Camera Shy

One night, I was managing a show called The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia at a tiny bookshop in downtown Buffalo.  I could fit maybe 15 people comfortably in there at a time, but this particular evening at least 20 folks showed up, one in a wheelchair.  It was my job to handle the crowd while they were in the small space, and so I did what had to be done.  I stood on the stage area and announced we were all going to play a game of Tetris.  The crowd laughed.  I then comically rearranged all these strangers so that everyone could sit comfortably, and so the woman in the wheelchair could get a spot in the front row.  For five or ten minutes, I just riffed, no problem.  In my head I thought, what is this, if not acting?  I mean, it’s basic improv.  I’d been onstage acting for so many times in my life at that point, that it was just natural.

Now, I don’t believe I have lost this ability, but technology has altered it.  As it turns out, I have no stage-fright, but I am painfully camera-shy.

I never liked having my picture taken, and with the advent of the selfie I was very cautious.  But now, things are changing again, and it is videos that rule the world.  And I just can’t.

I’ve made a few.  The ones where I introduce myself and read a poem are best.  The one I made for the suicide walk didn’t turn out too bad, but I stumbled a little, and my palms were sweaty, and my heart was racing.  Then came the Patreon idea.

On my Patreon, I have The Vociferous Vlog, where I read a poem and then talk about the inspiration behind it.  In theory, it’s a really good idea, but as it turns out, videos are not my strong suit.  I should have realized…I’d always rather read the article, y’know?

The first one I made was ok, but E and I did it together and couldn’t quite get the angle on the camera right.  I was far away and not as clear-sounding as we had hoped.  The second one was worse, because Mark tried to hand-cam it and shook the whole time, which wasn’t even obvious until I uploaded it to the computer.  Then, it looked terrible.  I looked good, but I also kept my eyes down the entire time, which is something I will have to work on.

You would think I would be better at this.  And also, I’ve done plenty of Zoom calls during the pandemic, and never felt this way about those…perhaps because I’m talking with someone?  PLUS, my Patreon is just starting out and only has a few subscribers, so why am I bugging over people I KNOW seeing me in a video?

No really, I’m asking.  I have no answers.

I know that you could drop me in the middle of a stage and I could entertain for an hour.  I know it.  But to get me to film myself doing five minutes of poetry talk on my own?  Nope. I try to summon the theater person deep within me but I guess she’s sleeping (likely due to some SSRI’s,) and won’t be coming to my aide today, at least.

I shall try again tomorrow.

A Lonely Wreckage

I’ve been sitting at the desk for half an hour.  I wasn’t sure what to publish today because I had three topics in mind, so I did a poll on Twitter and in 5 minutes its’ going to tell me people want to read about the Twitter experiment I did yesterday…and they will.  But I’m in a contrary mood and gosh darn it, it’s National Poetry Day.  How can I not write about my favorite form of expression?

But that leaves me with more choices…share some poetry, as I have in the past-my little outliers who have no homes?  That’s what I usually do.  Alas…she is mad at me, and that is all I can think about today.

She…is my book, A Lovely Wreckage.

She’s a year and a half old and we are already in an argument.  She doesn’t think I’m doing enough…she wanted things like a signing or a store shelf to sit on, and I couldn’t get her those things, so she said I was a terrible mother and shitty writer and slammed the door in my face.  I tried to coax her out of her room with the discovery that she was now for sale on the Walmart website, but this was fruitless.  She is angry and refusing to sell.

Thing is, she knows she could do it.  She knows she’s a lovely little debut that would have been much better received were we not in the midst of a pandemic at the time and ever since, and she’s bitter about it.  And she’s not wrong…she shoulda had somthin’.

I wrote a blog called Schrodinger’s Chapbook about her and she liked that attention but then she never sent a royalty check so who knows…children are so moody.

All kidding aside…I really need to sell some books.  Everything I’m reading tells me that I need to be shoving my book down the throat of every person I meet, and honestly that is not something I’m capable of.  I wish I was, truly, so that I could give her everything she deserves.  We have worked so hard.  We are so tired.

So, today, on National Poetry Day, I will give you a poem.  One of hers.  My favorite of hers, actually (my mom’s too!)  And I hope that you love it, and I hope that you love her…lord knows I do.

Even when she calls me a hack.

