Micropoetry Monday: Opposites

Opposites

The Shutterfly edition

Bill was an outdoorsman,
Phil, a door-to-door salesman.
The first made hats out of rabbits,
the second pulled rabbits out of hats.
These brothers,
though cut from the same cloth,
had been sewn into different patterns.
Though they didn’t always understand one another
when it came to what they liked to do for fun,
they shared what it was like to be
the children of the people
only they had ever known as parents.

He was a loiterer,
she, a litterer.
It was a match made in Lincken Park,
for what was trash to her
was treasure to him.
When she cleaned up her act,
he found a new trade as a junk collector
& she, a junk dealer.
When they reconnected on a park bench
over brown-bagged tuna fish sandwiches,
they went into business together,
making bank from Marie Kondo’s
newest followers.

She was the honoree at every society,
the awardee at every ceremony,
& the All-American, Latin-speaking valedictorian
who immersed herself in the Greek life.
He was the backseat driver of the clown car
in Driver’s Ed one summer
for the non-criminally offensive,
the 1-liner, 49er during last period Study Hall
for 4 straight years,
& the cafeteria cut-up on Fried Chicken Day.
When these 2 met at their 20-year high school reunion,
she realized that her accomplishments
were what she was able to make herself do,
& he,
what he was able to make others do,
which was to laugh & forget—
even if it was just for a moment—
about why they were crying.

Summer mini-writing workshop: Writing ideas

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Just as Law & Order rips from the headlines, it’s perfectly acceptable to, as Mark Twain would say, “distort them [facts] as you please.” https://sarahleastories.com/2015/11/28/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-27-theme-leftovers/

Pick a subject and tear it apart. https://sarahleastories.com/2017/11/16/writers-digest-november-poem-a-day-2017-challenge-16-theme-poem-to-the-world/

Lists may not be literary, but they can be useful. They can serve as reminders of what is most important. https://sarahleastories.com/2016/03/01/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-342-theme-blank-ways-to-blank/

There are beauty and symmetry in numbers. There would be no world without them. https://sarahleastories.com/2017/03/09/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-386-theme-a-one-poem/

Even if you’re not a child, read children’s books. You might be inspired like I was with Oh, the Places You Will Go! https://sarahleastories.com/2016/04/30/poem-a-day-2016-writers-digest-challenge-30-theme-dead-end/

How would the world be different if we weren’t allowed to create any lasting memories? Would every day be a new adventure, or would our days lose meaning? https://sarahleastories.com/2017/11/16/writers-digest-november-poem-a-day-2017-challenge-15-theme-stranger-blank/

Inside each of us is a universe. Write about one of the stars. https://sarahleastories.com/2017/09/07/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-409-i-am-a-blank/

We’re all broken. Pick up one of the pieces and place it somewhere else. https://sarahleastories.com/2018/02/28/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-429-direction/

Maria von Trapp had her favorite things. Oprah has her favorite things. If you love it, chances are someone else will, too. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/06/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-5-theme-vegetables/

Micropoetry Monday: Opposites

Opposites

The Shutterfly edition

He was a lost art,
she, an exact science.
he discovered her,
even as she created him.
When they bridged
what she knew
with what he made up,
they were unstoppable.

He said clicker,
she said remote control.
He said maters & taters,
she said tomatoes & potatoes.
He said younguns,
she said children,
but despite their cultural differences,
they were able to find that common ground
which became a fertile one,
& their new lexicon became remote,
kiddos,
& matoes & tatoes,
but nanner puddin’ would never be
merely “banana pudding”—
unless you skipped the Nilla Wafers,
& then, “You might be a Yankee if…”

He was the negotiating extrovert,
she, the bargain hunting introvert.
It was a match made in marital retail,
for what he saved on their house & cars,
she spent on shoes & handbags.

Summer mini-writing workshop: On editing, submitting, and working in the biz

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Most professional writing jobs require a Bachelor’s degree; this is where writing internships (whether on-site or remote) can help employers get past that requirement.

Before applying for a writing job, ensure your LinkedIn profile is updated (with a current headshot—not you ten years younger and twenty pounds lighter) and that your portfolio is diverse (I included a flyer, newspaper article, and a press release, among others, in mine). Never include personal blog posts in your portfolio—only professionally published pieces.

I used to have little interest in writing short fiction because you typically only earn royalties on novels. However, I realized I had so many ideas that weren’t enough for a novel but were perfect for a short story; I could also finish them quicker.

Reading, writing, and editing your work is the cake, but professional development, such as attending (and participating in) writing workshops, seminars, and conferences are the icing.

Dialect and slang can be tricky, however, they can establish not only the region but the period in which your characters live. Just don’t go overboard and exhaust your reader with too many words containing apostrophes (e.g., gettin’).

