Reflections: My 2018 A to Z Blog Challenge

Hello out there,

I enjoyed the 2018 A to Z Blog Challenge more than 2017. Last year, I just couldn’t break the code. This year, it went well.

I did two challenges during April (as did others like this or this). I wrote poems for the National Poetry Month and mythology for the A to Z Challenge. Unlike last year, I decided not to piggy-back them by using one post for both challenges. Thus, I posted twice on most days and consider my blog stats questionable. Views, likes, and follows were consistent throughout the month.

As with last year, the A to Z reveal in March got a lot of attention. In April I posed to my blog 56 times.

I think my poetry (NaPoWriMo) was favored over the folklore and mythology creatures in A to Z. I got some comments, such as “I did not know that” regarding the myths. I enjoyed most of the research and writing. While I finished both challenges, I was burning out.

On April 1st, I was almost two weeks ahead in writing for A-Z blogs. However, I wrote the NaPoWriMo poems each day based on the midnight prompts 29 out of 30 times. The one day I did not use the prompt, I wrote the poem from a previous idea. As time passed, I lost my advantage on A to Z. By April 29th, I was writing Z for the next day’s final posting. I was ready to stop before the challenges were completed.

While I stopped doing morning pages for April, a good outcome of the April challenges was getting my brain back to daily creative writing and poetry. My writing had slowed to a virtual stop during our move from Washington state to Texas. These challenges helped me to perk-up and I feel more like writing now. I restarted MPs May 2nd.

Since I did two challenges simultaneously and posted twice per day, it makes sense that my 2018 numbers almost doubled what they had been in 2017.

I tried to keep my A-Z posts brief (<600 words) and used at least two graphic images per day. I felt that format might help visitors do a quick reading and move on. When I read other blog posts during April, I did not always finish when they were long reads.

As was the case last year, I was unable to predict the popularity of any post or poem. I am grateful to all who clicked like when they did. And my special thanks to anyone who took the time to comment either in WordPress or on Facebook.

The most interesting thing (it shouldn’t have surprised me) I learned was that people who know me personally prefer when my writing sounds like me (my voice, in their opinion), despite the quality of the writing. It’s as though I’m forgiven when the reader can hear my voice.

I also find that when I can ditch my inner editor for a while, I enjoy writing more. That finding my voice method leads to some “trashy” flapdoodle twaddle, but when I can channel my inner Bukowski, I can feel it (his attitude). I like it. I find pleasure in writing dark, real life, miserable shit, but I avoid it more than I want to. I’m not sure why.

Maybe I am making a mistake allowing my concept of public opinion to dictate my writing style or content. If I was going to publish other than my blog, then that might be wise. But I do this for pleasure.

For now, I need to write from the inner me and stop letting what I think others may think guide me. I’ll work on that. But such letting go isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’m a bit programmed.

Thanks for listening. Look both ways and mind the gaps.

Bill

Advertisements

What Writing Rut?

I get it.

It’s not me. It’s you. Okay, it’s me!

I am feeling uninspired now, and have for months. I think I whined on this before. Is there such a thing as very uninspired? I have no idea if I can place a degree on it, like on a scale from one-to-ten. I know I’m okay, not panicked. I have ideas and I work on them. But I think other things (forces?) in my non-writing life are short-circuiting my writing and the transmissions from mind to this keyboard. Or maybe my mind is a void. I just can’t seem to complete what I want to do.

I can start things, but then I mentally bog down. I worked on several poems, some of which I have been picking at for weeks. After about an hour of working on one or more in my uninspired condition, I feel like the poems and I are both considerably worse off. I would get more done if I’d watched TV instead of playing writer, editor, or poet. The strange part is that no one else seems to think anything is wrong with me or my craft. Is what I feel something normal? Wife says it’s writer’s block. Could it be because the creative climb is too steep, and I’m using this dryness as an excuse? I continue to write something every day. Oh, poor pitiful me. My WordPress account is rusting.

I think about reading – but what? Books on writing or poetry? I’m honestly not in the mood for that either. I prefer to listen to music, but I haven’t been able to listen to music while I read or write in years. Music inspires me. Reading also inspires. Multi-tasking confuses me.

It’s been raining, normally that would help. I’m not tired. I wish I could write and finish what I start. But, I am writing. I want something inspirational. Maybe a few good lines in the poems, or perhaps I could drum up a coherent essay. How about writing a self-help blog on what to do when you are uninspired? Elizabeth Gilbert and my poet friend, Sue, would tell me that I am not being open to inspiration from the cosmos. I disagree. Okay, maybe they’re right. Assuming they are, then what? Hello, Cosmos of Inspiration, I am open here. Can we do a few lines? Not those kinds of lines – poetry. Prose, I suppose.

