Hearing as practice

Last night, I heard Nicole Cooley, Beth Ann Fennelly, and Erika Meitner read at Open Books. A riveting evening. Vibrant. The images, the structure, the story/not-story, the pull-no-punches telling–even the introductions to each poem.

Ahh…

And I confess that at one point, one quick point, surrounded by such splendor, I thought, “My new manuscript is crap, it’s all crap, it isn’t ready to send out, it won’t ever be ready to send out, I need to write much better poems.”

But the poetry was coming again, so I let that moment pass (really!) and was whisked away by more poems.

I came back to those doubts on the way home–doubts surrounded by inspiration. And by the time I reached the freeway onramp, I realized that this is exactly what I need. Seeing and hearing how it can be done (this way and this way and this way and this), another understanding.

Another door opens.

What about craft?

Wine barrels

Copyblogger posted a list of top 10 creative writing blogs.

This looked like my payoff for reading about copywriting–and translating some of that craft advice to the creative side. A list of blogs for me!

I love craft and reading about craft because I feel like I’ll learn things that can improve my craft and help me write better poems.

I was especially excited to see a blog about writing and deliberate practice. Jackpot!

But the site looks like its less about deliberate practice and more about practice–the kind with daily prompts and instructions. That’s fine–but I was looking for tips on how to use deliberate practice, which means figuring out the practice I specifically need to be doing to improve my craft. (In a perfect world, I’d have a mentor. In this imperfect and yet delirious world, I have me.) Plus, it does seem more geared toward prose.

I looked at a few more blogs, clicking through the posts and not yet smitten.

Then I found this post about fragmentation and stories, which ties into my deliberate practice, my current quest to tell better stories and stories without narrative. It’s reflective–and more of an opening to something new to the writer than a plunge into what works or when it doesn’t. (The answer could easily be that everything has the potential to work and you just need to open yourself up to it. I don’t disagree, but I’m looking for a more substantial inquiry–although I should follow some of the links).

At my first glance, none of these blogs provide the conversation I’m looking for–not enough for the commitment of keeping up with any blog. I’ll keep looking.

What are you looking for in a conversation about craft? Or is it even something you want to talk about?

Gratitude journal, thankful for a new year

The old year ended with a whimper, as “the Christmas flu” caught up with me for New Year’s Eve–all day. I’m hopeful that I’m past it now.

I’m thankful that the whole family seems to be past it. (Can you be thankful and cross your fingers at the same time?)

I’m thankful for my cat–who is often an incredible jerk, doing everything he knows is wrong repeatedly, but yesterday spent the whole day with me, sacked out on the bed in a show of loyalty.

I’m always incredibly thankful for a new year. I love beginnings, fresh starts. Heck, even a Monday gives me that clean slate thrill. But the first day of a year is a doozy. Exciting!

I’m thankful for the time I’ve had off from work, including some time to write.

And looking back, I’m thankful for 2011 and all its new ventures. Now, onward!