2022-01-14 Giving My Brain a Creative Jump-Start ✍🏻

I’m back at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska city today. I was invited by an MFA friend who is also struggling to get back into writing. The regular routine of life often doesn’t leave enough space for flexing that creative muscle. I know I was just here a couple of weeks ago but that was mostly business and alas there was not time to just sit with my right brain self and reflect and write. So when she asked me, I jumped at the opportunity.

The Lied is where our low-res MFA program does their residencies every semester. It’s a ten day immersive experience that often leaves my head spinning and full of things I want to write about. My hope is that just by being here, it will kickstart something in my brain.

It felt good to pack a bag and break away from the castle. It felt great driving in my car solo, with my tunes turned up on the stereo. And it feels fantastic being here without any pressure to lecture, attend events, or socialize. I’ve stayed here enough times that I know the place inside and out. 

I know enough to ask for an odd numbered room on the 3rd floor (odd numbered rooms are on the north side of the lodge which faces a green space and a copse of trees instead of the parking lot). I know there’s hardly ever anyone in the exercise room in the basement (which is where I am now) and I know that in winter there’s not much going on so there will be few distractions. 

What I don’t know is whether or not I’ll be able to mentally break away from all the things in my life that have kept me from writing lately. I have to resist the urge to check email or work on the GLR or waste the precious time I have searching old poems for potential revision opportunities or submitting the same old shit to more places. 

I’ve turned notifications to camera events off and made sure folks know not to contact me unless it’s an emergency. I’ve brought a few books in case I need a little jump start for writing or to keep me occupied if the writing doesn’t happen. I hope it does. 

My friend will be here at about 5:30 and we’re meeting for dinner at 6. The bad weather is supposed to roll in any minute now and it would be lovely to feel a little stranded with a hot coffee next to the big fireplace overlooking the patio and the woods beyond that. 

It will also be nice to catch up with my friend and just talk about our big plans for the year without some timer going off. No mom taxi, no dinner to cook, no dishes or litter boxes for 24 glorious hours. Hell, now that I think about it, I don’t even care if I write anything. It’s like a whole day of “me” time. 

To be fair, I don’t want to spend a ton of time journal writing either so this is gonna be it for now. 

Time to get busy doing whatever I want! 

Ciao for now, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-11-08 Just Another Lustless Monday…

Welcome to Monday. This morning while my husband was eating the breakfast I cooked him, he asked what my plans were for the day. Just a casual question that might start a conversation if I had some unexpected answer or something I was planning that I’d forgotten to mention previously. I don’t.

It’s Monday so I’m grocery shopping, doing dishes, scooping litter boxes, finishing the laundry I started over the weekend, and mailing that utility bill he left for me on the counter. “The usual” I say. 

That’s it. That’s my life now and that’s part of what’s got me down. I’m not cut out to be a housewife. It’s boring and so very unfulfilling. But what can I do?

I had to quit my job because doing that and trying to manage this beast of a house was too much for me. I was failing at both. So I quit.

Then I failed at just being a housekeeper because toilets. Now we have a cleaning service that comes every two weeks. That’s glorious, I’ll admit. If my world was turned upside down tomorrow and I no longer had Jim to rely on, I’d have a hard time not having that. I’d be reworking my old budget to fit it in for sure.

Then again, I wouldn’t have this giant castle to clean. Nine toilets. Nope. I’d buy a tiny house in a quiet neighborhood with one toilet and probably go back to living very close to the way I was before I met Jim, but with more cats.

Whatever I would do, it would not include picking up a high stress job in healthcare IT. I wonder what else I could do? Something that would pay just enough. I wonder why this daydream I’m having right now feels very enticing? 

I have a wonderful life with a wonderful man and I never have to worry about finances or cleaning toilets ever again. What is wrong with me?

Continuing the breakfast conversation that we were having, while he eats and I scramble around the kitchen doing dishes and cleaning counters, he asks me to run a check over to our investment firm. 

“Sure thing,” I say. And I’m reminded of that essay I wrote about the day I had to go there to sign our 2020 taxes. I’m emotionally attached to that essay and it’s one of a very few I’ve worked on enough to feel confident enough about it to submit to a few places. It’s been rejected by everyone so far of course.

I say “of course” like it’s a foregone conclusion. Yeah, that’s what getting rejections 95% of the time does to a person. I’ve lost confidence in just about everything I’ve written in the last year, which is actually not much to start with. 

