Performance Anxiety

Back in 2019, I went to an open mic night with my friend Beth at my side for moral support and fought my inner doubter-I shared my work.  I continued to attend this monthly soiree until March 2020, when Covid came and shut us all down.  It moved to a virtual format for a bit, which then kind of morphed into its own thing.  I was sad…I liked poetry night at my local bookstore.

Every time I was in there, I asked the proprietor if the event would return, and he would tell me it would, sometime in the future.  I waited.

Then one night my father asks if I follow a guy he knows on Facebook.  I say no and inquire, and he tells me this man will be picking up where we left off with poetry night, bringing it back better than ever.  This delighted me, and so I marked my calendar for the first meeting in two years. 

I didn’t know anyone there, just like I didn’t know anyone when I went back in 2019.  However, my circumstances had changed…I had once been so hesitant to share my work, but I have grown past that now.  What really struck me that night was a woman named Mary, who was sharing her poetry for the first time.  And reader, it was lovely, and absolutely relatable for me.  She seemed so nervous, and brought friends for support, just as I had, and though I did not know her, when she was done reading I wanted to run up and hug her, because I was proud of her the way I had once been proud of myself for having the courage to share my work. 

There have been two meetings since the first.  Mary has been there both times, prepared with poetry, and I can see her bravery expand each time she reads.  It’s a pretty awesome transformation to witness, actually. 

Anyhoo…Tim, who runs the show, mentioned that he was still looking for features to fill out the year.  I don’t know where my anxiety was, perhaps asleep at the wheel, but I proceeded to message him and ask if he would like me to be one of those readers, to which I received a solid “yes.”

So now, in October, I will be the featured reader at my poetry open mic night.  The 2019 version of me has no idea how this happened…that I would have the audacity…the sheer BALLS, to just asked for what I wanted?  Who the hell is that person??

As always, I stand here with more confidence than I have any right to have.  I literally just said this to Kevin: “I was a fat, four-eyed, balding middle schooler; I have no business feeling this fabulous.”

But honestly, I’m not who I was that first night I read.  I have always been comfortable on a stage, mind you…this was about my writing, not my performance technique (another thing I have ridiculous confidence in,)  The “stage fright” is gone now, though…there is no anxiety about my words.  I have shared them, and they have resonated.  I have been told by friends and fans that my poetry is something special, and I hope that is true.  All I know is that I am more comfortable with it today than I was yesterday, and it can only get better from here.

Happy Monday, folks.

Sick, with Stories

Well, that marks the third Thursday with no update.  This time it was illness again…it’s been like that all week.  The worst part is that I missed work yesterday, which I hate doing.  I love my job…like actually love it, because it is the perfect amount of childcare for me.  I can’t really do those long days I used to with kiddos anymore, but the few hours I put in in the afternoon for the program really makes me happy, and exhilarates me, because I’m actually out there doing something I love again. 

Of course, then I get sick and I wonder just how long it can last.  I went for this job because I was delighted that it didn’t start until midafternoon, which means that even if I am sick early morning, as is usual, I can be better by 2pm.  On Monday, I managed just that, going to the ER in the morning before coming home to nap, shower, and go to work.  I was fine that day.  Yesterday, not so much.  I couldn’t shake the crummy feeling, even after returning from the hospital, so I had to call off, which just kicked me in the stomach again.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  What’s good??  A good thing from this week is that I wrote myself a little story.

I needed something on Wednesday for my Patreon, something meaty.  More than a poem, y’know?  And I had this little thought in my head about what it takes to get me running in the morning, and then the thoughts started to take a shape.  There’s this movie called Osmosis Jones that I have loved always, and I started to ponder it.  What if there were a cell in my body, that was responsible for what I do?  It was a fun little thought experiment, but what would the cell actually do?  What would be its true purpose?  I thought of the Vonnegut quote: “Make your characters want something right away, even if it’s only a glass of water.”  And so, the tale of Bob the Cell who works in the Hypothalamus was born.  His goal?  Get the Girl a glass of water.

It’s a funny little story that both Sahar and Mom called “brilliant,” which I actually believe to be true because, as rare as it is, I love this story. 

