The past couple of months have kind of been pure insanity in my life. Last post was a short recap of the Poetry Festival. I also posted some of the leftover inventory for sale online. I figured it was worth a shot to bundle some things up to see if I could make some quick extra sales. I started working on setting up a Etsy store but in the shuffle of life didn’t really follow through. As usual life got in the way and set me back a couple of steps.
It’s a long story I wont go into, but I had to leave my apartment by September and ended up moving to Pennsylvania. I’ve wanted to get out of the city for a while, though this was not the ideal situation or where I wanted to go, it’s what life dealt me. Compared to the option both myself and John working ourselves to death for a tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn, I think this was a good decision. Because everything was very short notice, I spent the rest of the summer packing and working as many hours I could at my part-time job.
It’s been a little over a month since the move. So far it’s not bad though I can actually walk to a grocery store and the other major things I need, but yeah I think it’s finally time for me to learn how to drive. But of all things it’s quiet and I just feel calmer here. That is when I’m not having major anxiety over what the hell I’m doing here. I’m not really sure the reality of it all has hit me yet. I’ve been trying to get myself into a routine and working on…like everything. I feel somewhat setback having to give up all my writing groups, volunteer work, and even my crappy part-time job. But I’m also hoping that this new start here might be a good thing. For now it kind of feels like a new adventure.
So the poetry festival came and went, along with some stormy weather that’s sticking around. It wasn’t a complete waste though, I was able to make a few sales Saturday before the downpour that cleared out the festival. Even one after, my best customer. (Thanks again Gonzo) Sunday I waited out the rain and went late. There wasn’t much of a turnout but I enjoyed the day just hanging out, listening to performances and even won a free raffle. I just have one little issue, more left to sell than I expected. So in honor of my first poetry festival as a vendor and the opening of my online shop, coming soon, I’m having a Post Festival Sale. I threw together some packaged deals in themed bundles.
Post Poetry Festival Sale Bundles
Deluxe Festival Bundle-$40
Includes one of every item I had on sale at the poetry festival.
One copy of both Pocket Poetry books, Drunken Poems and Life & Death
One of each poetry postcard featuring “The Dream”, “Clouds”, “Enjoy the Ride”, and “Black rose”
A top, mirror and buttons featuring poem lines.
One copy of Life & Death
One copy of Drunken Poems
Drunken Poems Bundle-$10
One copy of Drunken Poems
One of each of my poetry postcards featuring “The Dream”, “Clouds”, “Enjoy the Ride”, and Black rose
Button featuring a line from “Enjoy the Ride”
Prices do not include shipping & handling fees; additional $3 for Deluxe bundle, all others $2.
Bundle prices are discounted and there’s a limited supply of some items, get them while you can. If you are interested in individual items feel free to contact me by email at email@example.com, individual photos are available in my previous post. I am in the process of setting up a full online store and should have it up and running soon.
I’ve been looking for ways to get my writing into the hands of readers. The New York City Poetry Festival sounded perfect, so I will be there as a vendor. I’ll be selling small pocketbooks of poetry, postcards, handmade bookmarks, buttons, etc. (Most items are still in production, will update with pictures as they become available.)
It takes place the last weekend of the month, July 30th & 31st, on Governors Island. I can’t wait and hope to see you all there too.
So I recently entered a writing contest where instead of judges the writers competing vote for winners. It seems like a very good idea, I guess it is. But of course I’m bitter because yet again I didn’t win. Like I said the concept is kind of cool. Not only do participants vote but they also can comment on the work. It seems like a great system, writers voting on other writers work and also being able to get much needed feedback. Unfortunately, I’m really disappointed with the result, and not just because I lost, okay maybe I wouldn’t be critical if I had made it past the first round of voting, or at least placed in the first hundred or so. But really I think I have some legitimate points about why it was a disappointing experience.
So writers are given six other entries to rate and your entry is sent to six other contestants. The rankings are tallied, the top third rated entries move up to the second round unless you get less than four . Seems a good number of people enter but do not participate in voting. I did not make it past round one. My entry was only ranked by four people and sadly I didn’t do well. Its seemed unfair to me those other two rankings might have brought up my score. But I checked out the top ranked poems and they seems to get all around higher scores even if they were ones that were moved to next round for lack of votes.
Okay so I didn’t win, didn’t make it to second round. At least I would get some feedback but that was even more disappointing. So only four of the other contestants did voted on my work, but only three actually made any comments. One only praised the work, yet ranked the it pretty low. Another mostly praised the writing, except for pointing out that one particular poem was too repetitive. Okay I can deal with that, but really that’s it. The last a long comment but I don’t think it was very helpful. Reading it I was kind of like what the fuck and it didn’t make much sense to me. The first poem they commented on they obviously didn’t get. It was a funny poem about waking up in a race car bed after a night of drinking. “The rhyme was too obvious you should go for the image instead of the rhyme.” It was that way on purpose it was silly, cute and funny. Also they didn’t understand what a race car bed was, “is it the back of a car or a bed with covers that have race cars on them? But in the next sentence, “the imagery is clear and precise.” Yeah so they didn’t get that at all. After that I didn’t really bother to pay attention to the rest of the comments.
