Tag Archives: poetry

A Few Thoughts on Constructive Criticism

A common thing I’ve seen in the writing community, especially from beginning writers, is the inability to take constructive criticism. How many times have you given someone a suggestion on a piece of writing only to see the author’s eyes glaze over, either with anger, disappointment, or even an incredulous glare? What comes as a response? A thanks from frowning lips, or a silent nod? I’ve seen them all, and I’ve handed them out myself once upon a time. This was, and continues to be, one of the hardest battles for me: the ability to take another’s criticism and not let it destroy me. It’s hard to have someone tear your work apart, after all, it’s your baby.

However, I realized over time that there’s an even harder critic I must overcome, and that one lives in the pits of my chest, where it’s easy to grab on and squeeze. Hard. Sometimes, to the point where breathing seems impossible. It’s this inner critic that I fight with every day, and I’ve come to realize that once she is content, then, I’m ready to face what anyone else has to say. I know I’ll survive. After all, I survived myself.

So, before you go asking someone to critique your work, double check it yourself. Step aside from your work, detach yourself, and read it as if it were the first time. Even if this means putting it aside for a few hours, days, weeks, or even years. Believe it or not, you’ll be able to pick out your own mistakes, and will gain the necessary tool to make your work shine. And I don’t say this as someone who knows everything, no, I’m still going through the process myself. I’ll probably still be going through it in my last hours, and that’s okay. It’s part of the life I’ve chosen for myself.

Well, have a good night everyone.

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Vivaldi

Hello All,

I plan to make this quick as I am spending the night working on my latest project. (The one I’ve mentioned a few times in my last posts, if only vaguely.) I do have a couple posts I plan to upload in the next couple days, one on my recent trip to San Francisco, and one for my mail blog, but I must ask you all to wait a bit longer. However, I will pose this question to you: who do you listen to when you are in the middle of creating?

Recently, I’ve been listening to Vivaldi almost entirely. (As you must have guessed from the title of this post.) In particular, The Four Seasons, recomposed my Max Richter. (Summer being my favorite tracks.) I often listen to a classical music station on Spotify, and happened to hear Vivaldi’s Spring. Safe to say, the song inspired me to the point where I began rewriting my entire story and am now much more happy with it. Listening to classical music helps me with the lyrical aspect of my work. (On multiple occasions I’ve been called a lyrical writer, and this is because words themselves sound like music to me. I can’t explain it, at least not well, but sometimes words just have a wonderful sound and a horrible sound to me. A bad word is like a bad note, one that should be taken out and replaced with a smoother note, or word. This may be due to my second language, Spanish, which is indeed a very rhythmic language. It’s near impossible–okay, that might be a stretch– to avoid rhyming with it, especially when composing poetry or prose.)

All in all, I just wanted to stop by and ask, who do you like listening to when in the throes of the creativity?

Writer’s Block: A period of low productivity.

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Many, including myself, have fallen victim to the age old adversary of the author: Writer’s Block. It’s a nasty bug, inhibits the creative process, however, would you think me crazy if I said to you that such a thing doesn’t exist? Or at least, not as we think it might? 

I used to believe that Writer’s Block was that sudden spell that fell over me, where I just couldn’t produce a new idea, or at least any good ones and went through an either short or long period of low productivity. Simply put, I felt uninspired, worn out, and so I stopped writing for a while. Little did I know, I was still participating in the creative process subconsciously. So, here are a few thoughts and things I do to combat this issue: 

1. It doesn’t exist, at least not for many artists. (No, I’m not kidding.) 

2. Just because you’re in a funk, it doesn’t mean you have writer’s block. Sometimes, the creative juices just dry up, but not because you’re brain’s suddenly decided to mutiny. It simply needs time to recharge. 

3. So, what’s there to do when there’s no writing to be done? Well, when you can’t come up with new ideas, there’s always the option of going back to other works of your genius to edit, especially after your brain’s had some time apart from them. This’ll keep you working and keep your brain from really atrophying into mush, as well as reveal to you common errors that you’re guilty of, and just didn’t notice in the heat of the writing moment. 