Hardly ever do I write something that I like from the jump, so when I finished this and was so delighted with it I knew it would receive great reception from my “fans.”  (Why is that in quotes?  Because the only people who have read it are friends and family.) And it did, Carey liked it, Mark loved it, and of course my mother just wants to know why I can’t automatically have it picked up by some magazine.

Anyway, that was my big accomplishment for the week, and if you would like to read it (well, the rough draft, anyway,) then you can pop on over to my Patreon and pay $5 for that and more.

I’d really like your patronage over there.  You’re missing out on a lot, I promise.  Also, I need to pay the internet bill.  (See also: Tip Jar, to the right of this page.)

Ok, well, It’s Friday.  I have two kiddos here already and two more on the way, so I guess I better get myself going, and participate in life since I am well enough to do so.  I hope y’all have a great weekend, and happy Friday!

Poetry Night

I didn’t post on Thursday, because I didn’t feel like it.  Simply no excuse…just wasn’t in the headspace to write.  Plus, the only thing I wanted to write about was something that hadn’t happened yet.

Back in October 2019, pre-plague, my dear friend Beth (whom I had lunch with yesterday, coincidentally, and therefore has already heard this story,) went with me to a monthly poetry night at a bookstore near my house that I like.  I wanted to read one of my poems during the open mic portion, but I was terrified.  She sat by my side and encouraged me, and I was able to do it.  I was very proud of myself that night, for overcoming my anxiety of not just attending a function full of strangers, but for reading in front of them.

Come February, we had a problem, and that problem was a pandemic.  Poetry night kind of moved online for a bit, and while I would love to say I’ve watched every episode (because it was very good,) I honestly fell off when I started working on the novel.  I pretty much fell off poetry all together, then.  But now, she is in editing, and that bug is biting, and here we go again.

So I inquired a couple of times at the bookstore once they reopened as to when they would be bringing the night back and they kept telling me “soon.”  Then one morning my father tells me that an old buddy of his is hosting the return of Poetry Night!  I was ecstatic, and not at all anxious to attend.

When I got there, I sat by a woman and who seemed to be her boyfriend, and also a woman who appeared to be her bestie, and bestie’s husband.  Woman A, whom I came to know as Mary, seemed very nervous, and as I unintentionally eavesdropped on their conversation, I learned that she was going to be sharing her poetry for the very first time.  She had brought her reinforcements, as had I, and was probably so anxiously awaiting her turn that she barely even heard the key speaker…at least, that’s how I was that first night.

She had the courage to go first, too, once the open mic started. And it was good.  Her poetry spoke to me, because guess what?  They were about chronic and mental illness.  I sincerely hope my poems spoke to her as well, but as per usual, I flew out the door first, because mingling is still really hard for me.  I’m going to push myself to do it next time, though, so wish me luck.

In other news…yes, this is a two-parter, to make up for nothing last Thursday.

So, I decided to do a book giveaway, for funsies.  I figured I would do it on Twitter, where all my reading/writing friends live.  Out of my nearly 7k followers, 82 whopping people saw my giveaway tweet.  No one responded.  Ergo, Twitter’s algorithm is a steaming pile of garbage, yet again.

So, I roll over to TikTok, where I get better views, and I got a couple hundred.  A few folks commented, hoping to win the book.  I picked a winner, and emailed them.  A day went by with no response, so this morning I hop on and browse their page to see when they were online last.

It’s a kid.  It’s a literal child.

Now, my book doesn’t really come with a content warning because it’s not really graphic or anything, but there are some choice words and definite adult themes.  So, I emailed the kid and told him that I was sorry, but I couldn’t send him the book.  Also, he would have to give me his address, and it isn’t cool for me as an adult to encourage that, or safe for him as a child to do so.  I feel kind of bad, because I should have specified you needed to be 18 to win.  I hope he isn’t too disappointed.

Anyway, I have moved this giveaway over to my Facebook page, now.  So, if you’re not already following me there, I encourage you to do so, especially if you would like to win a book today!  I will be announcing a random winner tomorrow morning, so this offer is only good for you folks who are reading my blog on Monday the 28thGo follow me now!!

Anyhoo…that’s about it.  Happy Thursday, my friends.  I’m off to watch a bunch of TV, which might sound lazy, but is actual research for Thursday’s blog, I swear. 

