2021-05-18 Music as Inspiration and Other Rando Crafty Thoughts…

I’ve had my new phone for over a week and finally.. FINALLY.. got my music library loaded. So now I’m officially down to using one device daily. 💃💃💃

This morning, instead of picking a playlist, I’m listening to the ultimate shuffle—all the songs that are in my library. Another advantage of my new phone is that it has space to hold all the music I’ve loaded onto iTunes on my laptop, which is a fraction of the songs I’ve acquired in my lifetime. I only load artists, albums, and songs that I want to hear so as to avoid spending time skipping a whole lot of garbage that I’m not into.

In any case, listening to the ultimate shuffle today began with Mrs. Potters Lullaby by Counting Crows. That’s a song I once got inspired to write a poem about. One of the few instances (besides my Fall Out Boy poem) where I remember the exact circumstance—where I was and when.

I was at the Panera Bread in Papillion on 72nd street and it was just after a meetup with my ex, Matt. I sat in a corner chair—one of the bigger lounge chairs that’s not at a cafe table. I had my laptop out and was writing when the song came up. I was immediately immersed in the song and stopped writing. I couldn’t remember hearing that one before and I’ve listened to a LOT of Counting Crows. 

After the song was over, I hit the back button to listen again. And then again as I began to compose a poem. I let the song influence the poem, both in meter and rhyme. Each time I listened I pulled a line or two out to mingle with my own thoughts and I repeated the song until I was satisfied that the first draft was complete.

I then closed my laptop and drove home. 

Months later I found it again, perusing my personal slush pile and worked on revising, with the limited knowledge I had at that point (still early in my MFA). I didn’t spend too much time on it though, dismissing it because of the heavy rhyme and all the lyrics I’d hijacked and twisted to suit my needs. I wondered if the poem was too much of the song. Would that be considered plagiarism? 

Fast forward about two years and I’m revisiting my slush pile again, hunting for something to submit to workshop for my final MFA residency. I had a lack of new material and really wanted to push the envelope with something I felt was good and worthy of workshop, but would spark conversation about rhyme and “stealing” lines. 

It did exactly that and I was pleased with the outcome, yet, I have not submitted that one for publication and as I write this, I’m questioning why not. 

Perhaps that should be one of the next poems on the agenda for revision and research. Research because sometimes it takes a little effort to find a place that the poem would be a good fit for. Many publications I research actually say that rhyming poems are a tough sell and honestly, the poem itself is lacking tension and that’s probably a problem.

But tension can come in many forms. The subject itself can be edgy, the writing can be such that it surprises, or the tension can be more subtle—hidden in the play between the fundamental elements of the poem. Interruptions in established meter or form, changes in diction, or juxtaposing simple colloquial speech with complex rhetoric can all be effective means to create tension. I just have to decide what my poem wants—what would work with what’s already there. 

But… it could be that this is just a learning experience and the poem isn’t meant to be out in the world. Many aren’t. 

Maybe the experience I can learn from happened years ago when I first composed the poem, leaning into a song for inspiration. Maybe the daily reading of poems for inspiration can be expanded to include whatever song I feel moves me the most. 

Right now I’m listening to a song by Justin Bieber and that’s NOT inspiring me to write anything. I like some of his songs but listening to the ultimate shuffle, I’m still left skipping through a lot of garbage. Ugh!

Times up now anyhow. The taco Tuesday train is about to leave the station. All aboard! 🚂 

Peace, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-05-17 Back in the Game… ✍🏻💕✍🏻✍🏻

Last year I went on a submission spree, submitting my poetry to all levels and types of publishers, from the very brand new organizations to the big-name long shots—print, online, anthology, full manuscript, chapbook, daily, monthly, quarterly journals and reviews. I think I maxed out at 80-something open submissions sometime in November or December. Oh, and I spent some coin too as most of those journals operate much like my Good Life Review in that they rely on the submission fee to cover the cost of operations. 

In January I started fresh but vowed to only submit to free places that month. Then I sort of lost my motivation and promised myself I would wait out for what was currently open to be declined (or accepted).. until my open number dwindled to around 50. I told myself I would pick it back up then and maintain that 50, as a goal. 

50 came and went, I don’t know when, and then 40, then 35, and 30. About that time I decided I would try to maintain 25, when I got there. With the last decline  I received I think the open count was down around 22 so I was clearly lying to myself. Among all the declines have been a few acceptances, of which only one is set for future release—summer 2021. 

Of course I still have that chapbook that’s going to be published later this year. Sort of anti-climactic to have that come through and literally wait almost a whole year to announce anything about it. Though I’ve thought about making it public anyhow, just to boost my writer spirits. 

Anyhow.. not sure what my lack of motivation was from. I tried to look early last week for potential places to submit but quickly lost interest. Maybe it has something to do with my lack of new material. 

I read my standard two poems a day and that’s been uninspiring. I’m reading all the poetry submissions for my lit mag’s contest and am also uninspired by most of it. I think I’m just not in the mood to write anything new. I ask myself if that is ok or if it’s a problem to be solved.

Hmmm. 🤔 

***

Recently I wrote about how my mood has taken a turn for the better lately and that I think the lack of obligations has something to do with that. I wondered briefly if setting an expectation that I continue to press hard on the publishing thing wasn’t a contributing factor in the grand equation of expectations and a feeling of self-worth, or purpose. 

