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#MondayBlogs: Being (Good) Enough

2 Mar

Intro:

Another Monday brings another fantastic (and relatable) guest blogger who covers a topic revolving around reading and writing. Today’s heartfelt message is brought to you by Sandra Nyamu, blogger from Death On The Road. I think every writer has felt like they weren’t “good enough” to be published, and every writer has to find a way to overcome that feeling. Today, we are overcoming it together – thanks to Sandra Nyamu.

Being (Good) Enough

I am a senior in university. Last year, taking a required human sexuality course, my professor had us keep a journal about our thoughts and things, to be turned in at the end of the semester. The usual sorts of things; sexual anxieties, thoughts about genitalia, gay porn and clitoral structure. At least, that was what mine was about. Handing it in at the end of the semester, the professor told me that she loved my journal and thought I wrote well. So well in fact that in her estimation, I could do it for real. Become a writer, the published kind.

Kind words. She was telling me this and I was feeling, proud, flattered and a little overwhelmed, but mostly like there was a furnace in my stomach and that I was going to throw up. Becoming a writer, for me has always been that fantasy that I harbored dearly and practiced quietly. I roll quietly, but I roll hard. There is a very misplaced romance about the writer. Typewriters and steaming cups of tea, you know what I’m talking about. Frustration, tears and half-filled notebooks feels more accurate. Maybe it’s because of my upbringing that flattery evokes shame, but feeling like I was going to throw up, I understood why I was so anxious.

Faces- AbandonedI didn’t think I was good enough.

She believed I was good. To some degree, hell I believe I am good but then that elusive ENOUGH.

It’s never enough. You can be abundantly capable and talented but when you start thinking about being ‘something’ enough, you start to compare your ability. Can you create a story so compelling that it births a rabid and faithful following, sure but not like J.K Rowling did. Can you make casual yet tasteful oral sex jokes, yeah but not like Chinua Achebe did. Can you construct a complex metaphor hidden in a sob story about a weepy rich dude, yeah but not like Scott Fitzgerald did.

That fucking enough. It means nothing but is so charged with all the skill you think you don’t have that you believe it. ‘Not good’ as an assertion, that makes sense. That you can work with.  ‘Not enough’; that is a solid statement as well. When you invite ‘enough’ to the party, suddenly you introduce lack. Every lack you probably don’t have but then again, maybe do have, just not in the measure that you are convinced that you do. Lack of good words to use. Lack of smartness to show off. Lack of, here’s that other bad word, talent.

Enough comes alive and it becomes the thing that convinces you every last sentence was crap, that you are no Hemingway, you are no Ms. Bronte (any of them) and giving up would be the best course of action. When it has convinced you that you can’t write for shit, it moves on to other more enjoyable thing to devalue, yourself.

It happens in one fluid motion because writing is sort of intimate. Your words come from places that probably are only ever seen through those very words. If your writing isn’t good enough then you the writer are fucking awful. What was that thing that Gandhi said about self-doubt? No, he didn’t say anything about self-doubt. But if he did, he would probably say that doubting yourself is like sawing the arm off that you are using to write. Or maybe something less dramatic and more profound.

Deciding that there is an enough to live up to, to be up to, to write up to is exactly the way that recycle bins get filled, the way that half-filled notebooks become discarded, and great ideas atrophy unexpressed in fantastic brains. Maybe I am the type of person who could become published one day. Because I am good. I am enough. Writing is so subjective and intimate that there is never a good enough. There just is.

Bio: Sandra goes to school a lot and tries to have good ideas in her free time. Overwhelmingly average but aggressively earnest. When not reading or watching the Food Network, she tweets at Sandra Nyamu (@sandwichnyamu) | Twitter and blogs at Death On The Road.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW The Reader’s Reaction

18 Feb

#WW The Reader’s Reaction:

I can admit the worst thing a reader ever wrote to me. It was 2007, I was 16, Golden Eagle Publishing had released my first novel, and Honesty Box was the hottest app on Facebook. My high school self was naïve enough to have one of these, and one day, I found myself staring at the message, “you are the bastardization of the English language.”