Dead Nerves
I quit smoking but this poetess
needs her hit, her puff, her drag and
I can still taste nicotine on my fingertips like
the sweat on your skin but
it’s a phantom sense
like the tingling in my toes-
Dead nerves.
I put on black nail polish and an old flannel
because I feel like sixteen again when
the wind whips my hair up
into the tornado that hangs over my head.
Rain clouds are for amateurs and I build weather formations
to hide my intentions.
I dance with demons and dummies but it’s all the same
as being young and in love,
before needles prickled at my skin and
left me numb and frightened.
These little bits of a broken heart,
these sharp shards that leave
faint pink lines on my skin
keep me from second guessing my silly self.
This itching in my fingers is a reminder
of bad decisions and salty storms,
that youth betrayed me.
Dead nerves in my hands
like dead nerves in my heart.

Wanna buy a book? Click here!

Word Updates

The absolute last thing I want to write about is how I feel right now, which is crummy.  Not sick, per se, though my tummy is sad, but that’s only because the rest of me is depressed.  There’s this whole brain-body thing happening where my depression and anxiety aggravate my digestive system and also my achy back and then I feel like hot garbage all morning.  That’s where we are right now, with me typing these words by force and also trying to figure out how to get myself into the shower at some point today.

Major Depressive Disorder at it’s finest, folks.

Now, I’m not worried because this sort of thing usually only lasts a few hours to a day, and the doc upped my Xanax so I am well equipped to deal with any issues.  Alas, I feel like crap.  But, I must solider on.  Bringing me to today’s blog, where I discuss a couple of endeavors. 

It’s been a few weeks now since I stared my Patreon account, and I have two very excellent subscribers right now.  They are extremely biased however, one being my aunt and the other being my mother.  But then, they are probably also my biggest fans.

So right now, I am creating content for them but also for new subscribers, who would have access to everything I’ve done on there so far as well as something new on a weekly basis.

If you’re not familiar with Patreon, it is a platform for creators to earn a monthly income.  It’s a subscription service, so, for example, you would pay 5$ a month and I would send you subscriber-only content each week, including poetry, stories, essays, newsletters, videos, and more.  If you want to check it out, here is a link to my page.  Just sign up and click “Become a Patron!”  But don’t go crazy…it has you set up tiers so my price goes from a 5$ plan to like a 15$ plan and i strongly advise you go with the cheap one, especially if I know you personally.  As I said to my mother, don’t pay for what you get for free.

So today one of the tasks I must complete is the making of this week’s content, which will be a vlog about one of my poems, which Mark and I are going to shoot as soon as I get myself out of the aforementioned shower.

In other news, I had a poem come out this week, and I have posted it below for you, because it was just a one-day run.  Pink Plastic House, A Tiny Journal is one of my favorite lit mags and they are doing a countdown to Halloween with spooky-themed poetry.  I was day 56, with a piece called The Squirrel that’s about the change of seasons.  It’s one of my “story” poems.  I don’t do them often but when I do, I always love them a little harder.

Speaking of “story” poems…I’m on pins and needles over here.  This is me, putting out into the universe, that my editor needs to email me back, because I’m freaking out here.  Last year they accepted my piece and I didn’t hear anything for months, and when I finally did, he said we could go at my pace…well, my pace dropped edits in his inbox a month and half ago and I haven’t heard a thing.  I’ve sent follow-ups.  I tried him on Twitter.  Nothing.  NOTHING.

Impatience is my worst quality.

So that’s what’s going on, writing-wise.  Just chugging along.  Obviously, my personal life is a shambles because I can’t even get myself into the shower.  But maybe I can do something else.  Afterall, I just finished this blog.  One less task to complete, and it didn’t kill me.  Perhaps now I can take a shower?

Nah.  Probably going to take a break.

Ramble

My stomach is the worst!

I really thought that by this point I wouldn’t be writing about it anymore.  At least, less  At least, it wouldn’t be throwing me flareups that wipe out whole days of my life every so often. 

I planned to go to my first musical event this past weekend…a cover band of a group I love, at my favorite bar.  Did I make it?  No, of course not.  Why, oh why, would my pyloric muscle ever allow such things?!  FUN?! NEVER!!

So, after feeling salty about that all day on Sunday, I woke up feeling a little better this morning, but also tired of worrying about my health.  However, I am making major health strides despite my stupid stomach.  For one, my sciatica is much improved due to the exercises I have been doing.  And speaking of exercise and diet related things, I am officially the thinnest I have ever been in my entire life.  I don’t suggest my diet of protein shakes and jello, but hey, it got results, I guess.  I do indeed fit into that bathing suit I mentioned some months ago.  That’s a nice thing.

I mean, I really still don’t give a crap about my weight but it’s nice to accomplish a goal, y’know?

