Fish in the Sea

When telling people that I am an aspiring writer, I can’t count how many times I have gotten the response, “Isn’t it lonely?”

We are all familiar with the image of the solitary artist: locked up in a cluttered studio, wandering city streets, or scribbling away in a dark bar.  And while I have my moments of solitude, I truly believe that I wouldn’t be on the path that I’m on without the support of my fellow writers. 

I have had many wonderful opportunities to share my work. I’ve previously mentioned the writing groups I am in and how beneficial they are. In particular, I have been feeling very fortunate to be a part of Main Street Writers’ Thursday night group. I have been writing with the people in this group since March. Each week I use the time to write a scene from my work-in-progress. 

By now, the people in this group have gotten to know the characters and, while they haven’t gotten their information in a linear trajectory, they are able to piece together the main plot points. Their perspective has been incredibly beneficial as I continue to piece together the rest of my manuscript. Seeing them able to make inferences about personality traits and speculations about the plot has been encouraging. It gives me confidence that, one day, my readers will be able to connect the dots in the same way. 

In addition, I continue to participate in open mics throughout the Pioneer Valley. In the last two weeks, I have read at Wendell Spoken Word and Straw Dog Writers Guild in Northampton, MA. 

While the experience of reading my work in front of an audience is always nerve-racking, I find the benefits to be limitless. I am always surprised and encouraged by the response I get out of audience. Whether it is tense focus or casual laughter, when I get the intended reaction, it feels like I am on the right track

Perhaps the most encouraging part of the open mics is the feedback I get following a reading. I have had several people approach me afterwards not only to comment on my writing, but also to implore me to keep writing. 

“What happens? Do they ever find her?”

“Don’t stop writing, you’re on to something!”

“You’re going to do great things, I can tell.” 

I’m human, and just like anyone, these ego-strokes feel great. But more than that, it’s a wonderful to get hints that I am following the right path. Because, at the end of the day, when it’s just you and your computer, sometimes self-doubt comes creeping in. When you feel like one lonely fish in a big, wide, literary sea, our goals and aspirations feel intimidating, if not completely hopeless and far-fetched in the darkest moments. 

But when I connect with my peers, it helps me to realize I’m not alone but am really a part of beautiful, colorful, diverse school of fish, I  mean, writers (pardon the corny metaphor). Each one wonderfully unique in what they have to offer.

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For anyone out there struggling with their writing, I encourage you to find ways to connect! Join writing groups, go listen to other people reading if you don’t have the courage or material to read yourself. Visit the library. Visit a coffee shop. Open yourself up to these connections, and I can bet you will be feeling much less lonely in no time. 

As always, Happy Writing, Reading, Sharing, Connecting.

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Reciting Poetry

In the few months I’ve been home, I’ve done several readings around the Pioneer Valley. It has been nerve racking and exhilarating to read my prose in front of an audience.

Last week, I chose to read some of my poetry at Spoken Word Greenfield. It was a completely different experience. Poetry, being so much personal than fiction, was much more difficult for me to get through. I felt vulnerable and exposed.

It was difficult, but it was a great experience, one in which I hope to build on in the future.

I would love to hear from other writers out there. Do you feel a difference when you read poetry versus prose at an open mic? Which do you prefer?

Here is one of the poems that I read:

AMHTHYST BROOK

Out in the woods I stand in the middle of a bridge

And I can’t tell which way the water is moving.

Like myself, coming and going

Moving perpetually in two directions.

I’ve seen enough roadkill to last a lifetime.

I don’t want to drive anymore.

I want to close my eyes next to you.

Be near me so I don’t have to think.

Be near me so I don’t’ have to know myself.

There is too much inside.

No matter where I go I find myself at a trailhead.

I walk fifty yards into the woods and then turn around

Because I fear its depth.

Like how I stand in the shallow end of my soul.

I don’t want to know how far down it goes

Or what lurky beasts hide in its midst.

It’s all mist down there.

Caution signs everywhere.

I told you to stay away

That at the end it would feel better.

But then, that’s a lie

Because I batted the fuck out of my eyelashes for you to come over.

What took you so long?

I’ve been watching the clock,

Not long until my moods swing.

Let’s hit the bathroom.

Oh it’s too nasty?

I like to play dirty.

So I guess it’s all my fault

I wind up with shards of glass in my skin

And dirt in my eyes.

I don’t want to stop.

Nothing feels better than pen scribbled on paper. 

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