::blink blink::

I’ve tried not to think about this message often. In fact, I confess I’ve tried to completely kick it out of my mind – especially since I think it had more to do with high school bullying than anything notable. But the most common type of bullying I faced for writing a book in high school followed this script:

honesty-boxA fellow student would say, “Go write a book.”

Normally, I never responded, but sometimes I snapped and stupidly said, “I already did.”

Which almost always got, “Now, go write a good one.”

::sigh::

Perhaps, this affected me more than I would like to admit. A few months later, when I ran into issues with my publisher, I didn’t fight it much, and in turn, November Snow was taken off of the market. I can’t say I minded much. I think I was a little relieved. That’s probably why seven years passed between my first and second publication. Now that I’m 23, my coping skills have definitely grown.

Writers always get responses – both good and bad – and some days are more uplifting than others. Some days are even downright hilarious. Not in the mocking way, of course, but in the this-reader-could-be-my-best-friend sort of way. Some days, readers make your day, and other days, a reader’s comment inspires your next piece of work. Sometimes, they teach you by pointing out levels of confusion or confliction, and other times, they talk about how your work taught them something about life. The combination is a beautiful thing.

I have plenty of stories I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful readers who have reviewed my novels, shared quotes, tweeted encouraging messages, and sent me an email just to explain their emotions – but the important part is how the uplifting readers always overcome the negative ones. I could share hundreds, but I would like to share a few to show types:

The Encouraging Reader:

Pau from Pau’s Castles recently read Death Before Daylight. In fact, she’s read all three books of The Timely Death Trilogy, and she even took the time to review them – and she goes even further. She LIVE tweeted to me about everything – her reactions, her jokes, her emotions (including how she squealed in the middle of class while reading), and her overall encouragement. Readers – WOW – you all make my entire life when you do this. I cannot begin to explain how delighted I feel when I am able to talk to readers and connect with them as friends. Joking about my own work with someone is surreal. The friendship between a reader and an author is unlike any other type of friendship I’ve ever had, but it brings me just as much love, comfort, and joy.

pau1

The Confused Reader that brings laughter into my overly serious writing life:

I want to clarify that this is not condescending laughter. This is more like a friend, even if the reader never knows it. I actually enjoy moments where readers have pointed out confusion or mislabeled something because it’s often something I (and many editors) overlooked. My most recent example came from numerous readers over Take Me Tomorrow. A few readers have compared the dictator, Wheston Phelps to Michael Phelps – the Olympic swimmer – instead of who I intended – Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church – and I’ve had a great giggle over that image-switch. If you’re one of the readers who thought of Michael Phelps instead of Fred, please don’t worry! I had a great giggle, and I feel like it’s more of an inside joke than anything else. Also, more people thought of Michael than Fred. (A handshake goes out to Just Another Girl and Her Books who pointed out many topics, including Fred Phelps, that went overlooked in Take Me Tomorrow. If you’re curious what the sequels might show, this review definitely foreshadows a lot of it).

The Critical Reader

And sometimes the negative can help me take a step back and laugh at myself. In fact, these have begun to remind me of my initial editing process. The clearest example I can think of was when my editor for Seconds Before Sunrise was going through the first chapter and saw, “Robb grabbed his plaid sh*t” instead of his shirt. Yep. That editing mistake happened. That’s embarrassing. And – trust me – I will never, EVER make that mistake again. Every time I write the word “shirt”, I will cringe. (And then, I will laugh uncontrollably).

Me as a Reader

I am a reader, too, and while I’m not everyone’s reader, my day is made when I tweet to an author and they actually tweet back to me. This recently happened to me when I sent a message to Stephen Collins, the graphic novelist of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. (Read it if you haven’t by the way)! It was literal Christmas for me.

Stephen

No matter how many readers authors come in contact with, I think we can find ourselves in their reviews, but more importantly, we connect with friends. To think that I might be able to bring joy to a reader in the way Stephen Collins brought joy to me, fills me with a lot of hope and understanding that I didn’t have when I was 16. I am very grateful for all the readers who have helped me grow since then, and I continue to love my readers more than anything else. It’s also nice to have reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead of Honesty Box.