Last Friday I dipped my toe into submittable and confirmed what I thought to be true. Sure enough I was sitting at 22 open. I resolved myself to bringing that number up to 25. But oh my, am I sick of looking at the same poems (especially the ones that have been rejected over and over). So I opened some fresher material and got to work on revising and polishing them. 

And wouldn’t you know what happened next is like magic. I got lost in it. I was putting these newer poems through a series of tests—syntax, form, vocabulary choices, passive voice, cutting unnecessary words, lines, rewriting others conpletely, etc., etc. It felt glorious. With each pass, I felt better and better about each poem and, in general, I felt better too. 

I continued to edit and felt good enough about a couple to submit. Then I thoughtfully toggled between research, more revision, and submitting again until my count was up to 25. That was only 3 new submissions, but it was 3 more than I had had that morning and hitting my goal was satisfying. 

Wouldn’t you know, I woke up Saturday to a new decline in my email and I shrugged an got out my laptop to work some more. This time, exceeding my goal. Now I’m up to about 27. Maybe my new goal should be 30? 

This is how it starts. 😉

I suppose the point of all of this is that I had to force myself to do something I enjoy, but once I did, it was extremely satisfying and now I’m back in the game. 

Now… maybe THAT has more to do with my improved mood than anything. It could be that the spell of depression and unmotivated mood I had been going through had to do with BOTH external obligations and the lack of nourishment of my soul. The part of me that needs poetry and that thrill of producing art that I feel is beautiful and full of love. 

Love IS the right word. 

Today is Monday and I’m steadily making my way through my house chores—dishes, cleaning the kitchen (after a weekend with a houseful of teenagers), litter boxes, grocery shopping, and laundry. So far so good. And I’m not even bent about it. I feel great about it actually. What a flip!! 

My mom is coming over this afternoon and bringing her dog. We are actively trying to find a new home for her as my mom can’t handle her with her current health issues. It’s just not feasible. I’m hoping today’s meet-up will yield a positive outcome. It would be one less thing she has to worry about (and by proxy, one less thing I have to worry about). 

I think that’s it for today. 

Cheers to Being Back in the Game, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-05-11 All of This Is True.. Or Is It? 😉

This morning I was listening to my “Gear Shifter” playlist—the one I curated with songs that are sure to pump me into a cardio machine mood. One of the songs that came up in the shuffle was Hoodie Allen’s “The Real Thing.” 

The end of the song is a clip I have to believe is an authentic message left in his voicemail. It’s some girl, presumably his girl friend telling him she knows he’s working hard on a new album but he needs to get his priorities straight and pay more attention to her. For real! 

When she left that message she probably had no idea that it would make its way into one of his songs that would eventually be distributed to thousands of adoring fans. What do I think when I hear her sharp tone and biting words? What a bitch. 

I was given advice once to always be careful what you say and write, always, lest some unsavory nugget make it out into the wide world. It’s a conundrum. We spend so much energy making our public profiles look exactly how we want people to perceive us. For better or worse, I suppose.

The flip side of this is the freedom of letting your freak flag fly and not giving two turtles what other people think. In my head it’s a balancing act. My hatred of social media helps tip the scales in favor of not posting anything, ever. However, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are obviously not the only places I’m putting myself out there.

My biggest public facing platforms are my blogs—in various levels and colors of “findability.” My newest website which is less of a blog and more of space for self promotion is the place I’m thinking (hoping) people find me if/when they are looking. I was told that all writers should have a website to promote themself and their work. That it makes publishing their work more appealing to potential publishers.

That blog isn’t really a replacement for my original shyspark blog which I still post on a few times a year. That blog is home to first drafts of poetry and is also the archive of poems and musings from all the way back to the beginning of my poetry writing (which incidentally was when I was about 12 years old). In any case, it still serves a purpose.

Here’s me finally getting to my point…

A few weeks ago I posted to that original shyspark.com blog, which is connected to my Twitter account and posts automagically to Twitter. I had written a first draft of a prose poem. It was more of a musing than a poem, but I’m gonna call it a hybrid piece.

In the poem I had embellished some details of the situation I was writing about, letting the imagination in my fingers do the talking. I had an argument with myself about whether or not to post it, worried what people might think. I ended up posting it. 

Fast forward a few hours and whatever part of me won the argument about posting it waffled and I edited the post, rewriting the details of the lines to smooth over any content that might cause someone to question my character. Doing that made me feel so much better about the poem. 

Fast forward to the next day when it was brought to my attention that my husbands ex-wife had read the post AND brought it up with her son AND had him look at the post. 

They didn’t find the original lines. As timing had it, by the time she was pulling him in to read what I had written, the post had already been changed. I chalked it up to a lesson learned. But what was the lesson?

This question is one I’ve been struggling with since then. Here is what I’ve learned:

  1. Given the timing, it’s clear my husband’s ex-wife (who I’m thoughtfully calling whore number 1) is somewhat stalking me. To have seen that post in the short time it was in its original state, she is either following my blog, following me on Twitter, or just looking at all my shit on a regular basis. Any way you slice it, it’s creepy. If you are reading this, Jill, get a life!
  2. I still, after all these years, struggle with the thought of people actually reading what I write, worried about their perceptions of me. I’m a good person, but obviously have flaws and problems and make questionable decisions at times, that are not so pure of heart. Can I let that go and should I?
  3. Does the poem have to be true or are embellishments ok? If I twist the truth to shine a light on the deeper meaning I’m trying to come to terms with, is that being dishonest? I think most seasoned and learned writers would say it’s ok. Still, I write so much that’s nonfic, it’s tough to spin anything else when writing poems.

