If We Were Having Coffee…

Good morning! It’s finally September, right? Then I’ll have a pumpkin spiced latte. Hold the whipped cream. Almond milk, please. I’m taking a break from dairy.

Don’t look at me like that. I’m not becoming another one of those nondairy, plant-based, “eating animals is bad,” basic, valley, vegan chicks (just a basic pumpkin spice chick) flooding the interwebs…

But, I may be going… lactose intolerant.

I don’t know, can someone suddenly become lactose intolerant when they’ve never had an issue before? All I know is I’ve been having some major digestive problems whenever I eat or drink anything with dairy in it. Noticed it mostly with the butter I put in my food because I actually don’t drink cow’s milk anymore… unless it’s in coffee…or mac and cheese.

Haven’t noticed a problem with cheese yet, but if that happens, I think I will literally die.

There is no vegan substitute for cheese. Period.

With a “T.”

PERIODT!!!

It’s like tofu. I don’t care how you dress it up, I know it ain’t chicken. And no matter how much cashew milk and nutritional yeast you put in your little witch’s brew…IT DON’T TASTE LIKE CHEESE!

Fight me.

But we’re getting a bit off topic. Let’s talk about the real reason you’re here…

Where the frack have I been?

I know, I know. It’s been about three months since my last post—five months since the last time you saw a post from me daily (April A to Z Challenge). Do I have an explanation for my absence?

Nope.

Well, I do… but I’m not going to tell you because I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. (Still dealing with the inner trauma of an ex calling me a nagging complainer… *cue uncomfortable laugh*)

If you really must know, let’s just say computers have not been a friend to my eyes lately. The whole office environment, really. Have you ever notice how bright those florescent lights are? Geez, would it kill ya to put in a dimmer??

But seriously, I think I’m finally learning how hard it is to balance a day job with my creative passions. Because let’s be honest, at my last job, I hardly did anything. Just sat at a desk and answered a phone that rarely rang. The highlight of my day was organizing some files, okay?

Now that I’m in a world of deadlines and production spikes and ever-changing style guides and meeting an editing proficiency of four pages per hour (which can sometimes be difficult when the material is really dense, poorly written, or God forbid, ESL!) all under too bright florescent lights and computer backlights, ya girl is T-I-R-E-D.

There, I said it. There’s your explanation.

When I come home from work, sometimes I just want to lie in bed, in the dark, with a cool, wet compress over my eyes. Getting back on a computer is furthest from my mind, unfortunately for you guys. Though, I appreciate those who still come back to visit my old posts.

And especially on those occasions when I do muster up the energy to write something and post, I thank you for giving me a second chance at entertaining you…

Like today…

Even though it’s with less than 600 words…

And it’s not fiction or poetry.

Hopefully, that will come back soon. When I’ve emptied my mind of all my work-related obsessions and stresses and have left them…at work.

And hopefully, it won’t be another three months before you hear from me again.

But for now, I have to say goodbye. I must rest my eyes.

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A Kiss in Your Pocket: Pocket-Sized Love Poetry (#AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal)

So . . .

I’m sure you’re wondering . . .

Where the hell I’ve been . . .

The short answer . . . Getting my life together.

You’ve got to check in on us millennials every once in a while, you know. We’re quickly approaching 30, and we are not okay. 

The real answer . . . I really haven’t been writing much of anything lately. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s been so hard for me to write. Call it fear of failure, fear of success, lack of fresh ideas, writer’s block, an aversion to reading words on the computer because it already consumes my days at the 9-to-5—honestly, I don’t know why. I tried to figure it out in this post, but still, there’s really no straight answer. So, I’ve just been away.

But the good news is I’m back. And it’s no coincidence that it’s just in time for the A to Z Challenge, either. I’ve always enjoyed participating in this challenge, and if anything is going to force me to climb out from underneath my rock, it’s being challenged to write a new post every day (except on Sundays) for 26 days for each letter of the alphabet.

So, without further ado, let’s get into this very late theme reveal, shall we?

A Kiss in Your Pocket: Pocket-Sized Love Poetry

Maybe you’ve noticed my love haiku and love tankas that I post periodically on this blog?

