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catherine-nelson-3

image by Catherine Nelson

Some of those terrible writing books that use the word “inspired” a lot probably advised me to wake up early and write poems with the sun rising at the cock’s crow. That type of thing. For a time, I tried this in earnest. It did not work, and, looking back now, it’s certainly possible that going to bed at 3:23am every night wasn’t part of the regime they were prescribing.

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From Neil Gaiman, on mistakes

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and for all of us, and for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love or work or family or life. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

draft at AWP Seattle 2014

seattle

We know AWP Seattle is still months away, but we’re gearing up for a swanky off-site event with the wonderful folks at Dock Street Press and Big Fiction Magazine, both based in Seattle, along with the uber-stellar Midwestern Gothic. We’ll be somewhere in the Ballard area and hope you keep us in mind during the busy weekend.

draft will also be at the bookfair at table M23, so please look us up and come say hi.

sonnet-header

sonnet

This sonnet came about in a workshop I attended in September at the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. The guest lecturer was the lovely, awe-inspiring Poet Molly Peacock who led about twelve of us on a two-day quest to create, polish, and perfect a sonnet. My sonnet got away from me, taking me down one wrong path, watching as I broke end-rhymes and grappled with syllabics. But I spun and wove the metaphorical fabric until I was basically happy with what I had by the end of the conference. I don’t typically write in form, so completing a sonnet in a couple of days was pretty unexpected.

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Virginity and Potential

This post originally appeared on the author’s personal website, www.melaniebishopwriter.wordpress.com. We’re sharing it here because it dovetails so nicely with the work we do at draft. And, of course, before we re-posted it, Melanie insisted on revising it one more time…

virgin

I should confess that I have never been a fan of revision. Yes, I preach to my students about its importance, but I am loath to embark on it myself. This resistance in me is pure laziness; I want what I write to be right the first time. I want writing to be easy. A creative writing professor in college once suggested I’d finally written a pretty decent short story, but he thought it needed a few more drafts. I told him I didn’t like to revise. I said, in defense of my stance: “I like first drafts; there’s a virginal quality to them.” I actually used that word virginal. I was that dumb. Continue reading

Books With Letters Missing

The posts below are puerile odes to the fragility of language. Steal one letter, just one little letter from a thing, and that thing becomes a different thing. And hopefully it becomes a funnier or weirder or sexier thing. All the titles below were written by two friends on the wrapper of a spinach and cheese croissant from Au Bon Pain. They are the offspring of spinach, cheese, and coffee. The descriptions that accompany the titles were written by one friend, and are the offspring of bourbon and Doritos.

Faulkner

The Sound and The Fur
Faulkner’s field guide for identifying southern mammals using a variety of senses. Continue reading

poser

podium

The night before my first public reading, I stood in the middle of my living room and discussed with my fiancé the best manner in which to inflect the word “douche.”  Afterward, I assembled my most writerly outfit:  jeans, gray flats, a striped button-down shirt that I usually wear to work and is close to becoming unwearable due to pit stains, and a blazer, for the double purpose of hiding aforementioned pit stains, both old and fresh.

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just because it’s beautiful

Those Of Us Who Think We Know

Those of us who think we know
the same secrets
are silent together most of the time,
for us there is eloquence
in desire, and for a while
when in love and exhausted
it’s enough to nod like shy horses
and come together
in a quiet ceremony of tongues

it’s in disappointment we look for words
to convince us
the spaces between stars are nothing
to worry about,
it’s when those secrets burst
in that emptiness between our hearts
and the lumps in our throats.
And the words we find
are always insufficient, like love,
though they are often lovely
and all we have

– Stephen Dunn

Books With Letters Missing

The posts below are puerile odes to the fragility of language. Steal one letter, just one little letter from a thing, and that thing becomes a different thing. And hopefully it becomes a funnier or weirder or sexier thing. All the titles below were written by two friends on the wrapper of a spinach and cheese croissant from Au Bon Pain. They are the offspring of spinach, cheese, and coffee. The descriptions that accompany the titles were written by one friend, and are the offspring of bourbon and Doritos.

The DaVinci Cod

The Da Vinci Cod
In which Dan Brown discovers the secret history behind one our greatest minds, (and one of our greatest fish). Continue reading

some elements for making a poem

poem ingredients

Everything depends upon the correct choice of elements for a prescription, the proper tools for a mechanic, the proper measurements for a recipe, finely tooled gears for mobiles and appliances. If this is true, then a poem may require the same type of deliberations in the choice of devices, form, metaphors, place, time, narrator, speaker or voice, tone and rhythm. Each one of these requirements depends as much upon intuition as it does upon inspiration. The poet’s job is to breathe life into the event or experience so that when a reader encounters a poem he or she is encountering the event for the very first time. Whatever the circumstances, the writer may be called upon to rely upon trial and error, which for the sake of this exercise is called: revision. Continue reading