#Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

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Her poetic license had no expiration date,
for she went around putting line breaks
where she thought they should be,
inserting the Oxford comma wherever she went,
omitting needless words,
adverbs,
& clichés,
for just as brevity was literary minimalism,
clarity was literary purity.

When she brainstormed,
her fingers were like lightning
across the keyboard,
her words like thunder
as she hammered away at a clump of words
to create a viable human-interest story.

It was reading, writing, & arithmetic
in grammar school,
academics, arts, & athletics
in college.
Sara Lee Storey excelled in the arts,
writing about the academics, 
& editing the words of those
who wrote about athletics.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #468: Note

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Taking Dictation

She had spent her middle school years passing notes
on wide-ruled paper with the fringe that came
from being ripped out of a Lisa Frank notebook,
her girlish cursive in shades of pink
that she liked to call her invisible ink–
strategically chosen to impair
Mrs. Sikeston with her 20/100 vision.

There were the notes she took in high school
on unlined, “open-ended” printer paper–
filled from corner to corner
with concrete poetry and spirograph designs
that she wheat-pasted to the walls of her room.

There were the notes she left for her mom on the kitchen counter
where she would see them,
letting her know where she was and with whom.

There were the notes she wrote in everyone’s yearbook
that year of 1999 at William J. Woodham High School,
telling them that if they ever came across the name
of Lauranne Huntington,
they would know that she had made it as an author,
for she believed that Lauranne–
not Laura–
was destined for literary greatness.

There were the notes she took in college–
of biology and anthropology,
and every other -ology–
her streams of consciousness sometimes
drowning out the drone of the professors
who taught in the physical and biological sciences department.

There were the notes she took when she
interviewed faculty and students
and covered events for the college newspaper,
with bold circles wherever there was a
Who, What, Where, When, Why, How,
for every question had to start with one of these.

There were the Post-It notes she left all over the house
when she was practicing her Spanish,
the magnetized letters on the refrigerator that spelled “Want Sex”
(which was more of a warning than anything).

The pink had deepened into red by then,
even as she had deepened into whom was meant to become;
just as her haikus–
once so abstract and emo–
had deepened into the personal narratives
that were as concrete and real as she was.

There were the rejection slips
that she tacked over the old poetry
in her childhood room
where the walls and furniture were as white
as the curtains and bedspread were pink–
this place where she would still come to write
while her mom and dad watched her girls.
The notes she took at the monthly board meetings
helped her learn to listen while writing–
to listen more and better.

The notes she took to remind herself how to do something
helped the next person not have to learn the hard way,
for every position she left,
she left behind an account of everything that she had learned
and everything that she knew they would need to know.

The notes her daughters brought home from school
let her know the things she should notice
but didn’t always have the time to;
and then there were the notes she took,
reminding herself to take the time to notice.

There were the notes she wrote in the Christmas cards
she made out of scrapbooking scraps and brown paper bags.
The messages in the numerous thank you notes she wrote–
both on the job and off–
they were all her handwriting and her handiwork.

She never became Lauranne Huntington,
but rather the Laura Hunt
that people felt they knew–
the Laura Hunt they wanted to know.

But the notes that truly captured the essence of who Laura Sawyer (nee Hunt)
were not these,
but were the music notes that the man she loved placed together
in memory of her.

https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-468

#Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

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Subject & Verb had a disagreement,
for Dynamic Verb believed it was superior
to Static Subject,
until Verb realized that without a vessel,
his work could not be done,
& Subject realized that without some action,
no one would care.
It was then they decided that the real enemy
was the Adverb—
an extremely, incredibly, annoyingly extraneous
part of speech.

Through her typewriter,
the introvert known as Elizabeth von Baron
became known as Dear Libby,
so that as she became established in the spirit,
her shyness,
in the flesh,
disintegrated.

She scribbled on the walls,
a pre-literate graffiti,
a magenta crayon being her tool of choice.
She drew her stories on the carbon paper
her mother brought home,
each picture numbering 1000 words.
She wrote her stories in black-&-white
composition notebooks—
stories that rewrote her history—
so that she became the worst sort
of unreliable narrator,
for she plagiarized from no one’s life,
not even her own.

The Year in Review: 2018

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Twenty-eighteen was the best of years and the worst of years.

This year was my first Christmas without my mom.  I think of all the conversations that we never had about all the good things that were happening in my life, all the stories of mine she had yet to read, all the books and meals and time with Hannah we had yet to share, all the Christmas shows we had yet to binge-watch together (like the “Bob’s Jelly Doughnut” episode of “Wings”)…

But I know she was there–I just wish I could see her being there.

