and sending you all love. 



~ Kells 
________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Friday, February 23, 2018

What's Old is New Again: 5 Common Traits of Successful Artists



Note: I originally posted these 5 Common Traits in 2010, but the comments below them in blue are 2018 new.

______________

I somehow 
wandered upon this blog by Lori McNee that posted what they thought the 5 traits of successful artists were.  They focus on visual artists, but I think many of these work for writers too. 


I'll put my own thoughts below in blue text...



5 Common Traits of Successful Artists:

1.  Art is the core of their lives. Successful artists wake up and go to sleep thinking about art. They carve out time in their day making art or marketing it. (In fact, for these artists, there seems to be no clear distinction between the creativity of making and marketing.) If they have a full-time job, it is secondary in their minds to art and mostly a means to and end. Their real job  is being an artist.

-- Here's something you may not know about me--I go to sleep ordering my manuscript in my head. Or I play with the title or different titles right before taking a nap. I think about a specific poet all day and am unclear why they are in my head. Yesterday was Delmore Schwartz. The day before Frank O'Hara.

Sometimes my poetry life gets so intermingled with my regular life, I call up a friend to tell her they have these new protein bars named after the Anne Sexton poem, "Her Kind." --"No," she says, "They're just called 'Kind' bars."  I'm confused, I'm SURE the wrapper read, "Her Kind." I am wrong.  



2.  Successful artists understand how business works in the art world. Successful artists understand the entrepreneurial aspects of making a living as an artist. When they encounter something new or unusual on the business side, they investigate and learn to do it or delegate the task. They know the value of relationships and network in person and through social media.  

--This feels like a nice way of saying, Don't be a big baby or a huge jackass if something doesn't go your way or you don't know how to do something.  And you don't need to understand exactly how something works, but if you are confused, do research or ask someone. It's okay not to know something, but there are so many resources with the internet at our fingertips, you can find things out for yourself with just a few keystrokes.  



Successful artists have a strong work ethic. They  manage themselves, their creative energy and resources. They balance the time to produce art and to market it. Whatever rhythm of working they choose, they stick to it. Whether these artists enjoy the business tasks or not, they know they must be done  and they do them without complaint or resentment.

---"Make sure you are creating more than you consume." And I thought, yes, that's an important element to think about as poets, writers, & artists. If you find yourself always in passive moments--watching a TV show, reading posts that you really don't care about, scrolling some endless feed (words or photo), you are consuming. If you are writing, interacting with another poet on a collaboration, doing writing prompts, reading a poem then responding to it, writing a blog post, a review, an essay, a journal entry, you are creating.  


Successful artists are resilient. They know that success does not happen overnight – it requires hard work. These artists understand that things don't always work out the way they expect. When they make mistakes, they focus on solutions, not on regrets. They learn from experience and experiment to improve on any success they have.

--- This is so true. I've send some of the best poets aren't the ones who are the best, but they are the ones who won't stop writing, who won't give up. They don't let a rejection, a NO, a missed award, an overlook, stop them. I know an incredible poet who you will never hear about because they have stopped submitting because the rejection part was too hard to handle. It's a loss for the readers in the world when that happens. 

I have made huge mistakes as a poet, from sending my Visa bill in with a snailmail submission, to missing a deadline, to writing a terrible poem and thinking it was good. We all do it (okay, maybe not mailing in your Visa bill), but mistakes will be made, failures will happen, and so what.

Keep writing. 



Successful artists spend time only with people who are 100% supportive of their art career. They limit their time and emotional involvement with people who are negative  especially about art as a career choice. If people close to them have the skills and inclination to be more directly involved in their art career, the artist can produce more and better. Successful artists do not allow unsupportive people to be an obstacle to their plans for success.

--If you make one change in your writing life this year, this is one thing you should do-- keep the positive, supporting people in life. Do not hang around with wet blankets, people who bring you down or do not support your art.

If you need to get offline because it's too much information, negativity, or people you don't really care about, do so. Hide or mute accounts that bring you down. Unfollow, deactivate, take a break, hide your laptop. 

You do not need to apologize for not tweeting or not posting on Facebook. These are volunteer jobs and if you don't show up, it's okay. It's important to create boundaries, compassionate boundaries, in our life. 



Until next time, 


~ Kells 
________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com
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