Secondhand Inspiration: Writers of the World

Check out bestselling novelist Warren Adler’s new website Writers of the World, an archive of personal essays from different writers about their creative processes. It is sure to inspire and motivate. And if you are so inclined, you can also submit your own personal story about why you write.

Kansas City Voices.

Volume 13 of the literary journal Kansas City Voices is available for purchase. Kansas City Voices’ mission is to support artists and inspire new voices to contribute to the growing cultural conversation. They publish an annual eclectic mix of fiction, essays, interviews, articles, poetry, and art.

Among the works included in Volume 13 is my prose poem “No Black People Were Harmed in the Making of this Poem,” a poem touching on past and present day atrocities that America has inflicted on African-Americans. This is my second appearance in this journal, and I appreciate the chance to contribute. Thanks to editor Jessica Conoley and the staff at Kansas City Voices for deeming my work worthy of publication.


Writing when you feel like…meh.

It is something all writers face - what do you do when it’s time to write and you just don’t feel like it? For those moments when you just aren’t feeling motivated, here are seven remedies for writer’s apathy, from a posting on the BookBaby blog. I plan to use this advice for my own writing endeavors – maybe you can, too.

Flame: The Lost Art of Listening

“The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” –Alfred Brendel

I am usually a decent listener. But yesterday I missed a statement by a co-worker that could’ve saved me two extra hours of work. Which would have translated to more time to write, workout, do errands, etc. I will never get those two hours back.

People don’t listen. They fail to keep their ears and eyes open, and this can leave them out of the game. Listening is like intelligence; everyone thinks they’re above average, even though that’s impossible.

We focus on formulating their response rather than listening to someone’s complete thoughts. Or fidgeting with smartphones instead of committing to conversation. Or passing judgement on the front end of a compound statement, not letting a person get to part where they agree with our sentiments.

I’m not pretending that I’m a perfect listener – as admitted at the start of this post, I fall into these traps, too. But I see this whole thing as the biggest bit of folly in modern society.

I get it - life is busy. It whirls by faster each day, and we never have a chance to catch up. We try to accomplish a billion things at once, and sometimes it works out. But active, effective listening isn’t something you can do on the fly. It requires a devoted, conscious effort.

The point of this rant - I am rededicating myself to shutting up and listening. I believe it will help me in my daily life, as well as enhance my writing. Will you join me on this endeavor?

The Talking Stick Volume 24

I wanted to mention that my poem "On the Occasion of My Untimely Demise" has been published in this year’s volume of The Talking Stick. I was also blessed that this piece won first prize in the poetry category this year. Many thanks to the staff of The Talking Stick and also to judge Laura Hansen for this treasured opportunity.

Published by The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc, The Talking Stick is a Minnesotan collaboration of poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction and awards a cash prize in each category. It is written and entirely produced by writers who at least have close ties to Minnesota.

Also included in this volume of The Talking Stick is my short story called "Brandy and Merlot." I'm proud of this piece because it's a big departure from what I usually do in fiction. The story is primarily dialogue driven and is much quirkier than my usual...especially since it features a talking pet as a major character.

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend The Talking Stick 24 book release party on September 19, 2015 near Park Rapids, MN. I enjoyed the energy of the sixty or so people there and the chance to read my prizewinning poem, as well as listen to all the great work of the diverse contributors to the journal.

It doesn’t look like Volume 24 is available yet for purchase online, but it will likely be soon. If you are looking for a good read, it would be worth checking out.

Spark: How to Find Inspiration

Sometimes the intent to write is there, but maybe you lack the motivation needed to put words on paper. If that is the case, find inspiration by taking a quiet moment to observe the world around you and within you.

Read more about this method of stimulating yourself to write in this posting from the BookBaby blog by Jim Dempsey. Then put his advice to good use. Be inspired!

Are Literary Contests Worth It?

That is a question I have wondered for years. Yet I still submit. Masochistic, I know. Maybe I secretly enjoy rejection.

But I digress. You should check out this take on the merit of writing competitions by Elisa Gabbert (on the Electric Lit blog).

Envy Jujitsu.

So let’s try to keep it real here: Envy really can become a significant part of the writing life.

As close friends and writing partners garner success in the literature world, you just might find yourself left behind…and sulking inside like a spoiled brat about not getting those accolades yourself. It’s only human, but you don’t need to let it impact your writing efforts or relationships adversely.

David Ebenbach provides some solid suggestions for how to deal with envy. Not to mention he coins a new sweet phrase for your personal lexicon: “Envy Jujitsu”.

I’ve Been Putting in Work.

I am blessed. I will have quite a bit of work that will come out soon in publications – a variety of poems, prose poems, and even a short story.

I will have work in upcoming editions of The Talking Stick, Kansas City Voices, North American Review (the first literary magazine in the United States), Obsidian, Switched-On Gutenberg, The Tishman Review, and Knut House Magazine. I appreciate all these journals and the staff that considered my work worthy to be in their publications.

I will be sure drop more info on this blog as these publications roll out. Until then, be good.