I’ve always loved the Japanese poetry form, and the short love poem is something I’ve always enjoyed writing. Like a little note you’d write to a lover and leave for them to discover on their desk, or chair, or pillow just to surprise them and show how much you care for and cherish them.

So I had an idea, a few years back, of publishing some of my favorite love haiku and tankas in a chapbook . . . a chapbook of short love poems—pocket-sized ones, as the title suggests. I think the idea of A Kiss in Your Pocket was first inspired by my studies of early African American poet George Moses Horton, who sold personalized love poems to students for 25 to 75 cents apiece. I imagined him walking the streets around campus, a pocket full of scribblings of short love poems on paper. Passing them along to lovesick students for a couple of cents, who would then share them with loved ones and friends.

So here is my pocket full of love poems to you. However, to make things a little interesting, I just don’t want to write a poem to a lover, I want that lover to respond. So, I’ll be experimenting with two different kinds of Japanese poetry forms, ones specifically meant to be written between lovers: the sedoka (a pair of 5-7-7 or 5-7-5 syllable katauta, or half-poems that act as a question and answer conversation between lovers) and the somonka (two tankas written as two love letters between lovers).

Starting tomorrow, I’ll post the first half of the sedoka or somonka (the call), and the next day, I’ll post the lover’s response, continuing from A to Z. At the end of the month, I’ll have 13 pairs of pocket-sized love poems!

I hope you’ll enjoy them. And if you think I should definitely move forward with that chapbook idea, please leave me a comment below. Encouragement is the best motivation. 🙂

Nortina

#WeekendRewind: How To Master Show, Don’t Tell

I’ve noticed my current work in progress, Love Poetry, has been bogged down with a lot of “telling.” Looks like I could use a refresher course…

We all could.

K.M. Allan

Ah, show, don’t tell. One of the most spouted pieces of writing advice, and one of the most confusing.

When I first heard of it, I had no idea what it meant. Surely writing that my character “rose from her chair and walked across the room” was showing? Yes? No? Maybe? No. It’s a no. A hard no. It’s “telling” the reader what the character is doing (and in a very uninspired way).

Showing is using your words to create a picture in the reader’s mind. It’s using words to put them in the moment, to allow them to feel as if they are the characters. That it’s them “pulling their tired bones from the stiff seat and shuffling across the dusty floorboards”. It’s all about forging a connection between the reader and the characters. And it isn’t as confusing as you think.

How To Master Show, Don’t Tell

View original post 1,669 more words

What to Write for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is coming soon, and I’m considering taking the dive once again.

I don’t know why I continue to torture myself like this…

But I haven’t done any kind of planning or brainstorming, and although I have I plenty of works in progress (including a novella I’m considering giving a total revamp) half-baked ideas, and a current novel I haven’t yet started on, I want this potential NaNoWriMo novel to be 100% new.

Nothing I’ve started and stopped and started again…and stopped again.

Nothing that was once a passion but, after a year, has now become an afterthought.

Something my editor brain won’t overthink to the point that it’s debilitating.

Something I can approach as an adventure rather than potentially the next great American novel (that will only disappoint me when I read it again).

Something absolutely brand spanking new.

But what?

Maybe it’s because it’s almost Halloween, but I’m thinking of doing a ghost story. Nothing too scary, but something definitely spooky.

What do you think?

Tell me, what story should I write? I want to step out of my comfort zone a little. I’m sick of writing sad romance. Maybe a different genre will give me the boost I need to get to 50,000 words in one month for the first time ever!

It’s Worth the Mess: 3 Reasons to Keep Creating

Originally, today was supposed to be a Work in Progress Wednesday. I was going to post for you an excerpt from my current (and never-ending) WIP, Love Poetry, you were going to love it, I was going to be motivated to keep on writing and finish, and overall, it was going to be a happy day. Then I read the excerpt again…

Let’s just say I have a “mess” on my hands. A hot damn mess. Good thing I have Miss Candice here to encourage me to keep working on it.

