There's a woman I met at the #OoliganPress #w2p2018 workshop at #PSU who I need to thank for restoring my faith in publishing and publishers. It's Kathlene Postma. Her poetry, fiction and visual art has appeared in Hawaii Review, willow Springs, Zyzzyva, Los Angeles Review and more. What's delightful is that she's such a wonderfully down-to-earth person and has such a diverse creative background. As professor of creative writing at Pacific University, she shared that her students had influenced her with their entrepreneurial spirit, which in turn inspired her to delve into adult fairy tales. She spoke about how her art (doing art) had invited her to find "a childlike intuitive space."
The conversations centered for the most part on publishing. Kathlene spoke of the "nugget of the story" and how stories can be told in many ways nowadays, and in many forms, including lots of media that wasn't around before. The panel that Ms. Postma was on (with Finn J.D. John, and Matthew Simek with moderator Taylor Thompson - also valuable contributors) was called: "Under One Banner: Writing Mediums and Submitting to Literary Journals." There was a lively discussion on the best way to know where to submit something (actually, that's my personal nemesis) and some strategies were discussed that deserve mention. Besides reading the journal you are planning on submitting to (to see if your work is a good fit) Kathlene suggests looking at some of the small presses. "See what their focus is," she advises. Poetry and Fiction are tough markets now, "..there's tons of poetry," she notes. She advises writers to "..write what you care about." [always good advice] She also suggests looking into creative nonfiction as an option.
The panel was asked, "What do you wish you would have known starting out?" Kathlene advises writers to "Be yourself. Don't worry, you'll find your tribe." [I love that] and to "write for yourself," [always good advice]. She adds, "Maybe go rogue.." meaning you have other options than traditional publishing - maybe consider self-publishing. It was partly due to her remarks that I come to be in the position of re-launching myself into myself, that is to say a more leaned in "out there" version of myself. So thank you, Kathlene. Much obliged! Oh, and there is a wonderful page on the SilkRoad website with interviews with people like Dorianne Laux and Robert Boswell. Good reading!
There are many things I know how to do well. I can take a good photo. I can take good care of my granddaughter. I can do reasonable portraits and funny little doodles.I can write stories (I didn't say publish). I can build a website - stuff like that. But it's hard for me to be in community. I stink at it. Really, I do. Even after all these years I still struggle with it. I have learned, however, that it is something I need, something everyone needs. We are humans, after all, and humans are social. Even I am social despite my best efforts to live under a rock. The thing is I've learned that even if it (my effort at community) doesn't look terribly successful that I still need to go slogging up the hill (what feels like slogging sometimes). For one thing, I have no perspective. People could think of me of quirkily charming when I think of myself as a pretty much a misfit. Perhaps (here's the most important part) it actually does me some good, a very delayed realization. It changes something in me, something that affects my ability to get out there and do it again, something that helps me take other risks and something that leans in and affects my writing. Like all writers I notice things and I finally noticed this.
Let's pretend that I started this five years ago and I'll just continue talking like I was already in your head, okay? Tonight's topic: writing and publishing. Like lots of folks, I write. I know, we're ubiquitous. Every other person you meet is working on a novel. I went to a writing conference over the weekend (actually it was called a publishing conference). First of all, there were tons of people and if you're an introvert like me it takes a few deep breaths just to enter a room with that many strangers. It's good for you though. I keep telling myself that. But this time it was like the planets lined up or something. For one thing I never would have met Allen Cunningham, author of The Green Age of Asher Witherow, among other titles. He was doing one of the workshops at the Write To Publish Conference hosted by Ooligan Press. His talk on developing characters was the kind of workshop session that you stumble into in your dreams - it was simply amazing. Let me tell you it takes quite a bit to amaze me. I'm one of those people who is well, a bit of a pain in the ass when it comes right down to it. Cunningham's got 6 ways to develop characters and I'm still transcribing the notes, but let me tell you the 6 (points) before I sign off. There's desire, detail, contradiction, counterpoint, scene, and transformation. Sometimes you just need to hear something you know in a new way and this was one of those times.
C. D. Finley
Opinionated, wry, sometimes corny, observational humor mostly about writing, but you never know.