Word for the year

I guess there is some fad about choosing a word for the year. Well that’s great if that works for you. But I’m a fucking writer. How in tarnation am I supposed to choose ONE word for this year? One!

I suppose I should be more generous. People are thinking about words and their meanings and how to use these meanings to guide their life choices. It’s a hell of a lot better than predicting the future with bird bones.

(Bones is probably not a good word for the year.)

So say I choose “flourish.” What if I have a day when I’m not flourishing? (Oh that’s every day.) Then I feel like a toad for not flourishing and then I have another reason to bitch about my life and amuse bore my readers.

(I think toad would be an awesome word, but I’m not sure how to apply it to my daily life. “Was I a toad today? Yes! Yes I was!!”)

What about “focus”? Lord knows I need more focus in my life. But I swear to god I got a lot done yesterday avoiding my current work project. I even called [utility company] to deal with [uninteresting thing]. Now that wouldn’t have gotten done if I were focused on the work I had to do yesterday, would it?

An article on the subject goes on to ask whether you are interested in the word of the year or committed to it. All this pressure for a word that’s not going in a manuscript? I can no more commit long term to a word than I can manage to write every single day for a year. I am a confirmed word bachelor, a toad, and a word slut.

Perhaps my word of the year should be “feh.”




Here’s the Catch: Nothing’s New

I am a killjoy curmudgeonly Grinchilated specimen of humanity. I dislike Christmas, and the New Year annoys me. It is amazing I have friends at all.

My poor spouse was setting up his Playstation while I was in the room. (It was pretty cute, our 14-yo nephews were so appalled that Uncle Spouse didn’t have a working PS that they chipped in to buy one for him.)

His favorite game (an intelligent dystopia) says, “New Year, New You!” And that is when I realize that this is the problem. There is no new me. There is just the killjoy curmudgeonly Grinchilated person that a few people know and love and roll their eyes at.

And so I am at my desk trying and failing to write. I have no responsibilities today other than to keep the dog in the style to which she has become accustomed (on the couch curled up on a fleece blanket) and either make my spouse dinner or make him take me out. I have a lot of noise in my head, but no material complaints.

What are you doing today?

Freelance Breakfast of Champions

May I present to you: Breakfast fried rice (loosely based on this recipe, although simplified because I have to edit today). I am glad for the editing, because holidays piss me off with their extra work and forced expectations. As if I don’t have enough forced expectations in my own fucking head. Anyway.

Breakfast Fried Rice (to be eaten at any time)

(Also do I even need to explain how versatile this recipe is? Use leftover sausage, tofu, and the not-quite moldy veggies at the back of your fridge.)

(Serves 1, because fuck other people)

Make 2 slices of bacon (I do this in the oven in a skillet, 400 degrees for 15 min, because I am lazy).

Pour off most of the bacon grease and scramble 1-2 eggs. (Fun fact: bacon grease makes for an excellent firestarter should you have a wood stove. Do not burn your house down.)

Put eggs aside. Add a little sesame oil (or any frying oil) and a cup of leftover rice.

(If you’re fancy, you could fry some onions and veggies and garlic in the oil before adding the rice. If you are lazy, ignore this step.)

Break up the clumps of rice and add a generous glop of soy sauce and a teaspoon or so of rice vinegar (should you have it).

Saute the rice until each grain is more or less separated and shiny with sauce. Add your scrambled eggs and crumbled bacon.

Slather with sriracha sauce and enjoy. Live to edit another day.



Writing a Book

I’m writing a book. I know. I’ve been writing books for years. There was the poetry manuscript. Then I killed it. Then there was this memoir thing. That one isn’t dead, I am still working on it. My poetry manuscript was butchered into a much-improved poetry chapbook. I wrote (and published!) a book about beer.

Now I’m writing a journal. I know, I know! I’ve been editing journals for years, but not that kind of journal. There will be no abstract, methods, or references. It’s going to be a journal of writing prompts for writers and those who would like to dabble in writing.

It’s going to be funny, illustrated, sympathetic, and (I hope) smart. I am not doing the illustrations. There will be room to write. And I will probably have to delete the sentence, “Experiment without the need for that pesky IRB approval,” but I won’t yet.

The real-life persona behind Fangs and Clause has a blog where she’s posting wholesome editorial content. I’m not sure if that means I’m selling out or just want my fucking books to sell. I’m going with the latter. (Did you see that I said “books” in plural? *manic grin*)

But you guys can be honest with me. What writing advice or books about writing do you hate and why?



Gratitude List

Oh, yes, I am thankful for things. I am fucking grateful that wordpress keeps giving me this little popup that says “A new editor is coming to level up your layout.” It is a great writing prompt for rage. First off, I am the editor. Second off, my layout died in 1990, that’s most of the point of this blog. And let’s not even talk about how vapid “level up” is as a phrase.

