7 Things That Saved My Writing Life in 2021

  1. Writing Utensil Pouch: 2021 was a year of flexible workspace. The Delde pencil pouch made the transition from virtual to hybrid to in-person instruction feel a little bit calmer. I loved how the pouch converted to a cup which made my dining room and bedroom feel like an official workspace.
  2. Artist Loft Dotted Journals: Dotted journals allowed me to move from from my pre-planning, which often involves sketching and concept maps, to drafting. Artist Loft journals were also inexpensive and sturdy which meant I never felt like they were too precious for daily pages and I took them with me everywhere. (Carpool line. Doctor’s office. Skating rink. Park.)
  3. South Carolina Literary Organizations: The South Carolina Writer’s Association, the Poetry Society of South Carolina, and the Pat Conroy Literary Center stayed committed to providing high quality literary experiences in the midst of a world-wide pandemic. Thanks to their commitment to digitizing events, I was able to attend more workshops, conferences, and meetings than ever before. I realize this pivot required hours of behind the scene work by committed volunteers. Their passion and dedication was a gift.
  4. Dark Chocolate: Need I say more?
  5. Hot Cinnamon Sunset Tea: If I were a hot tea, I would be Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset Tea. The blend is spicy and sweet and the tea bags are strong enough to be used for a second cup. I purchase mine in the grocery aisle at Target, but Fresh Market also carries the tea. You can order online as well. As an added bonus, you can re-purpose the tin as a planter.
  6. Fellow Writers: In 2021, writing felt lonelier than ever. Thankfully, writers all over the world helped me feel connected with a swipe, tap, or click. These amazing creators provided valuable instruction that energized my writing practice. Additionally, when it was safe, I was able to meet up with other poets to walk and talk craft. Their encouragement and insight encouraged me to keep writing.
  7. Richland County Public Library: My library’s selection of books and resources is phenomenal. Access to materials such as audio books, music, and hardcover best sellers provided the escape and relief I needed to return to the real world refreshed.
Seriously, this tea is the best.

Christmas Cow & Reading Poetry During a Pandemic

I am delighted to have three poems published in Vol. 52. of Broken Ink. Check out their website or swing by USC Aiken to snag a copy. Wednesday night, I attended Broken Ink’s release party in Aiken, South Carolina to read a few of my poems. Since the pandemic, I have basically been a hermit in my shell/home. Maybe that’s why it was heartening to be surrounded (and spread 6ft. out) by so many people who love the arts.

Reading in front of a crowd with a mask on, however, was a strange experience. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-mask. I am happy to wear one so we can gather in courtyards to share art safely. I just felt like I was going to swallow the cloth or worse choke on it. Plus, I don’t like the smell/taste/feel of my own breath. I also wondered what was happening beneath the masks in the crowd. Were they smiling, frowning, quietly booing? I will never know.

Below you will find audio links for two poems: Christmas Cow and A Conversation with an Opposum Nesting in a School Trash Bin which both appear in broken ink . They were both acknowledged for Washington Awards. While you’re at it, take a moment to read Allie Pizzemento’s award winning prose too. Like Christmas Cow, it is set in December (and no, we did not plan that out). If you enjoy her work, there is more good stuff on her blog. If it seems to soon to hear a poem like Christmas Cow, keep in mind, there are only 79 days until Christmas.

Christmas Cow by Danielle Ann Verwers
A Conversation With an Opossum Nesting in a School’s Trash Bin by Danielle Ann Verwers

On Writing During a Pandemic

In some ways the pandemic  thwarted my writing progress. Pre-pandemic, I had a steady routine and a solid plan. But low-level stress over the past several months has shaken my routine and caused me to abandon said plan.  It’s also caused me to carry a full-size bottle of Lysol in my purse so I can disinfect shopping carts at the grocery store and chairs in the waiting room. Perhaps, this strikes you as overzelous, but this is for your benefit, not mine. Because, if there is anyone out there who is an asymptomatic carrier, I’m pretty sure it’s me.

I’m not very self-aware when it comes to my body. When my appendix ruptured years ago, I decided to go for a stroll so I could walk off what I assumed were stomach cramps.  When that didn’t work, I tried drinking water (which cures everything, right?) until my husband made me go to the E.R.  I was promptly rushed to the operating room for an emergency surgery.  Suffice it to say, my mind-body connection is a little off so consider the Lysol spray a courtesy.

Between the clouds of disinfectant, I am still writing, just not what I hoped to be writing. Currently, my big project is on hold. With the ever-changing news I just can’t maintain the necessary level of engagement to move forward.  It’s too hard to sustain focus and the nature of the project demands attention to detail.  Anyone else feel this way right now?

However,  my poetry collection is coming along nicely and guess what?  A poem from the collection was published in the Eastern Iowa Review! The witty Chila Woychik edits the online journal which features lyric essays and poetic prose.  So if you need somthing to take your mind off of Covid-19, check it out and don’t forget to read my recent poem about the weather.

 

Gullah Geechee Queen

I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Petigru Review for selecting my poem, Gullah Geechee Queen, for their most recent issue.  The poem is a part of a larger collection exploring life in the modern South.

Jane Bowers, Sue Cryer, and Amber Wheeler Bacon have created an elegant compilation of writing to be enjoyed at your leisure. The readers, designers, and photographers of the Petigru Review have curated a reading experience you don’t want to miss.

Is your budget tight?  No worries.  Amazingly, the online publication is FREE!

Check out my poem, Gullah Geechee Queen at: https://thepetigrureview.com/1104-2/

And make time to read the other pieces at: https://thepetigrureview.com/

On Writing, Failure, and Writing

National Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo) ended yesterday. I love the hype. I love the energy. And I love a good challenge. Naturally I accepted the task at hand: write 50,000 words in one month. Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? No

Throughout the challenge, life didn’t extend the courtesy of pausing or at the very least, slowing down. Instead it raced ahead. During November, I studied for college classes, took a Praxis exam, spent over 30 hours driving to a funeral, hosted a birthday party, taught a few lessons to high school students, took one daughter to the doctor and took another daughter to have surgery, cleaned up after several children when they became ill from a stomach bug, waited for my husband to return home from two out of state trips, and looked after my five children.

Whew!

It’s no surprise that I failed the NaNoWriMo challenge. I wrote until the very last minute and fell short.  But I managed an impressive 48,658 words- less than 1,500 words shy of my 50,000 goal.

In terms of the challenge, I’m a loser. I didn’t win the NaNoWriMo challenge. I didn’t plan for my children to get sick or an uncle to die. But things happen. This is real life. The real challenge isn’t just about winning. The real challenge is writing during adversity and finding satisfaction in the work. I learned I can  rise to the occasion, tackle a project, and finish better than I started.

Like it or not, failure is part of the journey.

November may have brought you beautiful highs. Or maybe, like me, it brought you unexpected obstacles. Whatever the case, keep moving forward.

I will reach my word count goal no later than Tuesday. After that, I have my work cut out for me as I revise and redraft. Word by word. Line by line.

Writing. Failing. And writing again.