In the end, I felt like I wanted to write about this incident because it upset me but suppressed the urge, in favor of trying to just let it go. Clearly I haven’t let it go because as I began to write about that voicemail clip in the Hoodie song, it’s exactly the incident my mind zeroed in on. I didn’t plan this.. it just happened. 

If I was more brazen, I would tell you what kind of person is semi-stalking me. I would tell you that I call her whore number 1 because in an email to my husband she called me whore number 3. She wrote it and sent it and she’s never even met me.

Yes, I am my husbands third wife, but if I’m whore number 3, that makes her whore number 1. Good gravy!! 

(Oops.. I guess I’m more brazen than I thought!) 

If I was bolder than that I would tell you all kinds of other horrible things this woman has said and done and written. But not today. I’ve already satisfied my need to vent about this situation and her and it would really serve no purpose. I guess that means I’m done. 

And it’s about time.. I’ve definitely gone way beyond my allotted time for walking today. 

Cheers to Getting Shit off Your Chest(Finally), 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-02-05 This One Time at Band Camp…

JK.. I never went to band camp. 

I did go to cheer camp like 4 times though. Sadly there are zero juicy stories from that. All I have to show for my four years of cheerleading in high school are a bunch of pictures of all my bad hair days, nightmares about perpetually being excluded by the other girls, and a couple of trophies for being the “most improved.” 

In a world where popularity and good looks were everything, getting the “good effort” award was like a serious gut punch. I did work my ass off to be a good cheerleader however and I suppose in the long run learning how to work hard to achieve something has served me better than any fragile friendships or being noticed for my looks. Though, damn, those would have been nice. 

These days, getting acknowledgement for my efforts from people I respect is so affirming. A few days ago we had a team meeting for the lit mag and one of our teammates threw some compliments my way and suggested introducing me to The Local Girls Gang which is a group of bad-ass women bosses and entrepreneurs. I was soooo flattered. Kind of speechless. One of my other team members spoke up and piled on. My oh my. 

Sometimes I’m just so unsure how I’m doing and what people’s perceptions are. And often I don’t know how to react to compliments. Some people deflect compliments or minimize them thereby coming across as very modest. The approach I typically take when I’m overwhelmed or dont know what else to say is just to respond with “thank you.” But I honestly don’t remember how I reacted or what I said. 

The zoom meeting was recorded and I’m still waiting on that being sent to the group so I could eventually play it back to find out. 

In other similar news, I recently contacted a professor of mine from a class I took at UNO in 2019 with a request to help spread the word about the lit mag and among the kind words he sent me in response was a comment about me being such a “hard charging dynamo.” Again I’m filled with pride. Sometimes it pays off to be the “most improved.” 

It reminds me that it’s ok to not know how to do something or to maybe not have a natural affinity for something and just work hard to be better.. I mean.. nobody knows how to do a thing until they try it. But if you work hard, you can get better and eventually people will notice. 

Statistically speaking, by this time in a blog post 99% of people have stopped reading. And sometimes that is the same amount of time it takes to get to my REAL topic. 

I suppose this might seem like a bad thing. I’ve lost all readers before I get to the point, but in this case (with this particular blog) it actually works to my advantage. I want to write about something I’m unsure of or worried what people might think. Why today’s REAL topic falls into this category is a mystery to me but it does. 

The same night as that team meeting I mentioned (which was incidentally also the day/night I was empty of energy and having concerns about my relationship) I found a message in my inbox just before I went to bed. It was a notification that a chapbook I submitted last year was accepted for publication. 

I’ve had individual poems published online, among a sea of other poets. I’ve had individual poems published in print anthologies with other poets/poems but this is new! This is an entire 30 page chapbook of poetry, just MY poetry that will be published in 2021!! 

Holy efffing shit people. This is such fantastic news I don’t quite even believe it. And I was so wrecked when I read that email that I don’t think i had the mental capacity to process the news. 

It was one of the things that kept me from sleeping that night however and was partially responsible for my getting up at 4am. I read it a few times to make sure I was sure about what it said. I subsequently updated my personal website with the news which isn’t much. I only know the publisher and since it had been a while since I researched them I mined their website again for more info. Publishing full length manuscripts and poetry chapbooks is their main thing. And they gave some recognizable names in their list of authors which makes me feel great. 

I have great respect for Terrance Hayes’s work and he has a book with them. Wowza!! 

So that was Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Now it’s Friday night and I have yet to tell another soul, save this blog. What the hell?? Why is that?? 

Now we’re getting to the REAL REAL topic. All thoughts converge on this question. 

As questions often do, it multiplies before it can be answered sufficiently -or- so it CAN be answered. 

Do I feel I don’t deserve this or that my poetry is not actually good enough? 

Am I just not sure how to react to this “success?”

Or am I worried about the other consequences if the poems being in print? That could be it. The focus/theme of the book is about relationships which is mostly benign however there’s a heavy emphasis in the second half on my new life at “the castle.” 

Besides the two mentors I had in the last two semesters of my MFA program, an friend who helped me edit, and my mom.. no one else has read most of these poems. 

I’ve not shared with workshop peeps, friends, or Jim. Especially not Jim. 

My 3rd semester mentor encouraged me to “give in to the destructiveness of a subject.”  I’m not sure I quite understood his point, until now. 

