Blog Tour Continues!

I want to introduce you to two of my writer friends, whose blogs are “next-stops” on our blog tour:

Theresa_MunroeFirst, novelist TA Monroe: Theresa is one of the writers I’ve met on Facebook, and our FB friendship is one that’s very meaningful for me. She works really hard – really, really, really hard – on making her writing not just good, but great. Her book, Another Place on the Planet was one of the first ebooks I ever bought. A new edition is out and can be found on Amazon through this link:  Another Place on the Planet.

Her official bio: T.A. Munroe lives just outside of Phoenix, AZ with her husband, two cats and one very active puppy. She’s been telling herself stories all her life, but has only been writing them down for the past six or so. Another Place on the Planet is her first novel. Its sequel, Places Bright and Dark is scheduled for release in September.

Please check out her blog, where her “tour date” is currently being held, to find out all about this writer’s process: TA Monroe.

We’ll also be meeting the second writer I’ve asked to be on this tour: poet Daniel Ari. danielariDaniel is one of my few FB writer friends that I’ve met in “real” life: after hoping to get to meet him for years, I finally got to read with him and several of his friends at a gallery show, and what a lovely event it was! He’s a phenomenal poet (he won an early contest here on inourbooks) .Some day I’ll have to talk about their involvement in the best mother’s day present I think I’ve had: my husband surprised me with a trip to see them – I won’t say more now because it deserves a whole blog post. Let’s just say it was wonderful and amazing and relaxing (and I am NOT a relaxed chick, let me tell you).

Daniel’s official bio (which will tell you all you need to know about why I think he’s great):

Daniel Ari married poetry in 1987. Today the relationship is intimate and subtle like the flavor of vichyssoise. A poet, copywriter, teacher and performer, Daniel deeply loves words and is awed at their power, but he still needs help spelling vichyssoise. His forthcoming book One Way to Ask pairs poems in an original poetry form called queron with illustrations by 60 different artists. He has recently published poems and essays in Poet’s Market (2014 and 2015), Writer’s Digest, carte blanche, Flapperhouse, and elsewhere. He would submit poems to a journal, if one existed, called Vichyssoise.

Please check out Daniel’s blog Fights With Poems to check out his entry on his poetic and artistic process. And please top by his collaborative poetry and creativity blog, IMUNURI, to which I am going to be a contributor (if you can’t hear the 10,000 gleeful and excited exclamation points, just insert them in your imagination).

I hope you enjoy these two great writers as much as I do.

ina

Monday coffee: Writing “happy”

Mahlzeit für einen Binturong

By 4028mdk09 CC-BY-SA-3.0

This silly looking beast is a Southeast Asian Bear-Cat. Otherwise known as a binturong.

Binturongs are distant relatives of civets. They walk low to the ground, have prehensile tails and are the size of a very large dog. They waddle like raccoons, except when they leap straight up in the air (all four paws off the ground) to jump on ducks. No, not kidding. I had the pleasure of meeting one at the San Diego Zoo – he was one of their “Animal Ambassadors.” He did, as binturongs are reputed to do, smell exactly like Fritos.

20130311-150354.jpgI often hope that Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) got to meet a binturong. With their funny tufty ears, their habit of hanging upside down from tree branches to sleep, and their spray of whiskers, they are as close to a Dr. Seuss animal come to life as anything on Earth.

Our friend, Linda, is having a terrific contest in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The contest ends on the 16th of March. If you haven’t joined in yet, please do – even if you’re not “a real poet.” Dr. Seuss is for everyone.

I haven’t, myself, written a poem for the contest yet. My six year old has, but I haven’t been able to. Why? Partly because I’ve been overworked, but mostly because I’ve been a bit blue – a delayed effect of a lot of kind of yucky stuff from the past couple of months finally sitting down on my head.

Young pet bear cat in Taman Negara Malaysia

By Bart Van den Bosch CC-BY-SA-2.5

Until today, I have been waiting to “feel happier” before trying to write my Seussian poem. Which is why I ended up looking up pictures of binturongs. And it was when I found this little guy that I realized that…as a writer, you can’t always wait to be happy before you write. Because sometimes it’s the act of writing, the being at one with your creative nature, that is happiness. I’m happy when I’m writing – even when I’m grumpy about what I’m writing or even just bored. So instead of waiting to write until I am happy, or trying to jolly myself into happiness, I’m going to write myself happy. In fact, I’m going to do it now. This post is just by way of thank you to Linda H., and all the other writers I know (at PA friends, and HMPDYWT, and Posted Asides), for reminding me, however indirectly, that to be happy, writers…we write.

A little Friday surprise: Talk to me

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Confidences

Last month  I was looking for a particular ee cummings poem. And in the middle of the search, I ran across an archive of cummings reading his own work. Like this: love is thicker than forget. Since then, I’ve searched all over for poets reading their own works. I particularly love Fishouse Poems, which archives recordings of emerging poets. There’s an amazing poem by Amaud Johnson which you have to hear. Turns out there are archives all over the net of people reading amazing works. Of their own. Wow.

A poet we’ve interviewed on this very blog, Jay Sizemore, has posted some recordings of his poems on youtube. It’s an amazing experience listening to them – it’s not that the poems are better spoken, but different. I get different things out of using my ears than my eyes. I think we all do. I want to do a search sometime soon for youtube videos of people signing poems in ASL (which I don’t know much of, but a tiny bit) – I think I will learn a lot.