I held true to the notion that I could find the right home for all my writing IF the writing was solid. So when the rejections roll in, I jump to the conclusion that it’s the writing and not the place or the tastes of the people rejecting me. Still I keep trying different places like a glutton for punishment with an addiction to the process. 

Now that I have a maid and only have a few hours of chores every day, what else am I going to do with my time? The lit mag, meetups with people, exercise? That’s all great, but it’s just not enough some how.

Then I feel like I’m being spoiled and greedy. Then I feel like I’m a bad person for feeling like that. Good grief. 

In the good old days I might try to write a poem about the way that I’m feeling but damn I just don’t want to. Or I don’t have it in me. And that’s bothersome too. 

I used to write dozens of crappy poems and it made me feel better about whatever it was I was thinking and I didn’t care that they were crappy or I didn’t know that they were crappy so I guess that old saying is true. Ignorance is bliss.

Now I know too much, and some cockeyed notion about being a published author got cemented into my brain. Do I need that? Do I want that? Is it going to fulfill me in someway to see that book on a bookshelf somewhere, or the bookshelf in my closet? I guess I won’t know the answer to that until it happens. 

And when will that be? Five more months. That’s how long I have to wait until that book becomes a reality. Until I can hold a physical copy of it in my hot little hands. It’s already been a horribly long wait. 

Truth is, I’m done with the waiting. I’ve already turned my attention to the next thing. Getting my daily submission fix and feeding my obsession to have all my poems out in the world somewhere. And lately that’s escalated to pulling together another book (three actually). 

That’s right, I’ve re-tooled my full MFA manuscript AND compiled two additional chapbooks. I finished the shorter two books this weekend and feel satisfied enough with the result to send to publishers. The longer book will be done this week. Just in time for a few November deadlines AND my trip to Austin. 

After that, I’m going cold turkey with all of it. So help me, I swear to the Universe imma be DONE DONE. 

Then what? Who knows. The Universe only, I suppose. Maybe I’ll get a job stocking shelves at Target.

On that note, my time’s up today. The groceries aren’t going to get themselves. 😜

Peace and love, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-11-06 It has been a while… but why?

It has been a while since I held to my daily writing routine and I could say it was because I haven’t needed it but the truth is that I’m just using my time in other ways. 

What’s new? Plenty. What is blog worthy? Not sure. 

I’ve got a new elliptical machine and it’s smooth like butter and I love it. I haven’t loved it today yet because I woke up with the worst cramps (I usually don’t get bad cramps, so when I do, it’s always “the worst”). I’m currently treating myself to some couch time, but it’s hard to sit with my laptop and write because I’m so used to working on other things when I have my laptop out. 

I haven’t written any new poetry in ages and have been nurturing my creative side by organizing and compiling a few different manuscript collections that I could submit to publishers. It’s satisfying a need I have to be creative, but in truth the larger part of that exercise is logic and figuring out what works together and tells a bigger story. Why do I feel like a manuscript must tell a story or that all the poems need to be bound together by some overarching theme? Probably because that’s how things are nowadays. Especially for a random girl from the Midwest with nothing much more to offer. 

The other part of wanting to feel productive with something (anything) ACC has resulted in my submitting individual poems to publishers like crazy. I suppose it is not a bad thing that it has gotten out of hand a little bit and I now have 87 open submissions in Submittable. I’ve stopped setting a goal. My goal was 30 then 40 then 50 and …. You get the point. 

I did promise myself near the end of summer that I would start submitting to some more reputable places. Some fives and sixes and sevens instead of twos and fours. I even created an algorithm to score a place to see how they rate. It had weighted criteria and the heaviest variable was the longevity of the publisher. The other criteria was their method and regularity of publishing and if they pay or not, plus a few other stats in Duo Trope about their acceptance rate. The harder it is to get in, the higher their score was in that category. 

I paid money to use Duo Trope for a year but I think it is on it’s way out as a user tool. It’s only as good as the data that people put in it and if folks are not reporting their submissions there, then the stats will not reflect what is accurately going on. It’s a lot of work to keep track of submissions even without the extra work to report it all to another agency. Therefore it is understandable why it’s probably not going to last too much longer with the current business model. I probably wont pay for it again. 