My moms reaction after reading was to be worried I’m not happy with my new life. I assured her things were fine. Still, I have elected not to share with my husband, who is my biggest fan and always wants me to read my poems to him, especially now the ones being published. 

It could be that I’m worried what he will think. That he will also take to heart the sentiments and that will throw a wrench into our relationship. 

To be fair, three years ago when we met I told him my passion was writing and that I was pursuing an MFA in poetry. His response was frankly that he never wanted me to alter my art or have our relationship cause me to change what I was writing about or how I was writing. I interpret that as “keep writing what is in your heart no matter what.” 

At that time I never dreamed we would get married or that I would be living this life of a doctors wife. I never dreamed that I would be compelled to write so much about my current circumstance. However, I could have predicted that whatever I would write about, it would not be the rainbows and butterflies. That’s just not my style. 

And thank the universe as rainbows and butterflies are not in fashion this century. “Today” poetry is all about free-verse with lots of tension and surprise. This pending chapbook (submitted under the working title “Unsuspecting Cinderella”) is all about tension and surprise and suggests that the house I live is inhabited by a dark force that gets into the heads of anyone living there and changes them (and not in a good way).

I do worry living the charmed life that’s virtually worry free financially will change me (and my children). The poems in no way implicate the owner of the house, but it’s not a large leap to get there. 

There’s actually very little mention of Jim. And maybe there’s something about that which is also concerning. Or maybe I just don’t know how to write a love poem. I have written a love poem about Jim and even took that to the MFA workshop. “Lack of tension” was one persons comment. Another said they didn’t quite believe the speaker and thought the poem was actually about the speaker missing being single. If that’s not proof I can’t write a love poem, then I don’t know what is. Good gravy!! 😜

I digress. Sorry bout that. 

“Girl, Stop Apologizing” 

So yeah, I’ve officially got a book coming out. That’s what’s up!!

Bringing this full circle.. I did work my ass off on those poems, revising relentlessly and arranging and rearranging tirelessly until the order in the book was “perfect” and working diligently to get the individual poems placed (which is key in the process/decision for a publisher in selection, I think). I might not get the extra-most-bestest award, but I certainly feel like I deserve an “A” for effort.

In this case, I’m pleased as punch with the result.

Now I just have to figure out how to navigate telling people. I suppose posting this blog is the first step. Haha! 

Statistically speaking, Friday nights are the lowest traffic time for this blog so it’s perfect!! 😜

Staying Frosty, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-01-12 On Being Smaug 🐉

I opened a book I got for Christmas; I was bound and determined to break out of the habit I’ve gotten myself into where I only read to learn things and can’t seem to read for fun or enjoyment. I remember those days. I remember reading the Hobbit in the bathtub when I was a kid. I loved that book and it has a water-swelled look that proves it. 

I swear I’ve lost the patience to read for no “productive reason”. I read two damn pages of my new book and had to set it aside. School broke me I think. Either that or I really don’t like what I was reading. What I need to do is figure out how to switch off the “learning” brain and just read something fun and adventurous or suspenseful. Perhaps a YA dystopian novel? 

Maybe deep down I really don’t like poetry. How cray would that be? A poet confessing that the only poetry she really loves is her own. I love all my babies. I think all my little darlings are precious gems and deserve good homes. Maybe the best home there is, is one I build myself? After a parade of rejections lately I’m starting to think more about that.

What can I do to unhinge my learning brain so I can just enjoy reading again? This diatribe about reading is a smoke-screen for what’s really bothering me.

Hinge and unhinge are buzz words. And the moon is still the biggest cliche that’s OK but not Ok.
Or I maybe I don’t care it’s Cliche. If the moon wants an appearance in my poem, who am I to refuse?

After all, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

Yeah, it’s part of who I am. And my poetry is an extension of who I am.

I will keep working to make my writing better but won’t sacrifice my voice or preferred topics because who I am is not “marketable” or the “right fit.” (Nobody said I’m not marketable, but I’m not an idiot, the market has trends of interest).

I’m Smaug from the Hobbit, with all my gems and well armored against most assailants. Most. But last night felt stings from a well placed/well timed arrow. Right in a tender spot exposed in a weak moment.

There have been a number of rejections this week. I’m close to getting my period and that’s when I’m more emotional, more vulnerable and subject to injury. So far I’ve been pretty immune to the language of the thoughtless rejection form letter. The letter that’s says, out of the box, “thanks but no thanks.” What’s worse, when they send something like “not a good fit.” What’s a good fit is what I want to know. 

What’s worse is when I can tell they really just leave the Submittable default decline letter be their rejection message. Being on the publishing side, I know what that is. And also that it takes just a few minutes to craft something more personal. We did that for the GLR and I revisit this sometimes. It’s an important part of our Public facing reputation. Each human interaction, even rejection (maybe especially rejection), is important. 

Sometimes I feel like everyone else is doing all the work on the lit mag, and my contribution isn’t important, but thinking about it now.. the fact that I care so much about being kind and treating people with respect and being sympathetic to their situation does have an impact because I want every interaction to be a positive one. I know there are improvements I can make and those changes will make a difference. 

I think being on the receiving end of messages from potential publishers has made me better suited for the work I’m doing. 

With each new rejection my confidence wanes. I was sitting in my bed and updating the spreadsheet I use to keep track of my submissions and there’s so much orange sherbet I feel a sting. I selected a pleasant shade of orange to indicate rejection instead of red because red is so harsh. The color of blood or stop or don’t isn’t conducive to keep trying again. 