4. Be a bit lazy, it helps. Really. I ain’t lying. Watch TV, watch movies, go see Captain America 2 (I highly recommend it), and while you’re at it go watch Spiderman 2 and let me know if it’s any good. Go eat out at a favorite café or restaurant, spend time with your friends, spazz out on the couch and sing with your favorite music. (Or, is that just me?) Subconsciously, your brain will be working for you, picking through the data it’s continuously being fed and before you know it, something will give you an idea. there’ll be a flicker of inspiration. Hey, that girl on that one show has issues with her older sister. So do I! Maybe I’ll write about how my sister locked me in the closet when I was five, and thanks to her I’m now claustrophobic. Yeah, that’ll be great for my memoir. See what I mean? (Now, whether your sister thinks this is a great idea, or not, is another issue all on its own. I suggest never letting her read your memoir, at least not while you’re in the same state.) 

5. Read lots of books, poetry, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, blog posts, etc., and the same will happen as up above. 

But, my brain just doesn’t want to work, it’s not cooperating with me. Well, tough cookie, I’d like to say. But I’v had those moments too. However, this is where Writer’s Block is no longer the issue, and where simple laziness comes into play. There are times when we just don’t want to do anything, period. The very thought of lifting a pen, a sheet of paper, of sitting in the same spot for hours, and especially washing the dishes sounds completely ridiculous. Yet, that’s just being lazy. So, to say that I am not working on anything because I have Writer’s Block, is in fact, a lie. I am not working on anything because I simply do not want to, otherwise, I would be researching, reading, editing, and watching shows that I like in order to get more ideas as I go. The same goes for many others in the craft. 

I sometimes stop writing because I do not think that my work is good enough, or that it lacks something. In such cases, I start doing more research, and at the same time, I am the one thinking that my work is not good enough. So far, thankfully, no one has told me otherwise. I am the one limiting myself.

Thus, If you say to me that you have Writer’s Block, I will automatically ask you what you’re doing to counteract it. And if you respond with, “nothing,” then I will tell you that you do not have Writer’s Block, but in fact, are simply being lazy. Writer’s Block is a period of low productivity. Keyword low, as in, something’s still being produced even though that something’s nothing more than a few scribbles on a diner napkin, right next the smudge of ketchup you wiped from your face seconds before. A bit of laziness is necessary to relax the mind, but complete laziness is a decision solely made by the artist, and whose effect is the complete stop of the creative process. 

Things I Can’t Forget

Hello Everyone,

I know I’ve been absent for a while. To reenter the world of blogging after my long hiatus, I thought I’d share with you all a poem I’m still working on. For the moment, I plan to leave it as is, but will rework it in the future for sure. Well, have a great night and let me know what you think!

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Things I Can’t Forget 

The first gulp of air 

after grappling dirty waves cast by cargo ships

cruising the Sacramento River. 

Metal, cutting through the sky’s reflection 

on the water’s surface, and 

the drone of under water still echoing in my ears. 

The first blessed step on solid ground. 

Wet sand embracing me next to wild raspberry bushes. 

*

The last hour of the day, 

when I call to say goodnight to my mother, father, brother, 

grandmother from my place miles away, 

near the Golden Gate, though it’s not so golden. 

The goodbyes are always longer than the calls, 

and all the while I quell that ache of distance,

and in my chest heaves a desert 

where tears become vapor, or moisture myth. 

*

The burn of vodka, 40%

burrowing into my chest, a fire 

accompanied with a different pain, one that soothes 

quiets the one at my center and rests my body 

de-tenses my shoulders, quiets my heavy beating heart. 

The first burn of weariness rushing away, the soul revitalizing 

for an instant, before falling silently into night. 

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Embarrassed I Am

Hello again,

I have no idea why I didn’t share this with you all before, but a few months ago I was published by a San Francisco organization called San Francisco Peace & Hope. Or, more specifically, two of my poems were published. I guess it’s a bit small, since they are electronic publishings, but they are the first outside of my university magazine. Enjoy!

San Francisco Peace & Hope 

(I’m in chapters 4 and 5, last name Sanchez.)

PS: In regards to today’s challenge, I chose to keep the one I have now. I actually just changed my theme at the beginning of the month because I wasn’t happy with the previous one. When I ran across this one in the themes section though, it screamed IT. So it, it shall be.