Anyway, I let my own algorithm go too as it was too much extra work and I feel like I can just as easily eyeball a few things and decide if it’s a place that would be a good fit for my poems. For some of that, it’s turned into a matter of reading other people’s bios and seeing what places they have placed their work. In this way, I’m sort of gauging from the caliber of the writer more than the journal or publisher. This goes back to my original theory that poems that are 4 out of 10 come from poets that are 4 out of 10 which typically get published by places that are 4 out of 10. 

All of this is just a lot of left brain nonsense and I’m fooling myself into thinking I’m satisfying my creative side by spending so much time on it. Like I said, I haven’t written a poem in a long time and now to make matters worse, I haven’t even blogged in a long time either. Part of me wonders if I am going back in statis and just don’t need it like I did before. 

Yesterday I reworked my thesis manuscript as I still feel the strong desire to get some validation by having that book published. I mean, I am having a book published, but it is not the full manuscript and I dove deep to figure out how to change it in a way to both keep the essence of what it was originally and add some newer poems. I also wanted to re-do it so that I have all the current versions and update the acknowledgements page. Again, all this satisfies my left brain and after I finally got it to a place I was happy with yesterday, I felt good about it. 

What all of it does NOT do is alleviate the angst I’m currently experiencing about how much rejection I’ve gotten lately. It stands to reason that the more you submit, the more you get rejected, but with each hit it’s like a little stab at my confidence. Both my confidence in myself and my confidence in my poems. I just don’t think I have what it takes to keep doing this. And then I question myself, “what part of THIS am I talking about?” 

The submitting, the writing, the revising, the lit mag, the blog, the pursuit of that elusive dream of publishing my thesis manuscript. I’m sure I will finish out what I started with regard to these books. I say books because in the last two weeks I’ve not only reworked the full manuscript (about 77 pages) but also two other chapbook size books (30 pages each). Once I have them where I want them, I could engage an editor– someone who reviews and critiques work like this for money, and see what they think. But again, I ask myself if that’s all just a waste of time and money because my writing is not good enough. 

I originally went after my MFA for two specific reasons. The first was to satisfy a desire to learn more about something I had interest in. I’ve always written poetry, but I wanted to learn how to make it better. The second was to change my life. To do something different and get a sense of fulfillment by accomplishing something other than doing a job and collecting a paycheck. I didn’t do it for the credentials and I sure as hell did not do it because I wanted to publish a book. Those things never entered my mind until I was actually IN the program. 

In fact, there’s such a heavy emphasis on publishing during residency, I think that is part of the reason I developed such a strong desire to have that kind of validation. I won’t say I never thought about it. I entertained the idea of having a few poems published and how neat that would be, but a book??!! 

Now here I am three years later, unable to write a poem, yet working on taking the 100 (or so) I’ve written since 2018 and getting them out into the world. Part of me wonders if I shouldn’t just let it all go. 

My husband questions whether I should let GLR go too, as it takes up so much time and there is not a lot of fulfillment from it. 

And now, after having written about 1200 words here so far today, I am getting down to the heart of the matter. Which is me questioning whether or not I should let this blog go too. 

I’ve barely blogged in the last month. I went on vacation for a week and saw some great things, and had several really good cheeseburgers. None of that made it into the blog when normally it would. In years past, I would absolutely make writing about my vacation a priority. Not this time. 

I’ve also had mood swings, a gym remodel at the house, and my daughter got her brand new bike stolen off campus. Those incidents and adventures didn’t make it into the blog either. I’ve had developments happen with regard to my health and my chronic fatigue and my insomnia but just have not felt like writing about any of it. I’m in need of lamenting about my parents too, but writing about it seems either like too much of a broken record or just not worth the effort.

I’ve started and stopped several days in the last few weeks and just have not felt motivated. I start and get a few sentences in and then stop, feeling like it is a waste of time. I find myself more enthusiastic about watching a stupid TV show over writing. I wake up on Wednesday mornings happy because there will be a new episode of The Bachelorette on Hulu. Legit. Why would THAT bring me joy when this… THIS… doesn’t seem to??! 

THIS blog has, for nearly five years, been my go-to place to sort out what I am thinking and feeling. A few times in the past month instead of writing it, I’ve opted to read it instead. While it is cool, to look back on a day, a week, a month, a year in the life and how far I’ve come, it doesn’t necessarily inspire me to keep doing it. 

I dunno. Perhaps I’m just feeling down and lost and not needed or wanted lately and that has contributed to my lack of motivation. I think there are a few more unexplored corners relating to the overarching theme of this particular post, and I’m finding myself passing to think about other things. This is me saying, in a roundabout way, that I could keep going and going but I’m not sure where it is going next and am frankly out of time and (not surprising) lacking motivation to continue. 