If you think it’s petty when professors take points off a paper for not following MLA or APA guidelines regarding headers, in-text citations, and references, you will realize how important attention to detail suddenly becomes when you start sending your work out to publishers and keeps getting rejected for not being formatted properly. (Usually, publishers won’t even tell you why; it’ll just end up in the slush pile, so you’ll never know what you did wrong.) Plus, it’s silly to lose points on something so easy.

Write what you want to read. I’ve tried tailoring my writing to fit an editor or publisher’s vision, which doesn’t work and is why I rarely submit any poetry (much of which is just all in fun and not meant to be taken seriously)—only short stories and essays; however, personal essays have a short shelf life, as they often cover or touch on timely topics (for example, the coronavirus pandemic).

Whereas a short story is like a television episode, a flash piece is like a single scene. Rediscovering flash fiction has helped me revitalize old projects and ideas that weren’t working as full-length stories. Even deleted scenes from my novel have been repurposed as flash pieces, so don’t toss something just because it doesn’t fit into the home you built for it.

Micropoetry Monday: Dream in Chocolate When You’re Feeling Blue

Dream in Chocolate

Bryan Dark & Sara White
had always been at odds—
Mr. Dark claiming antioxidant powers &
that Miss White wasn’t real chocolate.
When they came together—
she, as a coating
& he, a filling,
they realized that although they were different,
they were also equal.

He called them chocolate balls,
she called them truffles.
He said she was too fancy,
she said he was too plain,
but when their child called them bonbons,
they realized that no matter what you called them,
by any other name,
they tasted the same
(but always just a little better dark).

He was all kinds of eye candy—
this hunk of white chocolate with
a soft center that melted her heart.
She never got to unwrap this temptation
in the shiny peppermint paper,
so she satisfied her cravings
by noshing on the darkest nougat—
an activity that packed on the calories
rather than burned them.

Summer mini-writing workshop: On reading

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Read at least one book about writing monthly—in addition to all the other reading you do—and take notes. If there are writing prompts, do them, and never stop brushing up on the basics with the help of online tutorials. https://pensacolastate.instructure.com/courses/1325752/modules

When I was a child, as soon as I mastered a jigsaw puzzle, I lost interest in it. As soon as I beat a game, I lost interest in it. Good books, however, I could read again and again.

I’d rather read a silly poem that made sense than a serious one that didn’t.

You can turn an ongoing activity into a journey. For me, it was a mini bucket list, that bucket being filled with books. https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019/

Reading about how to write a type of book isn’t the same as reading those types of books; I start with the instructions and then read the examples.

As much as I love series, I find that my brain stagnates when I read the same type of book (especially by the same author) for too long. Rereading books I cherished as a child has been a delight.

I’ve often found that a good book makes me feel like I’ve come home to a place I’ve never been to. Plot-driven stories tend to get read once and passed on, but character-based novels have a permanent home in my library because it was never all about a twist ending (an overused plot device). Books, like life, are about the journey, not just the destination. Here are a few books that have rereadability. https://sarahleastories.com/2014/04/06/categorically-some-of-the-best-books-ive-read-thus-far/

The Royal Order of Adjectives

When the Royal Order of Adjectives issued its decree,
the caste system was cast:
the Determiner came first,
for pronouns were all the rage;
then Quantity,
for one needed to see how many of these nouns he/she/they/xe/xem were dealing with:
how many persons and/or things were in how many places
(or how many things were in how many persons & vice versa);
Opinion squeezed in third,
for it just had to be heard (but not quite over the numbers);
Size mattered but not as much as one’s opinion of it;
Age was just a number in May–December romances,
in which size trumped mileage;
Shape defined one’s lines & curves (& if those lines were super acute or downright obtuse);
Color filled in what was in these curves (like coloring books done right);
Origin/material was the stuff of what all those lines & colors were made of
(for all are more than the shape of their body or the color of their skin);
but the Qualifier,
closest to the noun it was describing,
gave the noun its true identity,
showing that the last shall be first & the first shall be last,
for as important as pronouns were,
they weren’t fully qualified to describe a noun.

On a separate Post-It, the sentence, “Our single sassy 25-years-young hourglass-shaped whitish fleshy female human was making time with the married 50-year-old quarterback-built tannish fleshier male human,” did not tell but certainly showed why it was best to limit oneself to three adjectives for describing one noun.

For more information on the Royal Order of Adjectives: https://www.grammarly.com/blog/adjective-order/#:~:text=In%20English%2C%20the%20proper%20order,the%20Royal%20Order%20of%20Adjectives.