Still, after a while, even the light orange is bothersome. At the same time I’m reviewing the status in submittable I’m texting with my friend T and we’re conversing about rejection and self publishing and the lit mag. We both agreed the wonderfully written rejection was something to treasure. 

I’m down about the numbers but not sure what to do about it. I recognize it is mostly out of my control. If my writing is not a good fit, there’s nothing I can do. Find a place it is a good fit I suppose. But I was too tired last night. Too tired to read, to write, to research, and decided to call it quits for the day. 

It was supposed to be a good day, a “me” day but my mood was rotten all day and I just couldn’t feel accomplished or productive no matter what I tried. 

Then.. just as I was closing my laptop, I checked my email one last time. A new message in my inbox was a lovely email from a former mentor of mine from the MFA program. It was so generously encouraging I just cried. How did he know that was exactly what I needed? That’s some serious intuition. 

He said I was “a real deal poet” and to keep working. After I read that I closed my laptop and set it aside. I slid down under my covers, and grabbed a tissue to wipe my eyes. How did he know? 

I have more thoughts about that, but have gone on too long already about rejection and about typically being immune to the sting of it, and also about how there’s a weak spot in my “armor”. 

I’m not Smaug. I may be wounded but I’m not gonna die from those poorly crafted steel arrows. I will survive to live another day, do good work, and make my own mark on this life.

With my mentors kind words I was able to fall asleep with those thoughts instead of the others. And I woke up this morning ready to take on the day.

What did I find in my email inbox?.. Another poem has been accepted for publication. Well played Universe!!

Cheers to being Smaug but not really being Smaug, 😉

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-01-04 MFA Graduation Day 💃💃🎉

It’s about time. It’s about endings and beginnings, direction, voice, responsibility, and resolution.

Or at least it wants to be. Aspiration, experience, and discovering what life is trying to teach you. I mean me. When i say “you” I mean “me”. When I say “we” I also mean “me”. We’re all self centered. Humans. All pronouns are rooted in a center that’s concerned with self, with perspective, angle, intention. We’re slant. 

Sometimes this generative process I go through each day begins with fragments of thought. Most of the time I don’t have a lot of complete concrete ideas of what I want to write. I just have to begin. We all have to begin somewhere. We’re all alike in that. 

I suppose the difference between this writing and the production of poetry is that this writing begins and ends as an unedited first draft. All the fragments and incomplete thoughts, the “fluff” and mistakes are exposed. And I’m fine with that. I’m getting what I need from it and am satisfied. 

As opposed to the poems which go through a dozen (often many more) revisions. I’m way more concerned with mistakes, and turning every stone of the poem over to discover what improvements can be made, the tightening of the writing until it’s sharp as a blade. 

 Obviously in the MFA program we talk a great deal about this process. And in my last semester revision was a big focus of study as I was revising every poem in my manuscript. It takes a great deal of effort and even now, though it’s long been over, I look at those poems and see other things I could change to make them even sharper. 

Yesterday I attended a lecture about voice and how you can’t find your voice because it’s naturally in you already. Not a thing to discover, if you will, but instead something you just have to flex and grow. You have to hear yourself and also practice other voices. You have to go out on a limb. The metaphor the person giving the lecture used was that of a tree. The trunk and main branches are your natural voice. All the smaller branches, leaves, buds are extensions of that voice. But it still all comes from the same source. It was a great metaphor. 

My lecture was on voice too so I’ve done a lot of thinking about the topic, but the lecture yesterday opened my eyes to a few big pieces I’d not considered previously. 

First that our voice is sometimes something we’re suppressing because for whatever reason we’re taught it’s not correct. We lose confidence and try to change it, which doesn’t work. 

More importantly though, I had the realization that I’m kind of afraid of my own natural voice. Afraid may not be the right word. A better thing to say might be that I don’t trust my own voice. I think this is one of the  reasons public speaking scares me. I have to write out what I want to say because I’m afraid of my natural impromptu voice stumbling, being judged and laughed at. 

I literally wrote out and read my lecture (and my reading was just that too). When asking questions during zoom lectures I prefer to type my question into the chat and not speak out loud. This extends to other parts of my life too, specifically when it comes to my job and facilitating meetings. 

I’d much prefer to write out an email than  conduct a meeting. I’m much more comfortable with that. I’m not good at going out on a limb. I need to work on that. 

Today is the last day of the last residency I’ll have the opportunity to attend as a student. There are a few lectures left and one workshop. Later today there will be a virtual graduation ceremony highlighting all the grads. I’m not really nervous about it as I’ll mostly just be watching. The grads have composed a prose poem of sorts where we’ll each have our two lines to say in turn. That’s it. Then it will all be finally, officially over. 

I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what’s next and what my life will look like now. In truth, not a lot will change as I’ve already slid into not working a job and not having deadlines for school. My hope is that I can keep myself on task. Keep working on “going out on a limb” and pushing myself to stick with the endeavors I’ve committed myself to. 

I want to and think I will but it will be a matter if finding the right balance. Yes, it’s about balance too. Sleep, balance, time, health, direction, and responsibilities. More about that will likely appear in fluff in the musings of Miss SugarCookie soon (and always). 

My hour is up. Time to get going with the day. 

