Fortune Cookie Writing Tips

Brown paper sacks, over flowing plastic containers filled with pork fried rice and General Tso’s chicken. Standard fare for at home date night, movie watching, stuffing ourselves with food not really from China, and hoping the MSG doesn’t petrify our insides yet.  We open our fortune cookies, read them aloud. Yours read like a bad Dear Abby letter, but mine always relates to my crazy writing life.  Or perhaps, I only see, read, breathe this writing gig.  Or maybe, I have stumbled on some great Zen wisdom:

The best writing advice comes from fortune cookies.  

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and Images of Money

Seriously, if we want to write better, perhaps, we should heed some of the wisdom baked with the oddly orange flavored, vanilla cracker cookies(on a side note: what is the flavor of a fortune cookie?). Today, I am giving you my TOP 5 things I learned about writing from my fortune cookies:

  1. You are not illiterate.  Neither is your audience. Right now, you’re reading. I hope you’re laughing too. As a writer, it is my job to treat my readers not as ignorant schoolchildren, but as literate, amazing, highly sophisticated, intellectual readers. It is so freeing. Try it.
  2. Only put off till tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. Pretty much my philosophy on housework, dieting, and exercise. If I die with dirty dishes in the sink but have a beautiful manuscript finished, I say I spent my life wisely. If I choose to catch up with another writer to encourage her, no amount of laundry and well scrubbed floors will take the place of this soul balm.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Because they would make better zombie fodder in your manuscript than actually stewing over their horrid bitchiness. Unless you choose the life of a hermit, people will piss us off so badly that hate feels like the only option. Now, take note: vindictive writing isn’t always good writing. But it is cathartic. Let it heal and move on.
  4. What you will do matters. All you need is to do it. Begin, write the first sentence that will amaze you and only you. I think sometimes we forget that we are our first readers not our second cousin’s first uncle’s nephew’s daughter twice removed. One thing that helps me get started is gather notecards, post-it notes and write 1 thing. Just do something. Begin the journey with your characters or yourself.
  5. At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. We will never produce our best work if we believe that everything we do is shit. For our best writing, we must be sweet, kind, loving to ourselves. Encourage another writer. Believe in the revision process can make your words better.
Now, what is your best writing advice? Extra points if it includes fortune cookies!
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The Queen of Quantity

Quality is always better than quantity, right?

As I writer, I believed it. Shouldn’t we always look for the best word, the most tantalizing sentence, the perfect description? Under this paradigm, I labored and toiled. Second guessed my muse, begged forgiveness of my muse(her name is Winifred Eugenia Blowfish. She is a horrid harpy who praises mediocre bullshit and entices me to sofa sitting, Downton Abbey watching utopia. Or perhaps, she is merely personified writer’s block. Never quite sure.).

In the search for quality, I wrote nothing. I waited for the right conditions to write–kids in bed, husband distracted with video games, dogs snoring and farting very far away from my desk. Then, I bought new pens and purple legal pads and neon green Post-It notes. No quality writing. In my mind, I created everything I need for some kick ass poetry and prose. But the blinking cursor counted each second like a scowling metronome .

But what if I were focused on the wrong thing? What if it isn’t quality, but quantity?

Somehow, I existed underneath the hegemonic rule of my quality driven muse. I needed a paradigm shifting, parallel writing universe where I could simply write and write and write eschewing grammar, syntax, and stuffy formalities. Perhaps, I suffered from the classic writer’s block lie–if it isn’t amazing the first time, it isn’t worth writing. I berated myself for not writing like a mother scolds her children for untidy rooms. The passion, the enjoyment seeped out, and in its place, I found nothing.

But when I would sit in writing class, I threw off my need to perfect. Relaxed and allowed the words to flow trippingly on the tongue or in this case, the pen (ahh, Hamlet, I do so love thee).  I didn’t self-edit. There wasn’t time. I focused not on quality, but getting those damn words out on paper. Giving life to those faded memories, blowing the dust off my imagination, I gave myself permission to fuck up as a writer.

So, I became  The Queen of Quantity.

For May, I am committing to writing in mass quantity. Lots of shitty first drafts cobbled together, but it will all be inked out upon paper. My writing goal is to fill one 70 page notebook before the end of this month. And all this month, I am going to blog about this quantity over quality journey. Perhaps, I shall let you see a few first drafts. Perhaps, not.

Question: What has been the most freeing moment for you as a writer, artist, or person?

 

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Rose Wind

Winds whips us

Like chastised school children

Red-faced, we breath deep cold Spring’s air.

Before the next gust catches us unawares,

We run. Shoes tumble, dog paws gallop

Over hill and grass and weeds.

Up the slope, up toward yellow house,

Up toward bushes, Up toward last year’s roses

There, standing erect with tight heads,

An orange bloom clinging tightly to its petals,

A miser of sorts unwilling to part

With her new spring clothing.

For a moment, we pause

Until the next burst of wind

Blows us away.

 

Today, I am linking up with Joy in this Journey and Life UnMasked. Come share your post here.

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Dog

Dear God,

Sometimes,

I think

You slip quietly

Into my dog’s skin.

Cold nose, soft paws,

Fur that clings to my jeans.

