8.20.16 Self-Care 2016: Now Featuring Clean-Eating, Podcasts, and Hate Mail
Hello again. It's me.
The past month or so has been filled with a lot of self-care stuff, trying to take care of areas of my life I ignored during May, June, and July while I prepared for my grad course and the script development lab and wrote up/filled out the form for my third and hopefully-final promotion. Then I went to a mini-conference as part of a leadership program at Stuffolk and they had this unit on stress and time-management -- I scored a 27/30, putting me in the high-stress-you're-gonna-have-some-serious-fucking-problems-soon-if-you-don't-knock-it-off category. I already kinda knew I was there, in that red-zone, but, you know, being one of maybe two people in a room of 20 who identified as having high levels of stress made me realize who fucking tired I am of being that person. (click here to read more)
6.30.16 Writing Process as Hangover: Berate Yourself, Hydrate, and then Push Through It
My latest blog posts have felt so solipsistic, particularly in light of the fucking chaos and violence in the world that has always existed but seems, thanks to irresponsible and inconsistent mass media coverage, as if it's escalating inordinately of late -- but I'm keeping up with them as a record of my writing process, which is useful in hindsight but feels something like a giant, unrelenting hangover right now. (click here for more)
5.31.16 Mini-Unofficial-Summer Sabbatical & Other Attempts to Finish What I've Started
I managed to work on my verse play every day of last week, so something is going right. On Tuesday I created a schedule wherein I outlined the parts of Act I that I will revise or create in order to have a complete, working draft that I can submit to the Southampton Theatre Festival in early June; the schedule itself had to be drastically revised on Sunday when I discovered I'd taken nearly six days to revise one scene.
I am not a fast writer nor a prolific one. I'm trying to come to terms with this. Even when I have more time than usual, like I do right now . . . (click here for more)
I have a different blog post to write (for my union) and a gazillion papers and assignments to grade and a very disordered house to put in order and clean before my mother visits at the end of this weekend, but I felt the need to check in here. I've been sending my manuscript to a slew of publishers and first-book contests this week, and there's something about continually posting a bio that states you keep "a record of [your] writing life, experience in academia, and motherhood" on a blog that makes you think, "oh, maybe I should actually DO that..." (click here to read more)
2.9.16 Back to the Blog // Back to Reality
I'm going to begin my blog again as a companion to the writing and submitting work I am kind-of sort-of doing right now ... in an effort to move me out of the kind-of sort-of zone and more solidly into the definitely-and-making-lots-of-progress zone. Because my writing life is some kind of pie chart or line graph, obv.
In January I mapped out a plan for revising the first act of my verse play and moving -- finally -- into Act II. That original map has itself been revised over the past few weeks. This is a result of that "kind-of sort-of" progress: painstakingly slow, but happening, nonetheless. I'm adding new scenes about five lines at a time (i.e. five lines per day, when those days of writing occur). It's a rather pathetic pace, I know, but at this point I'm encouraged that I have a pace... click here to read more
11.11.15 The Ghost of Poems Past
Yesterday I received the coolest email from a couple in New Jersey, fellow participants in that Poetry Postcard Project Little Miss Talkalot and I participated in back in August 2013. They were on the receiving end of one of her postcards (you can see it and read the poem here) and they wanted permission to reprint the poem along with a photo of a windmill from their backyard on their Christmas card this year. Also, they needed to know Little Miss Talkalot's actual name, because I don't believe she wrote a byline on this particular postcard... click here for more
...I realize that these kinds of admissions make teaching, even at the college level, sound horribly formulaic with little room for improvisation. Also, all of the summer fun and freedom that I experienced with my family -- going to the beach, staying up too late to read, watching movies -- appears to have disappeared! But I find that I'm quite comfortable ditching the formula and doing spontaneous things in the classroom if I have the safety net of the well-laid plan beneath me, and my hope is that I can spend less time prepping in the office this semester and more time grading in the office, which in turn will give me more time to write when I'm at home (not to mention keeping up with normal life things, like kids and laundry and dishes)... click here to read more
8.14.15 Progress Report: The Video Poem and The Verse Play
Toward the end of July, P.T. (pictured to the left, doing his tech thing) and I began work on our poetry video collaboration. We recorded the audio, then discussed various images and the sequence in the video, looked at some stock footage, brainstormed, etc. Last week, we met on campus with my little helpers, Miss Talkalot and The Boy, and we managed to film a couple of shots of them as the characters from my fairy tale poem, and then also some shots of the surrounding pine barrens, which are lovely.
This exercise is fun but strange and confusing. I have this idea of the poetry video as ... (click here for more)
6.5.15 A Possible Summer Writing Group, Boo Killebrew's "Miller, Mississippi," and . . . Field Day
... On Tuesday I saw an amazing reading of an equally amazing play by Boo Killebrew, this year's winner of the Leah Ryan's Fund for Emerging Women Writers. The acting was incredible, and the play, "Miller, Mississippi," is a clever adoption -- but not direct adaptation -- of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, taking an earnest and unflinching glance at racism in the years during and following the Civil Rights Movement. There were two powerful monologues/moments in particular: one, in the first act, where at least one facet of the mother's 1950s, overtly pre-Betty Friedan behavior is revealed to be motivated by something far more serious and powerful -- though no less warped -- than her gin-nipping, antediluvian upbringing, and in the second act where the Faulknerian "Jason" character of the play, Thomas, excuses systematic incest and abuse with the same reasons white people of privilege give for lazy, less overt (but no less grave) acts of racism.
I had a moment of doubt about the play at the first hint of incest -- I was thinking, oh no, not in-breeding in the South, not this old trope; but ... (click here for more)
5.15.15 The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week
I went to sleep at two in the morning on Sunday night after grading until I was cross-eyed and when I got ready for bed I checked my email and I had a message from a student who said I have emailed you twice in the last month and have not received a response- please get back to me about my questions and so I stayed up another half hour because I felt the need to write her back and prove with a screen shot that yes, I'd forgotten to send her a reply to an email she sent that past Tuesday but I'd only received one email from her since early April, and I DID reply to the one from April, and I could tell that when I woke up two hours later with the alarm and the beginning of a migraine and the non-sleeping Vampire Toddler it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.
At breakfast Little Miss Talkalot decided she was too tired to eat breakfast and then The Boy decided that he was too tired to eat breakfast and then Vampire Toddler decided she wanted to eat Pirate Booty for breakfast but I held my ground and said she had to eat fruit for breakfast and then she had a meltdown. I was irritated about the meltdown but also laughing because a two year old wailing "Boooooty" over and over again is funny. And then I forgot to eat breakfast... (click here for more)
2.13.15 Every Outside Purpose is the Work's Ruin
... As regards writing, I've actually begun working (slowly, slowly) on a poem this week -- a line or two at a time. And I've been digging into more Tsvetayeva, whose "The Poet and the Critic" is really, really good. I love her assertiveness in general, her deep and unabiding sense of self, but in this essay she's particularly fearless. She's so honest and unapologetic and vehemently supportive of the poets she loves (and so righteously dismissive of the critics she despises).
In early paragraphs of the essay she speaks of the critic as "an investigator and a lover," claiming that "no one has the right to judge a poet who has not read every line that poet has written." "Creation takes place gradually and successively," she writes. "What I was in 1915 explains what I am in 1925. Chronology is the key to understanding." ... (click here for more)
Copyright © Sarah Kain Gutowski 2017
Last updated: June 2017