Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- walking in the sexy boots October 21, 2020

Filed under: poem,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:14 pm
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The morning skies were grey

but they saw the sashay

and knew it wasn’t a day

to stay that way, you

might construe something at play,

but my boots made the sky turn blue!

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FWIW- I was wearing my purple velvet, sparky embossed leather and black patent leather Fluevog Atria boots today. No such thing as ‘too much.’ 😉

Photo by Shawn L. Bird on October 21, 2020. Image may contain: one or more people, shoes and boots.

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poem- fingers back October 19, 2020

Filed under: poem,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:20 pm
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Once again

the adage’s proven true,

when you point at someone,

three fingers point back to you.

What you’re calling out

is probably your issue, too;

the louder you shout,

the clearer the cue!

 

writing-NaNoWriMo October 18, 2020

Filed under: Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:29 pm
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November swiftly approaches, and for writers around the world that means the question hovers, “Should I participate in National Novel Writing Month?”

In case you’ve not heard of this event, it’s promoted on NaNoWriMo.org as a way to encourage folks to accomplish their dream to write a novel. The challenge is to complete 50,000 words in the month.

That’s 11, 669 words a week.

That’s 1667 words a day.

For 30 days.

Those who complete a 50,000 word manuscript ‘win’ and are eligible for assorted prizes from writing related businesses. (Those who participate but don’t ‘win’ are also entitled to some prizes)

It’s good to be able to plot your progress on the graph and see your project grow.

It’s empowering to be productive.

But…

It’s also a slog. My non-writing friends don’t like my social media feed during NaNo because it’s all about word-count, recalcitrant characters, exhaustion, and frustration.

Because it’s all about word-count, I’ve noticed my writing quality suffers. I have four NaNo ‘winning’ books in my computer that my editors and I have not been able to make publishable yet. There is something fundamentally off about them. I blame the pressure of NaNo. They’re not ‘winners’ to me, because they’re still sitting there in the computer years later.

When I was writing my first novel, within 3 weeks I realized I had settled into a pace, so I made that pace my quota. 1200 words per day Monday to Friday. 6000 words a week. On the weekend, I could catch up, or get ahead as I liked, but I didn’t have to write if I didn’t want to. I had days off if I’d earned them by keeping to my quota. This system worked brilliantly, and the 155,000 word novel was finished in 6 months. (It was 23 weeks, specifically, that averages 6740 words a week).

It was good. I pitched it successfully to a publisher six months after I finished it. It’s an example of ‘slow and steady wins the race.’

I have 13 books in the world, and none of them were NaNo projects. My NaNo projects remain problematic.

So be careful.

If you’re going to embrace NaNo, here are some suggestions:

  1. have your project planned so you have a general (or very specific!) direction in mind and you’re writing with a purpose rather than wandering around the page for the sole purpose of getting words out.
  2. give yourself a schedule that allows you to get some guilt-free breaks. Self-care is important! 12,000 words a week could be 5 X 2400 words, for example
  3. consider a re-frame. You might enter the month with “I will do this or die trying!” That was my general attitude, but the resulting books were a waste of my time. Had I considered ‘anything is better than no words written’ and just focused on writing something everyday, the quality may have been better!
  4. Everything writing counts. If you don’t start your planning until Nov 1- all those planning words are legitimately part of the project. 🙂
  5. Try new ways to write. Some people find they can increase their word count by dictating instead of typing.
  6. People write novels in a month all the time. Some writers write 10,000 words a day routinely (I’ve done it Nov 28 a time or two… ). You won’t discover your abilities until you’ve tried, so try, and if ‘winning’ is important, push through to achieve the goal.
  7. When you’re done, and a few weeks after the thrill and exhaustion of the success has worn off, look with objective eyes at your project. What have you learned? Is that fast-paced sprint good for your writing process? If so, make it part of your practice. If it’s not good for you, try something else to see what is the best way for you to produce projects of the quality you demand.

I have learned that NaNo is not good for my writing practice. I happily participate in the April and June Camp NaNo events when one can set personal goals, and the projects I’ve done then have been completed and published.