Keep working, I shall. Check out her post if you, like me, are struggling with a messy project. 🙂

Waiting on the Day, Christmas Day — A Novella

October is just a week away, which means the holidays are quickly approaching, and I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of the holidays, my mind immediately goes to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans, specifically, Countdown

I’d like to revisit the story of Natasha, Mitchell, Renee, Bryan, Rita, and Antonio this year, but in a special way…

Bound together in a short, self-published novella kind of special way.

Ambitious given it’s already the end of September, and I haven’t even begun to tackle this monstrous beast! Will I have time when I’ve barely had time enough to write anything other than my name this year? And what about the cover? As graphically challenged as I am, who will do it (for little to no money), or will I save that money and keep it simple—a picture and some text would do, right?

I’m not sure of all the logistics yet, but one thing I do know is that the story IS written. And just this morning while lying in bed, I thought of a synopsis to go on the back cover…

Six friends. Six personal battles they must all face and conquer before one Christmas wedding.

Natasha and Mitchell have been in love since college, and finally they are ready to profess their love in front of all of their friends and family and God most of all on the most special day of the year, but will one hastened mistake derail the life they planned together before it even starts?

Bryan and Rita both have troublesome vices Renee is desperate to have them overcome before the year ends. For Bryan, it’s cursing like his drunkard, retired navy sailor grandfather. For Rita, it’s a lifetime of bad choice, usually involving the opposite sex. Will they finish the year in victory, or will the pressure to turn their lives around for the better be too great to handle?

Antonio is recently saved and struggles to come to terms with his new Christian life and the remnants of his past, sinful life in the form of his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, who repeatedly finds ways to get under his skin. Will he find a peaceful balance, or will he backslide into despair before he discovers the exuberance of being a follower of Christ during the most wonderful time of the year?

All of these stories come to a head on THE day, the day when most people celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. Christmas Day.

Will it be worth the wait?

If you’ve never read the original Countdown series, does this synopsis interest you? Would you want to read more? Would you want to read it in book form (more like Kindle form)? Let me know! I’m eager to get started. Christmas will be here before you know it!

The Struggle Is Real

I’m struggling, y’all. Struggling to find inspiration. Struggling to write something worth reading. Struggling to write anything that won’t get decimated when my trigger-happy finger presses the backspace key. I can’t even think of a good Monday’s #1MinFiction prompt. Hence why there hasn’t been one for the last two weeks.

I guess I’ve been busy. I got a new job editing “science-y” articles. I’m not a “science-y” person, and the “science-y” lingo is frying my brain. Who knows if that’s the true reason for this current bout with writer’s block, but that’s the excuse I’m going with for now.

Then again, I don’t really want to use it as an excuse, because I actually like my job… A LOT. Some nights, I sit up and think, “Wow, I actually made it. I actually found a job in my field. And it has benefits. Paid vacation. Paid holiday. An optional work from home week for the Fourth of July! All that money I wasted, er, paid (am still paying) for a degree actually means something now! Shoot, maybe I’ll get my degree framed. Maybe I’ll hang it up on the wall!” And it’s nights like those when I feel most inspired to write again, and I post encouraging tidbits like this.

But the fiction has been few and far between, the poetry even less. I don’t know why that is, I don’t know why the creativity in me is so spent, especially when the ideas have all been there. It’s the writing, the writing . The turning it into an actual story or poem, a piece of art (because what are writers if not artists?) that just can’t come together for me.

Recently, I received an email from Camp NaNoWriMo. Yes, camp is starting again, and I want to use this year’s camp to find my drive for writing again. Writing something, anything, even if it’s just 100 words a day, even if those 100 words are total rubbish, at least they’ll be rubbish that I wrote and rubbish that I was confident enough about to hit publish for. And no, I won’t wait until to July to get started. Any more waiting, and I’ll just talk myself right out of doing. I’ve been talking myself out of doing a lot of things for far too long. That ends today…

2018 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal: A Drabble about Tags

Almost three months ago exactly, I was deep in my 7 Things to Do Before 2018 list, on a mission to organize my blog before the new year. It was during this spree of deleting and restructuring that a gem fell right into my lap. Sadly, I had to wait until spring before I could tell anyone about it…

Despite being eager to reveal my 2018 A to Z Challenge theme since last Christmas, I come to you with my theme reveal a day late and a dollar short…

A 100-Word Story to Introduce My 2018 A to Z Challenge Theme

Delete. One page down. I think I deserve a pat on the back. Productivity score: 1. Procrastination: 0.