~SAT

A big shout-out goes out to Charles E. Yallowitz for posting my guest article – Balancing the Editor’s Life with an Author’s Dream – on Legends of Windemere. Check his website out by clicking the link! In my article, I discuss balancing my life as an editor and an author, and I hope you enjoy the read.

I also want to give a gigantic shout-out to JK and CK from House Kelley! About one month ago, this wonderful couple guided me to Clean Teen Publishing, and I thank them for their guidance. Check their writing out, say hi, give them a big hug, and write with them. They are fantastic.

#MondayBlogs: Inner Dragons

26 Jan

Intro:

Mondays are easily becoming one of my favorite days of the week – all because of the guest bloggers right here during #MondayBlogs! Today’s post is brought to you by one of my top commenters last year – Deby Fredericks – and she is writing about writers and their inner demons…or dragons. Check out her website and her books!

Inner Dragons

We writers often do battle against doubts, fears, writing blocks, etc. Call them inner dragons. If we aren’t careful, we can sabotage ourselves with negative self-talk.

One common inner dragon is the fiendish beast Comparison, which makes us treat writing like a competitive sport. Say you struggled for an hour to finish a single page, 250 measly words. Then on Facebook an author friend brags about their wonderful 2,500-word day. It’s too easy to compare word counts and decide you’re a slacker because you didn’t get as much done.

Or when your publisher is a small press and only pays royalties, you might hear publicity of another author’s six-figure deal. That can make you feel like a failure because your deal isn’t as rich.

Comparison depends on a backward definition of success. It wants you to focus on the end of the process while you’re still at the beginning. Every page you write is a battle. Life is so hectic, anything you complete is a victory. A single page, a stanza of a poem, a chapter of a novel — they all build to something larger.

One of my favorite writing quotes is from the late SF author, Jay Lake. “If you write one page every day, you will have completed a novel in a year.” Believe this, and go slay that dragon!

Air&FireAnother inner dragon we writers often battle is the dire monster, Futility. This dragon wants us to become obsessed with things we can’t control. This might mean editorial rejections, sales figures, negative reviews, or the length of time it takes an agent to answer your query.

Even worse, writers sometimes make New Year Resolutions based on things we can’t control. “Sell five short stories this year” is a perfect example. All of these are things we can’t control, but I have several friends who consistently work themselves into a tizzy, swear to quit writing, then apologize to everyone who got worried about them.

Let’s just be logical. We have no way of knowing, when we query or submit a story, how many other queries and submissions will arrive on the same day. We don’t know what else is going on in the editor’s or agent’s life. We have no way to know what past experiences readers bring that affect how our work appears to them.

A more productive approach is to focus on things that we can control. We can’t make purchasing decisions — but we can set a goal to write five stories and submit them. We can’t make readers buy our books — but if we self-publish, we can choose enticing covers and work our social networks to increase sales. We can’t make agents represent us — but we can gather data and present it in a way the agent may look upon favorably. To attract friendly reviews, we might give a few reviews ourselves.

To quote that one song, we just have to “let it go” on things that aren’t ours to decide, and do the rest just as well as we can.

Do you ever tell people about your writing? I hope so. You’ll have a hard time building an audience if you don’t. Even more important, do you tell people about your work in a way that slights or insults yourself? “Oh, it’s just a hobby of mine.” “I’m not very good at it.” “It’s a little poem/song/story I write. Really bad, isn’t it?”

If any of these phrases sound familiar, you’re a victim of the evil dragon Self-Minimization.

I often hear writers minimize themselves. Sometimes men, but more often women. Our culture has this thing where we teach men to stand up and speak for themselves while women are taught to sit down and be quiet. But, as writers, we simply can’t afford to sit quietly.

Naturally, everyone has moments of doubt. The competition is intense and rejection hurts. Minimizing ourselves can be a way to deflect pain. It can also be a chain that holds us back. If your spouse said to you, “Why are you wasting your time with this?” you’d be pretty upset. You’d defend yourself. But when it’s your own voice saying, “You’ll never sell anything,” self-defense is that much harder.