These days I don’t feel guilty for letting November go by as I wave at my frantic colleagues. I’ll plug away on my projects without stressing over word-count, and know I’m producing something better than I could do at NaNo pace. I wouldn’t have learned this if I hadn’t tried so many times, though, and seen the unfortunate pattern. It’s worth doing to discover whether it’s a pace that works for you.

Do or do not, it’s up to you!

How about you? Have you done NaNo? What was your experience?

 

poem- leaving the keys for the new owners October 15, 2020

Filed under: poem,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:51 am
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The house echoes.

Drapes she made hang on the windows,

the last pieces of her here,

except

the lingering scent of bread baked

months ago, as

her last messages of appreciation,

her last independent acts.

 

poem-rainy reminders October 11, 2020

Filed under: poem,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:00 pm
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Something is missing from my life:

the crack of the ax

winter’s firewood piled high

wood smoke rising from a chimney

the snapping from the grate

heat sinking into the bones

live fire, primordial comfort,

on a cold night, its golden, spitting light

shadow painting a picture of all we

require.

 

Poem- Stinky socks cinquains October 2, 2020

(These were fun demos written with my students as we worked through some poetry devices on “Poetry Friday-the Wednesday edition”)

Super stinky socks

So easily knee socks crease

Stinky socks stick to my shoes

They slurp when I pull them out.

But say! My socks still rock!

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Socks are mittens for feet

Comfort like a warm fire in winter.

My wooly socks hug my feet

My silent shout of happiness

declares my stinky socks the finest perfume in the world.

I like my socks.


(Can you find assonance, alliteration, consonance, hyperbole internal rhyme, metaphor, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, personification, simile, and understatement?)

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Poem- It’s NOT about the shoes? October 1, 2020

Filed under: poem,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:27 am
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sometimes it’s ALL about the shoes.

‘Cause daring to wear those shoes

is daring to celebrate your self

your passion

your individuality.

I wear wild and funky shoes

because it’s about me in the shoes

and what they tell everyone else.

It’s definitely about the shoes.

Believe it.

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(and that is the whole premise behind the Nikki Knox stories! Check the link above if you love great shoes, too!)

 

poem- walk on a foggy day September 30, 2020

Filed under: poem,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:28 am
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The clouds have come to Earth,

obscuring our panorama

narrowing the perspective

until the view is simply you and me:

this nebulous emergence,

hope and mystery.

 

poem- first flight September 25, 2020

Filed under: poem,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:07 pm
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A leaf grips tight

to where it sprung,

all through the summer storms.

But when autumn comes,

a leaf’s released,

to discover sky and more.

 

Writing- the pause September 22, 2020

Filed under: Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:29 pm
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For some, the pandemic has offered a blessing of time to write that they’ve longed for, and they have taken advantage, holing up at home and writing that novel that’s always been at the back of their minds.

For some, the stress of managing new complications and layers of deadly danger in their workplace or among their family members has shut down all notions of creative expression. They’re in survival mode, and all the stories that were in process have sputtered to a stop.

I’m in both camps. I’ve managed to keep writing poetry, but larger projects eluded me. Added to the pandemic stress, my 90 year old mom broke her hip in April, went through rehab and was released back home, but then she passed away in June. I am executor of her estate, and the magnitude of work required to clean up a life-time of possessions from her house was dramatic.

So here I am, looking at the last four months of 2020. I had a goal to submit 20 times in 2020, and so far, I’ve sent out 9 submissions. The first 8 submissions were in Jan/Feb, to give you an idea of how completely the pandemic froze my world!

The pause.

I just submitted the 9th thing a few days ago. It’s a promise to myself that it’s time to dig out from the pressure. I am pondering ways I can salvage my goal. I aim to spend some time with my unpublished projects and look for potential homes for them. Is it time to try a mass submission drive? Shall I find 11 completed pieces in my computer and send each somewhere? Contests? Journals? Magazines?

Yes.

There are 15 weeks left in 2020. It’s time to find my lists of ‘where to publish’ (Writers Market, here I come!). If I take a week to find projects in the computer, I can submit one thing a week and maybe even beat my goal!

How about you? Have you been struggling to meet your writing goals amid all the stresses of 2020? Will you be making any changes in the final months of the year to achieve your goals?

Do you have any recommendations of good places to submit?

 

 
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