This quote doesn’t really have anything to do with anything…I just like it.

You’re a Poet, and You Don’t Know It.

All day yesterday I was without a topic.  I tried all day, I swear, but nothing came to me.  That is, until right before bed when I saw a Facebook post from Amanda Gorman about World Poetry Day, and did a literal facepalm.

So, if you’re a constant reader, you know that I share poetry on this day with you.  In the past, it has been my own, but today I have something special.  Today I am redefining the word “poet,” and I am including everyone.

Since October, three folks have shown me something they have written that they asked me to take a look at and perhaps give some advice about.  For me, editing poetry is just as fun as writing it, so I of course said yes to these three.  What I discovered is that you can absolutely be a poet, and not know it. 

The first poem I would like to share can be found HERE at Pink Plastic House: A Tiny Journal.  It is by far one of my favorite mags, and when my friend Audrey asked me to take a look at her October-themed poem, I immediately thought of the journal’s Halloween poetry countdown as the perfect vehicle to get her work out there.  She sent me a rough draft, and I polished it up for her, and when she was pleased, I sent it off to the editor at PPH.  Audrey has written plenty for herself over the years, but this is the first piece she shared with the world.  I am hopeful that it gives her to drive to continue to pursue her creative talents. 

Next up is Kevin.  Back in his day, Kev was the best freestyler I knew…he knew every word to every rap song, but on top of that, he made his own music.  I always loved listening to his beats, but when he would flow over them was always my favorite.  When he and the guys would hang out and take turns coming up with ciphers, his was always the best.  So, when he sent me a text one day with what he called “a poem,” I was excited and surprised.  He doesn’t often write down the stuff he comes up with, but when he does it’s pretty cool.  So, he sent me this piece, and I formatted it for him, and now I would like to share his pretty cool words with you.

H2O by Kevin Henry

While I sit stoic, 
smothered in stinky sea fish,
the sight of society succumbed to solid selfishness-
my subconscious steams like that of a shellfish.
Everybody now walks like zombies 
on Zofran and barbiturates,
In 2021,
a walk in the park
might mean mask mandates and manipulators, 
a society sculpted in supreme science, 
overpopulated with particle of plastic.
Seems we're swimming in a sea of synthetic sickness,
an ocean of sadness.
I sit stoic, 
smothered in stinky sea fish.

Then, my husband, Mark. Mark is not a writer by any means and will tell you so…he’s the math brain in this relationship; I handle the words.  But one day, he had a dream, and he wanted to capture it somehow, so he tried to write it down as a sort of poem.  He came to me for help, and we gussied up the words and changed the formatting, and now he has this:

Awakening, by Mark Falcone

Awaking under my blanket, 
winter beckons from my window, 
daring me to come outside.  
Sadness holds me there, 
frozen.
I rise and dress 
for weather 
and wander down and out,
with my protective clothing. 
Pressing cold on my face, 
he beats me down,
but I trod on in the snow- 
another day.  
Until finally, 
home, 
I wrap myself in my blanket,
hide from him again. 

What my point?  I’m a poet.  They’re poets.  You’re a poet.  Poetry lives inside of all of us, if only we are brave enough to let it out of our hearts.  That’s where it resides, deep inside your soul, sleeping and waiting to be released.  So why not let it out?  Don’t be scared.  What you make is beautiful, and if you don’t think so, no one else will either.  (Also…I am totally free to help you edit, should you want to make it a little shinier.) 

So, Happy (Belated) World Poetry Day, to all us poets!

Price Point

Today I went to check on my chappie on a whim, just to see if maybe a review came in that I hadn’t noticed.  I haven’t checked in with her in a while, so suffice it to say that when I saw she was now listed at 25% off, I threw a hissy-fit.

My immediate thought was whose pocket is this money coming out of, and it had better not be mine!  Second thought, what do I do now?  Well, God bless Google, because apparently this is an oft asked question and it led me to several forums and articles about what to do when your book price drops.