Cheers to endings and beginnings, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-12-24 A Perfect 4

I haven’t put on a dress in a while, but I’m pretty sure size 4 is still what would fit best. On a scale from 0-10, pretty sure my poetry is a 4 too. At least based on all these rejections. Another one popped into my in-box this morning. Like hello… merry fucking Christmas to you too. Who sends rejections on Christmas Eve? Whatever. 

I’m still letting my submissions ride through December. I’ve had three or four new rejections in the past week and one new poem get posted on a new site. 

That one I’m not particularly excited about (the journal not the poem—that poem is at least a 7 on the aforementioned poem scale). I’m calling this latest publication a lesson learned. Everyone makes mistakes you know and so this is a mark in that category. 

As I’ve come to conclude, finding places for your writing is a lot like dating. It goes like this…. 

Submittable is like that dating app. There’s a list of potentials you can do a bit of filtering on. You get a brief “picture” and bio of potential matches. You sit alone and scroll and scroll and click and read and if something looks promising, you might dig a little deeper on their website, you know, how one might google a person of interest. At this point in the game, you have to decide which ones are worth more effort. Like dating, it can be slim pickings at times. 

You might ask yourself if they are right for you and your babies. Oh that’s another thing, you are concerned about yourself but also your precious children, because they will be the ones inheriting the outcome if there’s a match. 

So you find a good one. You swipe right and fashion that first communication. You have to decide if you will be clever or just stick with the standard form letter greeting. Hi. I’m “so and so” and I’d like you to go to the prom with me. We don’t have to go to dinner. Yes, I have a fancy dress I can wear, I’m a size 4 (in case that’s important). I’ve been checking you out and I think we’d be great together. Not up for something long term? How about just a one night stand? Here’s a good poem. Take it pretty please with sugar on top. 

Too desperate? Makes sense… that’s what rejection does to a person. 

So as far as I figure, part of this dance is like determining what league you are in (and sizing them up too). Like see that hot guy over there, Mr. New York Times is a 10. Miss Paris Review is also a10. Unless you’re name is Ilya Kaminsky (who is also a 10), you should just forget about it. 

You have to know yourself. I’m not a good judge of myself. I think I’m like a 6 but I’m probably a 4. And I’ve been aiming all over the place. 1s, 8’s, and everywhere in between. I’ve even swiped on some unrated lit mags. Literally. Which makes them a 0. 

That was my mistake. Now I regret hooking up with that ZERO who misspelled my name when the issue came out and frankly was sloppy in their presentation. And I sent them one of my best babies… like one of my 7s. Ugh!! 😩 

The truth is, just line dating, after a lot of rejection you kind of lose confidence. I think that’s what happened. I just felt down about it and started sending everywhere and didn’t do the proper evaluation. I won’t do that again. 

From now on I’m going to evaluate what I have to offer and match that with the places I’m sending to. (I say in the wake of this latest mistake). But it’s a lot of work. Just like dating. 

For now though, and through the new year until after Res, I’m just riding out the swipes I’ve got stacked up already. Still hovering above 70. Maybe I should just ride it out until I’m back down around 50. We’ll see. The swiping can be addictive though. Hmmmmm… that’s just like dating too. 

Wonder if I’ll ever find a good match for my manuscript? 

Well..  I used Bumble once and hit the freaking lottery. So I guess anything is possible. 😜

“Why yes, Mr. Graywolf Press, you can have me. Just take me. Take all of me!” 🤣

Happy Hunting, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-12-24 It’s Always the Eve of Tomorrow

Christmas Eve today. On one hand it’s all just fine. I have everything I need here. My people, love, nourishment, warmth, opportunity, and am looking forward to tomorrow and the adventures we will find there. 

On the other hand, it just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like Christmas or the cusp of another residency and I feel so angry and cheated by this Universe forsaken year. What’s a girl to do? 🤷‍♀️

You know, I was awake at 5 am. Another early morning. I get up and put pants on and shuffle quietly out of the bedroom. I check the cats and my kids. They are all awake too. For my kids is a late night. They are enjoying the holiday break and have switched to alternate schedules. For the cats, well, they are always awake at this hour it seems.

So I begin my regular morning routine. It’s like any other day for me. I grab my water, headphones, reading glasses, and phone and head for my treadmill. 

I step on the machine and set the pace to 2.5 or 3 depending on my mood. Pick a playlist or perhaps leave the music app on random shuffle (today it’s random). Then open some app to write what I’m thinking, which is now google docs. 

I’ll give myself an hour to muse about yesterday or today or some issue hampering my mind. That’s it. That’s the start of just about every day of my life now. And there’s comfort in it. The security of knowing what to expect is something I’m grateful for. I’m pretty lucky.

The thing that my brain is stuck on today, besides how this Christmas is so strange, is the MFA residency that’s about to happen. The lecture I’ve poured so much into that will be over and done in a hot 40 minutes. The poems I’m not prepared to workshop. The other lectures I don’t care about. The readings I’ll be sitting alone for, instead of with the people who have come to be my friends. No library pub meetups. No late night’s loitering about the lobby of the Lied Lodge. No winter talent show. No sneaking down to the exercise room by the pool in the basement of the hotel at 5am. 

I guess last that part isn’t so different. 🤷‍♀️

One of my friends from the program is trying to coordinate our class’s graduation speech and it’s not going well for her. People are either over it, or not interested, or procrastinating. Anyone who knows me knows I fall into the last category. 