Deby Fredericks

Deby Fredericks

It’s because the competition is so intense that we must slay this dragon. No one ever sold a story without submitting it first. Self-Minimizing can be as much a habit as a reaction to stress. Begin to train your brain for the battle. “Yes, I’ve been writing for ten years.” “I’m getting pretty good at this.” “It’s a poem/song/story I wrote. Isn’t it great?”

Funny thing is, most people will take you at your word. If you say you’re a poet or author, they’ll believe you. Once you fight off that self-minimizing dragon, you’ll see how high you can fly!

Bio: Deby Fredericks is a small press author of fantasy and children’s novels. The latest is a book for middle-grades, Masters of Air & Fire, due in February 2015. Her blog, Wyrmflight, is all about dragons, and her home on the web is http://www.debyfredericks.com.

Want to be a guest blogger? Wonderful! I am accepting guest posts that focus on reading and writing. You are allowed a book link in the post as well as in your bio. A picture and a bio are encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

~SAT

The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

24 Dec

The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

As many of you know, I love listening. Hearing the stories of strangers is often the most inspiring moments of my own life. It’s also how I fell in love with listening, and this is why I enjoy hearing your opinions and suggestions so much. Recently, Bob Clary – the Marketing Manager for Webucator – asked me to write a blog post that answered a few questions about novel writing, but his focus went a little further than that. The main idea fixated on writing despite lack of financial gain – a very common occurrence among authors – and I’m not an exception. Since graduating from the University of Kansas, I’ve been searching for work, but I haven’t had much luck, and recently, I lost my car. Now, finding work has been even more grueling, and there are days where I’m often at a loss for hope. It is in those moments that I write more, and it is then how much I realize writing has helped me.

When I first started writing, it was out of pure love for the craft. How could it not be? I was a child. I had very few things to worry about – other than moving around. Before I was 14, I had moved six times. The road was very much my home, but the road can be lonely. It was difficult to make friends, and when I did, moving again didn’t permit me to keep friends for long. Writing allowed me to entertain myself, but it went much further than that. Writing also allowed me to explore friendship in fantasies I created, and since I created them, they didn’t have to go away, and for that reason, I was perfectly content living in a fantasy world for a very long time. It wasn’t until my mother passed away when I was eleven years old that I realized my writing was my first love but also my first coping mechanism. Writing was my way of living, and I wanted to spend my life writing. By choosing this path, I hoped to help and inspire others – especially young people. Through writing, I wanted to show it was possible to follow the dream despite difficulties. In fact, I wanted to prove it.

My peaceful moments.

My peaceful moments.

Those are still my goals today, but – of course – life is very different now that I’m 23. I struggle to pay the bills. I cannot afford to buy a new car. And I’ve spent a good amount of time walking around in twenty-degree weather looking for another job to take on top of my author gig as well as working for my publisher. I used to be ashamed of my situation, but then, I began journaling again, and I found comfort in exploring my frustrations in words that no one but me had to see. Now, it is not as hard to be open with others about my life. Writing allows me to be honest. It brings me the strength to continue forward, and it both comforts the bad days and energizes the good ones. Writing becomes my motivation, and that motivation has brought me to marvelous places with magnificent people.

I’ve been able to meet dozens of authors, hundreds of readers, and even more people I would’ve never been able to connect with before pursuing publication. I have spoken with you, laughed with you, and created with you. Sharing my own creations has stretched my happiness beyond what I could’ve done by myself because it was in that sharing where I found confidence – a content place in my heart where I continue to explore the possibilities of writing. To all aspiring writers, this is where I feel most loved – in creating words and sharing words – and as long as you keep the love for writing close to your heart, your fingertips will never stop yearning to write more.

I don’t live a lavish lifestyle or even anything close, but I live my life to the best of my ability, and I continue to love writing no matter the hardships I face because my readers, fellow writers, and love for words motivates me. No matter how much I struggle, there is always peace in pursing a passion.

~SAT

P.S. Merry Christmas to those that celebrate!

P.S.S. Check out this awesome fan art Books Everywhere created for our interview. If you’ve read Take Me Tomorrow, you might recognize this image as a depiction of “cat-eyes” – an effect caused by consuming the clairvoyant drug, tomo.

