The precipitous perils of writing


National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills

National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills (Photo credit: mySAPL)

I write because… I feel better when I do, worse when I don’t, especially during the grey days of February. I feel like I’m supposed to write, that it fulfills something in me when I do. Writing is cathartic, gets the inside out, stops the slow simmer-spiral down, provides the occasional epiphany, allows for conversations to develop, promotes transparency, builds bridges, finds community. All that and more.

“Writing is a struggle against silence.” ~ Carlos Fuentes

But where I write/publish (and what is safe, yes, there is a very real element of professional safety involved around potential copyright infringement etc.) and what disqualifies me from further publishing of my thoughts-work-art is a very real concern these days. It causes a bit of angst for me and I don’t quite know what to do about it.

This year, when CBC announced their annual “Canada Writes Contest”, rules clearly stated that any work previously published in any form, including on the internet, was not eligible for submission. Bummer. Big bummer. And I’ve noticed an increasing number of Literary Publications that have this qualification in their submission guidelines.

Yikes, I thought… so much for blogging my poetry, my essays, my words, when it is clearly disqualifying me from serious literary activities. Or, does that really matter?

There is an inherent tension in the life of an artist… the hard wired need to express what and who you are, and then while you are busy doing just that, at some point, the thought crosses your mind and then becomes a small voice repeating itself over and over, expressing the need to expose your work to others. Then to further complicate things, the dawning realization that the ‘work’ of getting projects out there to others is quite complex and filled with dead ends and wrought with politics and costs and the days and the weeks and the years pass and you suddenly wonder, if this traditional route of getting out there is really working, is really worth all the trouble… I mean, is it? What is the point of writing if nobody is ever going to read what you write?

I used to share my poetry openly and with abandon here on my blog. Tuesday Poems were… every Tuesday gifts to whomever dropped by to read them. Then after the “Canada Writes” disappointment, a bit of fear set in, and I reluctantly quit posting poems. The haunting question remains… what if I’m giving it all away for free (because poets can expect to make big bucks once they are famous, right!!!), what if publishers consider any form of any draft poem published online out out out of the question too. Simultaneous submissions aside, if it’s online and free for all to see, then would any discriminating publisher want it? Would they?

It’s feels like a gift has been given (the world wide web way of sharing words/art/ourselves) and then taken back. And that really isn’t a very nice thing to do, whether it’s a pony or a candy or an opportunity? How is posting online any different from reading work aloud in public places? Or posting broadsheet billboards of my poetry old school style on posts and walls and street signs? Or, sending a hand written poem to a friend? If I share my written work any way whatsoever, is it considered used and tired and not worth publishing in a traditional sense? I’m confused. And a little bit angry.

I’m just laying this all out there today, in hopes of starting a conversation, discussion, around this topic. What do you think? What are the underlying issues?

Testing the waters,

Lesley-Anne

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Midweek Random Ramble017


1. A big shout out to my friend Heidi McLaughlin on the release of her most recent book, ‘Sand to Pearls’. Watch as Heidi introduces her thoughts on how to make choices that will enrich your life. Yahoo, Heidi!!! I’m excited to read your book, and to feel that tingle up and down my spine when I see some of my own words in print inside! You continue to inspire me in writing and in life!!!

2.

“The secret to great writing . . . is . . .
WRITE!

No, really. It’s true. Too many people spend the majority of their time talking about writing, reading books about writing, wishing they could write, dreaming about the writing life . . . you get the idea. But the fact is, writing is work, and to be a writer one must write and write and write some more.”

Kay Marshall Strom

3. Speaking about being intentional in the daily (writing and everything else), here’s something else to watch and consider… yes, it’s a writing theme today!!! Tim Schroeder, Pastor of my very own Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, shares some insights from his book, ‘Life by the Hour,’ in this excellent interview today on ‘100 Huntley Street. Another must for my reading plan!

4. Stories… everyone has them… and they are uniquely written parts of our lives.

Stories are gifts. SHARE., as I was reminded this winter in Starbucks most recent advertising campaign. So, I did!

Here, with the permission of the author (me) I will share again what I had the great privilege of sharing at the Christmas Eve Program at Trinity a couple of weeks ago. A number of other brave souls shared their stories as well. I hope to post a video of the program soon, if one is available.

