Writing: being in the middle

Social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter have me thinking about all the books I haven’t written and all the planned creative work that sits on the shelves in my mind and office. I curl up my toes at the photos of people who are seemingly doing it all. They are guest appearing and guest blogging all over America, while getting their writing published. On my good days, I cheer the completed projects and am contented to be connected with such illustrious  people. On gloomy days, I ponder all I haven’t done yet.

I remember being taken aback when I went to Julia Alvarez’s website that showed the covers of her published books and a note that said something to the effect of ‘I’m not blogging because I’m writing.’ Boo-yah! This was on the heels of being advised of the necessity of blogging to connect with readers and writers alike. I’m told my writing career depends on it.

If you take a good look at my blog post dates you’ll see I don’t blog all that often. People haven’t swarmed to read every word and make insightful and inciteful comments. On a day of light, I congratulate myself on the creative work I’ve offered to the Universe and on a somber day, think it’s never enough and possibly, I’m not enough. Being in the middle is a perfect reminder that ‘shoulds ‘and ‘coulds’ are to be avoided in my vocabulary of words.

As a ‘literati’ (dubbed years ago by my doctoral dissertation chair) which can be defined as one of the educated class or one interested in literature (I like the second definition better, yup) I must be true to the rhythm of the words that flow through me and to the ever changing patterns of life. I’m well aware that to compare is to despair.

I’m proud of the creative work I’ve completed and birthed into the world and excited about the new creations waiting to be born. Gestation periods vary, some creations are birthed rather quickly, others are high risk and need extra help, while others are endured and enjoyed simultaneously. It’s essential for me as a writer to ‘be in the middle’ and do my part just for today.

Blogging has helped me to develop the muscle of not ruminating over a brief written piece, to happily realize I can change my mind about my opinions, and to continue developing my voice on paper. I also get the pleasure of sharing myself with others and that is something that is often missing in the isolation of writing as a practice. So for today, I will blog, as well as continue digging into my other projects. A few are standing in the wings, readying to take their places on stage.

Happy writing!

Writing: From Prose to Play

PRTTAt my playwright unit at The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, one of my fellow members mentioned that I was already a writer when I started the school year. While that is true I was quick to interject that I'm brand new in terms of playwriting. Somehow or another my journey has taken me to this very new world and one that I am totally loving.

When I was still struggling with my first drafts of my novel, Covering the Sun with My Hand, a friend/producer saw the possibilities of the prose turning into play. I hadn't even finished the book and had quite a ways to go. What she did was to plant the seed for future growth. We chatted over it at dinner and stole some office time creating the vision. This was over five years ago and we both moved on but the seeds began to grow slowly.

The tender green shoots are starting to emerge from the fertile earth. While the novel was published in 2013 it's only since Autumn of 2014 that I've seriously sat to craft the play. The guidance of the directors, Mario Golden and Andreas Robertz, at the PRTT, along with my peers have helped immeasurably in the process. This is not one of those things one should do alone. Some of it, yes, all of it, impossible!

Playwrighting is not an alchemical process. I get to sit and develop dialogue without the pleasure of explaining ideas and concepts through my character's thoughts. It's all action! I critique the other student plays, listen to their opinions and possible solutions about each other's various scenes and monologues. I get to sit quietly and pay close attention to what they've suggested for my work and go home and work some more. Very unglamorously glamorous. I carry this process wherever I go, on the train, in the supermarket, and often jot down notes wherever I happen to be. Much of this is like my novel writing but also very different. 

If I'd been told I was going to be a novelist I wouldn't have believed it. Playwrighting is yet another thing that has taken me by surprise. Recently during one of my morning meditative runs I felt the presence of my mother who crossed over about fifteen years ago. Her loving energy along with her pride infused me. I know that my childhood filled with outings to Broadway plays and musicals is the compost that enriched the soil. The nutrient rich humus of my early life have made today possible. I've been preparing to be a playwright for a lifetime. My mom wanted me to know something different than the life we inhabited on the daily. Our lives were good but she wanted me to experience other things than what was on the street in the Park Slope of Old.

On May 20, 2015 I will be sitting in the audience of a beautiful theatre once again. The difference is that this time I will be listening to the words that I put down on paper, creating a story of a family that is troubled yet whose members are devoted to one another. I so look forward to also hearing the words of my fellow PRTT playwright unit members come to life on stage. 

This evening of reading is an open event and free to the public. Check out the details for this and other events at http:pregonesprtt.org

Hope to see you there.
-Let's do something new together. 

Writing: Reading one’s work

I spent a good part of my Friday writing poetry. I was really happy about what I wrote and decided to share one of my ‘poignant’ pieces with my spouse. Since we’ve talked about poetry being memoir, she looked at me quizzically and asked if what I wrote really happened to me. It had. She continued to ask me questions about events and feelings that I thought were quite apparent in the piece. I guess I should have reread it a few times, aloud, before reading it to someone else.

