Archive | May 2016

Walking on Water

I’m not pushing any agenda, only making an observation. I have lived in Utah almost all my life, and while I am not sure it isn’t due to the changing perspective one might expect over time, I am convinced that it rains more here now than it did when I was young.

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I’m trying to remember a day this month when there wasn’t some rain, or the threat of a storm. I’m counting 3. The storms come quickly, bringing lighting and thunder. The other day, the wind reached gusts of 70 MPH. It was epic to be out and about.

I don’t mind it, really. The sprinklers aren’t needed, and it keeps things nice and green. Green is good, especially in the high desert, where most of the year, things are pretty yellow and gray. Gray eats at my soul after a while.

On the plus side, I had a scrambled egg sandwich for breakfast, which always makes the day better. Also, there is hot coffee in my mug and good music playing. Things are good.

How are things with you?

 

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Sweating The Small Stuff

I have spent the past three weeks working on poetry I’m submitting to a chapbook competition. The deadline is still months away, so time really isn’t an issue. This is the first time in years I have tried to write a series of poems centered around a common theme. I am surprised at what is being written, and shocked at how difficult it has been.

I’ve been writing poetry (good and bad) for close to 30 years. I’ve honed my craft and cultivated my voice, but I do not believe I have ever worked as hard on a group of poems as I have on these. The effort is paying off and I feel very confident in my ability to complete something worthwhile, something that might be prize winning.

Unlike writing fiction, where I feel the *write, then edit* approach is most fruitful, poetry demands complete focus during the composing process. Each word, each line is fighting for its right to survive. I am harsh in my edits, quick to delete rather than add. One five stanza poem took four hours to compose, which felt like an eternity. I stared at the screen, pondering what had been written, what was yet to arrive. Several times, I stood and walked around the room, letting the images and phrases dance in my head. I played with different forms, odd line breaks, remembering that form is the vehicle, not the destination. It was frustrating and exhausting at times, but I am elated at what has emerged.

I have to remember to never underestimate the importance of the small things, the details that make a composition a success or failure. It is far too easy to overwrite, add one too many lines, dabble in hyperbole and absolutes. I have learned to trust my instincts.

Onward, always onward.

Testing the Water

I’ve spent way too much time waiting, and waiting isn’t going to get me anywhere. I’m writing, always writing, and as the words pile up, the stories and novels emerge. I have no illusions, delusions, expectations, beyond wanting them read. That won’t happen as long as I am content with just a dabble here and there at finding an agent or publisher.

It is time to push out. I’ve picked two contests, and while there are no guarantees, I have confidence in my skill and work. One win, one mention, one success might be what pushed open a door or two. I will never know unless I try.

it is time.

On A Good Day

I have driven through Flagstaff, Arizona close to 15 times on my way to Phoenix, and in all honesty, I dislike the place. It doesn’t help that I usually travel through in the winter, and being up in the mountains, Flagstaff is a snowy, frozen, uninviting place.

I am willing to accept that most of the problem lies with me. I have my mind set, but the dislike is irrational. I’ve never had a negative encounter with anyone living in the town. I’ve not been involved in any snow related accidents, though I have seen several messy ones. Yet, my disdain remains. It has become a running family joke, the awfulness of any sojourn through the frozen waste. If there were a faster route, I would surely take it.

I thought nothing in the world could change my opinion of Flagstaff.

A band I love was doing a small, six city tour, which didn’t include mine. The best place to catch them was in Flagstaff. Ugh. I was not thrilled at the prospect, but as I was determined to see the band, I booked a cheap hotel, found a friend to go with me, and secured tickets.

It is just over 7 hours from my front door to the  Flagstaff city limits. I think I complained at least seven times each hour, and the drive into town on an overcrowded and stoplight ridden Route 66 didn’t alter my perception.

The hotel was just as I’d expected, room doors facing out on a oil stained parking lot, two beds, no fan in the bathroom. Strange enough, I was surprised at how comfortable it was, and how after a quick walk around the area, I was not displeased with the location.

My friend and I drank a few beers, laughed at really stupid jokes, then walked the mile distance from our room towards the historic downtown area.

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It was easy to ignore the beauty of Flagstaff when I was traveling through cold and snow, but walking towards the town center, I could not help but be struck by the landscape. The hills surrounding town were just turning green with spring growth and the breeze, though still chilly, was welcoming.

We walked to a local ramen place (never eat at chain restaurants, especially on vacation), and had some of the most delicious food I’ve eaten in quite a while. The place was tiny inside, but the atmosphere was friendly and inviting as were the staff.

I ordered a bowl called the Mic Drop. The flavors (udon noodles, various cuts of pork, house made red kimchi, amazing broth), were succulent. Each bite was as good as the first.

Vegans should avert their eyes.

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The three or four streets making up the historic downtown were lively, filled with people out walking and shopping. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and all the people we encountered at stores and shops were nothing but nice.

I kept trying to tell myself I hated it here, but as we walked to the bar where the show was being held, I had to stop lying. I was having a great time—in Flagstaff. I didn’t think that was possible.

On a good day, it seems anything can change.  I can’t believe I’m writing this, but given the chance, I’d go back, stay the night again, maybe two.

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The show was excellent. Boris blew me away. I did encounter some odd ducks at the venue who seemed to be trapped in an 1986 time warp. They were head banging like Megadeath were on the stage. I wanted to get video, but it was too dark and smokey.