Not sure what this weekend will bring or next week or this month. I guess as always, time will tell. 

Adios,

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-07-16 This Blog Post is Not About Toads 🐸🐸🐸

Jim and his boys brought back about 12 toads from their adventure at Two Rivers State Park and we released them in the stream behind our house. I feel a little bad for displacing them from their original natural habitat but feel confident they can thrive here too. Lots of cool places to burrow and hide in the day and bugs to snack on at night. The bugs are kind of bonkers right now with all this rain and heat. 

This would be a perfect intro to the garden update that I’ve been wanting to write about for a hot little minute lately but it’s not what’s on my mind today. Nope. 

Today I’m thinking about the grinder as a necessary tool in “sausage making.”

Sausage making (in this case) being the production of poetry which is opposed to where I first heard the term applied to developing software when I was working as an engineer for a software company. The metaphor, as it turns out, works well for both. 

I think that’s because there are a lot of similarities. There is a SDLC to poetry I don’t think people recognize.. call it a PDLC. Poetry Development Life Cycle. 

Complete with analysis to development to testing, iterations, and IF you’re good AND lucky, a little bit of implementation too. 

I’m also beginning to be a firm believer in the mathematics of it all. Proven formulas that work and methodologies that can be applied to increase the chances of success. But this is all just metaphorical until I can explain using real life examples to help solidify the thoughts. 

That’s a good disclaimer actually. These are all just my thoughts and what works or makes sense for one person might not for someone else so take that for what it’s worth. Back to “sausage making”…..

About a year ago I had just finished my last semester in an MFA program and my Master’s thesis in Poetry. It was also shortly after the “peak” months of the pandemic when folks were still on serious lockdown and waiting for news each day about what had transpired around the globe in the last 24 hours. I was working full time but had a growing desire to hang on to my MFA magic somehow and use the momentum from that to channel my creative energy into “something.” At the time, I didn’t realize that “something” was going to turn out to be publishing my poetry. 

Sure, I was also starting an online literary journal, but I needed something that would be more personally satisfying. Plus, Trish Lear lectured once that if you have a lot of balls in the air, something is bound to land successfully. You just gotta Toss ‘em up!! 

Yeah… it was near the end of July in 2020 when I started to submit my thesis poems like crazy. As it is with a lot of things you do for the first time, you learn as you go. The main platform I submitted on was Submittable and I slowly developed my own process. 

This process included things like finding and researching potential publishers, tweaking my cover letter and bio, and of course selection and revising poems I thought might be a good fit. After completing my thesis I felt as though I had about 50 poems truly worthy of letting loose on the world at large. I also had another 20 that had potential with more work and (not exaggerating) over a hundred others that will never see the light of day, so to speak. 

I had been told it’s a numbers game and so that was also part of my strategy. All this feels very much like an analysis phase tipping into development. I put the time and effort in. I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my submissions and with each submission and subsequent rejection, I made slight modifications. 

Soon, a few acceptances happened. If I revisit some of the blog posts I’ve written about being accepted and rejected in the past 12 months, I know I would find a sentiment of indifference. That’s kind of a curious phenomenon—to have a similar reaction to both. It’s like a brief shot of emotion right to the heart. An adrenaline spike when I open an email and see that a poem has been accepted and the same dose of a downer with each rejection. 

It passes so quickly, like minutes, and then I’m back to baseline. I’ve often wondered why I am so emotionally detached from the outcome—why I get so much more satisfaction out of revising and submitting than anything else? Maybe it’s the same rush as plunking your precious pennies in a slot machine and pulling the handle. The possibility of “hitting it big” is kind of a rush. 

That slot machine metaphors is also pretty accurate when it comes to getting your work accepted as a publisher, but I’ll stick with the “grinder” for now. 

I went on a serious roll, cranking that grinder daily and the last time I checked, I had amassed about 200 submissions (which equates to about 1000 poems). Being a numbers nerd, it’s an important part of the analysis. Law of averages melds with chaos theory to produce a result by which I can say now, with confidence, is about a 10% success rate. I put that statistic in my back pocket. 

Part of the PDLC is learning from mistakes and making modifications. And I’ve made a few. Some feel like big mistakes like submitting to a brand new publication with no idea about their presentation, professionalism, or vibe. I gave away one of my very best to a new place and was very disappointed in the outcome. I had to let that go, but will never do that again. 