And then the other health thing, in which I attempt to quit smoking.  Again.  They say the average smoker quits seven times before the big one…if that’s so I’m plugging along on attempt number five right now.  Hopefully it’s a good, long run.  In the meantime, I’m on the patch and having crazy dreams.  No, don’t tell me to take it off at night…I often wake up in the night wanting a smoke, so I have to keep it on then,  The dreams are actually mostly fun, not scary or anything, but the realism is something of a brain tease.

So, I’m losing weight and quitting smoking and still my stomach insists on behaving the way it does every time I try to do something fun.  One doc says it’s a fluke.  Another doc says it takes time for it to heal.  I don’t think either of them know what they’re talking about anymore.

I’m sitting in my desk with a pain in my shoulder as I type because I am simply not used to sitting at my desk and typing, as I have been away from the writing for so long.  My blog is in shambles, my poetry practically nonexistent, and while I did drop 350 words in the WIP the other day, that’s it for months now.  But this morning I found a poem.

Just a little something about a fish that I wrote while out one afternoon and forgot about.  Just a note on my phone, that I polished up and put into pretty words and saved in my poetry file.  It gave me a little hope, much like the fishies I wrote the poem about do.

That’s what I need to do!  Go fishing.

Anyway…thanks for listening to my ramble today.  There wasn’t much else on the agenda and I just had to get all these little thoughts out of my mind.

Happy Monday.

Chillin’ with Jesus

Sometimes, I’ll be sitting at my computer minding my business and Jesus will walk in and demand some of my time.

I wrote a poem about that once.

Anyway, today He comes in the door and tells me good things come to those who wait, and I tell him to get off my back already.  As Chuck Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club, “You can’t teach God anything.”

So, I go to check my email and sure enough there is word from a man named Zachary telling me to forward my manuscript to him…the MS that I have had in limbo for a year now, waiting to be put into print.  I understand the mix-up…they had staff changes and, y’know, a pandemic.  The world slowed down for us all.  I am just grateful that this morning I got a little nudge in the right direction.

Jesus looks at me and says: “Get up out of the dirt.”

I intend to accomplish several things in the coming weeks, all of which are scary and foreign to me, but which need to be done to better myself and my surroundings.  Today, I am out here working on my writing, so neglected since before my surgery, when I was at my sickest, and after, when I was at my weakest.  Now, I feel better and stronger, though tentative, but happy, also.  So, I shall take strides to improve the areas of my life that I have neglected, just like my writing.

Today I am going to my preferred bookshop/cafe with Sahar, my port in the storm.  Nothing could kick off my journey towards improvement better than lunch at one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people. 

Don’t get me wrong, my inner self still fights with Jesus.

He’s all “You can do it!  You’re so strong!”  and I’m over here incredulous.  What does Jesus know?  He’s only the Son of God.

National Poetry Month, 2021

It is April, which means springtime and Easter and National Poetry Month!  I have already written about springtime.  Easter was nice, but not too exciting since we are still taking a lot of precautions.  So, let’s talk about poetry, naturally.

For the past two Aprils, I have shared a few poems with you.  Now, as explained then and reexplained now, these are stragglers…poems that I don’t intend to send out for publication.  (Presses frown on blog publications when considering your work.  Even with your own blog, it is still considered to be “published.”)  If I ever do decide to send these guys out or publish them elsewhere, I will remove them from my blog.  But for now, enjoy some poems.

Oh, and should you be interested, you can always support a poet and purchase a copy of A Lovely Wreckage!

Pasted as photos, because I can’t figure out how to format a poem on WordPress.

(Un)Requited

There’s a stack of papers next to me.  I just printed them off my dad’s computer, and brought them home to my little office to be sorted.  They are poems, and they will soon be a book.

I wrote about my decision to pen another chapbook a little while ago, and I am now in the sorting and final editing stage.  Poems are good to go, in my opinion, and now I just have to check for the rouge commas and such.  I also have to decide how to order them, which is an art of its own.

The thing about chapbooks is that they are small and focused.  In A Lovely Wreckage, I started out with Sick Since Sixteen, a poem about my illness that signifies the age in which my journey started.  I closed it with a poem called A Good Day, which was, conveniently, about the good days I get to experience made all the better by the bad ones.  It was a hopeful note to end the collection on.  In between, I sorted the poems so that they were evenly dispersed-in that I made sure that not too many mental health or physical health poems were grouped together, and I also tried to make it have a rhythm and flow.  Now, today, I shall be doing this for my third little baby.