I gravitate between wanting to take over and just letting it go. I wanted to give a speech. I want to have the oppprtuniry that every other person who has graduated from the program has had. I’ll get to say a little at my lecture or reading and I had already come to terms with this virtual scenario, but this graduation speech thing has me fired up again, 

If nobody wants to do it, I’ll freaking do it. But I don’t want to outright voulenteer if the wheels are in motion for something else. I know my friend is irritated at the lack of support she’s getting. What’s a girl to do? 🤷‍♀️

In other news, I’m supposed to go to my dad’s today as it’s Christmas Eve and he’s alone. But you know I’m not feeling it. I just want to stay home with my people and snack and play games. He’s got his other family coming over at 5 and I’ve already said we’re not in for that or a meal or whatever. Using the pandemic as an excuse when the truth is that Jim and I had such a rough time with trying to integrate last year and I vowed then we would not do that again. 

Things have changed now, my dads wife is gone and he’s “alone.” But there’s hurt feelings (mine) that don’t just get erased. And if my dads never had the kind of relationship with my kids that he has with his other grandchildren, I can’t force it now. I can’t force my children to want to go. Hell, I can’t even force them to go to bed at a decent hour so as to be fresh for spending the day together. 

I told my son (who somehow missed the gene that makes people generous with gifting) that I was expecting him to be up at 10 to go shopping with me to buy a gift for his sister who has the gene and has spent countless hours making gifts for people. How did my two children end up so different? 

Anyway. We’ll see on that. I’ve got some other thoughts brewing but that will have to wait. It’s almost 7:30am and I’ve already got over 10k steps. Time to do this Christmas Eve thing. Thanks for reading.

Peace and Love, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-12-10 Musing from Inside the Promethean Gap

Is it wrong to approach the world, tentative and wanting? Believing in good intentions and people? That we’re all just stuck here temporary and harmless, abandoned on a mysterious spiral arm of stars?

Is it wrong to believe in the power of human connection, however small. The innocence of it. The delicate nature of trust. When we die, as we all do, are the acts we perform, both knowingly and unknowingly, judged?

What if the big things don’t matter? What if that which lies beyond—the ultimate unknown which teeters just at the edge of the Event Horizon—takes us in as our physical being expires and instead of a lens built to look at the acts we’ve performed in our lifetime, we are measured by what we didn’t do?

Have we been given the gift of life and wasted it?

After all, like the rest of the Universe we’re just matter—molecules and atoms—stuck together in a myriad of configurations. The great mystery of whether our becoming was a random fluke or was engineered entirely on purpose remains unknown.

I posit that if our existence here was on purpose, then the answer to the aforementioned questions are also being kept from us by design.

Are you with me? Or have I lost you?

Three unrelated circumstances.. I’ll call them circumstances, for the lack of a better word, are swirling in my brain. Well, at least three. Their chemicals mix and lead me to question my own actions and how to proceed.

  1. I met a man about a year and a half ago who might not yet qualify as a man, because of age and maturity. There was a connection and I enjoyed talking with this person, to the point I would consider him a friend. Setting unease about my own motivations aside, I’ve come to discover this person might be lost on the path of life. Perhaps in some trouble. Do I try to help?
  2. For the lit mag I’m managing, I’ve recently set submissions for writers that are BIPOC to free, waiving our typical fee (only $3 to begin with). Such a tiny thing, this decision, but now we’re getting subs and find one from a man who doesn’t qualify, electing to use the free option instead of the paid option. I could decline with a request to please use the other option or I could just let it go. It could be an innocent mistake. There are people more sheltered than I. Perhaps he doesn’t know what BIPOC stands for. What do I do?
  3. (The newest and strangest by a wide margin.) Mr. SCC emailing me out of the blue asking for assistance defining the term Promethean Gap. Yes, I bit on it and chewed it. After some research and reading I fashioned what I felt was a sufficient reply. I attempted to be thoughtful, thorough, and above board in my response. A kind and cordial reply. And thought that would be that. But now there’s a new message in my in-box. A reply to my reply. It’s composed mostly as a “thank you” but includes some other commentary and an open-ended question. It concludes with a request for me to call. Call?! What to do? What response is appropriate?

Ok. So besides that, about #3 specifically. The original question was fascinating. I’d never heard the term Promethean Gap Before. I think that’s what pulled me into research, besides the strange coincidence that led to SCC contact me.

The Promethean Gap, also sometimes translated as Promethean Discrepancy (a German by the name Gunther Anders invented the term post WW), is a philosophical concept / theory that approaches the problem of man (humankind) having the capability to imagine and invent beyond what we are individually or collectively able to be as flawed corporal beings. In short, the gap between man and machine. Mr. Anders was also concerned about the consequences of this Gap and how it might affect the both the individual and society.

We can make machines that have longevity, power, and more recently intellect which far exceeds our own. Further, the gap is a space where we, the human race, have difficulty fully realizing the consequences of those creations.

The most common example is the invention of the Atomic Bomb. I would make a personal leap and say that the invention of computers, the internet, and AI, while making our lives seemingly easier, also holds a very destructive power with implications to society and the individual that we have not even begun to understand. 

As stated, the theory originally proposed is concerned with how individual beings come to terms with their humanity and individual power, versus machine power or a collective power. If we build a machine greater than ourselves, do we not become obsolete? Can we be held accountable? Does each of us have a responsibility to hold tight to greater ideals for the greater good? “Greater good” .. whatever that means.

Is it merely a coincidence that SCC found me? Or is the Universe throwing tea leaves on my path? If it’s the latter, how am I to interpret them?

One of the articles I read in my research was about a pilot who was involved, as a matter of duty, with the bombing of Hiroshima. Overcome with guilt it pretty much wrecked his life.

When I read this I can’t help but think of seemingly unrelated content, the Snowden docudrama, the Social Dilemma docudrama. How we invented the Genie and then let it out of the bottle. It can’t be undone.. the invention of computers and the internet. We can’t possibly comprehend the long term consequences.

But I watch my children, the next generation, and can’t help but feel a little bit sick about their use of electronics. And not just my children, but all people who don’t know life without a personal computer in their pocket. The unhealthy nature of social media. A rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide. It’s alarming.

The mind-bending power of the internet, driven by profit where they use your own data and likes to serve up content to keep you engaged and focused on a tiny screen instead of real human beings. The sheer amount of data being collected and stored (Often without permission) is daunting.

Rewind to a few months ago when I was watching the docudrama about Ted Kazinsky. Was he wrong? Or was he just a mad Genius who was right on. Led to destruction by being trapped in the Promethean Gap?

Snowden too, refusing to follow orders like the man tasked with the Hiroshima bombing. He’s now living life in Russia but with a clear conscience.

Is there any amount of bottom line profit that can clear the conscience of Babbage, Cerf, Kahn, Gates, Jobs or Zuckerberg? Mere mortals unknowingly making the Gap larger without foresight. No way they could even know the consequences of their inventions. We’re all human after all.


Wow. That went long. Sometimes I’m not sure where my mind will wander but I definitely have more thinking to do. As far as acting on current current circumstances.. I don’t think I have my answers yet. Getting there though. Getting closer. We’ll see.

With Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-11-29 Rounding Up and Rounding Out

Every morning I get at least two new-to-me poems in my email in-box. About a week ago I decided that since I’m tired of writing about The same-old-same-old AND seem to be Most inspired to write Creatively after reading new material that I would use these little nuggets as a jumping off points for new musings. The first couple were (as shiny new things always are) starry successes. So much so that I decided that my next book length project would be a collection of these works, which I’m calling “flips.”

I proceeded to think of everything. Including using the word “flip” capitalizing on its multiple meanings— acrobatic acts, turning over, opposite sides, and fate. Perfection! The next word I had to decide on was the one to follow. Would it be “with” or “of” or “on”? Certainly not “over.” My intention to provide continuity of titles and at the same time nod to the poem or essay or story that inspired the flip.

A few more days and more contemplation about the concept later and I’m deciding not to post these flips to my blog… advice in my ear reminding me not to put potentials in the public domain. Some article I read about getting published. A succinct list of do’s and don’ts. Some publishers won’t publish your stuff if you’ve self published on a personal blog or website. Duly noted.

Heeding this warning led me to believe that I truly think I might be onto something. I mean, it stands to reason that if I didn’t think a poem had a chance in the real world I would not hesitate to post it. I mean, so what right?! I’ve been posting my poems for about 10 years now on my original blog, and rarely visit or post new stuff. What is there now I leave up. 1. I’ll probably never seek publishing any of these old poems as they are largely before my time in my MFA. 2. It’s nice to have a record of what my life and poetry were like before The Cataclysm.

The Cataclysm, so dramatic! But personally fitting for the event that led me to change my life. Look at me now!?! I’m not apologizing. Hurray!!

Anyway, so a few more days go by and I don’t get anything new from my attempts to flip. Probably because I got gobbled up with that Raccoon River Reading business. That kind of thing takes all my energy and attention.

Then it was Thanksgiving. And now I’m back at it, finding success again yesterday. Double hurray!!

Each day I open my email and know that poets.org posts in the early AM and Paris Review is later. Each day I have a little sliver of hope that today will be the day my poem “This” will appear on poets.org.

My acknowledgment earning poem, submitted to the American Academy of Poets contest through the University this year. As I understand it the poem will be posted on the site at some point, presumably sometime before the end of next years contest when they will have hundreds of new poems to choose from.

I’ve already exhausted almost all the happy dancing in me over this poem, but this one last nod would be a nice bow on the whole ordeal. Just don’t know when I’ll open my email and find that bow.

Today was not that day. It was also not a poem that particularly inspires me to write anything. So I quickly move on to the Paris Review. That one holds a little promise. A bite-size poem which is a perfect jumping off point. It’s got it all, brevity, deeper meaning, engaging language, and a title that requires research but is revealing and satisfying.

I really hate when something requires research and the research doesn’t reveal any more about the poem. I mean, it should. I need to remind myself of this when I think about including obscure references in my poems.

So “After Callimachus” is a possibility today but if it wasn’t, I have plenty of other options. A new book came in the mail yesterday and one the day before that and I barely scratched the surface of Rattle 69 and I’ve already received 70. Yeah.. at least I’m getting something for the $$$ I’m spending on submissions.

On that front I’m still holding steady in the low 70’s. Dipped down to 68 briefly this week with a few more rejections and then I had a submission surge one day this week and am back up to like 73. I think 75 is a nice round number to shoot for. Perhaps I’ll put together a few more as the month comes to a close. Hit my target and then cruise December. Perhaps.

With that, I think I’ll get off this treadmill and get on with my day. Lots planned for today. More decorating, meeting with Ed for final acceptances for the GLR, baking cookies. Hopefully I won’t be doing these things alone. We’ll see.

ICheers to Third Sunday,
~Miss SugarCookie