Another mistake I made, which may or may not have been that big of a mistake, was spending too much (money and time) submitting to contests. Like Rattle, where I have very little shot of getting in. I know now that my poems don’t really fit with their vibe (or the current climate for rhetoric) and now all I have to show for that is 4 years of a subscription. That’s a lot of Rattle. I still aspire to get in there someday, but have to find the right poem for it and realize that I may never write that. 

I mention money. While this is not so much of a concern for me, it’s more about not just throwing it out the proverbial literary journal window. I’m all about support of small presses and startups but there are clearly some that have a good mission and vision and others that feel like they are just out to make some bucks. In order to ferret it all out, it takes research. And research takes time. 

It’s also a matter of observation and experience. For real! If I spent $20 on a submission and that hangs out there in “received” status the better part of a year with no communication back (even after the issue or contest it was submitted to has come and gone), that’s a serious red flag. 

Someone once told me that the longer it’s out there, the more chance it’s going to be accepted but I disagree. I think there’s a sweet spot and most of the acceptances I’ve received were at an average of 9 weeks. I think some places just don’t have a very good process for follow up on rejected pieces. 

It’s part of the reason I want to treat submitters to The Good Life Review way better and follow up on every inquiry and make sure each submission gets the care and attention it deserves. I digress. 

Anyway.. so now I have a process defined and operating like a well oiled machine. What this does for me is allow me to maintain my submission goals without a ton of effort. My current goal?.. maintain about 35 open submissions. 

This means when I get a rejection (or acceptance) the open count goes down and I engage with the process to crank another out. However, as most people in any sort of successful business know, there’s always room for improvement and ways to level up. My new aim, therefore, is not just to maintain 35 (or increase that number) but instead to make small steps forward to increasing the quality of the publications I’m getting into. Having names that are more recognizable on a CV or in a bio becomes important in the grand scheme. 

The grand scheme being what? Success. But, good gravy what is the definition of success? The true short story on that one is that I don’t know. Is it to someday get into Rattle or The Sun? Is it New York or Paris? Is it having a full manuscript published by Grey Wolf?

Maybe. I don’t know. 

If it is then I’d better get busy writing. What this post doesn’t address is that part of the process which remains shrouded in mystery. I’ve told a few folks my well of inspiration feels dry right now and what I get in return are comments like “well you are in the middle of publishing a book so I wouldn’t be too worried about it.” 

Good point. I’m not actually worried about it. I’m just a thinker and a planner so I know that if I desire to publish more, I’m going to have to write more. And prove to the world that I’m not just a one trick pony, so to speak. 

The other way one might interpret the grinder of which I speak is the way rejection can start to mush up your confidence after a while. Yes, I’m not so bothered by any individual rejection but after a while, as they start to accumulate without any acceptances to balance things out, I begin feeling like I’ve just gotten lucky and am really just an imposter posing as a poet. 

That’s ok. I fooled the world into thinking I was a rockstar engineer for about 25 years so I’ve got this. 

I know I’ve been shying away from public appearances lately and my social anxiety has thanked me, but I’m really jazzed about this topic and think I would like to give a talk or presentation on it. Barcamp? Winter Res? Nebraska Poetry Society? We’ll see. 

I think that’s it for today folks. Or should I say toad-a?!! 😜

With Peace and Love and Bacon Wrapped Dates, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-01-06 Abbreviated Celebrations and Delayed Considerations

Monday night I finally ceremoniously graduated from the MFA program I’ve been engaged in for the past 3 years. It was a great experience. I watched, cried, and then popped briefly into the “library pub” zoom after to see who else might be on celebrating. As it turns out, very few people were and I basically listened in as they talked about the times, the change in academic curriculum fueled by recent events and the shift in focus. I didn’t have a ton to contribute as I’m not in the academic scene and the one relatable example I had in my experience is something I didn’t even think about until after I left the meeting. Such is life. 

After I left the meeting I had to get my crew and myself some food and so my focus shifted immediately to local needs and the celebration was short lived. . Such is life.

Yesterday I gifted myself with a down day. I did a few urgent things but otherwise stayed in my morning “lounge” clothes all day. I didn’t, walk, write, wear a bra, shower,  put on makeup, or start any new project or take on any chores outside of doing the dishes and collecting recycles and trash. I had minimal communication with people. Which is probably the best way for me to decompress, think, and relax. 