My second chapbook, a mini-chap, is called Me and Jesus on a Tuesday Afternoon and will be out sometime in 2021.  That one is essentially just one long poem, so I didn’t get to do the sorting phase for that.  I realize now that is something I enjoy, putting my poems in the order I want the reader to experience them. 

Over the summer I did a mockup on PowerPoint of my illustrated kids’ book (I’m sure there’s better software to do this on, I’m just a noob.) I am unable to work on it at the moment, but am hoping to get it off the ground sometime in the new year.  However, while assembling this little presentation I realized how much I enjoy seeing creations come together.  I always have…but I’ve never really applied that to my writing.  When I worked in theater, I was always amazed at the magic that happened on opening night, but I have neglected it amongst my words.  So today, that is what I am focused on.

I’ve had a couple of people (total strangers, mind you,) comment that they enjoyed the flow of A Lovely Wreckage, and I hope I can capture that in (Un)Requited.

Yep, that there’s the name. 

I wrote the final poem yesterday.  I have known which will be first, Monster, first published at Pink Plastic House, A Tiny Journal in May 2020.  And last night, I penned the last, Scrapbooks.  Now it is time to figure out the in-between.

Then, comes the publisher hunt.  I don’t know what to do there…do I send it to my previous publisher first?  What if I’d like to try someone new, or a place I think is more suited to the subject matter?  What’s the plan of action here?

Stay turned for the answers to these and more questions, on an upcoming episode of Brigid’s blog.

Happy Monday.

The Next Verse

So, as you may know, earlier this year I released a chapbook of poetry regarding chronic and mental illness.  I like chapbooks, because usually they revolve around a topic of some sort, and I like poetry that speaks to a certain thing.  They’re smaller than your regular collection, but if you’re looking for a certain area to read about, you can find it easier.  A friend asked about a month or so ago what was the next for me on the poetry front, and I said I was composing a chap of love poems.  Not the usual “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” sort, mind you.  I don’t write like that. 

This book will actually be about love that is obsessed over, brutally mismanaged, and often unrequited. 

Then the other day, I was sitting on the couch watching the news and Hubs was playing his phone game, and I thought gee…maybe your husband might not like it if you publish a book of poetry about other dudes.  Maybe he will feel threatened, or jealous, or betrayed somehow.  “Babe, how would you feel if I published a chapbook about other men?”

“I honestly do not care.”  He didn’t even look up from his game.

After he won his round, he looked up and went on to say that he felt himself to be the winner in the situation and as such was not worried.  He didn’t really need to explain though, because when he said he didn’t care, I knew he was telling the truth.

I have been writing poems since I was fifteen years old.  I have been with Mark since I was 27.  That is over a decade of angsty poems about various guys I encountered during that time, and my husband is not so simple that he thinks I was just waiting around for him. 

Some of the poems are crap, but could be well-fixed with edits.  Some are good.  A couple even rhyme, something I used to do all the time but rarely do now, as a lot of mags won’t accept rhyming poems.  Which I think is crap…it’s harder to write a good rhyming poem than a good free verse.  But I digress…

Anyway, I’ve got all these poems about these men.  Some are wonderful dudes that I am proud to have  known and loved.  Others are not.  Now, when I edit, I try to read though once from an outsider’s perspective, as best as I can.  How would I relate to this poem were I not me?  Could I relate to it, even?  Sometimes the answer is no, and I cut it from the project.  Sometimes it’s a resounding yes.  Sometimes it’s a maybe, and I edit it to make it more adaptable.  I’ve done this with twenty poems so far.  I may be able to scrounge up a couple more, which would be nice, but that’s a decent length for a chapbook.

My first book was about chronic and mental illness.  All the poems in it were a reflection of myself at my most vulnerable.  Having succeeded in overcoming my fears regarding such things, I am ready to tackle another vulnerable side of myself, the part of me that gives permission to love.  And who on earth can’t relate to that, in some form? 

Anyway, this is just my brain working.  It’s a ways off before I send it out to folks, but I’m thinking of it today.  My next chapbook out will actually hopefully be a mini-chap though Pen & Anvil Press, but I am still waiting to hear back from them regarding editing and publication dates.  But this guy, this little book of love and hate and loss and lust, that’s what I’m working on next, poetry-wise.

But probably not until December.  Because, you know, 10 days until NaNo. 

The Sleeping Muse

Sometimes, as a writer, you start to think the muse is dead.

At the end of every three months or so, I prep my poetry submissions for the upcoming season.  There is a site called Entropy that publishes a huge list of journals accepting submissions every three months, and I work my way through it with my seasonal submission and hope for the best.  I haven’t encountered any hiccups (this is since starting submissions in 2018.)  Until now, that is.