Thank you, Book Everywhere!

Thank you, Book Everywhere!

Writing the Back Blurb

8 Nov

Announcements: 

The Messy Owl reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “A thrilling and entangling plot, full of suspense and action.” Read the entire review here or check out my latest novel by clicking here.

Writing the Back Blurb

As I near the release date of Death Before Daylight, I remember more topics that I can talk about due to the tasks I must complete beforehand. Writing the back blurb is one of these tasks. Oh, yes. The dreaded back blurb. Everyone knows about the summary of text on the back of the book that convinces readers, “Yes. You want this book.” The scariest part relies on the fact that the summary is exactly that – something that could make it or break it for a reader.

The pressure.

So, I’m going to share how I write the back blurb by using Minutes Before Sunset as an example. First, I want to clarify that this is how I write one, and it may not be a method everyone should use. It also might come across as more complicated than it actually is, but that’s because I am breaking it down into five steps, even though – in reality – it feels like one when I’m writing the back blurb. I hope it helps those who are struggling with writing one!

1. Try to write a query letter

A query letter is even worse, right? But I like to start there because it forces me to summarize the novel in one or three sentences. Those sentences end up summarizing everything, but – more importantly – it forces me to get to the bottom of the message, the theme, and the genre. This allows me to focus on those things in the future. Set aside until step 3. (This is actually where I get my “Two destinies. One death.”)

2. Write a one-page synopsis

Oh, how painful this is. (Just kidding.) This is where I write whatever I want to. I explain the novel for as long as I like, and when I’m done, I slowly start to cut smaller parts out until I get it down to one page. Set aside until step 3.

3. Combine Step 1 and 2

This is where I combine everything. Look at the first two sentences you came up with and compare it to the synopsis. What matters the most? What catches your eye the most? What correlates and what doesn’t? Sure, it would be great to mention your favorite side character’s importance, but do they add to the theme more than the protagonist? That first step really helps me make the cuts I didn’t want to make in step 2. (This is where I get most of the information that will be found in the middle.)

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

4. Make it catchy

Once you get the information that you want, twist the sentences around. Think of the infamous Don LaFontaine’s “In a world” movie trailer voice. Or listen to epic music while you write it. Make it fit! Make it intense! Don’t hold back…until you step away for a day. I would warn against making it too epic – because that’s when many create a back blurb that is too abstract to understand – but keep some intensity while also creating some grounding for the reader to get. Step away for a day. Come back. Read it again. Make sure it sets up the reader’s expectations in the right place. For instance, you don’t want to mention love in the synopsis if love is barely in the book at all. That will only cause romance readers to pick it up, and they probably won’t be too happy with your novel if they expected something that ended up not being there. (This is where I add the quote. I add the quote at this point because it becomes my “dun dun dun” but it also helps me focus on the turning point of a plot – the main conflict, per se, and I like to set up the reader to know that for the trilogy.)

5. Edit. Get opinions. Edit again. But decide on it.

Just like a manuscript, get someone’s opinion about your blurb. Edit, and rewrite it, but don’t obsess forever about it. Eventually, you have to decide on something and turn it in. Talking to others might help you feel more confident about the back blurb. I would even go so far as suggesting getting an opinion from someone who had read the book and someone who knows nothing about the book. (This is also where I add the review quotes since I finalize the blurb.)

It’s over! You have your back blurb, and you’re ready to share it with the world. The only other thing I would mention is this: for series, I would suggest remaining consistent. Seconds Before Sunrise has the same parts that Minutes Before Sunset does – the slogan, the quote, the summary, and the review quote. Death Before Daylight will as well…which reminds me. If you want an ARC of Death Before Daylight for review, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I will share your review right here and on my other websites as well!

And best of luck with your back blurb writing,

~SAT

Writing is Misery

10 Oct

Announcements:

The last poem of the second voting section has been added to my interactive poetry series on Wattpad. Remember to vote, share, or comment for your chance to be mentioned on my YouTube channel, Coffee and Cats. The poem is titled – To the Anti-American Teacher…We Knew You Were Pro-World – and here are the opening lines:

A clause in your contract slated your signature for patriotism.