I read a couple of those ‘ta-da!’ blogs with all the answers before writing this. Seriously? Seven things to do when you feel uninspired. What a joke! How many ways can people come up with to say, “don’t be uninspired.” Get busy, they say. Fuck you, I say. Seriously. I’m not saying no to the inspirational meta-verse. If I could get busy (pause and sigh). Well, don’t they think I tried that? Ya know what I would like to do? I think I should drink. Get drunk and write, what I call “doing a Hemmingway.” I may not get anything constructive done, but I won’t care. Maybe a wee dab of doobie?

It’s Sunday. Okay, it was. I don’t know what day it is. But I would like to go to a bar, sit and sip a fine pint, and listen to some moron bitch and complain about some totally unimportant and irrelevant shit. I have no idea why that might help improve my writing dilemma. But something in me feels like listening to some neggy-Ned, so I can roll my eyes and feel superior to him (Nelly, if it be a her). I could say, “You think that’s bad? I can’t even finish a damn little poem!” Maybe I’d have a little crappy cryin’ in my beer C&W session, or some fine R&R music playing in the background. It would not inspire me and the only thing I would feel better about would be the contents of my stomach and a wee tingle in my semi-functional brain.

The thing is, I’m not bored. I am really quite fine (but, MS Word is trying to piss me off by underlining that and telling me that really and quite are unnecessary words, and it’s working. But I ain’t changing shit.). Here’s my plan.

I will go see what wife has on the flat screen. I will watch for a while, then excuse myself and head out for some nearby watering trough. I will sit there and pretend to write, or maybe read, but I’ll be people watching and eavesdropping. If you walk in and some old fart has a notepad out and is sort of eyeballing everyone, while sipping a tall, dark stout (beer with the appearance of coffee, the taste of chocolate, and a head like a coke), and jamming with some oldie tunes, just wave. If you even nod and pout a shallow grin, you’ll make my pages. Congrats. Now where’s me keys?

Look both ways on good days and bad.
Mind the gaps, but don’t let them live in your head.

 

Poetry: A Strain of Madness

The pathetic bitch just lay before my eyes,
we each blamed the other for her horrible lines.
I had once dreamed of her as a flawless beauty,
but her loveliness was soon all too fleeting.
Everything about her soon disgusted me.

She beamed as I hacked away and mutilated her.
Such beatings were horrible, she no longer was fair,
not lovely as once I’d imagined. She was my obsession,
she had to be better, no – I demanded perfection.
I swore at her, insulted her, I’d not let her rest.

Her excruciating pain was caused by my emasculation,
as I twisted her limbs, she bled and cried out my damnation.
I never shed tears. I was her god, her creator; I owned her.
Angered I was, by what she’d become in my hands.
No longer did she sing her sweet angelic song.

Her nightmare was my blind fury. As her cruel and ruthless master,
I swore obscenities and pointed out her flaws; her heart was shattered.
I pondered her shredding – me killing her. Where could I hide?
Should I kill us both? Maybe that was it; murder-suicide.
Thus ending our miserable suffering, both would just die.

Without me, she would not exist. Mutilation continued;
I hacked off pieces, yet that suffering twaddle endured.
I attached new members, only to rip them away as crap;
I ignored her cries for mercy as I tossed her limbs as scrap,
replacing them with her rip-torn skin; still oozing blood.

Was her beauty hidden or gone? I ripped at her face.
She was mine to mold, to satiate my perverted desires.
Everything, from her disfigured hair flowing down
to her awkward stumbling feet, was to gratify me.
Her suffering would end with my metered pleasure.

I deemed us inhuman. A mere dullard of life, all that she was.
Her reasons for existing were meeting my ruthless demands.
She failed. Each day I emptied myself into her, more beatings.
Her tolerance for my impatience stroked her pleasurable feelings,
her loving and caring endurance infuriated me all the more.

I was disgusted. All that time. All the work. All our suffering.
Yet, lain before me that pathetic little twat blamed me.
Exhausted, I thought this would be the end for us both.
Barely breathing, her heart murmuring along with mine,
our time together had neared its end, soon it was done.

One final scream! And then; calmly I stared, feeling a bit proud.
My anguish gone, I muttered the sounds of her words aloud
just as she set them before me. Slowly, she began to change.
That poisonous little worm became my lovely butterfly.
She smiled at me. Then she pouted, both sensuous and shy.

We reached out to each other one final time.
Soon, she would be with eternity, but somehow still mine.
I wept as my pleasure mixed with regret and my sorrow.
After setting her release for after sunrise, tomorrow,
I abandoned my poor little poem to whatever might follow.

Bill Reynolds, 9/4/2017

Know the gaps and mind them well. Look both ways, or deal with hell

But he who, having no touch of the Muses’ madness in his soul, comes to the door and thinks that he will get into the temple of art – he, I say, and his poetry are not admitted; the sane man disappears and is nowhere when he enters into rivalry with the madman. ~ Plato, Phaedrus

Hence poetry implies either a happy gift of nature or a strain of madness. Aristotle, Poetics

Love the art, poor as it may be, which thou hast learned, and be content with it, making thyself neither the master nor the servant of any man. ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Four