I won’t call it writer’s block, because I am writing.  I’m pecking out my bi-weekly blog, and the occasional note or dialogue for the novels, both that in editing and that in planning.  But my poetry has been stifled, somehow.  It’s just not flowing.  And this makes me nervous, because poetry is my lifeline to writing on the whole. 

Usually, it happens spontaneously.  Something will happen, or occur to me, and I will have to write it down in a rush, then edit it, then voila!  A poem.  Bam, just like that.  A few a week, usually.  But lately…nothing.

Yesterday, I made myself write one.  It was about the Out of the Darkness Walk that I do every September.  I decided I would write it as a warm-up…give myself a topic (the walk, as yesterday marked one more month until the event,) and sit down at the computer and write something about it.  I surprised myself, in the end.  Which is a good sign.

Any time I surprise myself while writing, it means it’s pretty good.  If I’m reading back what I’ve written and I’ve forgotten I was the author, then it’s really good.  These are the standards by which I judge my work.  It felt like, for some time, this wasn’t happening for me.  Nothing was surprising me.  I feel very hopeless in these moments, as though the muse has left and will never return. 

But then I wrote a little poem, and it’s kind of good.  Then, I wrote another…not as good, but the fire was there.  I wrote a third.  And a fourth…

By the end of the day I had my fall submissions ready to go.  Yesterday morning, I had nothing.  I had the feeling of self-doubt that consumes the writer who doesn’t know what to write about.  I had the voice in my head whispering that it was all crap.  But, last night, I had a full submission packet and several new poems. 

The muse is not dead.  Sleeping, perhaps.  But not dead.

Sunday Surprise

I used to keep journals, religiously.  Until one day, a terrible thing happened and I destroyed them all in an effort to burn away my memories.  It didn’t work at first, but with time and no pages to look over I gradually let go of things that I held onto for too long.

I have one journal left, that chronicles a chunk of my 20’s.  I don’t read it; I just keep it because someday there might be a story in there.  Aside from my journals, there are my blogs.  I have kept many blogs over the years, ranging from the personal to the professional.  I suppose this is as close as I come to journaling these days.

Now, if I did still keep one, I would certainly have written in it about yesterday.

I was sitting in bed eating carrots and watching 30 Rock on Hulu when my dad called me.  “Are you sitting down??” he says.  Oh, no.  Someone is dead.  Wait, no, he doesn’t sound upset.  Must be good news?  What could it be??  I, of course, run crazy with thoughts in that moment, but then he says something about the newspaper and it takes me a minute to put the pieces together and suddenly I realize what he is telling me.

I am in the newspaper.

Now, I’ve been published all over the web.  And I have a book of poetry out.  But I really don’t think anyone was as excited about any of that as much as they were about me being in the paper.  Mom came and took me to the gas station to buy a copy.  When I got home, the poetry editor from the News sent me a friend request, with an image of my poem.  He tagged me in a Facebook post that I shared on my socials.  And still…I was in shock.

See. I dreamt of this before anything.

I wanted to be on that poetry page since I was a teenager, discovering it one afternoon while searching the Gusto for acting gigs.  It seemed…attainable.  And yet…my early poetry was only published at the now defunct poetry.com. (Side note: the website still exists, but I don’t know where my poems went.)  I didn’t think any of the early stuff good enough, anyways.  Then, after my self-imposed writing hiatus and comeback, I saw the news as UNATTAINABLE, because I just wasn’t good enough.  I didn’t have a book yet, or a signing, or an interview.  I was nobody.

Now, I disagree.  I have stats to back my writing up, a little.  So, I composed an email and sent it to the poetry editor and waited, hopeful.

And then this.

The poem was the one I won the Poesia contest with, too.  So that little guy is having a good summer.

I am reminded a little of the tale “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”  In it, her father tells her “If you see it in The Sun [their local newspaper,] it’s so.”  That is how I feel today.  I saw it in the News.  It must be true.

So, if I kept a journal, that’s what I would write about today.  Maybe a little about how E is spending the week and I am looking forward to lots of time with her while Mark is at work.  Today we are going to the park to do a photoshoot for a new author pic for me.  Tomorrow she wants to go fishing.  She has never been here solo before, so this is a really fun new experience for us.  I would write about it, because I would want to remember it.

I don’t keep journals anymore, and by default, I don’t do scrapbooks anymore either though I still have about seven of them.  I kind of wish I did, so I would have somewhere to put my newspaper clipping.  Ah, well. 

A frame will have to do.