Micropoetry Monday: Legacy

1968 (4)

She didn’t live the Greek life,
but she lived her life.
She didn’t have a big fat Greek wedding
but a little skinny WASPy wedding.
She called gyros
Guy Rose
& thought Greeks were Grecians
who had invented the urn.
When her mom found her long-lost husband
in Athens, Georgia,
she began to study her long-lost father’s
mythology & methodology
but soon went back to saying, “Mama, mia”
& putting too much parmesan cheese
on her spaghetti,
for the half that was Italian
included her whole tongue—
in speech & taste.

She had triumphed in 2 battles—
the enemy having left behind a battle scar
that she wistfully referred to as her breastplate;
the first battle had taken her left breast,
the second,
her right,
& it was only after she had beat the cancer
that she saw the road warrior in front of her,
blazing a burning rubber warpath at 95 miles an hour,
ultimately losing the war that everyone was fighting in
without even knowing they were a soldier.

As the fortysomething
took a stroll on Redemption Road,
she wondered about her purpose,
for in the child,
there was innocence,
& in the aged,
there was wisdom.
She told the angel beside her,
who neither guarded her nor waited for her,
“I am not so innocent,
nor am I so wise,”
& the angel answered,
“Yet you take care of them both—
protecting the Innocents
while preserving the dignity of the Wise.”

Summer mini-writing workshop: On blogging and social media

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One thing I did over winter break was deleting all the stock photography on my blog, replacing it with my photography, graphic designs, or, for my Writer’s Digest poems, screenshots of the Writer’s Digest logo (but only as a temporary placeholder). I’m also removing all the hashtags from my blog posts (as the posts already include tags), resulting in a cleaner, more professional look. For the posts I updated (before I imported them to Medium Daily Digest), I made sure to include “updated on MM/DD/YYYY” at the bottom, as certain information might have been amended or added that was unknown at the time the original post was published.

Since I started publishing on Medium Daily Digest, I have been getting more hits on my blog. It isn’t just a great medium (pun purely intended) for publishing your work, but there are many interesting articles available (for a monthly fiver), with the chance to make money on what you post. https://medium.com/@sarahhannanrichards

If you want the time to write, you must prioritize your time. For example, on my blog, I only respond in kind to the bloggers who comment on my blog, rather than those who simply like a post.

Sometimes, a scholarship essay makes a perfect blog (or LinkedIn) post.  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-juggle-college-career-family-successfully-sarah-richards/?published=t.

Have several channels through which you share your writing, be it your blog (anything goes here), Facebook page (I share writing tips and links to articles I like, including my own), Goodreads (for book reviews), LinkedIn (for business-type articles and inspirational quotes), and Instagram (screenshot poetry), but don’t have more social media accounts than you need or can keep up with.

Not being a photographer or illustrator, I have to get creative with my images. Never publish a blog post without an image for the same reason people won’t pick up a book without a cover, but ensure the image is relevant to your post. I once read a great tribute to someone’s grandmother with a stock photo of an elderly lady, which cheapened the piece.

Even if you’re not an artist, try your hand at simple art: https://sarahleastories.com/2020/02/18/16-easy-ways-for-improving-your-college-essay-before-bringing-it-to-the-writing-lab/

Take screenshots of your Shutterfly books: (https://sarahleastories.com/2019/12/15/a-life-in-picture-books-shutterfly-tips-for-beginners/

Turn trash to treasure: https://sarahleastories.com/2018/12/24/sweet-little-nothings-now-comes-the-lent/ 

I’ve also created humorous epitaphs, funny church signs, and fake newspaper headlines (there are apps for all that) as well as (relevant) quotes with a natural or obscure background (https://sarahleastories.com/2017/05/01/micropoetry-monday-modern-proverbs-2/). The great thing about the quotes is that I can post them to LinkedIn, so I get two for the work of one.

Micropoetry Monday: Children of the 80s and 90s

Payphone

She mourned that Kristy, Dawn, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey,
Jessi, & Mallory
had been pulled into the future via the graphic novel—
a glorified comic book—
for their childhoods didn’t belong in this Post-Millennial world
any more than her adulthood would have belonged in the years
before 24/7 cable news.

He was a gust of hot air,
she, a breath of fresh.
He inspired people to exhale,
she, to inhale.
When they expired,
they knew they had lived
a purpose-driven life,
for they had energized a generation
of stressed-out people
with their deep-breathing exercises.

She missed the days of quiet libraries
rather than “media centers,”
focusing more on STEM
than the humanities
that humanized people,
of getting Christmas cards in the mail
with a 10-dollar bill in them,
and browsing video rental stores
like libraries.
She was born in the perfect time:
no social media or cell phones.
As an adult old enough to handle
an instant audience,
she found her voice in the blogosphere.