*

This December, I graduated with my A.A. and my A.S. and got a full-time job I enjoy at the college just before graduation–a job where my creativity is not only appreciated but encouraged.

The A.A. was what I wanted, the A.S., what I felt I was supposed to want.  I will go for my Bachelor’s in Business (with a concentration in Graphic Design) in the fall at the college that has been like my second home (as well as my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing at The University of West Florida when I can swing it).

It was my work on The Corsair designing recruitment ads, as well as making Shutterfly books for Christmas gifts, that led me to seeking a degree in the graphic arts.  (Besides, I can also use whatever I learn to make this blog better.)

My “passion for the college” was what got me the job (my supervisor actually said I had this thing called a “skill set”–something no one has ever said to me before), and it did not go unnoticed by me when I went in for my first day of work and saw a few or more copies of the newspaper scattered, opened to my farewell letter: http://ecorsair.com/letter-from-the-editor-in-chief/

How easy it is to have passion for something that has given me so much:  friendships, scholarships, a quality education, and numerous opportunities to become a better writer (and not always with a grade attached).

I put everything I have into everything I do.  There’s a quote by Mark Cuban I came across once–“Work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it all away from you”–and maybe that’s why I am the way I am.  I almost lost nearly everything or had it taken away, and the thought of that happening again terrifies me so much, I am hyper-vigilant about being the absolute best at everything I do (except for maybe astronomy or statistics), but it’s also more than that:  I care.

I don’t half-ass things (though the amateur lexicographer in me wonders if the opposite would be “whole-ass”?).  I don’t even read my own work once it’s been published–I just sort of glance over it, afraid I will find a mistake, only to obsess over it. 

*

On Christmas Eve, my husband and I accepted an invitation to a church where we could have a fresh start. There was a woman pastor–something that used to seem strange to me, but not anymore.

That is not a change in values but in perception.

*

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions (I prefer to look back and note my accomplishments); however, I’m always making To-Do Lists (as well as goal lists, be they weekly, monthly, or lifetime) because if I didn’t, I’d simply forget it all.

Because this year has been crazy, and I’ve been spending so much time finishing college while applying for jobs and trying to make a living, I haven’t been taking care of myself or spending as much time with my family as I should.  I’ve still done a lot of writing, but more for this blog and the newspaper than submitting to magazines.

It’s time to read more, sleep more, and even play more (like with dumbbells, if not barbells).  Managing my stress is going to be a large part of my New Year’s health goals, for once I do that, my mind will be clearer to focus on other areas of wellness.  

I drained my batteries dry this past year but was able to sally forth because the light at the end of the tunnel just kept getting bigger.  I feel like I have passed through to the other side, only to find that there are more tunnels.  My community college experience opened those doors; that’s why I never saw them before.

But for now, I am content to just stand in the light.

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My community college journey