This blog clean-up will be a breeze! Only—I squint at the screen—173 more pages to go.

Procrastination creeping in. Why do I have so many tags? Half are for posts that don’t exist—wiped away in a previous purge—most have only been used once…

Like “100-word story.” Why? When I’ve written at least 100?

I select 20 more, drift the mouse toward “Bulk Delete,” when something catches my eye.

Accessory to murder… Only one story.

Hmm… How about another?

Have you figured it out yet?

The prompts are the tags!

Yes, from # to A to Z, I have literally thousands of tags in my blog archives, most of which have lost their companion stories over the years, others that have only ever had one…

Like “100-word story,” for which, before this post, surprisingly, only one story has ever made the cut.

So, starting this April, I’ll be giving some of my most interesting “lonely” tags another reason to shine on the blog.

Would you like to read more stories about becoming an accessory to murder? Or maybe you prefer to get lost in the Bermuda Triangle? Hell, let’s be serious here— you’re just waiting on the impending doom of a zombie apocalypse!

Well, all of those and more are coming to you in just 100 words (so the tag will have even more posts)!

See you in April!

How to Survive Two Weeks Without TV or Internet When You Uproot Your Life to Move to a New City for a Job Opportunity…

Step 1. Pick up a book.

Step 2. Read the book.

Black Poetry Writing Month: Traveling through Time…Contemporary Black Poetry

Welcome to Week 4 of BlaPoWriMo!

For the uninitiated, Black Poetry Writing Month (BlaPoWriMo) is a month-long writing challenge that combines the ambition of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) with the history, education, and self-reflection of Black History Month.
This year, we are going on a journey through the eras of black history and poetry.

How did you enjoy writing poems inspired by the Black Arts Movement? Were your poems angry? Defiant? Did your poems protest racism and the oppression of your people? Did you write your poems for and to your people? Did you “stick it to the man”? Did you put your fist in the air and shout, “Black Power”?

This past week of BlaPoWriMo was quite interesting because it coincided with the release of Black Panther, which was revolutionary itself! I swear, I didn’t plan that, but it’s wonderful how those things work out sometimes. 😉

By the way, if you missed last week’s Black Arts theme, don’t fret. Remember, these weekly themes are only optional, so if you want to continue writing poetry inspired by the Black Arts Movement, or last week’s era of the Harlem Renaissance, or even our first era of slavery, feel free to do so! Just remember to tag your posts BlaPoWriMo, so I can find them and give you a shoutout!
Now, let’s journey on to the next era: TODAY!

How can we best describe contemporary black poetry? That is, black poetry of today. While we’ve seen the cultural artistry continue from many poets since the Black Arts Movement, including from some of my favorites—Gwendolyn Brooks, Toi Dererricotte, Yusef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton—in recent years, some have begun to question whether black literature, as we’ve come to study it, still exists today.

African-American literature was the literature of a distinct historical period, namely, the era of constitutionally sanctioned segregation known as Jim Crow. . . . Like it or not, African-American literature was a Jim Crow phenomenon, which is to say, speaking from the standpoint of a post-Jim Crow world, African-American literature is history. While one can (and students of American literature certainly should) write about African-American literature as an object of study, one can no longer write African-American literature, any more than one can currently write Elizabethan literature.

Kenneth W. Warren, “Does African-American Literature Exist?” The Chronicle of Higher Education (2011)

Did it die with the Black Arts Movement? With the fall of Jim Crow? Does it deserve to still have its own section in the bookstores? Is it even its own genre today? Are we still “fighting the good fight”? Does our art still provide a voice to the disenfranchised African American? Do the characteristics of today’s contemporary black literature make it stand out specifically as black literature, or is it just American literature written by black people? Should I even continue with Black Poetry Writing Month next year? Is it a waste of time? A redundancy?
For our final week of BlaPoWriMo, let’s prove that there’s still a need for black poetry/literature in today’s generation.