As I approached dinner time, having finished episode 5 of the season of the bachelor I’m binging right now, I made the dinners, and decided I would celebrate a little with a glass of wine. That glass turned into 2 or 3 and I subsequently had an early end to my evening. My people know that when I start sleep talking from a half supine position on the couch it’s time to get me to bed. 

It’s good to have people who know when to get you to bed, even if it’s only 9pm. I was still lucid enough to catch Jim taking video of me rambling and I’m sure that will be very entertaining to watch this evening. I’m sure he was disappointed that our celebration dissolved so quickly. It’s proof that one of my priorities this year will be to fix my sleep.

That’s another thing I gifted myself with not thinking about yesterday. The new year and resolutions, goals, measurements. But I did have a brief text with my accountability partner, T, and promised to pick up this week where we left off last year.

As we approached the holidays, things just started getting too busy and moving too fast, for us both I think. Time to recalibrate and regroup!

This is the first thing I began thinking about on my walk this morning. It’s not the first thing I wrote about obviously.. but it is something I want to get into with a quickness. 

Unfortunately, my kids and kittens and my husband who isn’t even here have other ideas. I suppose one of my main objectives is better life balance so it’s fitting I have to cut this walk and blog short. So much is being abbreviated because there’s not enough time. Such is life.

Next time, there WILL be resolution! 

Cheers, 

~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

2021-01-03 Final MFA Res Day ??!… 🤦🏼‍♀️

It’s official…

I’ve lost track of what “MFA” day it is, what day or the week, and also what year. But I’m not ready for the new year yet and that’s ok. 

What? Did I just say that I was not ready for 2020 to end. Well, not exactly.

I’m ready for 2020 to take a hike but not quite ready for 2021. I feel as though I need more prep time to be off and running with a good start. 

It’s the same with a lot of things right now. With my time in the MFA program coming to a close, I should have more space in my brain to work in other things. But as I walk through my house this morning, every room is in desperate need of attention. 

The Christmas decorations and crap collecting in the living room. The kitchen is a disaster. The litter boxes are full. And on and on. Nothing like being inspired to write and then scooping the poops and losing every decent thought you could have had. Kind of like now, having so many things I want to write about but end up writing about chores instead. Good grief!! 🤦🏼‍♀️

Even if I don’t know what day of Res it is, I know how many days are left.. two. Today and tomorrow. That’s it. Two days to really make the rest of this count. And on the flip side, two days delaying getting back to normal life. Two more days of putting off things that need doing. I’m clearly torn. 

I’d like to have a few days to myself, alone-alone, to reconcile everything. I’d like to reflect on my reading last night instead of waking up thinking about the new year and all the things I’m gonna set as goals or try and do. I’d  like to revise the poems I had workshopped this past week. I’d like to spend some effort crafting emails back to various folks for this and that and really pay attention to my words. I don’t want to have to rush it or fake it or worse, just postpone longer. 

I probably should have been more demanding this past week with people in this household. Everyone has their own agenda. For once I’d like my agenda to be the primary one, and not secondaey or tertiary. 

I keep wandering back to that train of thought. I don’t want to. 

I slept through to 7am today which is glorious. But my FitBit has decided to stop collecting stats on my sleep so I have no idea when I went to sleep or the quality. I feel pretty well rested and maybe that’s enough. The FitBit not working is just another detail in a long list of things needing attention. 

See, there I go again. Ugh. That’s enough. I gotta switch gears and get to today’s MFA agenda (while most people in the house are still asleep). 

Peace and Love, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-01-02 Flip the Day… 🤸

If you flip the script on this day.. this date… the palindrome enthusiasts find a different day just over 10 years ago. 2010-12-02. 

Where was I early in December in the year 2010? 

I know this was shortly after I met a person who would change the trajectory of my life. By that time I was past my divorce and any necessary reconciliation required for moving on with my life and was open to entertaining thoughts about future relationships. The person I had just met was the first person I trusted with this possibility. I picked him, but he didn’t pick me.

For all intents and purposes, the door closed on those thoughts before it was given a chance to open fully. What snuck inside, however, while that door was briefly ajar was a spark of desire. 

I already had one spark, an unrefined flame, my desire to write. But this sneaky circumstance was something different, something new. I’m talking about the thrill I found in sharing my words. 

Thrill feels like the wrong word choice though. It was more of a sense of satisfaction, strangely even a sense of accomplishment though I wasn’t really accomplishing anything outside of perhaps becoming less adverse to risk and more open and ok with being “seen.” And everything that comes with posting my thoughts and poems on a public forum. 

