Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

Writer's Life

The Shutterfly Edition

He pounded out hit pieces,
throwing hardball questions
& paraphrasing quotes
that weren’t provocative enough.
She penned puff pieces,
handing over softball questions
& doodling little hearts over her i’s
as she took notes.
He was as interested in presenting a caricature
as she was a character,
but then along came the biographer
who made their subjects human.

Marilee Readon suffered from writer’s flow,
but when she was sentenced to watch
SpongeRob FatPants
16 hours a day
for committing a lowercase crime
(a.k.a. misdemeanor plagiarism),
she developed writer’s block,
for her I.Q. points had been dulled.

When “Humans of New York” became a thing,
she came up with “People of Pensacola.”
When she crossed over to “The Far Side,”
“Nearsighted” became her thing.
But when 50 Shades of Grey found her,
50 Ways to Gray became a hit-&-run,
becoming known as “Sticky Lit”
sticky being those fingers
that lifted from the bestselling,
if not the best.
Mediocre writers begged & borrowed,
whereas she stole the genuine article
& turned them into genuine knockoffs.

Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

Writer's Life

The Shutterfly Edition

The young reporter’s first job
was editing the obituaries.
For the elderly,
they were celebrations of life;
for the young,
they were a mourning
for all the life
they could have lived.

Paige Bookbinder wasn’t much of a public speaker
(privately, she rocked it),
but the words she put to paper
would endure longer
than the voice in which she spoke them.
Learning to overcome her fear of speaking
in front of a group of any size
would enrich her life now,
even as the words she’d leave behind
for others to read in their own minds
would ensure her legacy.

Her authorship had once meant something,
but when she worked for the one
who only cared if she was the subject,
she realized that she had to write something
so great,
someone else would be compelled
to write about it.

Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

Writer's Life

The Shutterfly Edition

She wrote about “Florida Woman,”
he, “Florida Man,”
each always seeking to outdo the other
by finding the most outrageous characters
who had done the most outrageous things;
but when the newspaper had to cut corners,
namely, their offices,
leaving these columnists feeling several stories too short,
they had to reinvent themselves in this new era
of shrinking newsrooms,
so they collaborated on the “People of Pensacola” project,
humanizing those they had once lampooned.

When Passive Voice met Active Voice,
Active believed ze was editorially superior
while Passive believed ze was the target
of numerous microaggressions,
perpetrated by English teachers,
but when they met Passive-Aggressive,
who wasn’t just talk,
P & A literally joined forces,
realizing that both had their place—
Active, when the question was “Who?”
& Passive,
when the question was “Who cares who?”

When Scholar Lee wrote her story
in the 1st person,
she was accused of making it all about herself;
when she revised it to reflect the 2nd person,
she was accused of telling her readers what to think;
when she rewrote it in the 3rd,
she was accused of being a know-it-all,
so she decided that she would write poetry,
where the only voice that mattered
was her own.

Micropoetry Monday: Opposites

Opposites

The Shutterfly edition

He was a movie star,
she, a stage actress.
For him,
life was a series of endless retakes,
for her, endless rehearsals.
He wanted his performances
to be seen by the masses,
& she,
the elite.
They each sought to be remembered
differently—
he,
through those who would enjoy him in the spirit,
& she,
through those who had enjoyed her in the flesh.

He had the knack
for making money,
even as his wife
had the know-how for raising it,
but when he got all mixed up
with “the other woman”
who only knew how to spend it,
he fathered the child
who left him spent.

Her face graced the covers
of every magazine,
his disgraced the front page
of every newspaper,
but when one saw beyond
her made-up looks
& scripted lines,
when they saw beyond
his words,
taken out of context,
& his works—
the intents of which
were misunderstood—
the reasonable person
understood
that just as there was money
in building her up
to the point of deification,
there was just as much money
in tearing him down
to the point of demonization.

Sweet Little Nothings

Today is your day chocolate

She’d graduated without laude
but with writing awards,
with friendships, experiences,
& a confidence she’d lacked before.
She learned that it was okay to be an introvert,
even as she tried to perform exemplary work
to make up for it;
she learned that it was okay to be a team player
rather than a leader—
to follow what worked & fix what didn’t.
And, in her new, post-graduate life,
she stayed on where she had learned so much,
but when her last article
for the college newspaper
came into print,
she experienced
a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” moment.
She learned that no one could hold the presses,
no matter how much they had or
chose to give away,
& she was reminded
of a wise little girl named Pollyanna
who had said that “Nobody could own a church,”
for there was no place for censorship
at a school where critical thinking
was a prerequisite
to finishing.

Sweet Little Nothings

Dare to cross the line

He walked the line,
she crossed the line.
He was the goody-2-loafers
(sans the penny),
she, the rebel in hot pink espadrilles.
She smoked (chicken & every other kind of flesh)
& drank (root beer & ginger ale)
& stayed out late at the Internet cafe,
writing the stories that got her into trouble
but only because they got others into trouble.
She was a reporter first,
a writer second,
so that when they met at a poetry reading
at The End of the Line cafe,
she taught him to tell his truth
through the style he preferred—
a truth he first had to live.