There is still so much to talk about. Whether it’s politically—i.e. Black Lives Matter, this generation’s Civil Rights Movement against police brutality and the justice system’s unfair targeting of people of color. Or socially—the success of movies like Black Panther shows how essential it is for blacks to see themselves represented on the big screen in roles other than the subservient or criminal ones we’re used to seeing. Or financially—despite America being one of the richest countries in the world, many blacks still live in poverty, struggling to survive paycheck-to-paycheck, resorting to drug abuse and criminal behavior, etc. And what’s wrong with going back to the past every once in a while? The neo slave narrative, a genre all its own did just that, allowing us to revisit and deal with our past traumas in a fictional/poetic way.

Black poetry/literature may not be what it used to, but there’s still a purpose for it. So continue the discussion. This week and moving forward. And to get you started, here’s a poem that’s sure to find a spot in every black person’s heart, for those who do and who [embarrassingly] don’t know how to play Spades…

We Should Make a Documentary About Spades

And here is all we’ll need: a card deck, quartets of sun people
Of the sort found in black college dormitories, some vintage
Music, indiscriminate spirits, fried chicken, some paper,

A writing utensil, and a bottomless Saturday. We should explore
The origins of a derogatory word like spade as well as the word
For feeling alone in polite company. And also the implications
Of calling someone who is not your brother or sister,

Brother or Sister. So little is known of our past, we can imagine
Damn near anything. When I say maybe slaves held Spades
Tournaments on the anti-cruise ships bound for the Colonies,
You say when our ancestors were cooped on those ships

They were not yet slaves. Our groundbreaking film should begin
With a low-lit den in the Deep South and the deep fried voice
Of somebody’s grandmother holding smoke in her mouth
As she says, “The two of Diamonds trumps the two of Spades

In my house.” And at some point someone should tell the story
Where Jesus and the devil are Spades partners traveling
The juke joints of the 1930s. We could interview my uncle Junior
And definitely your skinny cousin Mary and any black man

Sitting at a card table wearing shades. Who do you suppose
Would win if Booker T and MLK were matched against Du Bois
And Malcolm X in a game of Spades? You say don’t talk
Across the table. Pay attention to the suits being played.

The object of the game is to communicate invisibly
With your teammate. I should concentrate. Do you suppose
We are here because we are lonely in some acute diasporafied
Way? This should be explored in our film about Spades.

Because it is one of the ways I am still learning what it is
To be black, tonight I am ready to master Spades. Four players
Bid a number of books. Each team adds the bids
Of the two partners, and the total is the number of books

That team must try to win. Is that not right? This is a game
That tests the boundary between mathematics and magic,
If you ask me. A bid must be intuitive like the itchiness
Of the your upper lip before you sip strange whiskey.

My mother did not drink, which is how I knew something
Was wrong with her, but she held a dry spot at the table
When couples came to play. It’s a scene from my history,
But this probably should not be mentioned in our documentary

About Spades. Renege is akin to the word for the shame
You feel watching someone else’s humiliation. Slapping
A card down must be as dramatic as hitting the face of a drum
With your palm, not hitting the face of a drum with a drumstick.

You say there may be the sort of outrage induced
By liquor, trash talk, and poor strategy, but it will fade
The way a watermark left on a table by a cold glass fades.
I suspect winning this sort of game makes you feel godly.

I’m good and ready for who ever we’re playing
Against tonight. I am trying to imagine our enemy.
I know you are not my enemy. You say there are no enemies
In Spades. Spades is a game our enemies do not play.

Terrance Hayes

So, are you ready for BlaPoWriMo?

You don’t have to be black to participate. This is not a space for discrimination but education. As long as you write a poem every day this month and your poem aligns with the theme for the week or focuses on blackness/race in general, there’s no reason not to join!

Be sure to add your links to the prompt posts for the week (ex. link your “Black Art” poems to this post) so others can read your poem. You can also tag your posts BlaPoWriMo so we can find you in the WordPress Reader.

By the way, I’m on Twitter! I previously created a separate account for BlaPoWriMo, but that became too much of a hassle, so follow me @Nortina_Mariela and tweet the hashtag #BlaPoWriMo. I’ll be retweeting your tweets all month long!

Will you join the challenge this month? I’m excited to see the poems you create!

Happy Black Poetry Writing Month!