If You Had Thirty Minutes to Write a Blog Post

What would you write about?

Would a stream of conciseness suffice?

Today I saw a moving play, The Tin Woman, at our local Tabard Theatre.  The story is simple, yet complex.  A woman receives a heart transplant and meets the donor’s family (see http://www.thetinwoman.com/synopsis ).  It’s not exactly an uplifting play even though there is a satisfying resolution.  The play is well written, acted and staged.  It’s moving to tears.

And asks those questions we don’t like to ask.

What if your life was saved by the tragic death of another?

What if your last words to your son were said in anger?

What if you family is slowly disintegrating in grief?

Why would a chance at a new life cause depression?

What if …

These questions never happen in thirty minutes and can’t be resolved in a two hour play.  Life and death proceed in long periods of silence with momentary screams.  A story can invoke old feelings, remind us of the memories of standing over our dying mothers, fathers … getting that call in the early morning hours.

As a young man I use to annoy my elders with the question, “What’s the meaning of life?”  I was convinced there was a proper, correct answer to that question.  Life had to mean something – there just had to have a purpose.

It’s the wrong question and it’s answer won’t change my life.  I am. I’m here and I do.  I feel and I ask questions in the time allowed.  The trick is asking the right questions.

I am convinced that it’s in the questioning that we find the right path to follow.

And when our thirty minutes is up, we stop, and move on to the next thing.



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Friday Wisdom: Time Teaches

Time is the best teacher.

Sadly, it also kills all its students …

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Today I’ve spent my writing time doing what I’ve been promising myself I’d do for months.

Yes, I’ve actually gone on to submittable.com (the website most poetry magazines use to manage submissions) and submitted five of my recent poems to literary magazines.  It’s a scary process and most likely no one will publish these poems.

But you never know.  The fortunes of poetry might be with me this week.  This last summer I was able to attend a poetry conference and did attend a few workshops on “How to Get Published.”  The stories are daunting.  One novelist described sending out nearly 200 queries to publishing agents before getting a book contract.  The poets tended to fair worse as there are fewer opportunities there.

There seems to be a certain alchemy where, skill, good writing, and landing in the right inbox on the right day is the magic combination – when you are blessed with an editor who will publish your stuff.  You rarely get paid.  The words “poets” and “starving artist” often are used in the same sentence.

So why try to publish?  Validation, and need are two reasons.  I’ve invested a lot of effort in my writing and I think these words deserve an audience beyond just my computer hard drive.  Perhaps that’s a bit egotistical, but there are days when I read a poem I’ve written and say to myself, “That’s good and needs to be shared.”

Validation is that other thing – perhaps the more common side of me, the part where self-doubt enters in and I just look at my work and say, “This is crap and I’m a horrible poet.”  Then there is that unspoken part of every open mic reading or poetry workshop I’ve attended: The “real” poets are the ones with published poems.  Of course that’s not true, but it is that thing that quickly separates a room into the published and unpublished.

It’s a kind of badge of honor.

And if just just one editor choses my work, then maybe, perhaps I could get that self-doubt to be quiet or at least take a break.


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Friday Wisdom – Halloween Note

Never knock on death’s door.

Ring the bell and run —

he hates that …

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