Why Haikus?

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot of haikus.

I’ve always enjoyed them–I like the simplicity of the form, the way you can let this small piece of poetry that packs a punch just digest for a moment.  I love books of haikus and other short poetry, where you get some blank space to frame that little morsel so that your brain can feast without distraction.  A few of my favorite sources for short poetry:

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And then there’s writing them.  I love the puzzle of trying to express something within the haiku’s parameters, deciding on words, line breaks, and images, without stepping outside the bounds of 5-7-5…unless I really decide that I should.

Since my little one came along, I’ve been writing more haikus (or poetry using haiku stanzas) than ever before.  Why?  It’s easier to compose haikus than longer works while the baby sleeps in my arms.  I type with one hand so that I can avoid moving so much that she wakes up and cries.  This is a huge advantage of the haiku.  Expect to see more!

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Three Line Thursday Light Lines Anthology Release! Happy National Poetry Day!

Exciting news!

Three Line Thursday

I’ve tried, as often as I can, to participate in the weekly competition run by poet Grace Black, Three Line Thursday.  Each week, Grace provides an inspiring image as a prompt, and asks that people write three lines (no more than 10 words per line) in response.  Anyone can participate by posting three lines in the comment section of the week’s competition page.  There is a fantastic community of writers there who are talented and supportive of one another.  On Saturday of each week, a winner, runners up, and special challenge winner are announced.

I’ve had a wonderful time challenging myself to get as much meaning as I can into 30 words or fewer.  I’ve learned a lot from reading the work of other talented writers there, and through this process.  I’m grateful to Grace for this continuing opportunity.

Over the past year, I’ve been honored to place in the top a few times, and even to be the winner once!  I was very excited to hear that Grace was planning to put together an anthology of poetry from the first full year of Three Line Thursday, including all the winners.  The poetry anthology was released today, October 8, 2015, just in time for National Poetry Day!  Winning poems from the past year appear in the collection, and Grace also gave us the chance to write an additional poem, following the same guidelines, for this year’s National Poetry Day theme: Light.

The anthology is called Light Lines.

I’ve ordered my copy and can’t wait to read the talented writers included there and be inspired, as I am every week at Three Line Thursday!  Thanks, Grace!

Speaking of Three Line Thursday, it is, in fact, Thursday, so it’s time to write and try out this fun and inclusive competition!  Or, as Grace would say, “come lay down ink” with the Three Line Thursday crowd!  If you order the anthology, let me know what you think!

Click here for U.S. link to order the anthology

Follow Three Line Thursday on Twitter

A Time of Firsts: My First Pregnancy and My First Novel-Writing Class

So I’ve puzzled a bit over whether or not to share this information on my blog, mostly because, though I’ve been open about my reading and writing, I haven’t shared much about my personal life here.  BUT…this is something that will affect every aspect of my life, including my writing, and I’ve been working on some poems around this topic, and if they evolve enough, I’ll likely include them here.  I’m about five months into my first pregnancy.  So far, so good.  A lot to think and feel, and moments that have been a bit overwhelming, but I’m on the road forward and looking ahead to a new family member this winter.

In other news, I thought I would try a novel-writing class this summer.  I took one poetry class and a few short story classes as an undergraduate.  As an English major, I did a concentration in creative writing and wrote a novella as my honors thesis.  So while I have taken creative writing classes before, I had never taken a class designed around a novel.  I’ve been to a couple of conferences and attended lectures and workshops on novel-writing, but haven’t done anything more long-term or intensive.

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I signed up for an online class called “Novel Builder” through the Grub Street organization.  A few friends of mine in my weekly writers’ group had taken Grub Street classes before and recommended them (despite the fact that they are a bit costly!).  I decided to go for it.  I have a draft of one novel complete, but have shelved that for future thought while I’m working on another novel, women’s fiction with paranormal elements.