Charles Dickens, public reading, 1867It is good to read one’s draft poems aloud. It’s like getting several months away from them, it’s that fresh. All the slightly wrong notes are obvious; all the truly “on” moments stand out in great beauty.

If you find that you like reading your poems, there are not only open mics where you can speak your word in public but there are journals that will publish your works…in audio. These venues range from the multicultural spoken word standard, Visions With Voices, to the multi-media-friendly new magazines like shuf that include audio works. I’m thinking sometime that IOBs might want to try publishing audio works too.

So my thought for Friday? Let’s talk. 

Monday coffee: in which I give thanks and introduce cows

Artists at All City Coffee 25

In the U.S. the holiday of Thanksgiving is approaching. It’s a kind of odd holiday: people’s kids are in school plays where they dress in Pilgrim gear and worry about starvation, and later that week we have a huge dinner at which we usually overeat. Sometimes we do this while watching sports games on the largest screen we can find. And the very next day, we start a frenzy of Christmas or Chanukah shopping (in my case, both. So glad Diwali is already past!) that looks like sharks converging on an unfortunate school of gift wrapped fish – so scary that it’s even called Black Friday.

And yet, Thanksgiving simultaneous manages to have meaning to almost everyone here, even hard boiled cynics, that goes beyond the physical. It’s almost like the indulgence in the very material parts of our being (buying, eating) gives our hearts some unimpeded time to move towards others, their concerns, their needs, their lives.

Art tends that way too this time of year; the rain starts here in California, and the call from the artist world is expressive, connective. I love the idea of collaborative individuality in Laura Hegfield’s Gratitude Quilt. For a really, um, unusual physical piece of  gratitude artwork, one of my favorite art shows is featuring, this year, a Gratitude Cow (really!)* And for sheer gut-wrenching honesty, painter and poet Stuart Sheldon’s blog post, “Thank,” still  does it for me as it does every year since he wrote it.

I don’t tend to express gratitude publicly, including through writing. I’m too worried about people starving, and difficult court cases, and the Middle East situation, and my friends’ healthcare concerns, &c. You can imagine the sort of thing. But I am grateful for a lot of things, and when I was talking them over with my six-year-old, I was surprised to find that my typical top-10 list (my family, my lovely friends, my eyesight, etc) came up with an addition: this blog. It’s a pleasure taking part in its writing but even more of a pleasure connecting with my blogging partner and with the people who read and comment on and about this blog.

So, thank you, friends, for making this blogging thing such a joy.

*If you’ve never run across the Cow Parade, well, you’re in for a treat!CowParade Prague 2004 023 ALCHEMICOW

A poll: how do you remain true?

Hello, dear readers. A knotty problem today, waiting for your thoughts.

A blog I follow has a post about a problem that many writers I know (and many more that I’ve only read about in biographies) seem to run into (in Western cultures particularly – some day we’ll have to talk about why there’s so much variation in attitude between cultures). The author describes the problem like this:

You see, friends, my immediate family simply doesn’t understand me.  They don’t know why I like to do what I do.  They don’t have any interest in things that I love.  They just barely fall short of making fun of me for doing what I am so passionate about..It’s all about being true to oneself, isn’t it?  Rarely an easy thing to do, but made even more difficult when those immediately around you will not lovingly accept it.

The trope of the Misunderstood Writer has a long and venerable history. But behind the trope is a truth that many writers live and struggle with every day. It’s a little annoying when The distrest poetyou’re confronted by a relative stranger at a party or a school meeting who comes out with:  “You’re a writer. How do you pay the bills?” or “I don’t remember hearing your name – are you any good?” But it’s just plain hard when this vibe comes from someone you care  about, or love and trust, or someone to whom you’ve devoted your own life.

I want to dispel a potential misunderstanding here: the author of the blog, Cooper Robbins*, is not a whiny wanna-be (“If I only had a supportive family, I’d be a best-seller, but no, I’m so beat by the end of the day I’d rather watch re-runs”); this is an author whose creative life includes a novel, a screenplay, and a fair amount of “&c,” on top of maintaining a home and taking care of young ones. Her post (and this post) aren’t about people who want to be writers but don’t write…this is about how we as writers keep writing in the face of resistance from those whose opinions we most value.

Nerr0795 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library

Camouflage, demonstrated by the Graceful Kelp Crab

Robbins does this in part by developing and participating in supportive writing communities – in a way, that’s what her blog is about.  Some people (and I include myself here) have a sort of damn-the-torpedoes approach, which generally involves shutting certain people out of the creative part of one’s life. Other people hermit (to hermit: to isolate one’s self, creating a shell, and then decorating it with camouflaging materials, such as PTA meetings or banker’s three-piece suits, as needed).

So here’s my question. What do you do? What advice would you give to Cooper Robbins about how to cope with being surrounded by people who are either baffled  or skeptics? NOTE: The poll should let you vote for as many choices as you want – if it doesn’t let you, tell me and I’ll go give it a strong talking to 🙂 [IOB: ina]

*unsurprisingly, this is a nom de plume – sometimes everyone needs a place to vent.  I happen to have a venting blog too, and no, I don’t link it to my name and, no, I haven’t and won’t link it to this blog. Which probably says something, don’t you think?