The fear in it is not so much that I was opening up to the whole world, because let’s face it, there’s so much out here and very few people care enough to pay attention. The fear is in the building of an image, and perception from those who do care and also those who happen to randomly stumble across a poem or post. The fear is in people judging you and also in the potential of failure. 

But if you don’t have a concrete goal, if you don’t define the parameters of what qualifies as success and what measures to collect to determine success or failure, then you really can’t fail. That’s how I saw it.

Ten years ago when I started my first WordPress blog I did not have a goal. No measures, no expectations. Hence no failure. No stakes, no real skin in the game. Save my reputation as a writer, which I suppose I never thought about much. Because the person I was always writing for was myself. And I think I’m great! 😜

And I continued on like that for quite a while. About six years, before something more began to develop. This time it wasn’t another spark. It was more of a smoldering. Some low burning that might ignite given the right fuel. 

Turns out that getting an MFA was the right fuel for my fire. 

Flipping that date back over and it’s now 2021-01-02. Today I’m completing the last of the predetermined tasks to satisfy the requirements I need in order to graduate. At this point it’s more a matter of follow through as I’ve already officially received my degree and diploma. Even so, it feels like this is the final step, save maybe the graduation ceremony but I do t really have to “do” anything g for that. 

Today for the reading the focus will be on me for about 20 minutes. 20 minutes of just my voice and my words. I’ll be reading poems I’ve put my heart and soul into for the last 3 years. I’ll be sharing mostly from my thesis manuscript. And a few new-ish poems. 

Here I feel like “thrill” is the right word, I’m excited to read, share, and also to have it over and done with. 

Before that, there’s a fulll day of lecture, workshop, and other readings. I’m the last event on the agenda today. 

Time is short now.. time to get on with the day.

Cheers to a full, and satisfying day. Thanks for reading. Especially you, you-know-who, still supporting me from the other side of that door after all these years.

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-01-01 Hurry Up and Wait ⏰

Or.. It’s About Time.

Two days ago I started writing about something that dissolved into a rant about titles and hierarchy and how disgruntled I felt after not being recognized for my contribution in an effort I’ve worked on and care deeply about. I ran out of time while writing and was subsequently told to let it go. (Clearly I have not yet).

One day ago I started writing and it quickly morphed into a statement of gratitude I wanted to include in my “letter from the editor” for the lit mag I’m managing editor for. Oh hey, this is directly related to the aforementioned endeavor. They are one and the same.

In the middle of writing I elected to switch gears and just write the letter instead of a journal entry. Or was past due anyhow. The part with the gratitude to specific folks on my team did not make it into the letter. If you are reading this, M or T, please know I wanted to but it was apparently too much like a repeat of the last letter and that part was cut. It was also not all me, it was E, who said we’d fit the recognition in somewhere else.

This is the complication I’m dealing with. 

E is the person who gets recognition instead of me, publiclally and privately and I’m really sick of it. I can externally let it go, but mark my words.. if it happens again I can’t predict what my response will be.

See I clearly can’t let it go. But there’s just not time to work through it right now. I have to hurry up on something else that’s important. I have to temporarily let go of what happened two days ago and yesterday and focus on today and tomorrow. 

Did I mention it’s now 2021. Good gravy how can I possibly put thoughts about that on pause too? But I have too. Where are all these things when my mind is dry and I’ve nothing to say? Why do noteworthy events huddle so close together? Ugh!!! 

But I have to focus. 

Focus. 

Today my goal is to wrap the prep and practice for my reading. It’s the next big thing that’s in front of me. Yes, there’s more res today to attend to but that should be a snap. 

Unlike the lecture, the reading doesn’t make me as nervous. That’s kind of a puzzle but one that I’m happy I don’t have to solve because it’s a good thing. I’m actually thinking of sending invites to like everyone I know to tune in and watch. Though I doubt most people will be interested in hearing me talk and read poetry for 20 minutes. If you are reading this and interested, message me and I’ll send the zoom credentials. Ha!

It’s also my opportunity to say a few words, which I will not get to do for graduation because of the sheer number of folks graduating. The question for me becomes.. how much time of poems do I sacrifice to say other things? It’s supposed to be a poetry reading, but damn, I just have a lot to say. You know? 