I’m grateful that [major publication redacted] used the word “wordmsith” instead of “writer.” How creative. What’s next? Are doctors going to be curesmiths and electricians wiresmiths? Shall I contact a floursmith for my Thanksgiving stuffing needs?

I’m so glad to be able to hear the snow slide off my roof in huge chunks. It drowns out the dulcet and oh-so-very-welcome tones of the squirrels in my walls. Fun fact: squirrels wake up at 6 am.

I’m fucking grateful that family is coming into town today, because how else will my therapist be able to feed her family?

I’m fucking grateful that all you bloggers I used to follow aren’t blogging anymore, because I’ve got work to do. Although I fucking miss you, you assholes.

I’m fucking grateful that I am not cooking Thanksgiving dinner. And I say that without a whiff of irony or sarcasm. Spouse cooks a great Thanksgiving dinner.

What are you grateful for?




On Anthologies and Poetry Readings

A few weeks ago, I realized I was starved for a poetry community. There were a ton of readings in my previous place of residence, and I blew a lot of them off for reasons I can’t really remember. I worked with people who could talk about poetry. At one point I even had an active poetry group!

I thought the River Valley (as my friend calls it) would have a more active poetry scene. And there is some, but it is limited in a range of ways that I feel would be too mean to go into detail on a semi-public, semi-anonymous forum. (Ask me in person, and I will regale you with stories.)

So I signed up for a poetry workshop, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. I had no idea what to expect, but I liked the subject and had bought the author’s book a few months ago. Author began by saying he recently realized his research interest was deeply connected to the American poetic tradition. Always distrust a poet who thinks finding connections is somehow a novel concept in and of itself, because poets find connections everywhere. What’s significant is what the poet does with these connections.

Then I realized when he said, “the American poetic tradition” he meant “all white male canonical poets.” The audience asked him why he didn’t include any women in his anthology. And he moaned that this was a terrible thing and that he almost ruined the book for himself because he couldn’t find any women poets who fit the tradition he was describing. But, my friends, he published it anyway. And that is what I find inexcusable.

If you can’t find women poets in the tradition you are looking for, then it might be time to rethink how you are defining the tradition. It’s a time to be creative, to do archival research, to expand upon your white-male-poet knowledge and seek out poets who might not have fallen into your lap by way of the Norton Anthology.

On top of that he was relatively incoherent. He did not listen properly to the questions he was asked. He mocked a woman about Emily Dickinson. (Never mock a woman about Emily Dickinson, especially in my northern neck of the woods.) His explanations were inconsistent. This man teaches at an Ivy League university, and he could not even say the words cultural appropriation even as he was talking about that very act.

An hour in, I decided that I was a grown-ass adult, and if that I didn’t enjoy a gathering I could leave at the break even if I had paid (a relatively small sum) to be there. I politely lied to the organizer about a family obligation, thanked her for her work, and fled.

The drive home was beautiful. The weather had been unsettled; the creeks were swollen and orange leaves were blowing everywhere. I saw two rainbows, one of which I pulled off the road to observe in a graveyard. It was New England gothic at its finest.

I decided to redeem my day by driving home by way of a newish poetry-positive bookstore. It turns out one of the owners had sold books at the event, and we began talking about poetry and anthologies. We talked about race in our neck of the woods. We talked about the economics of living in river valleys. We talked about MFAs and workshops and poetry readings.

Over an hour later, I drove home, buzzing with poetry talk, pleased to have finally made a strong poetry connection. We talked about building a more inclusive poetry community. I hope to take steps to make that happen. It was a good day.

Do you have a local writing community?

October Notes

I’m going to echo Lesley Wheeler here, because she is right as usual. Most of us are walking around stunned by the Kavanaugh confirmation. Perhaps we weren’t surprised, but as someone else said somewhere, it sure felt like a referendum on sexual assault. And the powers that be said, “Go ahead. It doesn’t matter.” Time to bring down those powers that be.

I imagine this is how African Americans felt when George Zimmerman was not charged in the death of Trayvon Martin, or when that white police officer got away with shooting Michael Brown in the back, or when Tamir Rice was killed at age 12 because a grown man thought he had a gun, and so on and so on. I feel guilty for not having felt this way when the police were/are killing black people. I was upset and outraged, for sure, but the feeling wasn’t visceral.

Among the stress is beauty. I live in a region that sucks in terms of fried chicken and biscuits, but has really gorgeous fall scenery. Today enough leaves have fallen that I can see the ridge. I’m not yearning for winter, but I do like to see the ridge again. In a few more weeks I will also be able to see the river.

I took a friend to her first poetry reading this morning. I think she liked it. As for me, I found it one of the best poetry readings I have been to in a long time. The poets were not super famous. They had read each other’s work, probably once they figured they were going to read together. They complimented and complemented each other. And they did not fill the space between their poems with bullshit. They said something pithy, and then they just read. I did not need to edit their work in my head.

What was your first poetry reading?