Reading and rereading one’s work aloud is highly recommended. It sounds different. Errors are caught that are easily missed when reading in one’s ‘head.’ The piece I read to my spouse sounded flat even to my own ears. In my mind’s eye, the images were real and colorful. The rhythm of the words was there until they came out of my mouth.

It’s interesting how I can spend long minutes on social media- reading stuff that is not at all meaningful and that whittles away at my quality time. I should use some of that valuable time doing valuable things. Sometimes when I do read something I wrote out loud I rush through it. I get bored. I don’t like it very much. These are exactly the reasons that I should take the time with my work that it deserves. It actually may not be at all good and should go out with the trash. Sometimes I’ve listened to readers who just say words out loud and don’t really seem to be sharing a message. The pieces are a bit like ‘word salad’ or ‘echolalia.’ Just because it rhymes doesn’t mean anything. If a writer is writing to impress with extraordinary vocabulary, make sure that piece is read with extraordinary people. Most of us, maybe just me, wants to enjoy what we are listening to and not trying to figure it out.

For myself, I will go back to that poem and redo it. The tale behind it is worth it. I’ll read it loudly in my living room. I may even eventually like it and then when it’s ready I’ll share it with someone else.

Writing: according to nature’s laws

There are seasons for a reason, I suppose. I look around at the barren trees and know for sure that they will be abundant with leaves during the coming Spring. When I garden, I do so in accordance with the higher laws of nature. I won’t sow seeds in December, that is a time for quiet; the time to be still and empty, readying for the time of growth.

It’s the same with writing. I designate a couple of days a week for ‘serious’ writing- whatever that means. Sometimes life taps me on the shoulder and reminds that I have other things to do; visit friends or family, go on errands or take care of a cold by wrapping myself up in blankets while sipping on a hot cup of tea. If I listen to the laws of nature it’s important for me not to get too rigid about my writing schedule.

A woman I knew once told me about her father who was a fairly appreciated author. She said he would close himself in his office after dinner each evening so he could write. For me, this image is a poignant one. The closing of that door seems quite interesting. For him, I’m sure, it was an image of fulfilling one’s dream and promise as a published author when he entered his office filled with his beloved writing tools. For her, the door closing signified a time to be separate from her father who was away at work all day. The melancholic tone in her voice told me it was an image she regrets from her childhood.

As I write this, I think I am giving myself permission to interact with my loved ones. I can use my train time for writing my poetry, jotting notes about the characters in my current project, and meditate on the course of action that a particular protagonist is taking. There have been times that I’ve not been pleased to put the pen down and then have been blessed with a particular insight or observation that enhances my writing. So for today, I will write according to nature’s laws.

Pluma y Tinta is at it again!

What could be better than drinks, readings, and people on a midsummer’s eve in Park Slope?

Join us!

July 17 at 7pm

Pacific Standard
82 Fourth Avenue
Brooklyn, near Bergen Street

Brooklyn Pub Lit Crawl 2014

La Pluma y La Tinta presents When Brooklyn Was Brooklyn

Join us for an evening of great reads

Saturday May 17th, 2014

Lit Crawl: The Brazen Head (21+)

228 Atlantic Avenue, 7 – 8PM

hosted by Raquel Penzo


Blu Daniels

Alicia Anabel Santos

Rebeca Lois Lucret

Theresa Varela


New Voices Reading Series Fifth Anniversary

Come join us at 4pm on April 27, 2014 at Simplicity Wine Bar 310 Malcolm X Blvd. Brooklyn, NY 11223

The New Voices Series Reading Anthology will be available for purchase. I’m happy to have a short story included in the anthology.




Guilt in blogging

A friend told me that blogs seem to be guilt inducing. It seems that almost every time she visited a blog the latest posts were apologies for not posting regularly. I took that to heart. I’ve done that myself often enough. So what is the deal around that? It made me think of the phone calls that I haven’t returned yet. I want to. It’s just that I haven’t gotten around to them. I value the people. I value my time. What are my reasons for blogging? I want to blog when I have something to say- just like telephone calling.

Maintaining a relationship with my website is important. I had a web designer look at it.  Her feedback was that it was an “older model.” That it should be sharpened to keep up with the more successful bloggers. After talking around the possibilities she couldn’t come up with ideas and it remains as “older model.” Sometimes I’m psyched to change it around. But the truth is that I like my turtle and colors although I get into a quasi panic every time I read a post warning against light lettering against a dark background. Something about “over forty” eyes. I’ve got those too. Older models.

Every once in a while I check out new templates. They’re okay. I may switch up when I find the right one. I’m far away from being the anti-blogger I used to be. Blogging is like anything else. Other things come up and it gets pushed to the side for a while. I may not be blogging but I may be channeling a poem, revising a chapter, musing about character pathology or cleaning my bathroom.

Some people use their websites to tout their books, announce events, share links, fundraise or do interviews on exciting and creative people. I’ve done all of those at some time or other- except for fundraise. Whatever floats your boat.

I’m not apologizing for infrequent blogging. I’m not feeling guilty. I’m accepting my relationship with it.

Happy blogging!