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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

For your reading pleasure this afternoon, I give you the polished poem “Why I Can’t Find the Derivative” as a sample of the portfolio I am currently banging my head against revising.

I know it’s a stereotype, but it is a stereotype for a reason — most writers or artists in general have a vendetta or just plain hatred of math. Is it because it deals with logic and reason rather than imagination and creativity? Or is there something else to it? While I do have a definitive distaste for math, I seriously respect those who can do math, especially the more ‘creative’ math with all of the proofing and the calculating and the words I don’t know…
But, without further adieu, the poem:

 Why I Can’t Find the Derivative
Because my mind is not crossed into numerical maps,
but painted into murals on the canvas of my synapses.

My eyes see colors and textures,
unable to decipher the volumes and depths.
I sit, frustrated, as I pour hours into meaningless problems –
each passing equation siphons another minute from my life.

I erase the paper until it tears,
destroying the object of my frustration.

Dreams are coated in language and acryllics,
resisting the binary of the arithmetic realm.
I look out into the world I long for,
sitting in the left cobwebbed corner of math class.

The window teases me,
locking me in but hinting escape.

The teacher calls on me and numerical
vomit spews from my mouth.
I get looks of disappointment, sadness –
shame encompasses me.

Factorial silence as letters are forced
to transform into numbers,
their functions no longer to
create but to clinically state.

I am illiterate in this continent of logic
and reason. The numerical maps only lead me here,
to pain. I can only pray for exile,
when at last I can follow the painting of my imagination.

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I’m going to be published in Ithaca College’s Stillwater.

And it feels damn good.

What is ironic, however, is that I am having a poem published when I don’t really consider myself a poet. This led to my reassessment of what I have had published in the past — only to realize the bulk of my published work is in poetry.

I aspire to be a fiction writer, and yet my greatest successes have come from poetry. Is this merely a logistical truth[1], or some sort of hilarious irony by the cosmos?

I promise I’m not complaining — but I am reevaluating my past work and my future. I don’t think of myself as a poet; hell, I rarely even write poetry for my personal enjoyment. But when I do write that one, good poem…it feels good. Real good.
And it feels even better to have others recognize that it is good.

For anyone in the New York Tompkins County area, this evening there will be a release party for Stillwater, as well as the winners of the Writing Department’s Writing Contest here on the Ithaca College campus! It will be at 6pm in the Handwerker Gallery, and I am told there will be refreshments. Who isn’t excited about the possibility of free food and drink?

1. Poetry has more opportunities for publications because literary magazines can put ten or fifteen poems whereas can only hold two or three pieces of prose.

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Grim Reaper Comes for DeadlinesI have a hard time reinforcing deadlines for myself, but when given them externally, I have great success.

It’s the difference between trying to gather the courage to hang yourself versus being put into a guillotine. The latter obviously has more immediate and drastic implications.

Of course, some people are very strong willed and self-disciplined. Self-proclaimed deadlines can mean just as much as a deadline given to oneself by work or class.

Yet, many others (myself included) have a hard time pulling in the reins on ourselves. I can be easily distracted or simply lethargic at times without a deadline. And so while I hate them, I also see them as great (and freaking scary) tools.

I am most productive, at least quantity wise, in a class setting primarily because of the deadlines imposed on the students. Having concrete consequences whips my ass into shape. The one downfall, of course, is the lack of time allotted to the pieces.

Many drafts are generated during the semester, but most (if not all) rarely get proper polish. Even now as I’m rushing to finish a final essay and put together two polished portfolios, I know the work is primarily in-progress and not reaching its potential.

What to do, then, if external deadlines are the ones that work the best and most frequently?

Make them. Tell friends, tell family, obnoxiously troll facebook pages, type in deadlines on a cell phone, lock technology away, and MAKE A DEADLINE. This is typically the method I use for NaNoWriMo. Sure, I have only really finished once, but I would get no where had I not created a deadline with real emotional and social consequences. With cyberspace, you can instantaneously receive support from others. Sometimes even negative reinforcement for when procrastination is at its worse.

Deadlines are, after all, a negative-positive thing. It can limit, but so too can it make many things possible. It may have the word ‘dead’ in it, but there isn’t anything to mourn over.

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I’m not sure conventions exist when it comes to writing.

The process is such a personal thing; it is as individualized as one’s health, psychology, or constellation of hobbies. My process wouldn’t resemble anyone elses. Although, if one group can be generalized into having some sort of conventional procedure, it would be the procrastinators. And I am a proud part of the procrastinator guild.

I have been, and always will be. Some of my best work is polished and pumped out only hours before deadlining. My muse violently strikes me with an idea at one in the morning, or really, refuses to strike me until then. I am undriven when deadlines are far away, but when I can start to see their sharp teeth and beady eyes, I start sweating pure, adrenaline-driven inspiration.

Long live the procrastinators!

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Adapt…or Die

          Being published is one of the stone-etched dreams of a writer. It’s almost engrained in the job description to have an insatiable thirst and undousable desire to be published if one calls oneself a writer. The agent, traditionally, is one of the means to grab that dream and relish in its sweet nougatie centre.