Salesses

The course was taught by Matthew Salesses, who has several credentials in fiction and nonfiction writing, including a forthcoming novel, The Hundred-Year Flood.  (By the way, The Hundred-Year Flood is available for early reading through Kindle First, free for Prime readers.  I read it and really enjoyed it! – official release date 9/1/15.  Here’s the link to my brief, spoiler-free Goodreads review)

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Without giving away the content I’m sure Matt Salesses worked hard to put together, I definitely want to say that the course was worthwhile.  Based on the idea that many successful contemporary novels are comprised of twelve major scenes, the goal of the course was to write and receive feedback on six scenes.  Over the course of six weeks, we watched craft talk videos given by Salesses, read the novel excerpts he’d prepared, commented on our classmates’ scenes from previous weeks, and then posted our own scenes based on weekly prompts.

I found it was immensely helpful to consider the structure of a novel at length and from the angle that Salesses presented.  I was able to see my protagonist’s arc more clearly.  I was also able to more clearly see how I could make the plot accomplish what I wanted it to accomplish in order to get my characters where they needed to be.  I enjoyed my classmates’ writing very much, and benefited from their thoughtful feedback, as well as the feedback provided by Salesses.  We are all working on very different projects, but I found each story fascinating, and hope that I’ll be able to keep in touch with my classmates and read these novels in full when they’re ready.

Though I expect things to get very busy in the coming months, with my return to teaching and this pregnancy and whatever it brings, I hope to take another online class through Grub Street.  Feel free to write in about your own experiences or with any questions.  Based on my experience, I would definitely recommend taking a novel-writing class to move your novel forward, and in particular, I’d recommend this one; I can see online that it will run again through Grub Street, starting in October.  I’m hoping to keep putting in as much time as I can on my own novel and I feel a renewed confidence in my ability to finish it (and maybe before our future child is able to read) after taking the course.  Next steps: write the climax, figure out what the ending is for my secondary villain….

In other news, watch out for an anthology on the way from Three Line Thursdaymore news to come!

What’s been going on? I’ve been writing–I promise!

So, I’ve been negligent with regard to my blog lately!  I’ve been feeling guilty about that, but I have been writing!  It’s also been a busy time grading work and making sure my senior students have their ducks in a row for graduation (or at least doing as much as I can in the teacher role and trying not to feel too nervous about a few of them!).  It’s also been a busy time for my family…more to come on that later.

My main writing focus in the midst of the chaos has been three stories for the upcoming FlashDogs Solstice Anthology (coming soon!).  I won the opportunity to write for the anthology through participating in Three Line Thursday.  I’ve been getting wonderful feedback from Brian S. Creek and my writer’s group, and I feel pretty good about two out of three of the stories I’ve been preparing, but that third one still needs some work.

I’ve also been editing and submitting a short story with elements of dark fantasy, “What We Bring Home.”  I’m hoping I can find it a good home.  Though I’m working on a novel with paranormal elements, I’ve only submitted one paranormal story for publication before (“Not Safe” in Black Petals issue 70), so it has been an adventure doing research and figuring out where to submit.  I’ve been shooting high so far (Why not, right?  What is there to lose?) and have been rejected from Clarke’s WorldNightmare, and Apex.  I’ll let you know if I make some progress on this front!

I’ve also fallen behind on weekly prompts, but plan to get back in the habit!

“Returning” – Friday Fictioneers – Flash Fiction

This story was written for the weekly Friday Fictioneers photo prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted to Purple.  Check out her blog and click on the blue InLinkz frog below to read other stories and to add your own.

By the way, I have some news: I am honored to be the winner this week of the Three Line Thursday contest!  Check out the link to see the stunning photo prompt and to read my entry along with some other fabulous responses.  This context runs each week, so if you’re not writing three lines already, you could be very soon!

Copyright Douglas MacIlroy

Copyright Douglas MacIlroy

Returning

(100 words)

Struggling to see through the planet’s haze, they almost missed the station.

“Thank God,” Ray said.

“They must be worried,” Maya said.  “So long.  They—“

The station door was ajar.

They clutched their guns, advancing.

The only thing out of place was a large green stone in the center of the empty room.

“Maybe they went to find us?”

“No,” Maya said.  “We’d have seen them.”

She grimaced, aiming her gun at the green rock.  Suddenly, it began to crack and expand.  Unable to move, they watched until it became something with a mouth.  Then, it was too late.