You never signed, they never checked, but you took down your flag

after that.

Writing is Misery

Warning: I will curse in the first three sentences of this post. Not including these two or the next one. You have been warned.

Recently, I spoke with a writer I deeply respect, and one of things I said was something along the lines of “I am enjoying every minute of my writing.” To which he replied, “If you’re enjoying every minute, you’re not a writer.”

This has been one of those bitch-slapping moments of my half-assed career. I say half-assed with deep respect. I don’t mean it as a bad thing. Truly. I mean it as a reflection of how the general public sees my writing career, and I promise, there is no ill-will toward anyone who sees it that way.

Even though I don’t agree with the general public, I get it. I do. Oh, trust me. I really do. I am a writer, a lover of words, and although every part of me is tempted to agree with this author (who I respect so much I will take this moment to remind everyone how much I respect him) I – alas – cannot agree, even though I have contemplated the words for weeks. However, I will say this. He is right about one thing. I am miserable. But he is wrong about one, pesky detail. I love my misery.

You see, to me, there is no greater delight than exploring the deepest, darkest corners of life through writing, and when I explore, I often find myself in the hollowed out pit of a character’s soul – one that has been etched out through tragedy and despair and loneliness. So much loneliness. And it is in those struggled souls that I find my love for them, my appreciation for their fight, my determination to set their story free – and I write it out.

"I am going to help you write a new book." (Please. Oh, please, readers. Get this joke.)

“I am going to help you write a new book.” (Please. Oh, please, readers. Get this joke.)

This is the moment I lose myself, where my identity no longer matters, where I become another person. This is when my character takes over my existence, and perhaps, because of this takeover, I find myself saying that I am not miserable at all, because I cannot feel misery if I do not exist. Only my characters can.

Because of this peculiar way my brain works, only my character explores this thing called misery. In The Timely Death Trilogy, Eric has to face his fate, his ex-girlfriend’s murder, and his mother’s suicide – not to mention all of the other drama that happens in just the first book alone – but Jessica has to find herself in a world that didn’t allow her to have an identity, and that is really, really difficult for her. In Take Me Tomorrow – oh, Take Me Tomorrow – Sophia has to face the truth about all of her loved ones, but she also has to learn the truth about herself, and I can relate way too well to this instance because I, too, have to learn the truth about myself, and I do that through – you guessed it – writing as my characters.

It is in my characters’ misery that I find my own fight.

Sophia reminds me of how I had to see the truth about my own mother and the addiction that killed her. Jessica showed me how I can find myself no matter how many times I move or lose someone, even if it takes a very long time. Eric proved that tragedy is not an excuse, but that it can still hurt a lot and often and that is okay. And all of my other characters add to those lessons every day, and for that reason alone, I could never be alone.

I never could be miserable.

Yes, life is hard. Following a dream is even harder. But – I believe – even if I fail, I have already succeeded. I have found what I love, and there is no failure in that. Misery does not exist in the hollow depths of passion, because passion is not hollow. It is full of excitement, and love, and perseverance, and cheesy paragraphs just like this one that simply exist in hopes of encouraging someone else to continue on with their miserable head held high…showing off a big grin to prove it.

~SAT

My Love Story: Poetry Edition

14 Sep

Announcements: 

Bonnie Brown’s Book Reviews posted her thoughts on Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “This was a book I slowly fell in love with. When I first picked it up, I wasn’t instantly hooked on it but as the pages ticked by I realized I was falling further and further in love with the story and characters. Until it became one of those books that you think, ‘okay, just a few more pages before work…….’. Then you look up at the clock and realize your already supposed to be at work and your still in your jammies… reading the book…~Oops~It’s one of those books.” But you can read more of her love story by clicking here.

