Sunday, April 12, 2015

Never Stop

I was very excited last week when I received two literary journals in the mail that contained some of my original writing - poems I wrote and crafted and poured myself into, hoping that someone somewhere would like it and put it out there for other people to read.  Putting your writing out there isn't an easy thing.  It's a piece of you and it makes you feel extremely vulnerable.  So when an editor contacts you about your submission and wants to publish it, the feeling is overwhelming. 

Writing is how I cope with the world, so I often delve into the darkest parts of life in my poetry.  The pain, the sadness, the confusion.  So letting someone else read your stuff is a big deal; it's an even bigger deal when you feel like someone understands it enough to put it in their journal or magazine.  Last week was a great week for me and my writing, but also for my artwork.  I saw my first art publication in print, and it was a great feeling.

As an undergraduate and graduate student, I studied writing ravenously.  I devoured books, collections of poetry, and wrote all the time because of my desire to "make it" as a writer.  As a college student studying English and creative writing, you are surrounding by writers and poets that appear to have already "made it."  This leads to a multitude of questions constantly swirling around in your mind as you struggle to figure out what they did to "make it" and if you are capable of the same thing.  Is your writing any good?  Do you have the skills it takes to make it as a writer in a world that is more focused on technology?  Is reading a book, an actual book, a lost art?  Do people appreciate poetry anymore?

I studied under several published authors as an undergraduate and graduate student.  I devoted myself to reading and writing so that someday I might be able to call myself a "writer."  So after grad school, I started submitting.  And I was scared.  But I was also excited.

I started becoming serious about creating art in college.  My grandfather is a painter and I've always been in awe of his artwork.  I asked my parents for paints and brushes for my 21st birthday, but it wasn't until I took a collage art/narrative collage class as an undergraduate that I learned about creating collages from all kinds of found materials - creating a piece of art that told a story through image and text.  So I continued painting and turned those paintings into collages.  I became obsessed with the art of creating collages and even convinced my thesis director in grad school to let me do a narrative collage project for my thesis.  It was invigorating.  But my art is very similar to my writing - it tells a story about me, about the people I love.  I'm a naturally private person, so exposing those memories and feelings and emotions to someone else is difficult.  But I'm glad I took the risk.

Seeing my artwork in print for the first time was a great feeling.  Last week, I received my contributor copy of Harbinger Asylum, a magazine published by Transcendent Zero Press.  They published four of my collages in full color (including two that were originally part of my thesis project in graduate school) and three of my poems.

A look at the newest edition of Harbinger Asylum with some of my original artwork and poetry.
The Spring 2015 edition of Harbinger Asylum is full of great writing and artwork; you will not be disappointed.  You can order a copy here:

I also got the latest anthology from Futures Trading.  I had a poem published in the online version of their magazine last fall and every year they put out a print anthology that contains each online issue from the year (they are a quarterly online journal).  The anthology is phenomenal and contains four issues of the journal (including the one my poem appeared in).  My poem is featured on page 94 of the issue.  There is so much to love about this anthology. 

My poem in the Futures Trading anthology.
You can get your copy here:

A few months ago, I was looking through some literary journals and magazines and found a journal called Plath Profiles:  An Interdisciplinary Journal for Sylvia Plath Studies.  If you read my blog or know anything about me, you know how much I love and admire Sylvia Plath.  This magazine publishes essays, research, poetry, artwork, and more focused on Plath or her work.  I have created multiple collages about Plath and her poetry after reading Letters Home, a book that was complied by Sylvia Plath's mother that contained all of her written correspondence.  The book was amazing and prompted me to create several pieces about her.  I submitted two of them, and they've both been accepted for publication in Volume 8 of Plath Profiles.  The issue will be available later this year. 

So keep moving forward.  Even when I've been scared or worried about what people might think, I've still submitted.  I still keep imagining, creating, writing, and painting.  You never know what could happen. 

And surround yourself with positivity.  You need people to speak love and encouragement into your life.  Find people with interests similar to yours and work with them.  Encourage each other.  Believe in each other.

That's the thing I miss the most about grad school, I think.  We were just a small group of creative writing students that were constantly bouncing ideas off of each other, ranting, offering praise, enjoying meals and conversation together, talking about our professors, their quirks, their publications.  Everyone needs that encouragement.  Whatever your dream is, don't be afraid to go after it.   

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