Maybe,

You choose a dog form

During bleak times,

Dark sunny days

When no comfort

Exists–save for Your

Tear-licking snout.

Perhaps,

When You Dress up

In Dog’s clothing,

The nose-nuzzles,

The warm heart beat closeness,

So I can best

Feel Your Love.

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Clay

We are the clay people.

Dirt shod.

Dirt worked.

Dirt returned.

We are the clay people.

Wretched weak,

Formed of dust,

God’s hand-sculpted art.

We are the clay people.

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Poet Prayer’s: Good- Bye

Today, I’m linking up with Lisa Jo’s Five Minute Friday prompt. Each Friday, we write for 5 minutes, then publish…no editing allowed.

Topic: Good- Bye

Photo courtesy of Alejandra Mavroski and Flickr Creative Commons

Start:

Dear God,

Today,

We sit farther apart.

The distance grows

Like the dust

Beneath our feet.

The miles, the miles,

We tread away from each other.

You to Your Father,

Mine to do Your Work.

Perhaps,

We whisper

Good-bye,

A last word

To break our silence.

Tomorrow,

We shall notice

Each other’s

Bodily absence,

But–

Another day comes

When You and I

Shall reunite.

Stop.

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Sun Sick: A Poem

We are sun-sick

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and Kevin Dooley

Rain weary,

Dried up drowning.

Our Hearts

Filled to the brim

Empty.

Sweat stained dirt

Crushed under trowel

Of our laziness.

We are broken-healed

Pieces in a whole

Torn up cosmos.

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Of Poetry and Process

I am a writer. 

For almost year, I have grown comfortable in writer’s clothes, the garb of imagery, the scarf of dialogue, the perfume of ink dripped on paper. I meandered through my writing closet choosing which clothes and outfits to present on this blog. What statement would be mine unique voice? What delicate nuanced twist would captivate me again, my readers again?

I didn’t have an answer.

Like so many writers, our passion dulls. We resort to pulling out the old hats, the worn out phrases, the thrift store shoes just to keep plugging along this writing life. Of course, I could write about feminism and women’s rights and tell stories about my children just to watch my blog’s stats soar. But after while, the familiar becomes worn thin, thread bare prose. Lifeless, grim, and uninspired.

Even after asking you, my dear readers, I knew that this blog needed a change long before I posed the question. I needed to escape the familiar and dig deeper into my writerly closet. To push into the back recesses, behind the faded curtains, the cobwebs, the dust. I long stuffed behind elegant prose, random attempts at blogging about faith and women’s rights –using a voice not entirely mine own. There, in the depths, I found my new purpose to peck out words about screen. A name, a new wardrobe.

I am a poet.

I am not so comfortable with these new clothes. Maybe, I have seen too many poets parading their wares like open confessionals or watched poets vomit up rhyming nonsense. Of course, it must be poetry if it rhymes. If calling myself a writer didn’t make me a freak show, calling myself a poet AND publishing it to blog certainly qualifies me.Besides, I dabbled in poetry here on the blog always disappointed when no one commented, no one read , or no one seemed to care. And I returned the familiar writing topics that garnered more notice, but burning inside me is a poet’s soul.

Slowly, I am warming up to this idea of being a poet, and this blog will house more poetry, fewer prose pieces(I will  still  keep up the ol’writing skills, eh?), more short articles about my process or lack thereof. For now, this is my blog’s story–of poetry and process.

So, dear reader, will you allow me the privilege of offering you a few more poems, a few more haikus, a few more  poet prayers?

Today, I am linking up with Joy in this Journey’s Life Unmasked. Link up and share your stories of every day messes.

 

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Wrong

Dear God, 

You gave me

The wrong genitalia.

The right one:

Stands and preaches.

Mine only:

Aches and bleeds.

 

This hidden

Sorrow courses

Up these veins

To pierce

My already wounded

Heart.

 

Till tears

Become my words.

Silent words,

Since Your mistake

Holds my tongue.

 

But perhaps,

You understand

How to be silent too.

To hold Your tongue,

To choke back Your words,

To drown in tears,

For an over-talking

World.

 

Today,

We sit together

Two bleeding and broken–

You by choice–

Me by nature–

Just simply

To cry.

Today, I’m linking up with Joy in This Journey’s Life Unmasked. Please go read the other submissions and link up one of your own.

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What’s This Blog’s Story?

Where the storytelling happens

We are all storytellers.

Whether we write, sing, click and capture the moment–we tell our stories. I’m writer. Words, my tools, and I share some stories here. Because this is my quiet piece of internet real estate, a small respite, sometimes, a sanctuary. This is my art, my gallery, always a work-in-progress.

Every good artist rethinks her work.

In May, I will have done this blogging thing for 2 years. Most of this time, I floundered and blogged as I felt. But slowly, I know this can’t continue. I need purpose…a reason to keep writing here. I hear rebranding bandied about by other bloggers, finding focus will help gain a following. But as I thought about my blog, I have no idea where my focus should be  or where to go from here.

So may I entreat your help?

In the comment section below, would you share 3 words that describe this blog(or 2 or 1, not particular)? What do I do well? What would you enjoy reading?

Thank you, friends.

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