Submissions and a Collection: A Poetry Headache

I last mentioned where I was at in writing my first poetry collection about five months ago with this post. I’m still very much in the early stages. Where do the early stages end, anyway? I figure there will just come a point when I look around me and go, “Yeah, I’m in this one deep.” I’m not quite there yet.

(I’m laughing at the me that once said “I’ll make sure to spend at least a year on this so as not to rush it.” Oh you sweet, summer child.)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, which means not as much writing. After trying to juggle both for several years and failing at getting much read OR written I finally figured out that the best possible thing I can do is work hard on writing for a month or two, then switch to spending all that time on reading for a month or two. It keeps me from getting burned out on the blank page, it helps refill my brain when I’m starting to feel emptied of ideas, and it means that I get to more thoroughly enjoy reading and writing when not doing them together at the same rate. This is, at least, the system that works best for me. (For now.)

The time I have given to writing this summer has been productive… technically. Meaning I know it has been productive. I have the notes and pages that tell me this. But when it comes to finished content? Very, very little.

Nothing wants to wrap up for me. There’s a particular piece I’ve been working at rather hard that I finished back in July. Sort of. It reads in finished style, but the rhyme and meter is all wrong for not only what is in my head but also how the collection has begun to develop. It doesn’t fit. So I put it away for 2 months, let my mind clear some, and have been at it again this last week only to find Continue reading

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KidLit Love: A Book is a Book

What is a book, why do we read them, and why are they written? “A Book is a Book” written by Jenny Bornholdt and illustrated by Sarah Wilkins is an almost pocket-sized book addressing these questions. Their answers are simple and at times humorous, but always have a lovely sense of truth to them.

The page I’ve listed below is one of my favorites. It’s a favorite for many reasons. I quite like short books when I don’t have a lot of time to read. I totally understand writing a short book because have you ever tried writing a book? Even the short ones take a lot of time to do it well! And I also like this page because as someone who deals with autoimmune fatigue with varying frequency… sometimes it’s really hard to write. Whether it’s because I can’t stay awake, I can’t fight through the brain fog to make sense of words, or because the muscles in my hands or wrists are not up to handling a keyboard or pen, sometimes writing is hard in ways that have nothing to do with creating stories.

(You can follow me on instagram now if you’d like! instagram.com/lissa.clouser)

It’s hard to describe this book in much detail since it is already so short, so I recommend instead that you find a copy at your local bookstore or at the library and give it a read! If you like books of any kind in any way, this one should be right up your alley.

*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!

Still Around, Still Writing, Still Figuring This Whole Thing Out

This photo has nothing to do with this post other than it makes me happy and I’m trying to stay positive in life and with goals!

Personally, politically, and being-kind-culturally this just isn’t the nicest of years. All of the insanity (both that which I’m involved in and that which the news keeps telling me about) has slowed me down, not just in writing but in keeping up with all the aspects of this crazy thing we call life. I’m learning that keeping the end goal in sight is more important than hard-and-fast deadlines (at least the self-imposed ones) and that self-forgiveness is a pretty important thing.

* No more blog schedules around here. I’ll aim to post at least once a month whenever possible, and that will usually be possible, but if I disappear for a month or two I probably won’t be posting apologies. It’s just me feeling super guilty that I’ve ‘messed up’ another self-imposed goal and those begin to eat me up more than help me when I do that.

I hope I have regular readers of this blog, but I’m the first to say I don’t really know how to market this blog to readers, especially while I don’t feel like I have much to offer yet. But here I am, floundering at the blogging thing all the same! I feel like many of my posts are probably uninteresting and I want to improve on that front. I will always keep trying to do better here so we’ll see how it all works out on the long plan, right? Continue reading

Japan 2016: Brief Visits to Other Towns

We spent most of our time in Osaka and Kyoto, but did get to explore a little bit of the surrounding areas. There’s just so much to see and experience I feel like we barely even got a start on it!

– Otsu: A very short train ride from Kyoto. I would like to return to this little town and explore some of the temples there, especially the ones up the mountain, but we went to Otsu on this trip for a particular reason: I wanted to see Lake Biwa. I had read Dr. Junichi Saga’s book Memories of Silk and Straw and Lake Biwa was a central point mentioned time and time again in the stories he recorded from residents who remembered living and working in rural Japan before modernization occurred. After reading all of these stories I really wanted to see the lake for myself and connect it all in my head, so we planned to take a daytime cruise there.

I loved it. This is the boat we took, the Michigan, and it was an absolutely lovely, relaxing, hour and a half tour across the water. There were some games and sing-alongs on board hosted by a gentleman that I felt like could have been a modern-day, very charismatic pirate (I mean this in a good way), but my Japanese wasn’t strong enough to participate and that’s okay, I mostly just wanted to see the lake anyway. Continue reading

Japan 2016: Kyoto

On to Kyoto, where we spent the majority of our trip and still had only barely begun to see the incredible city.

View from the rooftop of our apartment building

We rented an apartment in the Higashiyama area, only a moment’s walk from Gion. There was so much to see and do from here without ever even stepping on train or bus, but both modes of transportation remained easily accessible for the times when we did venture further out.