Now, I have been assured by a few sites that the money is not deducted from me, but I’m not 100% sure who is footing the bill, be it the publisher or Amazon.  I just know it ain’t me, and that’s fine.  Many sites suggest buying up your book when this happens so you can sell them at full price by hand, which is not a terrible idea…right now it would only cost me a couple of bucks a book, in the long run, and I would have stock to do a signing or something.  Still, my writing funds are low-I only use what I make writing for my writing.  It’s a career that supports itself, at the moment. 

Alas, that kitty will grow if I can sell a few of these ladies at their new rate…so if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of A Lovely Wreckage, I invite you to CLICK HERE and get it while it’s 25% off.

I think that if it drops lower, and I can scrape together the funds, I will buy up whatever is left.  The reasoning for price droppage that I found was either that Amazon determined it will sell better at that price point (no, not out of the goodness of their hearts-they want to make that money,) or they have a stock they are unloading.  Either way, if it goes lower, I’m snatching them up.  Then I’m finally going to try to figure out how people end up with signings and such.

Soon, I will hopefully also have single-run limited edition copies of my minichap, and ideally, I’d like to be able to sell the two of them together.  Alas, I am waiting on my editor to get back to me.  A month ago he said we were almost there…then nothing.  I sent an email a few days ago, but I know he is busy not only with the press but also the bookstore he is opening.  So, I will bide my time and hope.

Speaking of hope, I just remembered my other minichap…did I tell you about that one?  It’s about nature through the lens of depression.

You know what?  Let’s save that for another day.  Like the day it gets picked up.  I don’t want to rain down any bad juju on it.

Anyway, go get a copy of my book, so I can get some copies of my book.  Please, and thank you.

Happy Thursday.

“I’m finally done!” she lied.

Sometimes in life you have something you want to scream from the rooftops, but that would be rude to your neighbors, so you scream it all over your social media instead.  That said, I have been waiting until today to share this with you, my dear blog readers, who have been with me every step of the way: she is done.  She, of course, being my first draft.

I conceived this baby back when Dubya was president, by the way, so it has been quite a long gestation.  I suppose my first encounter with the electoral college sparked my primary rage of injustice, and I began to plot.  Now, the book I penned is FAR from the book I originally plotted oh so long ago, but the key values remain: injustice.  Disparity.  Inequality. 

And now we have my little WIP, well, not so little, coming in at around 65k.  Bigger than the 2019 attempt for certain, this is a proper novel.  And, unbeknown to me in the beginning, it has potential for a sequel now.  Not that I am thinking about that at the moment, because I must focus on the major task at hand.

When I was explaining the editing process to Mark and Carey yesterday, Carey noted that it seemed like a lot of work.  Mark agreed, adding that he never would have known how much goes into it were he not married to me.  See, actually putting the words on the paper, that’s the easy bit…and we have all seen what a struggle that can be.  Now comes the hard part, the even greater challenge: the edit. 

This is the part where you read back every paragraph four hundred times and it turns to word salad and then you quit writing as a career altogether until Sahar calms you down and then you go back and start reading the next paragraph four hundred times.

Eventually it doesn’t suck just enough, and you send it to Sahar and Mary, and they read it and give you notes, and then you go read it again and make more changes.  Maybe once, maybe twice, maybe sixteen times…then you do a final polish and you send it off with hopes and prayers and if you’re lucky, if you’re really really really lucky….someone will pick it up and then you have to edit it all over again for them.

There you have the publishing and marketing end of the biz, which is whole other ball game that you, as a wordsmith, are expected to navigate.  So really, in the grand scheme of things, words on paper ain’t no thang.

Anyway…I’m off to read read read my WIP over and over until it becomes gobbledygook.  (Yo…fun fact: according to spellcheck, gobbledygook is a legit word.)  Hopefully by the end of the week I will remain on target and can say that I have edited a few chapters.  Or, I’ve gone insane and Sahar had to make an emergency trip from Cleveland to bring me tea and a thesaurus.  We shall see.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

The Finish Line

Right now, I am neglecting my WIP.

I mean, I’m working on other things.  There’s the blog, and then I’m prepping a microchap to send out tomorrow morning.  But I’m not giving her the attention she deserves, and she’s angry about it.  I projected to be done by tonight, and that will only happen if I spend the next six hours locked in this office without internet access.  So, y’know…that’s not happening. 

