Good Sunday morning and welcome to my front porch for Sunday Morning Tea!
For the uninitiated, Sunday Morning Tea is my virtual writing salon, where we talk about our writing goals and projects while sipping on a hot cuppa tea!
This morning, I’m drinking my second-favorite tea blend, Stash’s Wild Raspberry Hibiscus (previously my favorite before I discovered Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice and swiftly became addicted). I’ve never been a big fan of herbal tea, my mom is a black tea drinker, and I am my mother’s daughter, so I drink it too.
To clarify, she’s a drinker of black tea, though she is also Black, so…unintentional pun there! 😀
My aunt was that one who introduced me to the hibiscus tea, and immediately I was hooked on the floral aroma, the tangy sweetness. I like to have it with a lemon wedge and a teaspoon of honey.
I used to buy this tea at one of my favorite health foods stores—the only store in town that seemingly had the tea in stock—and when the store went out of business, I was devastated. But my mom ordered me a year’s supply on Stash’s website that Christmas, which I probably could have done myself, but I was a happy girl either way!
Anyway, enough about tea. Let’s talk about writing, shall we?
With the month of November right around the corner, the one thing on every writer’s mind right now is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Will you be participating this year? Me, I haven’t made a decision yet. There’s a story that’s been brewing all October, but I’m not sure if now’s the right time to write it. I haven’t done any planning, but then again, a few years ago I spent a whole month planning for NaNoWriMo and still didn’t write the novel, so at this point I have nothing to lose.
I’m in the middle of drafting up an Insecure Writer’s Support Group post about it, which will go up this Wednesday…
Can we pause so I can give myself a pat on the back for staying committed to participating in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop every month? I’ve even been drafting my answers to the monthly questions ahead of time to make sure I don’t miss it! Yay me for not procrastinating something! I told myself I wouldn’t add my blog back to the linky tool until I could contribute to at least three events, and this one coming up will be number three. I’m so proud! Okay, back to tea…
Another writing challenge happening in November is the Writer’s Digest November Poem-a-Day Chapbook Challenge. The challenge, as the title suggests, is to write a poem every day in November, and then use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect the poems into a chapbook manuscript. I’d never heard of this challenge until recently—and I’m supposedly subscribed to Writer’s Digest—but it gave me an idea.
Several years ago, in my early years of blogging, I started something called the No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge, in which I challenged myself to write a new poem everyday (initially I didn’t have a time limit, but it ended up being for 30 days). I’ve always considered myself a fiction writer first, ever since I was young enough to write. But because my dad was a musician and songwriter (and I was such a daddy’s girl), writing in verse has always intrigued me. But depending on who you talk to, the world of poetry can be blocked off by gatekeepers.
If it doesn’t have a rhyme scheme, is it a poem? If it isn’t written in metered verse, is it a poem? If it sounds too much like prose, is it a poem?
Back when I was regularly submitting to literary journals, I received a particularly confidence-killing rejection letter for a poem that I admit wasn’t my best, but I still felt personally attacked as a writer and poet when I read the journal editor’s feedback. “…sounds too much like prose, lacks lyricism, has no purpose in the enjambment or the arrangement of the lines…” It would’ve been better if they had just said the generic “your poem isn’t a good fit for our journal.” It would’ve felt less like a dagger in the heart.
But something I learned in a poetry writing class in college is that these rules of poetry writing are superficial, written by a bunch of talentless English professors and reviewers who think all “good” poetry should mimic that of Shakespeare or Keats because they are jealous they don’t have those skills themselves. Art is what we make it, and if we create something and call it a poem, who are they to tell us that it’s not? Whether it rhymes or not, has a meter or not, invokes an emotion or not, paints a single striking image or not, it is a poem.
So when I started NHBPWC, it was my intention to prove that anything can be a poem. Write what you want, without restriction (“no holds barred”), and call it a poem, dammit! Because that’s what it is. And because of that, my inspiration and motivation for poetry writing, which had dried up thanks to that terrible rejection letter, flourished once again, and the well overflowed with beautiful poetry.
Some of my favorite poems were written at this time, and some of them I’ve collected into a chapbook manuscript that I’ve considered publishing for years now, long before A Kiss in Your Pocket. The poems in the collection describe a coming-of-age story, how a young woman found herself and, more importantly, discovered self-love out of the graveyard of a dead relationship. It’s semi-autobiographical, in that the original title of the chapbook was Letters to [insert ex’s middle name here]. I’ve since changed it to She Has Something to Say, as these poems are about her, not him, and they amplify her voice, finally, after so many years of being silenced.
A journal that I’ve been published in before currently has an open call for chapbook submissions. I think I’ll send mine, after a few more revisions. Though I’m sure I’ll be up against stiff competition, whether the chapbook is accepted or rejected isn’t my biggest concern. I’m just happy that this opportunity is helping me to rediscover the love I once had for writing poetry. And while I probably won’t do the Writer’s Digest contest, which involves going to their website each day to get a prompt, I think I will bring back my No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge, just to get myself to write a poem every day again.
…and also to prepare for BlaPoWriMo, which isn’t too far away.
So if you would like to join that party, whether it’s the Writer’s Digest contest or my challenge, I’d love to hear about it! As I said previously, my challenge has no rules—no holds barred, remember. But if you need a prompt to inspire you, you can use the ones that will be posted on WritersDigest.com or you can check out my Morning Inspirations, which for November, will be short, one- or two-word prompts to help inspire your poetic creativity. If you plan to post your poems on your blog, tag them “NHBPWC 2022” so I can find them in the WordPress Reader. Or, if you just want to cheer me on with a “Like” or “Comment,” I welcome those too!
Happy writing! And I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday!