2020-10-18 It’s Not the Poem’s Fault

It’s Sunday and my day is starting early. I woke before 6am and tried to go back to sleep but its futile. It’s almost 7 now so it’s not like I didn’t try to resist getting up. Hopefully Jim can get some extra rest with the absence of my tossing and turning. Hopefully he’ll text me when he does wake up so I can sneak back in and get some snuggles in. Hopefully the kids sleep in too.

So much hope.

My weather app is reporting snow showers. It’s already the coldest morning of fall yet with temps bottoming out at 34 degrees. Which means that if it is snowing, it won’t be for long. Another degree and that snow will turn to rain. And then the dusting we’ve gotten over night will be gone.

Kind of a bummer that I don’t have anything more exciting than that to talk about. Hey.. do you remember when I used to report on my stats every Sunday. Yeah, so I guess compared to that, talking about the weather is aaaallllll-right.

Yesterday I got my manuscript back from a friend whose helping me fine-tune it for submission. The original contest I was looking into for this has a deadline of today. This means most of my day will be spent on editing. And there’s a lot of comments and suggestions to get through.

Sometimes I think poems are never done. I used to ask this question when I attended workshops. “How do you know the poem is done?” Now I recognize the reason the question never seems to get answered.

The author talks a little bit about their process and evades any definitive answer. It’s because there isn’t one. The poem is never done. Stick with me here…

You write a poem. It comes from a combination of experience, state of mind, and knowledge. These shifting variables are how that line break ends up there and One word is chosen over another. Sometimes the poem writes itself and then you sit back and are like, “holy wow, there’s a poem.”

Then, if your like me, you’re making eyes at this new baby like it’s the best baby in the world. Why is it that each new poem feels brilliant? Because you’re still basically the same person (experience, mood, knowledge) as you were in that inspirational moment. But wait a hot minute.

State of mind is the fastest shape shifter. From one day to the next it can render a read of the poem with dramatically different outcomes. One day you love it. The next, you hate it. . Yeah, mood is pretty powerful. I’ve sat down to revise poems and end up throwing my hands up in the air because all the poems are terrible. I’d say, forget about it!!

Then, two days later I return again and things are softer. The words sneak back into my good graces. And I wonder why I had been so hard on myself (or the poem!).

But that’s just one factor. Experience and knowledge are others. As time has a habit of doing, it changes you. If you put that baby of a poem on a virtual shelf and don’t look at it for six months, donuts to dollars it WILL be different when you pull it off the shelf. But it’s not the poem, it’s the writer.

Perhaps in those six months you’ve fallen out of love with the person the poem is about. Maybe they cheated on you and broke your heart (that bastard!) and you read the poem with a new perspective. Is it better or worse? Are you still attached to it or over it? It’s so subjective.

And as for actually revising, each new thing you learn causes you to rethink a choice. I’ve taken the same poem and revised with like a dozen different techniques, tried and true methods, and personal experimental ones.

Again, it’s sometimes tough to sit back and be objective about the result. That’s why getting other eyes on it is so important. Other people can look at your work more objectively and perhaps point out something that’s better or different or more effective. Probably they will find something, and are not going to just tell you to toss it out as rubbish.

Back to the question at hand. When is it done done? When is enough enough? Don’t ask me.. I don’t know. 🤣

I thought for sure my answer would be, “once it’s published”, but now I’m revising poems that have already been published for a full length book and still finding ways to tighten and improve them. Swap this verb for that one and change the way the stanzas are arranged.

Yeah, three line stanzas for sure work better to enhance the unbalanced nature of the topic. Four line stanzas are structured and stable and confident. The speaker of that poem is definitely unbalanced and is teetering like a three legged table. Much more effective.

That’s something I learned at a workshop this summer. And now I can’t unlearn it. So if I’m revising, it’s now one of the things I’m thinking about. The difference between the one, two, three, and four line stanza. And what about five or six? What do each of those mean?

Where does the madness end?

Well, at some point you just have to be satisfied with it I guess. Which comes back to mood again. There are days when I still think some poem is the best thing since sliced bread and that’s the day I pull the trigger and send it out into the world to see if it can find a real home. Three days later I’ll look again with a facepalm wondering what I was thinking.

Today I don’t have time to think to much. And I certainly don’t have the luxury of waiting another day to see if my mood improves. Which is ok, since I’ve looked at the poems in this manuscript so many times and for so long, that I’m kinda over them. And I feel that makes me more objective than ever.

Accepting and rejecting suggestions and making edits like a boss! Today’s the day!!

Huh. And here I thought I had nothing to write about. Go figure!

It’s 8am now and my weather app is reporting the snow has stopped and has been replaced by fog but the temp is holding steady at 34. It’s the perfect day for a hot cup of cocoa and editing poetry. Time to get on it!

Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-09-25 Tides Don’t Turn

They’re relentless rolling towards the shore where waves crash like an unforgiving Kublai Kan. Or the resulting opiate inspired vision in dream. Just a fragment. A sliver of the largest moon that ever pulled the tide up with such reliable gravity. Such a tragedy that the only words to linger after the last line are ones about broken hearts.

Today is a strange day. Yesterday at about this same time, when I was thinking about today all I could think about was the fact that it’s my brothers birthday and also the 25 year anniversary of the day I started my first job as professional adult. I actually thought about that for a while and considered writing about it but the end of the world seemed more important.

Plus, the anniversary is today so I figured it would make for a better fit for today anyhow. But now it’s not.

Get this. I have (had) 4 days left working at my current job (Same professional line of work— different gig) and my boss tells me yesterday late in the day to take Friday off. What?!? That’s does not happen.

So instead of pontificating over the fact that my career is ending neatly at almost exactly 25 years to the day it started, I’m waking up to thoughts of writing poetry and beginning my journey catching up on stacks of books and lit magazines. With the day off, I also got a pass at getting up to make breakfast and ended up laying in bed with my laptop until like 9:30.

I revisited my spreadsheet of submissions and my Submittable account. I went through and marked all the recent rejections (I highlight them in light orange because it’s so much more pleasing than the red color that is oft associated with rejection). As I look through this spreadsheet I’m delighted by the few stripes of blue that have started to appear.

I colored in another row last week with that cornflower blue. I’ve got a poem that will be appearing in December in a journal that, like my beloved Good Life Review, is on its maiden voyage. The poems I had submitted there were one’s I had not submitted anywhere else and really, the whole process feels like a twisted crap shoot. The fact they picked up the one they did amazes me. Who knows what might appeal to someone or fit with what they are looking for? 🤷‍♀️

Oh to get into the heads of those editors!! 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

Still.. it gives rise to a warm fuzzy inside. Cozy like a cat stretched out by a crackling fireplace in the middle of winter.

So I had to send them a new bio and headshot. My headshot is not really a headshot, but it’s the best I’ve got right now. The new bio took me a bit as they wanted more words than I typically offer and just wasn’t sure how to beef it up.

Once that was done, I hunted for new places to submit. I took my time (still gloriously laying in bed) revising a few things for three different new places. That’s what delayed me by like 2 hours getting down to my treadmill. But I’ve got the day off so who cares!! 💃💃💃

And with that.. I’m now checking the weather and contemplating a bike ride and perhaps sitting out on the patio sipping an iced latte. Time to get down to figuring out what this jobless life is going to be like .. right!??!

Feels like it’s the perfect time to resurrect “First Draft Friday.” Again., it’s been so long since I’ve written anything new or worthy of sharing and I very much want to do that. The best place to start, of course, is by reading. That stack of books will be the perfect jumping off point. Yes??


My bro, the rocket scientist, is 49 today. He’s a brilliant person who is a good role model for what it looks like to live your best life. He’s nearly two years my senior but has never had much time for me. When we were kids he avoided me like the plague at school.

Now he makes stacks of cash working for Ball Aerospace on contracts for NASA and spends his free time hiking and climbing mountains near Boulder Colorado.

He’s never given me as much attention as he did that time I climbed a fourteener. I remember arriving back to the apartment I was staying at in CO after that climb and being exhausted out of my mind but not able to rest until I called him to tell him. We talked and talked and I was so pleased he was impressed with me. Guess I’d been waiting for a long time for that. Admiration from someone I’ve looked up to my whole life. Life is strange.

That saying.. “The tide is turning”.. where did that come from? Tides don’t turn do they. I mean they get larger and smaller but they don’t turn. Rivers never flow the opposite way. The toilet may flush down in the opposite direction, but only when you are in the opposite hemisphere. What gives?

Anyway. That’s it.. my hour is up.
Happy Birthday Bro,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-08-16 No Good Way to End – Part 2

What’s a girl to do I ask.

It occurs to me that I love to start new things. I get jazzed about beginning. Give me a new day, tip-toes on the edge of the next big adventure. Anticipation is a delicious appetizer and don’t you sometimes just want to order every appetizer on the menu and skip the main course?

I do!

I want to start new projects and talk to new people and think about all the possibilities. The trouble with that is over commitment. The starting all the things and then being in the middle and not having enough time to do a thing well. Which is my other desire. When I do a thing, I want it to be done really well. I want to please people and maintain a certain reputation as a person who is an asset to have around. I can’t not care.

I try to convince myself it will be easy to quit and disconnect from work but the truth is that it won’t be easy. There’s no good way to end and I’m going to struggle.

As far as quitting my job goes, I have to remember that I mustered the courage to do it before and that it turned out great. That ended and the sun still came up in the same way the next day.

I need to frame this quitting business as an opportunity to do the other projects I’ve committed to even better. I can throw my whole heart into my lit mag startup and really focus on making that a success. I’ll finally have time to do more than just “barely getting by.”

And let’s not forget why I decided to get an MFA in the first place! I’ll be able to focus on my writing and really do something more with that than blogging every week. School forced that focus because of deadlines and expectations and now that that is basically over, what’s the motivation? Where will my accountability come from? What fire was started thee and how?

And let’s not forget the fact that I’m always feeling mediocre about my contribution at home and my parenting efforts. Now I’ll be able to better with all of that. I think that’s the part Jim is excited for and my kids don’t really know it yet, but it’s gonna be better for them too. Time is a hot commodity and I need to remember that as one thing ends, it opens the possibility for more beginning.

But not too many beginnings or I’ll be in the same boat as I am now. Is it an inevitability? Will I be able to stop myself from starting more things? Probably not.

It will all be ok as long as I can really cut the cord. Probably since that conversation is tomorrow I should think about the language and what I’m going to say. Probably. 😨🤔😱🤣

Yeah. No good way to end. No way around it so straight through the heart of it is best.

Until then. I’m gonna try and enjoy my Sunday.

Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-05-28 Hide and Seek

I start walking. I start writing. That’s my way. Lately I’ve felt like it’s all just the same shit on a different day. I’m inches away from getting my MFA in Poetry and I haven’t written anything worthy of a poem in months.

A few times when I took a class with the “Todfather”, I tried fashioning a poem from one of my blog posts and he called me on it. Just that it was all wordy. All I did was take the best parts of the post and put a bunch of line breaks in which is incredibly lazy.

A few other times I’ve done that and it takes a lot of revisions (and a healthy dose of mystical hand waving and reciting incantations to invoke the Poem spirit) to get something that resembles a poem.

But what is a poem? Can’t it just be what it is and not try to be something more or something better? Or something that meets someone else’s definition of a poem.

I can write iambic pentameter like a boss. My end rhyme skills are strong. But that’s no value in this century. I’m not saying I’m Robert Frost, but i believe I could emulate his style a lot easier than I could, say, Natalie Diaz or Ilya Kaminsky. As a poet, I feel like I was maybe born in the wrong century.

Then again, I’m a woman so I would have been screwed either way.

Some accomplished writers will advise you to write every day to keep your creative brain strong and fresh and active. I would say you should include doing revision in that. Some accomplished writers will tell you they don’t do either. They write when the writing comes to them and asks them to write. So there’s no right answer.

My point is. I want to write and haven’t been able to do that. Today I’m going to give myself an hour in isolation with a book of poetry my friend Michelle loaned me. I’m going to see if that stirs something inside me. I need it to.


In other news, my current work team is unraveling like a cheap sweater. Three developers have been kicked off the project (two were fired and one was moved to a different project). Another one quit with no notice and another is threatening to quit.

We’re replacing these people like changing a pair of underwear. But these people are not pieces of clothing, they are people.

And I don’t drink cool-aid anymore so I’m trying not to fit this fucking puzzle piece into something that can work. I’m trying to keep my distance, keep my head down, not insert my opinion or care, but the Universe help me, it’s quite impossible

One of these people, the dev that was moved to a different project, is a friend of mine. It makes my heart hurt. Now the PM is a long time friend of mine who I hold dear and she’s starting to crack. She’s a strong woman and listening to her for an hour last night was so tough. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this woman break down in tears. I’m fact, I may never have heard her cry before. It fucking sucks.

Part of my job has been to introduce new people to the project and onboard them. She introduces me to them by saying some great things about me and with two new people this week she said I was “the glue that holds the team together”.

No pressure there though right?!

The whole thing is so fucked up.

I was brought on to help out. To bridge the PM gap until she started. To offer documentation support behind the scenes. To take notes and do data entry and do other admin things like coordinate meetings. 10-15 hours a week. Now I’m working more that twice that and last week, with so much personal shit going on, I started to become unraveled too.

I’m nearing the end of my hour in this treadmill and really need to wrap anyway so I can dive into that mess.

By the way, there’s no poetry in all this mess. I mean, there is, but not 21st century poetry that utilizes images and juxtaposition to convey a feeling AND meets the current acceptable standard for what a poem is. Or is there? 🤔

Fuck it!
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-05-25 The Sign on the Door Says “Beware of Dragons”…

… but I open it anyway.

I’m not even sure where to start today.

Should I begin with the 5am wake up and subsequent spin-brain keeping me from going back to sleep?

Perhaps I should start by reflecting on that conversation I had yesterday with my Texas Bestie where she said her new motto was “good enough”.

Maybe it’s important to note that I launched a new website yesterday and consequently a new online lit mag. Yeah, that’s probably the most relevant place to begin.

Or is it?

After lying awake for an hour I rolled over and looked at my phone. There was a notification from WordPress about a new like on yesterday’s blog post. It’s not surprising that in this new world of constant connection and attaching self-worth to “likes”, that I find that satisfying. I’m like a child craving attention from parents who are almost always otherwise occupied. I am not like a child.. I am a child.. craving attention.

I unlocked my connectivity device and scrolled through the top news stories that google has chosen to “serve” me. I’m half creeped out by the fact that google knows too much about me. But The other half of me is glad that google has already done the heavy lifting, weeding out all the crap in the world that I don’t care about. /shrug

I scroll until a headline/article catches my attention. Something about rejecting editors of literary publications. My first thought was “oh, of course this new job of mine will provide yet another source of rejection”. As if I haven’t had enough opportunity for that. Of course.

I sort of read the article, in my way. I read the first two paragraphs with great intent and then skimmed the rest for words supporting the intent of the article. I want the example. I want the personal story that proves the argument.

It was something about being rejected and then being nominated for a pushcart prize for the same piece of writing. It was about researching lit mags before you submit to 1. Validate your work fits with the other writing they publish and 2. Decide if they are worthy of your writing.

I agree with both these things, but have found that that process is exhausting. Not sure why. Oh I know, because I’m overcommitted in general to start with and don’t feel like I have the time and patience for the process.

I don’t have the time for that, Yet somehow I think I can run a lit mag. That’s just crazy talk. It’s insanity. But wait. There’s more. Are you ready for this??…

I’m not qualified and I have no idea what I’m doing. Oh, yeah, and I’m terrified. Did I mention I was terrified?

I’m like a kid who just wandered into a seedy neighborhood on accident and is asking directions from people hanging out by a chain link fence around a neglected city park.

Yes, I did just equate the literary community to a seedy neighborhood. That’s just how I feel right now. Hoping “this too shall pass.”

So I rolled the dice yesterday and now I’m in it whether I like it or not. I don’t know how many hours I spent working on the WordPress site that will be the platform for this lit mag, but it’s a goddamned lot. This morning I spent 1 hour cruising Submittable and looking at other sites and ended up feeling defeated. There is only so much one can do with a “personal” plan and free themes. I have done the best I can but have a hard time reminding myself that it’s “good enough.”

In the not too distant future, a potential submitter can read the words written by other people. Words that were bravely submitted, read by our editors and accepted. Words “we” chose to publish. They can decide for themselves if their words fit with what we’re all about. They can reject us and not submit based on that. And “we” are going to live or die by that decision.

Until then though, it’s just the words on our site right now that have been written and approved by Ed and I. No pressure.
it’s also the site itself (in my head anyway). Someone might see it and think it rudimentary or not professional enough and reject based on that. If that’s the case, I suppose, I’d be inclined to say, “fuck off.”

Yeah, maybe I could do that. Just tell someone straight out, we don’t have funding or a paid staff and are basically trying to give this a go during a Pandemic. Who does that. Who decides to start a lit mag in the midst of a global pandemic? We do!

It’s going to be a bumpy ride. I can feel it already. And despite my being terrified, I’m going to do it anyway because that is all I know how to do. What choice do I have? I had no choice in getting my MFA. My inner spark demanded it. I’m not sure if it’s good or evil (this ShySpark).. I’ve been on the fence about that for years.

Is this driving force leading me to a better life or simply keeping me in a state of perpetual discontent? WTF?!

My friend Rebecca said her new motto is “good enough”, and no matter how much I’d like to get on board, I don’t think I can. Instead, I decide I’m going to hunt submittable for places I can submit my poetry to. And spend hours reading about potential places and deciding where to put my money. Because I’m assuming my money is all they will accept. My words, no doubt, will be rejected. That’s just how it is until it isn’t, apparently.

My hour is up and it’s almost 9AM. It’s a holiday supposedly but I’ve got plans to get back to the job that pays me actual money and play catch-up on all that QA I’ve been putting off in order to get to the “launch” yesterday.

The door is open now. Bring on the Dragons.

Yours truly,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-21 Longest Day EVER!

There I go being overly dramatic again. If you ask me how I feel about my dramatic tendencies, my answer will depend on my mood. Today I’m feeling plucky so I’ll just say, it’s part of my charm.

It was a long day though. And quite an atypical one compared to most of the SugarCookie days lately.

I skipped my morning walk/cardio because I wanted to go to the grocery store and just go early and get that over with. We tried to stock up on stuff before the shut-down, but it’s a healthy household and there’s only so much in perishable goods one can keep in fridge and not be wasteful. So yesterday was my day.

The whole thing makes me nervous. Good gawd one should not have this amount of anxiety about making a trip to the store. Yes, I have a mask. And no, I’m not afraid of getting the virus. So what is it that gave me such pause? Who knows. But I really had to give myself a pep-talk as I pulled out of my garage and down the street.

I actually went to two stores as supplies are low with regard to the lactose-free milk and protein. In between stores I checked my email and received a bit of good news that literally brought me to tears.

I’ve kinda been on an emotional edge lately (not unlike a lot of people) and just let the tears come. I was actually standing in my kitchen alone and didn’t even know what to do with myself for a few minutes. And this was from GOOD news. The Universe help me if I get bad news during this strange time!!

Anyway, I needed to go to the other store so I got myself back together and did that. When I arrived home I put the groceries away and got online for my morning work call. That 30 minutes was the extent of my work day yesterday, which was so odd.

Instead, I dove into the arduous task of packaging my thesis in Word, with all the sections and table of contents and formatting. It should not have taken me all damn day, but part of the thesis is the craft paper I did last semester and I could not just paste it in at the end and forget it. It was a flipping mess.

I’m actually embarrassed that it’s what I turned in last term. For one thing, I was using a google doc which does not do as good of a job as Word at flagging mistakes. But the bigger issues have to do with mistakes I’ve been making all along with grammar and punctuation. All the things I learned about this semester were glaring at me from the screen.

Not such a big deal fixing a few pages but this is a 45 page document. It literally took me all day to go through paragraph by paragraph, page by page and fix them all.

Now I’m certain that I make these mistakes habitually in my daily writing, and I’ve resolved to try and catch those if I can, but ok if some slip through. That craft paper, however, is a part of my masters thesis and mistakes are just unacceptable. So I needed to spend that time.

At this point I’m close to being done but not quite there yet. The formatting blips with copy and paste from gdoc to word are also troublesome and the whole document is going to be about 140 pages which is a lot to go through with a fine-toothed comb. I’d like to get back to it today but I’ve got a busy day stacked up ahead and it’s not likely.

Anyway, after I closed down Word for the day yesterday I had 2.5 hours of lit mag business to attend to, including 2 hours on a zoom which was super draining. What on earth have I gotten myself into??!

It’s going to be good, I just know it, but we’re not there yet. I’m still trying to figure out all the personalities on the team and super sensitive to potential issues. I’m probably over thinking things as is my way, but I feel like I’m already in damage control mode and we’re just trying to get started.

By the time that was all done last night it was 8pm and I hadn’t eaten or said boo to the kids or Jim since like noon. I ate some comfort food (for me that’s like 3 pieces of toast) and vegetated on the couch. We watch a bit of TV and talked for a while and then I shuffled myself to the bedroom and just let the long day sink out of me horizontally and into my bed.


(Hours later)

I had to scoot my booty off the treadmill and up to my office for work real quick like and did not have time to finish. But, as it turns out, I have no more to say about yesterday anyway. Nothing worth writing about anyhow.

As it is, I really don’t have a ton of time today and already had to defer one meeting for another so there’s no rest for the wicked (or the plucky) I guess.

Cheers to Taco Tuesday,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-18 Wavelengths and Pages and Need for Connection

Exactly one week from today is the deadline for getting my MFA thesis completed and in the proper format with all the required sections and content. Should be a snap cuz most of it has been done for weeks. I’ve just been fiddling with some of the poems and negotiating with my mentor about a final decision on what’s in and what’s out.

The good news on that front is that I finally wore him down on that one Poem I’ve toiled for so long on. I sent yet another version with an explanation of why it was important that it have space in the book. The bad news is that I think I wore him down and now have no confidence about it. Did he just give in? Does it matter? Good grief! A girl just can’t win.

Then I’m all like. It doesn’t matter cuz nobody’s gonna read this manuscript anyway so I tell myself to just “shrug it off”. Package that shit up and ship it off to the void.

I sent a copy of the preface and creative portion to my second reader about a week ago. I received an acknowledgement from him that he received it, and nary a peep since then. The second reader is not obligated to offer comment or feedback. Just a signature that it passes muster, but I know in my heart, with as much as I respect this person, that I will be disappointed if they don’t say something to me about it.

But it might not happen and I have to be prepared for that, you know. Get my “shrug off” ready for that too. Kind of a bummer since I felt like we had such good connection last semester and I don’t want to have any more thoughts that it was fake somehow, because of obligation.

It’s been so different this semester from the start. I don’t think my mentor and I have ever been on the same wavelength. And believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve not felt comfortable just having a conversation. He’s not intimidating, but makes me nervous somehow and no matter what I say, he’s off on some other planet showing me something else.

Just this week I sent an outline of my lecture (which is based on my 3rd semester craft paper). It was more than an outline and less than just writing it all out. He comes back with a bunch of suggestions, which is great, but it’s all for going down roads which would require a lot more research. I already did that work. That’s that 44 page craft paper.

Now perhaps I didn’t make the best choices for poets to examine in my topic, but I just need to use what I have to get it done. If I wanna go read up on the lives and poems Wordsworth and Hirshfield and Merwin, I can do that. But I’ve learned enough now that I can just go do that on my own.

It’s not required at this point, and I just wanna be done. I know I sound like a complainer but whatever. It’s only a 40 minute lecture and the requirement is just to do it, so that’s what I’m gonna do.

I also suggested adding some examples from my own life and put some of my own philosophical commentary in there and he just said don’t go there. Not in those words but that was the point. And I think back to past student lectures and the ones that had those elements are the ones that I remember.

Let’s not forget that I am a student and I don’t do this teaching thing for a living and nor do I want to. It’s my time and my MFA and the lecture is an opportunity to teach something I’ve learned and maybe connect some dots, and, more than that, connect with people. That’s part of the point.

Ok. Enough complaining. All roads lead to the end of the road no matter what kind of rocks the road is made of.

It’s Sunday and after wrecking myself Friday night and spending all day yesterday recovering, I’m looking forward to feeling good today and just getting some long procrastinated things done. Taxes for one. More with forms and bills that have been piling up for a few months now. Maybe some communication I’ve been putting off. We’ll see.

Last night when I got my appetite back I started having a craving for Panera. More specifically a green goddess Cobb salad with spinach. It’s healthy AND satisfying. I think Panera drive through is still open. I wonder what kind of push-back I’ll get about that since it’s technically against “house” rules right now.

I hope this Pandemic doesn’t linger much into the summer. I’m starting to not care. I know the rules are important, but ugggggghhh!

Enough is enough.
~Miss SugarCookie

PS. In my decimated state yesterday I was unsettled and just wanted to get away from everyone. I wandered around the house and took like a hundred pictures with my phone. They might start showing up here. Just sayn.

2020-04-17 I’ve Got Too Much “Poor Me” in My Poetry

To be fair, I’m really referring to just the one poem I’ve reworked a hundred different ways and each time I try to sneak it into my manuscript, my mentor says “nope”.

To be fair, he’s only seen two versions of it and not the fifteen I wrote before or the 30 I thought about writing but didn’t or the hundred times I cried about the central subject matter when I was living it in 2016.

I’ve got a handful of poems that he’s tagged as “too melodramatic” and I get it. He says it turns the reader off if there is too much “poor me”. I get it. I really do. I read Natalie Diaz and Rachel Mckibbens and Robert Creeley and even good ole Emily and there isn’t a drop of “poor me” one can squeeze from any of it. So I have to figure out how to lament about my poor broken heart very “matter of fact” like. Either that or just give up. Sometimes I wonder about that option.

Take the last 24 hours for example. I met with the Poetry crew for the new lit mag last night and we had a good chat. In the sprit of getting to know each other better, we shared out a sampling of our own stuff. I only needed to read as far as the first persons poems and I already felt like I didn’t belong. Pile on poems from the other two and I end up feeling like I have no business in this business.

I have to remind myself that everyone has a different style and voice but it is hard not to compare AND not to feel a little like “poor me” is the best I can do. My poems are boring. The subject matters are very “so what” and once I start down that road, all shapes of doubt start to follow.

What’s a girl to do?

I haven’t written anything worth while this semester at all because I’ve been too busy revising and the world has been too busy with its pandemic and aint nobody got time for first draft nonsense (well, lots of folks do actually, just not me).

So how do I take my stupid unrequited love broken heart poem and make it matter of fact? I mean, the section of the manuscript is called “In Cataclysm” so what do you expect?? How about something like this….

I said “I love you”
And he just turned and walked away.
Echo of silence.

I cried after parent teacher conferences
And every day and night after that.
Echo of silence.

The election came and went
And I couldn’t even care.
Echo of silence.

I became a hollow bone white husk
and no-one seemed to notice.
Echo of silence.

I hosted a New Years Eve Party
and drank myself down the drain.
No more echoes. Just silence.


(I left out the part where I wanted to die. Cuz that crosses the line into “poor me” territory). Perhaps the answer is to kill myself in the poem. Just matter of fact like. Dead, done.

I hosted a New Years Eve Party
and drank myself to death.
No more echoes. Just silence.

That’s attempt 221 folks. Put another talley on the board.
Now switch all the abstractions to images and waa-laa!

I swear, if it is the last thing I do for this damn thesis it will be to figure out some way to get this stupid poem into a format that is acceptable.

I little part of me (OK a big part), is just so sick of revising poems. I’m starting to have all sorts of ideas for other projects and just want THIS project to be done. Yes, I want it to kick-ass, but I’m over it.

There I said it. Maybe if I get all the “poor me” out of me in this blog, I can just go edit those poems like a boss and be done. That’s enough pondering for now.

Time to Make the Donuts,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-05 Rolling Eyes and Shrugging 🙄 🤷‍♀️ 😢

What is a girl to do. Yesterday I was all “everything’s going my way again”, you know and am I so fragile that just like that I’m down again? It’s Sunday and I’m alone and grumpy.

I’ve just finished going through the thesis preface feedback returned from my mentor a few days ago, for the second time. The first time I just skimmed through enough to see that most of it was his pointing out stupid mistakes I’m making with syntax and grammar. At this point I should probably be catching these things on my own and I get that. I do.