“Hi my name is Lesley-Anne. My mom had breast cancer, and in the back of my mind I wondered if it might happen to me one day. Even so, it’s surreal to me when recently, my doctor calls me back after a routine test. Next thing I know, I’m being rushed in for more tests and day surgery. And as I wait for results, I’m thinking, “How can this be happening?” I’m thinking the worst. I’m angry. I’m disappointed. But, there is this point where I just say, “OK God, I know you are bigger than this. And I want to believe you are enough for me, no matter what.”

At the same time that all this is going on, I decide to join the Worship Choir and help with the Christmas Program here at Trinity. I want to sing, to praise God openly, like I’m taking a stand on what matters most in the middle of my messy life. So I audition for choir and I make it!

The very next weekend we’re on stage, singing a song called ‘Surrender’, and suddenly I’m crying, because the words are so personal, and I’m standing there giving God all my junk, my fear, my anger, over what I’m going through. And in my heart I’m saying,  “Yes, I surrender all of it to you God.” I feel God’s peace inside me.

Soon, we begin rehearsals for this very service. First time we meet, the director explains to us how the music, drama and experience of the Christmas services are all pointing to one central theme; God IS with us… All Shall Be Well. You can’t imagine how I feel as these words sink in. I am overwhelmed by God and how he knows me so intimately. I made it about my promises, and my worship, and my surrender, proving my trust in God. I almost miss it! So God whispers,“I’m here. I love you.”

“All Shall be Well Lesley-Anne… I am with you.”

God is with us.

Post Script… I received good news from my Doctor… and now I will begin a more vigilant lifestyle… testing more often to ensure everything remains OK. Still, no matter what comes, I stand on the one truth that will sustain me… God is with me.

Soli Deo gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Midweek Random Ramble013


1. I just came upon this video of Billy Shakespeare, performed by students from Kansas University. What a delight interesting experience to be able to watch this, listen AND READ SUBTITLES!!! If only this had been available when I was trying to read Shakespeare in High School Engish class. Just saying…

2. Amy, my hairstylist has been cutting hair for over 17 years. She’s young, and I can count on her to give me a style that is contemporary, not trying to look like I’m a teenager, and certainly not wanting to look like I’m old over 40ish! I asked her, among other things, what her favourite part of being a hair stylist is.  She said, “Well, it’s the instant gratification of the styling,” (you know, that part that I (you?) stress over each and every morning of our lives as we try to recreate what was looking sooooo good when we first had it cut). Seems that what takes me a lot of time and a lot of emotion to create, she finds to be both ‘instant’ and ‘gratifying’.  Hmmm… here’s the results this morning as I tried my best. It certainly wasn’t instant for me!

3.  I’ve committed to writing a manuscript of poetry. And I’ve almost committed to submitting it to publishers. Which means I’ve almost committed to writing a BOOK!!! I’m setting aside a time each week where I work on my poems, editing, fine tuning, rewriting them into something I feel happy with. Then I’ll go from there. It appears that I’m going to need about 64 poems that will be a substantial body of work that would be of interest to anyone. So, I’ll also be writing new poems too, as I’m not quite at the 64 mark. Just thought I’d mention it.

BTW, what’s your opinion on poetry? Does it feel rather distant, irrelevant, precious, uninteresting? Does it remind you of #1 where you struggled through Willie and didn’t quite enjoy the process? What if I told you that poetry was simply a story? To me, that is exactly what it is. My poems (which you read here every Poetry Friday) are about regular everyday people, places and things. So, when I say I’m writing a book of poetry… don’t let that put you off. I think you might like it when it’s done.

4. And here is what Halloween costumes looked like at our house this year, after a trip to Value Village and some digging around our own ‘tickle trunk’ downstairs…

… our own version of The Mad Hatter, complete with bunny…

…and a War Maiden of Celtic origins…

… and then there was Luke Skywalker…

5. Gotta go dust and vac. the house. The dog is all over it! Literally. Footprints and bits of leaves and other things Emmy has dragged inside.

Peace,

Out.

Lesley-Anne

Sol Deo Gloria