My Love Story: Poetry Edition

I’ve been receiving a handful of messages and emails about my interactive poetry series on Wattpad, so I thought I would address my poems a little bit more today. But – first – I am so grateful that you’re enjoying my latest endeavor, and I look forward to sharing more in the near future. Many of you have asked me about my poetry – mainly regarding my voice and subject matter – and I am here to announce one thing: I will be explaining the poems during my YouTube posts, and you can expect the first post later this week. That being said, today I’m telling a story. (Because I’m still a story-teller) and that story is my love story with poetry.

When we met:

Strangely enough, it was a college breakup that brought us together. My brief breakup with fiction writing. It was the second semester of my freshman year, but during my previous semester at KU, I had taken a fiction-writing course that I was extremely dissatisfied with. So dissatisfied that I decided to reject studying fiction altogether. I was only comfortable with this because I felt like I knew enough about fiction that I could study it on my own. So I turned my attention to genres I wasn’t familiar with. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone, and I signed up for poetry. (I would later return to studying fiction and also screenwriting as well.)

Our first date:

Oddly enough, it wasn’t in the classroom. It was outside of the classroom. Over winter break, I had picked up a few poetry books, and I was reading “Sailing Around an Open Room” by Billy Collins on one of my favorite benches in the Wescoe building. That’s when a class was released, and a woman ran up to me only to sit down SUPER close to me. (If you know me, I’m not a very touchy person, so this sort of scared me.) It turned out she was a poetry professor, and she was hoping I had signed up for her class. I hadn’t. I had signed up for another class because it worked with my schedule. She was disappointed but very glad that I was studying poetry. Her smile was the first moment I started to feel less nervous about it.

How we held hands:

Poetry Writing I by poet Megan Kaminski was the course I took, and she was kind and thoughtful and encouraging and never scary. And that was perfect because I was still sort of terrified. I had never written a poem in my life, and Kaminski promised she was okay with that. I found out that there were quite a few students in the classroom like me, and I still wonder if they giggle at our first poems as much as I giggle at mine. (I also shudder.) But we started reading poetry, and we started talking about poetry, and we started writing poetry, and we discovered so much about one another.

Oh, yes, we kissed:

I wish I could remember if it was snowing that day, but all I remember is how the poem affected my insides. It was “Sleeping with the Dictionary” by Harryette Mullen that got me. And if you read the poem, you will understand what I mean when I say I was “Aroused by myriad possibilities” that poetry gave, and I wanted to explore them as much as I could.

picture from incite faith.com

picture from incite faith.com

And soon, we fell in love:

Somewhere in that exploring I fell in love. I like to say “we” but I have yet to understand whether or not poetry can love one back. Still, I stayed, and I took more courses after that. I even attended Poetry Writing II twice. (Thank goodness KU counted both of them as credits.) And I was able to meet C.A. Conrad and talk to Evie Shockley and my class had lunch with two other poets we read about and my teacher was a poet and it was wonderful. Everything was wonderful.

Kristine

Kristine and I on her 20th birthday.

But it broke my heart:

If you’ve been with me since the beginning, then, you will remember this post – Inspiration Meet: Kristine Andersen – On October 7, 2012, my college roommate, Kristine Andersen, passed away, but you might not have known that we had taken our first class together that semester. It was my senior year, and she had just switched over to an English major, and I was helping her with her writing when she decided to join one of my poetry classes. We sat right next to each other in class, but after she died, I was terrified – so terrified – of returning to that poetry class.

And I had to heal my heart:

When I finally found the strength to return to school, I will never forget how my class still placed her chair in the circle after she died. Her chair remained there. And we continued to learn, and we continued to write, and our poetry was published later that semester in Kristine’s name, and the collection sits on my desk, and I think about her a lot – her writing and her life – and I try not to remember that this October will be two years since she passed, but I make myself remember because that is how we cope – by facing it. By writing about it. By feeling it once again. So I write a poem.

Eventually, I loved again:

I write many poems now, but it has only been recently that I have begun sharing them openly. I believe “Regretful Memories” being accepted by LALUNA Magazine has given me the additional strength and support that I needed, but this website has also given me love and courage. Writing is a journey, and we’re always learning and exploring new possibilities in order to channel our passion so we can share it fully with the world.

Poetry is one of the many ways I hope to help the world with because poetry has helped my world.

I think that is why I call it love.

~SAT

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