I appreciate his diligence in continuing to point all of these out. I need to try harder with regards to copy editing my first drafts before sending them out. I have some bad habits I need to break. But today I was looking for more. What else did he really say about my writing?

First let me explain that the thesis preface is the writing intended to explain the influences and aesthetic aims of the manuscript which it proceeds. In that way, it’s like writing about the writing. Part of that is expanding on my chosen theme and also giving some backstory on how some of it came to be. At this point, the speaker of the poems is me and therefore, I’m letting the reader in on my life.

That’s key. It’s my life. It’s personal. So when I read comments about the speakers perspective not being unique or how I’m putting the cart before the horse when I call this body of work a part of the collective of poetic discourse for future generations, I take it personally. There are dozens of comments about my mistakes and how tedious it is to mark them all and among all the comments only one positive statement. One. Uno. A single solitary statement about how it’s good work.

I’m so discouraged by this. At times I’ve lacked confidence in myself and my writing and let me just say that this does not help. It makes it worse, it makes me want to just give up. It makes me wonder what I just spent 40 thousand dollars on? Good grief!

I’m not looking forward to getting the comments back on my poem revisions today. I’m not looking forward to any phone call that might follow. Yes, I’ve learned a lot, but it’s come at a cost I fear. The cost that it’s all been for nothing and I might as well quit now. (Yeah, that’s the melodramatic attitude I’ve been told to cut from my poems).

I’ve tried to stay positive all semester, you know, saying that this tough treatment is what I needed to whip my writing into shape and Used that to stay focused—listening to everything he has said. I’ve acknowledged my mistakes and bad habits but clearly have not learned to apply those edits with diligence.

Now today I read these comments and realize there’s a tipping point. I’ve detected a trend where I will make a statement, an opinion based on my observation or feelings and he makes a point of telling me I’m wrong.

I said I thought the perspective of the speaker in the 4th section of my manuscript is unique. He just said it’s not. Well it’s an opinion and it’s actually something my mentor last semester said to me that I’ve put a lot of thought into. That’s why it’s in my preface. That’s A whole section of my book he’s dismissing. Saying that It’s not unique is akin to saying it doesn’t matter and that stings.

I said my writing would be available for future generations. And he basically said I couldn’t be so sure because it does not have an audience yet. Really? Really??!! All writing has an audience and purpose even if it’s only in the mind of the writer. It’s had a huge purpose for me in my life. And I’ve got children. I’ve got loved ones who will care to read my writing even if the rest of the world never sees it. It’s not like I declared myself to be Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson for Pete’s sake. Again, good grief. 🙄

And the last statement he commented on was that this manuscript, as it is, is probably too long to be published and would have to be refined further. He basically said that I was wrong and that the length is about right for a typical manuscript. This one, at least, I can concede as I haven’t been able to figure out the difference between a manuscript and a book of poetry.

I actually googled how long a typical poetry manuscript is, and found various responses that indicated longer than 50 pages with no upper limit defined. I just know how long all the books I’ve read have been. Most are not that long. Like I said, I probably just don’t even know what a manuscript is and how it is different from a book of poetry. 🙄🤷‍♀️

In any case, the original set of poems I sent were like 80 pages and that’s for sure way too long. I Can fix the preface by taking that statement out. Easy. Done. But I’ve cut and changed so many poems based on his feedback and now I’m wondering if some of that was a mistake.

Am I sacrificing my own voice in some way? I’m trying not to change the meaning at all, just tighten the language. But it’s all based on one persons opinions and ideals. What if I gave the same set of poems to a completely different person?

I’ve come across conflicting advice between my four different mentors in the past and that always gives me pause. I trust what I’m being told, but when some of it is contrary, I lose confidence.

Yeah, I’m losing all kinds of confidence. In myself, in other people, in the process. It can’t just all fall to shit when I’m so close to the end. It just can’t. Please, tell me it’s not all just been a waste.

So that’s where I’m at on this lonely Sunday morning. Not awesome. Like I started, how can I be so fragile? And like a broken record, I keep going around and around and never seem to get to the end of the song.

What am I supposed to do?

Asking the Universe for an Answer,

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-03-22 Super-Sized Sunday Status

It’s Sunday again and I really need to get some steps to boost my stats and get my heart going. Plus, I’ve got a lot to say today so this could get long.

Imma start with school. Yesterday I had a two hour phone conversation with my assigned mentor for the semester and though it was a good conversation, it leads me to conclude I’m behind schedule. Those are my words and not his. He actually said I was in great shape.

However, it feels like the deadlines are coming in hot and I’m all duck-and-cover like the 16 year old me afraid of the volleyball in PE headed straight for me.

This is my 4th and final semester in the MFA program at the University of Nebraska. As such, I’ve worked with three mentors in previous terms and each has been a very different experience. Each opening my eyes to various aspects of the poetic discourse, craft, and the writers life. However different though, it’s tough not to start to compare one semester to another and one mentor to another. That’s human nature.