Our first day just consisted of us moving ourselves and our luggage from Osaka to Kyoto via two separate trains and two separate taxis. It was very different than managing such a move in America, but we did it! Despite having bought many lovely things in Osaka which meant our luggage had very much increased in size. (We would end up buying another full sized suitcase in Kyoto and another carry-on in Kansai Airport before going home… and that was after I had already packed one suitcase inside another on our way to Japan, knowing we’d need the extra space!)

aoi matsuri 2016Our first full day in Kyoto, however, was timed so we wouldn’t miss the magnificent procession of the Aoi Matsuri, or Hollyhock Festival. Continue reading

Japan 2016: Osaka

For my first trip to Japan we decided to stay in the Kansai region. South of Tokyo, this is where you’ll find Osaka and Kyoto. I hope to visit Japan many times in my life and see many faces of it, but I planned my first trip as if it were my only one since nothing is ever guaranteed. I wanted to see the traditional side and the historical side of Japan more than the modern, so to Kansai we went.

We spent most of our first week in Osaka, staying at Hotel New Otani Osaka because it was both near a JR train station, making it easy to get around, but also because it was directly across from Osaka Castle and the surrounding park. osaka castle, hotel new otani osakaThe hotel was incredible. The staff made our first days in country wonderful, helping us get our bearings in the new culture and giving us an incredibly beautiful and comfortable place to stay. I mean… who can possibly deny this view? I spent time every day sitting in this window, loving on the view and watching the crowds below. When it came time for us to move to Kyoto I was already very sad to leave this behind.

Osaka Castle was one of the very first things we visited in Japan. Our first day we mostly spent exploring Osaka JR Station because it was rainy and while I wasn’t really all that jetlagged, hubby was. There was more than enough there alone to spend a very full afternoon. (My first purchase in Japan? An umbrella! A lovely mint green with white polka dots umbrella.) Continue reading

Update

I had intended to have consistent updates this month with the promised posts from last year’s trip to Japan, but sometimes health gets the better of me and throws things a little out of whack. There will be posts, three of them in fact, and hopefully soon, but this may run over into June’s postings. Photo heavy posts take awhile to put together and lately I haven’t been up to anything of the sort. Thanks for understanding and see you around here soon!

Looking Back: Japan 2016

A year ago today I was in San Francisco boarding a plane that would next touch down in Osaka, Japan.

Japan has been and still is my dream. It’s the home of my heart, the place my soul feels most joyful and most at peace. Everything there is both achingly familiar and fascinatingly new and ready to be discovered. This was the very first time I had the chance to “go home” and not one moment was a disappointment.

It’s a year later and I want to share a few of the memories I have, mostly through photos. Give you a glimpse into the world I experienced last May. I’m not sure yet when I’ll be able to return, though I have tentative ‘hopeful’ plans that are far too early in the making to be sure if they’ll pan out.

For now, I hope you’ll enjoy the posts this month as I look back at the awesome country and culture that is Japan. (At least how I was able to experience it.)

sunset over rice fields in japan

The Early Stages of Writing a Poetry Collection

If you’re following this blog, amidst the random posts on letter writing, kid lit, and other assorted things, you’ve seen a few posts about me working on a poetry collection. This is my first. I’ve written single poems for prompts, competitions, and personal ideas off and on for many years now, always thinking that one day I’d like to create a collection but never really sure what that would look like.

More than a year and a half ago I had an idea for a poem that slowly morphed into an idea for a themed collection based on the instrumental music of a single artist. I sat on the idea for quite a long time, thinking over possible ways I could approach a larger project like this, before I picked up the pen and began writing November of last year. (I also realized that a poem finished earlier in 2016 fit the collection, so wooo head start!)

But here’s the thing… while there are lots of wonderful blogs and vlogs walking writers through the process of novels, there isn’t so much material out there for poets writing a collection. I have articles saved with suggestions for submitting your work, organizing a collection (once the work is done), and promoting your book. Noooot so much the ‘here’s a blank page, now start your collection’ sort of references. Continue reading

KidLit Love: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

I had an imaginary friend for years. In some ways I think she never went away, but rather merged into my creative subconscious.

BeekleImaginary friends are quite the interesting topic to think about whether it’s your own personal memories, wondering about the psychology of the phenomenon, or just getting a smart punch in the feels when media brings up the topic. (Bing Bong, anyone?)

“The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” by Dan Santat is sweetly written and stunningly illustrated. The image of Beekle makes me think he could possibly be a distant cousin to Baymax, which honestly is something I’m more than okay with. (Beekle and Big Hero 6 were both released in 2014, but obviously have nothing to do with one another.)Beekle - Interior Pic

When Beekle isn’t called off to the human world by a child’s imagination, he decides he’ll just set out and find his own child instead. His initial impression of the human world is that everything seems… not quite right. The kids he sees aren’t stuffing themselves with cake, everyone is in a rush, and he isn’t quite sure there’s a place for him after all.

But as is so often in both life and stories, right when he thinks he just might give up, the perfect friend comes along.

While I certainly enjoyed Beekle’s story, the art is what really swept me away with this book. The illustrations are vibrant yet easy on the eyes, with just the right amount of detail to keep you enjoying the pictures each time you see them. Dan’s art is everything about picture books that I love and remember from being a kid.

*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!