I guess some of the writers who’s work I commented on might have felt the same way. But it still felt like a waste. Have to keep trying, though. It was an experience, I tried and I’ll drink to that.
I can’t really believe it’s a new year, even more that we’re already three months in it. I wanted to reflect on how the past year went. I don’t regret my decision to leave my job, but things didn’t exactly go the way I expected. I didn’t exactly have a plan, more like a list of things I wanted to try out and some things I hoped to accomplish. While I may not have hit all my goals, I have progressed as a writer and taken some steps forward. Once I sat down and listed everything I realized I got a lot more done than I originally thought. Here’s just a few of the great things I might not have gotten the chance to do if I was still working full-time.
I attended as many writing workshops as possible; most, if not all, of them were offered free by the New York Writers Coalition. I also participated in their fundraiser, as a show of my gratitude, and attended the annual Write-A-Thon.
Found and started attending a monthly poetry group at New York Public Library.
Started volunteering for 826NYC, an organization that offers tutoring and writing workshops to students. I helped facilitate bookmaking field trips, creative writing workshops, virtual tutoring and personal statement workshops for high school students. I also took advantage of the workshops they offer for volunteers.
For most of the year I was able to keep to a schedule of publishing a new post weekly on my new fiction blog. I was about on a biweekly schedule for this blog, although I wasn’t always consistent.
I participated in NaNoWriMo; while I didn’t technically win, I only got to about 45,000 words instead of the 50k goal, I finished the story, attended a handful of write-ins at the NY Public Library and contributed to their weekly blog updates.
I also attended a bunch of free classes at the Brooklyn Public Library. Including some that have inspired me to try out some different creative projects. (Likely I’ll write more about those in another post.)
Last year was a bit of a struggle at times and I went through a lot of ups and downs. But overall, I’m happy with what I got done and where I’m at now. Back in December I started working a temp job for the holidays, the reason I fell off my writing routine, and they called me back in to work in February. It’s a part-time gig, but I like it so far and it definitely makes me feel better to have a steady check coming in. I feel like the past couple of months just flew by and I haven’t gotten much done, but I’m finally settling into a bit of a regular schedule.
The majority of my working life, I haven’t worked typical Monday to Friday jobs work weeks. Yet I’ve always felt the pressure to conform to that standard. With it has come the dreaded Monday syndrome. While it includes the feeling of having a fresh start, it also includes not wanting to go back to work after the weekend. It’s continued now that I am freelancing with no day job. Many a weeks have passed where Monday came and I just wasn’t really into doing anything productive. It was a day for me just to really begin preparing for the week ahead.
Image credit: 7thplanetout via DeviantArt
I wonder sometimes if it’s not just peer pressure to align my schedule with the rest of the business world or if it’s ingrained in me from years of school. Actually for a long time I’ve based my life according to academic calendars, whether I was in school or not. I spent many summers wasting away time, more concerned with hanging out and enjoying the weather. But the minute September comes, it feel like it’s time to buckle down and get to work.
I’m really not sure how to break out of these cycles. Honestly I feel like its a major roadblock to being more productive and successful. I also wonder if other people that work odd schedules feel this way. I’d like to know how many writers work out routines that resemble normal office hours. Reading about successful writers I realized I do need some sort of schedule but I haven’t been able to successfully implement one. I’ve tried but honestly unless I am accountable to somebody else I find it hard to stick with it. I wonder if there are any successful writers that simply wing it doing what they want whenever they feel like it. I suspect that doesn’t work very well.
I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this subject. If you’ve found a way to chase way the Monday blues, or embraced a totally different weekly schedule fill me in on your secret.
I recently went on an interview for a retail store. As I filled out the application, one of the forms given to me outlined hiring procedures which included drug testing. It specified that a negative result was required for hiring. I paused for a second but then quickly moved on. Thinking I needed the money so I guess I’d have to oblige them. But afterwords I couldn’t get it out of my head. How is it possible that the most menial jobs require people to pass a drug test. I’ve always pretty much avoided jobs that required drug testing, not because I was afraid of failing but simply because I don’t think it’s right. For one I don’t think its useful, many horrible employees don’t do drugs at all and most people that do have found ways to get a negative result. Plus that fact that it just seems way too invasive. And while a positive result guarantees you will not be hired, having a criminal record supposedly will not be held against you. So instead of hiring a kid that occasionally smokes a little weed, it’s better to hire a convicted criminal. What about that makes sense.
