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Entries in #women (12)

Wednesday
Mar262014

The Loyalty of Water: What's in a Name?

Guest post by Martha Gale

To my surprise, the most common question I got after publishing my first novel, Knowing Place, was not “how did you get the idea?” or “is it autobiographical?” It was “why did you use a pseudonym?”

It seemed obvious to me. My day job as Marti G. Parker is research and scientific writing. When I sit down to write fiction as Martha Gale, I change gears. Some people have a special pen or teapot, others have a writing shirt or muse socks. I take on a different name.

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Thursday
Mar132014

A Loyalty Rundown

It's been a month, and we've had some incredible pieces up already in this series on women and writing, both broadly defined, The Loyalty of Water. So here's a recap of what's happened so far, in case you've missed anything. There is more to come! And if you are interested in contributing yourself, find me via the contact page. New voices are always welcome.

The project itself:

There will be moments of pristine performance, true, moments when the hours on this project, the hours on that, the hours for the immediately-paying-work, the hours needed for this person, and the hours for myself, all carefully arranged and maximized, will look like an ancient Greek mosaic.

Those will only be brief moments. The rest of the time, things will more closely approximate a bag of skittles emptied on the kitchen floor. Maybe two bags. Of different flavors.

Allison Landa, Living with the Scratches:

And speaking of judging, let’s look at the Mary Oliver quote from which this experiment takes its name: creative work requires a loyalty as complete as the loyalty of water to the force of gravity. I don’t have that loyalty. My loyalty is to other things: lying on the couch, for one. Buttered popcorn, for another. The Food Network, and I can go on and on – but these are easy loyalties, cheap and simply won.

Kristina Weaver, Alphabet Fridge Magnets:

Bless you, toddler, for teaching me tolerance (as she licks off the floor the rice she just dumped there). 1/4/14

Lita Kurth, A Yin-Yang Tattoo:

I’m no Proust. Locked away in a closet for years, I produce not Remembrance of Things Past, but champion neuroses. We each must seek our unique balance; that’s been said many times. For me, community and family are vital, but I need to keep taking my own temperature, as it were, to make sure I’m not lopsided—or too lopsided for too long. At least, now, I have a constant reminder of the goal.

Melissa Sipin, Why Write?:

These are all the reasons why I write. But it doesn’t exactly answer the body of that second question: what are you goals as a writer? Especially when stacked against the backdrop of this descriptive data of who succeeds in the publishing world, and who does not, why continue writing with the goal of publishing? What is the end goal of publication? With publication comes inevitable rejection; rejection is the staple food of a writer’s life. And so are sacrifices. What do we sacrifice as writers, as women writers, as writers of color, as women writers of color? 

Kim Golden, That Old Familiar Feeling:

And picture this: an open-plan office in Stockholm on a gray winter day. I’m sitting in front of my computer screen writing product copy for a mascara. Apparently this one is different from the other mascaras I’ve written about. This one volumes and lengthens…though the others do that too. My To Do List still has way too many items on it, but I’m not making any progress. There are too many meetings, too many deadlines, too many people interrupting, just when I’m about to think of a new way to describe lashes. I tell myself I’ll write during my lunch break, but then someone schedules another meeting, so my planned hour of writing while having a sandwich and a latte dwindles to a quickie 20-minute lunch, no notebook in sight?

I’ll write at home…

Rebecca Foreman, Fermentables:

It’s magical how such simple ingredients—barley, water, hops, and yeast—can result in such different flavors and textures depending on where the ingredients come from and how they are added to the process. I feel a wonderful delirium when I think about beer. But when I get down to brewing, I focus strictly on quantities, temperatures, and times. Brewing requires discipline as well as devotion. Discipline is no fun without devotion, and devotion doesn’t take you anywhere without discipline. I’ve found this true in many pursuits, particularly writing.

We're doing pretty well for our first month. Thanks for checking it out!

Sunday
Mar092014

The Loyalty of Water: Fermentables

Guest post by Rebecca Lynn Foreman

Grains, sugar, and mash wort, the fermentables that will become a Trappist beer

I am obsessed with beer. I dream of brewing a big fat Belgian Trappist, 8% or 10% ABV, with complex interplay of malt and hops, accented by spicy notes. On the subway, I surf my iPhone for homebrew recipes. I take detours to “pass by” brewpubs when they have a rare brew on tap. It’s like falling in love.

This is recent. I only began homebrewing after New Year’s. It’s magical how such simple ingredients—barley, water, hops, and yeast—can result in such different flavors and textures depending on where the ingredients come from and how they are added to the process. I feel a wonderful delirium when I think about beer. But when I get down to brewing, I focus strictly on quantities, temperatures, and times. Brewing requires discipline as well as devotion. Discipline is no fun without devotion, and devotion doesn’t take you anywhere without discipline. I’ve found this true in many pursuits, particularly writing.

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Wednesday
Mar052014

The Loyalty of Water: That Old Familiar Feeling

Guest post by Kim Golden 

Picture this: a scruffy sports bar in Richmond, Virginia in the early 1990s. A group of young writers talking shop over pitchers of Sam Adams and bowls of greasy fries. We are all drunk on youth, on beer, on the freedom to write when and where we want. The warm summer night air is heavy with promise—of words written and words to write, of sex, of stories longing to be told. And yet…we didn’t care. Or perhaps we did, and just didn’t understand the gift we’d been given. 

Back then, we could spend all day, all night, writing and talking about writing. As students in Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program, we spent our mornings teaching or working in the Writing Center, our afternoons in cafés or in seminars, our evenings in creative writing workshops, and our nights in various bars imitating the writers we admired, writing drunk, editing sober. We took for granted that our lives would always be like this. I think we all imagined we’d continue our careers in the academia, teaching classes, hopefully on tenure track at some point, with our summers always free for road trips or writing in parks. The idea of having to balance our lives—of actually needing to carve out time for writing—never occurred to us. And most of the time, we wasted all of those precious hours when we could have been writing—we were too busy with our social lives or talking about writing instead of simply writing. 

Now fast forward fifteen-odd years.

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Wednesday
Feb262014

The Loyalty of Water: Why Write?

Guest post by Melissa R. Sipin

Why do you write? What are your goals as a writer?

These questions haunt me. Whether it’s late at night after hours of writing or in a seminar with Juliana Spahr, who forces us to read articles on the gatekeepers of literature, the MFA Machine, AWP and its capitalistic complications (like its rejection of the proposed panel, “Principled Protest in Academia: the Story of the University of Houston Sit-in,” and its acceptance of another that encouraged a third [and probably expensive] degree), or Kathi Week’s book, The Problem of Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries. Juliana asks us to create graphs, maps, and trees of prizewinners in recent Poets & Writers (How many men have won awards? Women? Let’s re-look at the VIDA Count), asks us to interrogate the data of who gets into this or that journal, and asks us to examine the trends of who gets published in this or that prize-winning collection (like Cliff Garstang’s Journal Ranking based upon the Pushcart anthology). She asks us: what do you do with this data?

Faced with all of this: why do you write?

It’s a difficult question for me to answer, if only because the reason why I write is an emotive, intellectual choice, almost like falling in love.

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