I’m only a few scenes and an epilogue away, though.  I plan to write a scene today when I finish what needs to be done, and hopefully if I can find the time, I will be done with the first draft by the end of the week.  That would be ideal. Then I can spend the rest of the month of February editing, as planned.

I considered hiring a professional editor, but it is way out of my price range at the moment.  Mark wants to stary a GoFundMe for writing costs, which is a great idea in theory but probably not in practice.  I don’t even know if you can make those for career advancement purposes, and honestly, I have enough trouble selling books and Patreon subscriptions, and that’s cash for a product, so what makes me think people are just going to GIVE me money?

I’m just out here trying to get my Patreon’s sold, really.  That’s the best revenue for me right now, aside from folks using the tip jar…it’s over there on the side of the page, and is as close to a GoFundMe as I’m going to get.  If you really do just want to GIVE me money, that’s how to do it.  Otherwise, buy a product.  Pick up my poetry on Amazon, or check out my Patreon, where for 5$ a month you get something new every week.  All the proceeds from all these things go towards writing expenses…and coffee.  Which I suppose, is a writing expense in its own right. 

Anyway…professional editing set aside until some real cash flow comes, I will be doing it on my own, and then sending it to a few trusted sources for their notes.  Then another edit, a polish, and its off!

It’s a huge task.  I mean, I think of the microchap, which didn’t take me very long to put together at all.  I knew I had a bunch of poems centering one topic, so I organized them and got it ready for submission.  It took maybe two hours total.  My WIP, however, has been going since November 1st.  Much, much longer, if we are talking “spark” to finish…in that case it’s been over a decade.  And here I am, on the last leg of the race, attempting to limp my way across the finish line by Friday.

Wish me luck.

Total Shutdown

Today is Wednesday.  No, no, don’t check your calendar.  You’re on Thursday, I’m on Wednesday, because I am trying to stay a little ahead in some areas, in case of catastrophe.  My stomach has been…disagreeable.  I went to the gastroenterologist and our new theory is that the whole shebang is broken, not just the stomach.  Nothing is working right, from the esophagus to the intestine.  My digestive system’s check engine light has been on for a while, but recently, it began blinking, and now here we are with an endoscopy on Tuesday and a bunch of new medicines at the pharmacy. 

We shall wait.  We shall see.  In the meantime, we shall eat applesauce and dream of cheeseburgers. 

And, try to focus on something else.  Like work. 

So far today I have updated my Patreon and assembled my spring submissions and now I’m here, and hopefully if I don’t run out of steam, I will go crack open the WIP and work on making that “Netflix money.”  It’s not coming as smoothly as it was, but I think a lot of that has to do with two things.  One, I like a good deadline.  NaNo really pushes me in that department, and I deliver.  Second, I need recovery time after such a sprint.

But now I’m recovered and ready to get back at it, but I’m stalled, and I think that might be because I am so close to being finished.  I’m writing the last third of the book now, and I’m halfway though that.  It’s time to say goodbye, including to a few characters that aren’t going to make it to the end scene.  This is some heavy stuff for a writer, you see.  We both love and loathe killing off our characters, and it is a traumatic experience all around.

And then, the final scene, or the epilogue…haven’t decided which I’m going with…and two little words: the end.  And then, it’s over.

The fifteen years that it took me to put this from spark to paper, will be over.  Then what?

EDITING.

The most garbage part of the job, the part for which I wish I was wealthy enough to hire someone.  I love editing poetry and short pieces, but a whole novel?!  I do not know where to start.  Look at my novella, still sitting unedited three years after completion.  There’s a reason for that, and it’s not procrastination.  It just straight up SUCKS to edit a large work.  (In my opinion, at least.)

So, that’s really all I have for right now: a broken digestive system and a WIP to struggle.  I am hopeful that things improve on both fronts, as I am pretty sick of being pretty sick, and I also want these words out of my fingertips and into my computer. 

I don’t think I’m out of steam yet.  Let me go open her up.  See what happens. 

Happy Wednesday.  Err…Thursday.

Writing Roundup, 2021

I fell behind in literally everything regarding writing last week, and for once it wasn’t due to illness, just the impending holiday season plus some extra personal stressors.  Suffice it to say this is not our best Christmas, but we are keeping our heads up.  That said, I was preoccupied and so all writing endeavors were put on hold, ergo no blog update last Thursday, no work on the WIP, and me frantically penning a late newsletter for my Patreon.  I wrote in there about my year in writing…which was silly because I’m also going to write about that here, and now. 