The mentor I have this term has been, by a good margin, tougher on me than the past three. I naturally push myself hard, trying to exceed expectation so to have someone pushing me even harder is not what I’m used to. The result, I recognize, is going farther and taking my writing to a whole new level. I feel I’ve made more progress this term already than I thought was possible and perhaps that I was also naive in thinking I didn’t have much farther to go.

Yeah, super foolish, SugarCookie! There are miles and miles to go and when you get over that little ridge ahead you will still see a mountain rising up before you.

The progress, however satisfying when you look back, is not without pain.

How many poems have I written and revised countless times. How many have I been so proud of? And how many were actually done-done? As it turns out, none.

With poetry the devil really is in the details. All the information I’ve absorbed in previous semesters about image and line and juxtaposition and the signified and the signifier, the interplay between the mind of the poet, the reader, and the poem itself, as well as learning how to give in to the destructiveness of a subject is all conceptual and very big-picture.

This semester I’m down in the weeds with grammar and syntax. I’m in a cage-match with punctuation and line breaks. And I’m having to cut and slash and, at times, re-imagine where I have been to try and rewrite the scene. I’ve learned so much about what those adjectives and adverbs are doing to my work and how passive voice seems to be my default and that just wont do.

Now, I think my mentor last semester was getting to some of this with me but I just wasn’t there yet and I just wasn’t getting it. Now I think I’m getting it. It’s starting to click. I just needed someone to point out specific examples. Which I now have a ton of. Which is good, but it stings a little, you know.

Paraphrasing a comment I’ve seen several times, “I think there could be a poem hiding in all this”. Ouch!

I mean when you hand over your baby and are so proud of how wonderful she is, it’s tough to have the response be “I’m not sure that’s even a baby. It could be a puppy. It’s cute but really, go back and try again.” Ha!

That’s overly dramatic of course, but that’s pretty close to how I feel reading some of the feedback. Speaking of overly dramatic, apparently that’s another one of my problems. Some of my poems were tagged as too melodramatic, too preachy, or too clever.

Too clever? Part of me is like so what? I like clever.

Oh, clever is not one of the goals and neither is preachy. People apparently don’t like that and I need to cut that shit out. There I go… cut, cut, cut. /shrug

There are a few references in a couple of my poems to the speaker weeping. Ummmm, that actually happened and in case there’s any question the speaker is yours truly. Please tell me how I’m supposed to write about the most difficult parts of my life without the reality that I sometimes cry about it?

It’s clicking now though. I get it. I don’t have to include every detail and however sincere, I can use the images to try and evoke a feeling. So I cut cut cut. Several poems have been cut completely out of my thesis manuscript. Among those are some of those tough moments that I still can’t completely capture successfully in a poem. I may never be able to do that.

My five year relationship that failed and left me devastated was represented in a poem that’s now been cut. I’ve re-written that poem like 10 times now in 10 different ways and it’s still too raw. Instead, I’ve got a short little baby that’s about 10 lines to represent that part of the story. And that one is a play on cliche.

So, yeah, having one of the most impactful things I’ve gone through being reduced to a pile-up of cliches makes my heart hurt.

Anyway, the conversation I had with my mentor yesterday was a lot more positive than all that and I think a few more things are clicking now for me to finish out my revisions of this book. I need to get that done so I can move on to the other requirements for the thesis and also developing a kick-ass lecture to get me to the finish line.

***

One hour in and I think I’ve finally exhausted my thoughts on that topic. But I’m not done yet, yo, it’s Sunday and I’ve still got to check myself on status.

Steps and exercise are not up to par. I’m just shy of 10k steps per day and my goal is 12k.

My sleep is a puzzle. On one hand my sleep quality has gone up and holding steady at an average score of 77. On the other, the average duration of my sleep is suffering and has fallen to about 6.5 hours a night. Whatever.

Work hours went up again this week and I’m now close to a full-time work week. That’s one reason the other things are suffering. Like school and writing.

I did not submit any of my writing this week so that’s a fail.

I did not write anything new so that’s a fail.

I did not read anything new so that’s a fail.

I did finish watching Batman Begins with Jim and we continue to also watch the documentary-drama on Netflix about Ted Kazinsky (I know that’s not spelled right but “meh”). We also watched 1917 this weekend with one of the kids. I didn’t like it and would not recommend. For a war drama, it did a poor job pulling me in emotionally. And I’m typically a sucker for that shit. I often get teary-eyed during emotional scenes. I mean I cried like 4 tunes during “Onward”. But I just didn’t feel that connection with the movie 1917. We should watch Saving Private Ryan again to see how that is. I’ve seen it but it was a long, long time ago.

What else? Yeah, my healthy eating goals are still being ignored for the most part. Ha!

I think that’s it. The household is probably waking up now and I’ve got to get to rolling with the day.

Take care and be well,

~Miss SugarCookie