          But in a world with eBooks becoming rapidly more popular, what with the sleek and tech-friendly Nooks and Kindles and other eReaders blossoming, the role of the agent is changing and uncertain. Will there, say, even be a need for an agent in the next decade? Or will the job vanish even sooner, leaving only the memory with a faint scent of wax fruit and fresh ink behind? In a digital world that popped up quicker than our eyes could blink, it’s unknown. A great big Unknown.

   I mean, just look around — there are dozens of quality sites that provide for self-publishing. More and more individuals are becoming more tech savvy, tweeting and Facebooking and publishing and blogging all at once while Digital vs Printacting as promoter, marketer, agent, and editor. It’s a hefty and schizophrenic task, but many can pull it off. Question is — is this multitasking worth it in the end? I feel like while some can take on the mammoth task of the many-faced business-smart writer, others (like myself) need to have those men and women who are “in the know”. A sage in the ways of finding editors and promoting a book.

         After all, I chose to be a writer. Not an agent. Not an editor. Not a publisher. But many people want to cut the “middle man” out of the picture. Possible, but it really depends and effects how one conducts him or herself in the publishing world. A writer wants to get published — that’s the simplest desire when stripped of all its complications — and the writer gets many winding paths to choose that lead to the same dream.

       Mary Kole, a literary agent for the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, doesn’t foresee the agent’s position becoming obsolete: “There are creators and their content, and then there are the people bringing that content to market. The agent’s role will still be necessary to act as intermediary between the two parties, whether working to create an app, a film, a licensed t-shirt, or a printed book.”

    There will be more adaptation than destruction of a job and career. For the survival of the agent (and the writer), eBooks and digital media must be acknowledged. It is scary frontier, but just like “the original frontier cowboys…we’ll all have to…figure out just what…lies over the western ridge of the great Print-Digital Divide”. It scares me half to death, especially since I’m not the bravest or best cowgirl out there. But denying the rise and reign of the digital rule is like looking to the sky and refusing to accept that it’s blue.

 

This post was inspired and fueled by “The Agent’s Role in Today’s Digital Book World” written by Mary Kole for the Digital Book World website.  For the original article, please click the following link: http://dft.ba/-agentsindigiworld

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As you can tell (hopefully), I’ve been tweaking some things on the blog. Aka, the new header, the update information to the right of this post, and some of the widgets. I’ve even posted up my Blogroll. OBVIOUS OPPORTUNITY TO ADVERTISE FOLLOWING THIS ALL CAPITAL FRAGMENT: If anyone has a blog which either you write or follow which I might be interested, let me know — I’ll check it out and it could end up on my Blogroll.

I might be a decent writer, but all this designing and whatnot has me at a handicap. I’m a wonderful doodler and code dabbler, but when it comes to real honest-to-goodness talent, I don’t have it. I’ve never really worked or studied hard enough to get to a point where I feel like my hands can create images of “wow” that can stand on their own. Yet here I am, thinking and trying to get things all pretty.

After all, my gorgeous writing deserves an equally gorgeous frame. (Previous sentence brought to you by my Ego.)

A lot of artistically talented individuals I’ve met are usually very good at at least two creative endeavors. My roommate, for instance, is an amazing pastel painter as well as a musically gifted singer/pianist. I also have friends who double as writers and artists, or dancers and musicians. I’m confident in my writing, but quite unsure of any other true talent that can equal that.

I’m an amateur photographer, digital artist, and sketch artist. Basically, you can use the following formula to deduce what I’m good at: 
 f (function of my creative ability) = amateur + ___(insert artistic endeavor ( – writing) here)____

I’m hoping to pick one of my outside interests into the more immediate limelight of my attention and work. Photography is of special interest to me, though the damn class didn’t allow me in because I’m not part of the communications cult at my college. Bleh.

Someday, I will become a double threat. Someday. But until then, I’m a writer with a lot of side dish talents.

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Made, Not Born

 There isn’t a fantastical gene that makes a person a New York Times Bestseller, or a Pulitzer Prize winner. Unlike Michelangelo, I don’t believe that true artists are born. I believe they are made by their own blood and tears. Every hand cramp, carpal tunnel surgery, every paper cut and wave of loneliness makes a person come closer to becoming the vision of the writer they wish to be.

Yes, I do seem to have a predisposition to writing well. I knew from third grade that I was better than everyone in the class at writing; that did not make me a Writer. Some people have an uncanny knack for art. Sometimes tabula rasa gets Chuck Norris’d in the face when young children are able to replicate the Mona Lisa down to the last pour in her cheek.

Nature vs Nurture

But if that was it – relying on the peculiar mutation of one’s DNA – no art would ever be achieved, literary or otherwise. There’s a lot of work, a lot of strife, in the endeavor of Creation. After all, that’s what the arts are: the act of Creating. There is work, practice, heartache, and perfection in creation. Mistakes happen, and for good reason. Without mistakes, writers would not be able to differentiate crappy crumbling drabbles to great flowing writing.

Hell, I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Had my ass not been kicked my a few English highschool teachers, I would still be just a floundering, proud, vocabulary-chucking wannabe writer. And my ass will proceed to be kicked more in the future by editors and vicious Internet dwellers, but all of that will allow me to heal up and make myself (my writing) stronger.

So, yeah, sure, I started a little ahead of the curve when it came to syntax and diction. But when it comes to truly Creating – I need to bleed and cry to attain the titles, recognition, and level of being a Writer that I want.

With love,

Krawford

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