I suppose that first bit of writing I made reference to earlier is connected. I have been invisible all my life, and that comes at a cost. But we often don’t know the cost until it’s too late. 

Cutting to the heart of the matter, I don’t want to get to the end of what I’ve been offered and feel as though I’ve wasted time. 

Seriosly. A set of my poems were workshopped this week and the mentor facilitating pointed out the theme of time that was in all of them, more prevalent in some than others, but a current flowing between them for sure. She also said she liked the poem about my divorce the best. Which was sort of eye opening. I felt it was the weakest. That fact proves that taste is so subjective. 

That poem will not be in my reading. At least one of the others will probably. But I still need to figure out which ones to cut because as it is now, there’s too much. 

The good news is that I talked myself out of including a few I felt were really important. In a way, the lecture on editing (from the other mentor whose comment referencing E and not me), helped me realize that the audience is important and not to be too in love with new writing. Which are both good points to remember.

So I’m sticking with poems I have high confidence in and are perhaps more universally understandable. Nothing too specific with divorce, castle, or my parents (who might be tuning in). There’s also no poems about my children and that’s interesting. 

Interesting in that I’ve written very few about them. Or patenting. I have one I could read but I don’t have any confidence in it and it’s not polished. So I won’t. I digress.

I’ve got a lot to get done today. I really want to climb up to my tower in the castle after this and work at it until I’ve got at least the reading set. Then move on to other things. 

When this Res is over and things settle down, there will be more time to write about everything else. We’ll see if it all remains pressing with the passage of time. 

Until then, peace and love and happy New Year!

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-12-30 Final MFA Day 2: Gathering All the Internets

I’ve gathered all the internet in the house that I could do as to try to get a good signal in a more isolated location. Maybe I should put the cable modem, WiFi router, and signal boosters in my car and drive away. 

Never mind that. There’s a giant snow pile behind my car and I’m stuck here. 

I just can’t seem to get out of my own way. I for sure thought that once that stupid lecture was over, I would really enjoy my week. But alas, it’s not happening. 

I’m in such a mood already and taking the “trash” out yesterday to find two full bags full of trash mixed with recycling set me off in a big way. I don’t ask for much. You know, as the person that runs this household, but my one big thing is recycling. It grates on me to no end that something so easy is just not done. My wishes ignored. I want to talk with these teenagers with authority, but in two cases my hands (and mouth) are tied. 

Clenching my teeth while sorting through disgusting trash bags to pull out bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper do nothing to help the migraine I was trying to get over or the rotten mood I was in. Listen, I was wearing a brand new sweatshirt I got for Christmas and the last thing I wanted was to get it stained with some unknown drips or goo from the trash. Just gross. 

I could not help myself. I picked a fight with the only other adult around. I admit it, I knew it was wrong of me in that moment to come swinging into the living room where Jim was eating his dinner. I simply just could not help myself, 

If I was in Nebraska city right now I wouldn’t be taking out the trash, you know, so there’s that too. 

My grievance was met with and equal and opposite grievance about dirty toilets (which he’d spent time cleaning) and I thought, well, here we go. Our first official fight. I mean we’ve known each other almost 3 years so it was bound to happen eventually. But now? Why now?!! 

We agreed, like adults, that the timing for the discussion wasn’t right and that we should dismiss it. Ok fine. 

But then I pressed for “when” and that too was met with a snark of a reply, was it so wrong for me to not want to fall in an all too familiar pattern of keeping my damn mouth shut then have a blow-up at some future juncture? I just wanted some acknowledgement that we really would talk about it. I didn’t need “January 17 at 2 o’clock” as the reply or “oops but I’ll be at work, so sorry”. 

For real, I didn’t. 

Seems there might be more to talk about than recycling and dirty toilets. 

I had a future poetry book flash in front of my eyes. Title still TBD, but the cover has a picture of a princess morphing into a monster in front of a grand castle. Nobody wants to read THAT book. Least of all me. 

So I did some more zooms, multitasking, ate some food and had a drink. Tried to get time fast forwarded to bedtime so everyone would go to sleep and I could be alone. 

I’m not super prepared for today, but fuck it. At least my headache is gone. 

I’ve got two lectures this morning and workshop and another lecture this afternoon. So not into it. And I was serious about that internet thing. I moved the booster that’s usually near the treadmill up to a different area of the house. So I don’t have internet for reading online this morning. Ugh!

Is it only Tuesday? Good gravy!! 

Must be time for coffee.

~Miss SugarCookie