What I Learned at a Concert for 40,000

Hello. I’ve just recovered from a concert full of screaming, drunk, beasts beneath a hot Chicago summer sun. Not my cup of tea. But I learned some things about myself: I like quieter, more intimate settings, I like music that requires a brain, that has intelligent lyrics (if it’s a song), and that I’m more introverted. I like the solitude of writing; about the most wild place I write is a small coffee shop, the Limestone Coffee and Tea, where the ambient noise is just right, there’s plenty of coffee, other writers, and I can get some good work done. If I’m doing something more involved, like a piece of fiction, then I like the absolute quiet in a study room at the local library. I stop at the coffee shop at the entrance, fuel up with a sandwich, get a large coffee, and ensconce myself in a very austere setting: a built-in ledge for a desk, a straight back, wooden desk chair, and that’s it. Generally, in that setting, I write non-stop for three hours, not stopping except for the occasional sip of coffee. Of course, as I get more involved in my work, I forget about the coffee, and finally, I’m drinking cold coffee. But I really don’t mind: it’s a sacrifice for the cause.

Speaking of fiction (and I don’t mean prose poetry), I have written a whopping three stories, two of which are about a small town boy named ‘Wade.” The other was about marriage, and experimental in telling. But I’m pleased to say, all three have been published (actually, one is forthcoming), and one earned Editor’s Choice 2016 in Inscape, a print journal. I didn’t even know they had a contest. But it was exciting. As you can tell, I don’t do a lot of fiction, but now I feel another Wade story coming on. And I think this is going to be harder; the library is going to see a lot of me soon. At this point, I’m percolating and looking at maps, and doing some research about the 1950s. That’s been fun.

More importantly, my poetry has been pouring forth. I’m averaging 2-3 poems a week; I’ve been doing a lot of open mics; I was a featured and filmed featured reader at a writer’s organization, for which I had to wear a suit (it was a juried show), and what a turn-out! Fifty or sixty people! All there to hear poetry. I’ve never read to such a large group before, bugt I was ready: I’d practiced, I was confident in my work, and I felt professional. Waterline Writers’ Studio has these readings the third Sunday night of every month, except in the summer. I don’t know if I can get in again this next season, but I’m going to apply anyway. I think I’ve got some good work.

It’s kind of funny: I’ve been experimenting a lot, and you know that old saying, “think out of the box.” But my box has for the last few poems been sestinas. A poet friend of mine¬†told me about them, so I thought, why not? And I did. And boy, did I learn a lot about writing. I’d set a goal in January for my writing, that I’d work on developing, digging, and exploring my imagery (those of you who’ve read my work know that I am a very visual writer). So I’ve been studying a lot of poetry, and the sestina was just what I needed. You have a unifying factor–the six end words–and yet you go places, turn and twist . . . I’m going to try to get a couple of them published.

Speaking of which, I’ve finished a new book of poetry, Night Travels, which I’m self publishing; I feel good about it, and I hope to have it out by the end of the year. It’ll be available on Amazon, although they’re not publishing it. And it will NOT be an e-book; how I handle the space on the page is crucial to my work, and e-books just butcher poetry. What started it was some working vacations at my friends’ in Tennessee, south of Knoxville. Jim had to work; Hannah had to go to school; and that left me with all day to lead a leisurely, productive writing life. I’d get up around 9 (oh, glory!), listen to NPR, drink coffee, pet the cats. Then I’d write for a couple hours. Then I’d go for a walk, come back and rustle up some grub (you knew I was going to say that), rest for an hour, write a couple more hours, and then sit on the north porch among all the plants and read. It was wonderful, wonderful.

Well, this blog has been more a catch-up on what I’ve been up to in the last few months. I’ll try to do better next time, which will be either at the end of this month, or early next month. To those of you who’ve responded to me, I thank you, and I apologize for not responding. I didn’t think anyone was reading these, and I forgot how to access my webpage. I’ll try to do better with that, too. B

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