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         It has been a long four years—only because so much has happened in those years.
         I was almost thirty-three when I enrolled at the local community college—all set to get my degree in Health Information Technology to become a medical biller and coder; I was trying to be something I wasn’t, or rather, something I didn’t want to be.  The classes were excruciatingly boring (some people got all jazzed looking up medical codes, saying it was like solving a puzzle—I prefer jigsaw or mysteries), but all the while, I was taking other classes that interested me more (I needed something to keep my sanity), working towards getting my A.A., but not really realizing it until I found out that I had quite a few credits to go towards it.
         I will always have my A.S. degree as a backup (though I will still have to get my certification), but right now, I’m in that place called Contentment—a place I haven’t been for a very long time.
         Originally, I had ignored the email that was calling for students to apply for the Editor-in-Chief position for The Corsair (the college’s student-run newspaper); I didn’t want the job because I knew I wasn’t a leader (but neither am I a follower—I just like to lead myself).  I only wanted to worry about making my own deadlines, not getting others to make theirs; if someone wasn’t self-motivated, it wasn’t just their problem, but it became mine, too.
         However, I accepted the position because I saw it as a way to give back to the college that had helped me so much with scholarships and not only appreciated but celebrated my writing skills.
         I am very proud of the work I did, and, I hope, inspired others to do.  I learned a lot about myself—like that I have what it takes to become a great graphic designer.  (I just need the training.)
         Through creating Shutterfly books of my writing for friends and family and designing recruitment ads for the newspaper, I’ve become more aware of how words and pictures can complement one another.  I have the creativity and imagination, if not yet the talent or skill to choose graphic design as my vocation.
         My writing dream is to be either a nationally syndicated humor columnist or a regular contributor for The Saturday Evening Post.  I think both are a possibility within a decade. For example, my Capra-esque short story, “The Post-It Poet,” won Honorable Mention in this year’s The Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Short Story contest.  (I won the same honor a few years ago.)
         “Poet” is about a thirty-something woman who goes back to community college to “figure it all out.”  (Guess where I got that idea.) It’s also about how poetry can change the world (and did), including her own.
         Writing sure changed mine.
         My work as EIC for the paper helped me get a career service position at the college.  If there was one thing I tried to drill in to my staff, it was that the work they did on The Corsair mattered, that a missed deadline was a missed opportunity.
         So, I’m glad I did accept the position, but I’m equally glad to be moving on to other kinds of writing (thank you letters, press releases, et cetera).  I not only was the EIC for the fall semester, but I also kept up the website and Facebook page, as well as take pictures and write stories, in addition to conducting meetings and work days and writing and answering the endless emails and texts.  I even experimented a bit with video, as well as post archived material on the Facebook page (the latter to fill in the gaps between issues, as our paper is a monthly).
         Since free college is included in my new job, I will go for my Bachelor’s in graphic design next fall.  I will learn how to draw and take pictures—two things I don’t know how to do very well; whatever I learn, I will be able to use for this blog.
         The last eighteen months of my college journey were extremely hard.  It seemed like the world was throwing everything it could at me to get me to quit, but it was against my nature to give up.
         As November was coming to a close, I was wondering what was going to happen to us, as three of my four jobs were going away for the holiday, one of them permanently.  Tutoring labs don’t need to be open when kids are out of school, and you have to be at least a part-time student to be EIC.
         But then, one night, as I was driving home from my second home on campus, “Silent Night” played on the radio, and I knew that whatever happened, we would be okay.
         Then, perhaps not even a week later, I got the call, then the interview, then the job.
         And it was more than all right.
         Our college’s motto is:  Go here. Get there; for me, it’s Go here.  Stay here.
         Now it’s time for a semester-long spring break and a semester-long summer vacation.  I’ve been running on adrenaline for too long; I’ve tried to do everything at 100% when my batteries were at 10.  There were few nights when I came home to a sleeping child, which made me sad; there is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your child through the glass of the front door, jumping up and down because she knows you’re home.  I’d be so spent that even when I was home, my body was exhausted and my mind was adrift.
         I so look forward to graduation tomorrow.  Even though someone who was with me on my journey at the beginning won’t be with me in the same way at the end of it, I think she has the best free ticket in the house.
         I’ve often thought I could’ve done all this years ago, but I wouldn’t have met the people I’ve met—might not have experienced the things I have—so I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

12 Things I Learned as Editor-in-Chief of the College Newspaper

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1. Raw talent < a willingness to communicate regularly, learn from more seasoned reporters, meet deadlines and care about the finished product, go on assignments that may not be of great interest to them personally (but need coverage), and actually talk to people.

2. Camaraderie happens organically when everyone is doing their job and meeting their deadlines.

3. You cannot be an editor without first having written articles for the paper. If you don’t write in Associated Press (AP) style yourself, how can you recognize it in the work of others?

4. Just because a paper comes out monthly doesn’t mean that one gets three weeks to write a story. Due dates should be no later than one week after the event occurred, as that allows time for editing.

5. You can’t write a certain type of story if you haven’t read a few (good) examples.

6. Making meetings < Meeting deadlines

7. If someone wants to be a columnist (i.e. the creative side of journalism), they have to earn it by being a reporter first. You don’t start at the top.

8. If someone does miss their deadline, but they turn in something you need, sometimes you have to make allowances for the good of the paper.

9. The best way to recruit new staffers is to reach out to the professors and ask them to recommend students.

10. Make sure bylines are on every story. Whenever I look at a layout, I don’t look at everything all at once. I start with the headlines, then the bylines, then the photo credits, then the captions, et cetera.

11. I trust people under 30 (as flakiness has no age).

12. Making a “mock layout” by folding 2 or 3 pages (depending if the issue is an 8-pager or a 12-pager) of printer paper into a book and marking it up makes the layout editor’s job much easier.

Poem-a-Day November 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #1. Theme: Glorious

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Black, White, & Red Running All Over

When she became the Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper,
she got the glory & everything that came with it—
the academic scholarship & the accusations of censorship,
the joy of a byline & the stresses of other people’s deadlines,
& the quandary of too many writers & not enough reporters.
But she learned to suppress her inner Captain Queeg,
for leadership,
though not her strong suit,
was a card she had learned to play.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-1