back at it
revision exercises, two upcoming events & a special discount
Hello there. It’s nearly the middle of May, and I’m not sure what I have to say for myself. I’ve been grading and taking my kids to art class and looking forward to the spring weather that seems always just over the horizon.
How are you? How is your revision going?
I thought I’d pop in today to offer a few more revision strategies, in case that’s helpful. (And if you’re just joining us, or want to go back, remember that you can always click through the archives to see all the exercises from this year’s daily exercises for National Poetry Month and last year’s, as well as all the tips, suggestions, and interviews in between.)
a revision exercise: make it matter
When I get stalled out in revision, when my words start to feel like just ephemeral floaty things on a monitor,I find that the surest way to get unstuck is by returning to the material dimension of writing.
To do that, print everything out, then
mark it up: highlight the pieces you like, write notes, add comments and additional images or details, OR
cut and paste: physically moving around the parts of a poem or essay or book outline (gulp) can help you think differently about how those parts are connected and what’s missing
I also find that spreading out a work in progress, whether it’s a poem, an essay, or a whole book, can be a really helpful way of getting my head around the whole thing. I love a big wall and painter’s tape for this.
more writing prompts & challenges
I led this Wednesdays on the Stoop writing session yesterday, and it was such a joy to spend an hour of my afternoon writing and reading and talking about how writing matters in our lives. (And a bunch of you were there! Thank you!) My session, and the previous Wednesdays on the Stoop sessions are on Blue Stoop’s YouTube channel, if you’d like some writing inspiration. Next week’s session, a poem + prompt led by Dilruba Ahmed, looks really great. Sessions are free and on zoom, so you can join from anywhere. It’s a great way to sneak some writing into your week.
I’m looking forward to Summer Brennan’s Essay Camp, starting May 16 and running through the 20th. (I’m buying myself a new notebook to celebrate! Anyone else have little rituals like that?) This is how Summer describes Essay Camp:
Starting on May 16th, each day for five days we’ll spend some time writing, with a focus on generating ideas and connecting to our authentic voice. There is no time requirement, and no word count goal. You are invited to write as personally or as impersonally as you see fit; to expound icily or scream into the void. You can use the Five Things format, or do your own thing.
Like other writing challenges, I’ll send an email at the start of each day to help get you going, as well as links to some of my favorite essays by other writers as well. At the end of the five days, we’ll look back at what we’ve written and spend some time (a few hours, the weekend, whatever you need) crafting at least one finished essay from the accumulated material. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done.
If you’d like to join, you can sign up for free at her newsletter, A Writer’s Notebook.
I haven’t done the last couple, but I’ll be joining the next #1000wordsofsummer, a daily writing challenge via Jami Attenberg’s great newsletter Craft Talk. Here’s how Jami describes #1000wordsofsummer:
It works like this: every day you get a letter from me encouraging you to write. Sometimes other writers will contribute to these letters their thoughts on creativity, productivity, inspiration and more. You will write 1000 words. There is a slack for you to meet other participants and post your daily word count and more. People often track their progress on social media with #1000wordsofsummer. There is a community out there, but also this is very much about doing your own work. Still, we are all each other’s accountability partners: that is the magic of this project.
At the end of it all, you will have a big pile of words and a sense of accomplishment and hopefully the inspiration to keep going.
This year’s #1000wordsofsummer starts June 4. Jami wrote a post about how to prepare for it, which feels like good guidance for getting started on any big project, or for re-engaging with your writing practice. You can sign up for free at her newsletter.
two upcoming events + a special discount on The Long Devotion
On Friday, May 20th at 7pm eastern, White Whale Bookstore in Pittsburgh is hosting us for a virtual reading featuring Long Devotion contributors Zeina Hashem Beck, Joy Katz, and Emily Mohn-Slate. You can sign up here.
And on Tuesday, May 24th, at 8pm eastern, we’re cohosting a really special event, Artists & Writers Residency in Parenthood, in partnership with the Sustainable Arts Foundation. The event will feature writers Remica Bingham-Risher, Lauren Haldeman, and Rachel Zucker, and artists Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann and Alisa Sikelianos-Carter. Each panelist will share their work, and we’ll have a conversation about caregiving and sustaining a creative practice. You can register at https://bit.ly/3FsDcT0
And, finally, if you’ve been wanting to buy The Long Devotion for yourself or someone else (or maybe both! one friend who’s not a writer just told me how much she’s been enjoying the writing exercises alongside the poems and essays), a special discount: use code 08AUEV at checkout to buy The Long Devotion for a 30% discount through May 31: https://ugapress.org/book/9780820360546/the-long-devotion/
I’ve also started a new newsletter, good creatures, about the history and culture of motherhood in America. So far I’ve written about the tyranny of “good enough” mothering, the long history of mothering and abortion, and recommended a bunch of books on motherhood that won’t make you feel like you’re doing it wrong. (I’m working on a piece about formula and our assumptions about breastfeeding as “natural,” once I can see straight through my rage about yet another way in which our culture is failing to support new parents and babies.)
If you liked my Slate piece about goats, ducks, and the mythology of golden hour bonding, or if you’ve liked my Electric Literature pieces on the inevitably political nature of American motherhood or the whiteness of motherhood memoirs, I think you’ll really like the new newsletter. It would mean the world to me if you would click on over and consider signing up and/or sharing it with friends.