This year has two halves to one unit.  Writing is not just the actual words on the paper, but also the publishing side of things.  Let’s start there.

My publishing year was dismal.  Icky book sales, only two poems published, and still no release date for my mini-chap after working on it all year.  I try to brighten myself, however, with looking at the financial side of things…I did sell books.  I started my Patreon, providing me with monthly money for writing expenses.  I made very small revenue on my blog, but revenue nonetheless.  And soon my mini-chap will be published, and that will bring in funds as well. 

Then, the actual writing side of things.  I have a couple of new poems, and I polished up quite a good little short story, too.  Most importantly, I dropped over 50k words into my WIP, and am hoping to churn out the rest by the end of January.  If that goes to plan, I will be editing and then preparing for query sometime in March 2022.  The novel is the moneymaker, folks…I know in my heart it will be published.  And I also know that someday I will be sitting in an office negotiating a film deal.  (I’m not trying to brag or anything, I’m trying to manifest.) And when that day comes, I will look back on now as the time when it all began, and I started to really make a career of this.  I will look back at pitiful book sales and silly ad revenues and think…gee, what a year that was.

Anyways, I’m off to do the things that make the monies, as Christmas is in 5 days.  A gentle holiday reminder that I now have a tip jar to the right of this page, in case you want to help me out with buying stocking stuffers.  And always accepting new patrons on Patreon.  And also books for sale.  Just sayin’.

Happy Monday.

On Sickness and Subscription

I didn’t update yesterday because I woke up puking at 2am.  A quick jaunt to Mercy told me I would be waiting for several hours, so I went over to St. Joe’s, which is in many ways my preferred hospital for my situation.  Mercy is close and has all my history, but it’s always 100 patients and 10 nurses, whereas St. Joe’s has this weird reputation for being crappy, so the ratio is completely flipped.  I’ve never received poor service there, however, only the best.  And yesterday they ushered me in quickly and had me medicated and calm within half an hour. 

Anyway, that was not the first visit to the ER this week.  Hopefully, it was the last, but now today I still feel weak and out of it, and am vaguely surprised I’m even sitting here writing right now.  I don’t really have a topic, either; I just want to talk about Patreon.

Patreon is the single best way for me to earn a monthly income through writing.  A monthly income means a website that never goes down, and ad funding for my books.  What is Patreon, you ask?  Well, it’s a monthly subscription service connecting you to creators.  If you visit my page, you will see I am creating poetry, short stories, essays, and more.  Now, there are three subscription tiers, and should you decide to subscribe, you should ABSOLUTELY DO THE CHEAPEST ONE.  I mean, it’s super sweet if you want to send me extra money (PS this blog has a tip jar over on the right) but I don’t know how to work the extra features so frankly, you won’t get what you paid for.  Do the 5$ subscription.  I will be plenty grateful and you will have access to everything. 

And what is everything?  Well…we have poems, stories, book chapters, chapbook excerpts, vlogs, essays, newsletters, and cover reveals.  At least a piece a week unless I am laid up, I try to provide my subscribers with an insight into the writing process for me as well as my life as a writer.  Everything is unpublished, new, or raw at the time that I post on Patreon, and it’s the only place to find my fledgling videos, The Vociferous Vlog (which I really have to work on this weekend…oh please don’t let me get sick again.) 

All I’m saying is that if you like me, and you like what I write, and you’ve got 5 bucks a month…I will happily trade you some words.  I really enjoy doing my Patreon, and I am hoping it picks up a little not just for monetary purposes but because I like the platform for connection that it provides. There isn’t anywhere else I would be comfortable sharing the first chapter of my WIP, or starting out making vlogs. 

I’m editing the page a little later today to give possible subscribers a taste of what is being offered, so there will likely be two or three pieces available later, but there’s a lot more available once you subscribe.  Either way, I hope you check it out and consider subscribing.

That all said, my shoulders are killing me.  I’m headed back to the couch for a bit.  Happy Friday.

https://www.patreon.com/brigidhannon