Interviews lead to useful information: What I learned from one semester of writing for the university newspaper

Boots

As a non-traditional student (meaning not “college age”), I am experiencing college life in a different way than most younger college students.  I don’t live on campus or with my parentsI am a married mom juggling three jobs, so I don’t have time for all the clubs, activities, and lecture series, and the notion of “Greek life” is, well, Greek to me.

Rather than hanging out in the library drinking three-dollar coffee on a laptop (my $99 ChromeBook knock-off has since eaten the dust), I sit in my home office and drink 15-cent coffee from my Keurig (using a reusable filter)—no styrofoam cups or plastic straws or disposable K-cups.  My classes are almost 100% online, as I had to keep my schedule clear so that I could work all the jobs I do.  As I will be working primarily from home in the spring, I will get to experience what it’s like sitting in a classroom next semester.

It’s a feeling I’ve missed.

For me, nothing will ever take the place of face-to-face interaction.  I like to say that one, in-person conversation equals 1000 texts.

When I was pursuing my Associate degrees, all my favorite classes (all of them writing-emphasis) were on campus; through them, I got to know my professors, and they got to know me even more; when you read someone’s creative work, you get a glimpse of their soul.

I look forward to developing my writing even more at UWF, for this university had something that Pensacola State College (PSC) did not, which was my degree program: English with a concentration in Creative Writing.

There are so many opportunities at UWF to write, whether it’s The Argonautica, The Troubadour, or The Voyager.

I’ve learned so much in the short time I’ve been with The Voyager.

From my Socratic Society interview, I learned that even though business majors get hired more, English majors get promoted more.  When you’re a writer (and not a STEM major), you need to hear these things.

From my Center for Entrepreneurship interview, I learned that you can start a business while in school; they will help you.

From my interview with a library intern, I learned that the Careers in Writing course teaches you about all the careers to be had in writing (not just teaching). 

Working for a college newspaper has connected me with people I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise, inspired me to attend events I might not have attended, and helped me write about things I never thought I’d be interested in; being a student reporter is also a great way to build your portfolio for future employers.

It was my love for college journalism that brought me to UWF.  A couple of years or so ago, when I was interviewing one of the writing contest winners at my alma mater, she told me she was coming here to pursue her degree in Creative Writingsomething I hadn’t known existed until then.  

Though I was only a reporter for The Voyager one semester, everything I learned was outside the newsroom because, as my adviser said, “The real news doesn’t happen here but out there.”

Do what you love because you love doing it

Letter from our EIC

There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that’s all some people have? – Joel McCrea (as John Sullivan in Sullivan’s Travels).

My dream profession is to be a humor columnist or bestselling novelist.  I’m so glad that what I’m doing now is all writing-related, even if it’s just helping others with their writing (i.e., editing); however, I still make time for my own writing.  Every.  Day.  Writing keeps you creative; editing keeps your writing clean.   

A columnist position will be much heavier on writing and not on answering telephones (the latter of which is hard for someone who relies heavily on closed-captioning when watching movies); it will also be light on face-to-face customer service and autopilot office duties (e.g. filing and shredding).  The plummiest part about life as a columnist will be that I will not have to rely on other people to get quotes (opening the door for me to be accused of misquoting them) or grant me interviews (opening the door for me to be accused of misrepresenting their organization or not portraying it the way they would have).  This freedom is what makes the creative writing side of journalism much more attractive.  

Newspapers (not news) is dying, but I don’t blame the Internet (entirely).  What’s happening in Washington should be covered by the reporters in D.C.  When I open the local newspaper, I want to read about what’s going on in my town; I want to read about the people in my town.  D.C. will get covered no matter what.  After all, it’s lucrative political theatre—a 3-ring circus with elephants, donkeys, and a slew of other political animals slinging mud and eating each other up (like the gingham dog and the calico cat in Eugene Field’s poem, The Duel).  

If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in communications, you must be patient.  You might have to write about things that do not interest you (e.g. zoning, sewers, school board and city council meetings, etc.), but that’s okay, because that’s just more writing experience.  Every writing assignment I’ve ever been given I’ve treated like it was the most important story I was writing.  

Even though I enjoy writing for newspapers, I prefer more time to polish my pieces, which is why having a weekly column would bridge my fiction and nonfiction writing worlds.  Furthermore, a columnist position will not be so emotionally draining that by the time I get home, my well is too dry to work on my own writing (e.g. blog, novel, etc.).

For now, I am happily pursuing my B.A. in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing), knowing that the real money (and job security) is in technical and business writing—not in creative writing (unless you become the next Stephen King or Mary Higgins Clark, who are the exceptions rather than the rule), so I may go for the Technical Writing certification, as I’ve already taken Professional and Technical Writing, which I highly recommend, as an elective.

We shall see.