There are some jobs that require drug testing and it makes sense. Jobs like airplane pilots, train operators, and other places where they are responsible for the safety of others. And yet hospital employees aren’t required to take drug tests. A situation that looked at closely can easily be dangerous for many reasons. Take for example this story, where a worker not only stole drugs but harmed patients. But to work a cash register and answer customer question I have to be subjected to a drug test. Yeah that makes sense.
While I actually thought I’d like to work for this company, I’m starting to second guess that. I know my refusal wont make a difference. Plenty of people are willing to put aside whatever feelings they have about the practice so they can get a job. But if I go along with it just like everybody else that’s the same as approving of it. If it was a different moral ideal they made me push aside in order to make a living would I still oblige. If part of my job was to lie or steal would it seem so small a issue.
All this pondering is probably for no reason, I still haven’t heard back from them. I guess I just needed to rant a little bit. I’d also like to hear other people’s thoughts. Do you agree that drug testing is too much to ask or do you think it’s a reasonable request? Does it really help employers make better hiring decisions or is it a waste of everybody’s time?
When I decided to leave my full-time job in order to spend this year focused on writing, I didn’t expect it to be easy, I know making a career writing is hard work. But I guess what I didn’t expect was for it to be hard to actually focus on the writing process itself. It sounds easy right, or at least like fun. It sounds like the dream life, spending all day, everyday doing the one thing I want to do most. But it didn’t work that way. Some days I just didn’t feel like writing, couldn’t think of anything to write, or started stressing the money making part.
Thing one thing that has really kept me motivated and writing even when I didn’t feel like it were attending writing workshops. Since I haven’t been making any money, my only option was to find free ones. Thankfully, The New York Writers Coalition had several different free workshops. While the workshops I attended were open to anybody, much of their work focuses on under served individuals in the city. They facilitate workshops for youth, seniors, women, LGBT communities, people living with disabilities, people who are incarcerated or have been incarcerated. While I have known about the organization for some time, even attended readings and entered a contest they held, I finally began attending the workshops this year. And it’s been incredible. In addition to writing a ton of new material I’ve also met some amazing people and shared some great moments with them. No matter how many days I wasted feeling sorry for myself, I could always look forward to the two hours a week (or more when I attended a couple a week) writing, sharing and listening to the writing of others.
Because of how much I appreciate the work that goes into providing these workshops I’ve decided to participate in the Write Your A** Off fundraiser this year. My goal is to raise two hundred dollars, the minimum for me to participate in a day of workshops. Yes there is something in it for me but honestly I’d be doing this even if there wasn’t. I sincerely want to give back to this organization that has helped me so much. I’m hoping some of my blog readers can help me reach my goal. I don’t like asking others for help, especially monetary donations, but I believe this is worth it. I just want to make sure that The New York Writers Coalition can keep doing their great work.
If you’d like to donate please click this link, it will bring you to my fundraising page. I’m not asking a lot, even if it’s only a few dollars, every little bit will help me reach my goal.
I started bike riding this year, an attempt to be active and get out of the house more often. I try to make it out everyday but usually it’s only a couple days a week. I’ve found that it’s a great way to clear my mind and sometimes I find sparks of inspiration. My regular route is along Shore Road in Bayridge, Brooklyn. Last week I was out for a ride and focused in on the sound of the waves. Then my mind started wandering. As I focused on the experience and the world around, the word waves kept rolling around in the back of my mind. Without thinking hard, I went through a little free association, and ended up with the line, “I’d rather ride the waves of my mind than keep up with modern times.”
It was a rather quick and random process, I wont bore you with the details. But once the line was in my head new ideas just kept coming to me. Immediately, I thought I needed to catch a picture of the waves to post on Instagram with the line. I also thought it was the great start to a poem. Which I ended up writing later that day. Then I realized that the anecdote about the line coming to me while riding was perfect for a blog post I had been working on about finding inspiration. I’d been working on the draft for a while but it just wasn’t coming together.
Riding the Waves of the Mind
One of the challenges of being a writer or any kind of content producer these days is always coming up with new ideas. Most of the time I push too hard trying to force it. But when I stop focusing on it and let my mind drift ideas just pop into my head. This isn’t exactly a new revelation, in many creative fields professionals advise doing something else to jump start creativity. But I thought it would help to see how a simple bike ride led to one line that turned into social media posts and a poem. I’m also even considering expanding the idea further to include other techniques and pitching it as an article to a writing publication.
Next time you feel stuck or out of ideas maybe you should go for a bike ride. If you don’t have a bike, go for a walk, or do anything that keeps you from thinking to hard. The point is to let your mind just wander, see where it takes you and enjoy the ride.