Tiredness and Writing

***This post does not contain spoilers for the movie Coraline but watch it anyways!

This past weekend I made the mistake of watching Coraline while being tired verging on sleep drunkenness (being so tired you start to act super loopy even if you’re sober). Suddenly, a movie I have watched multiple times before became a lot more terror-filled than my mind could comprehend. Scenes and dramatic plot shifts that before were a little creepy caused my body to curl as I continued to watch the movie. This made me wonder how much tiredness affects our physical bodies and how that in turn is transferred into our mental state. I felt that being mentally tired, I had less  resistance to fears that I could previously rationalize as just being part of a movie. Without the cognitive strength I possess when fully aware I became provoked to the very fears I already experienced and technically speaking “conquered”.

This moves me to my next point: a lot of writers tend to write at night, which makes sense given our daily academic tasks. I wonder if our minds process things different at night than when our minds are more generally aware. A lot of my deep and emotional writing tends to be written at night when my mind is less preoccupied with daily survival and has time and the lack of mental restraint to dwell in my past. This mental shift could be considered a good thing creatively speaking, it causes me to think about things I may have not during the day, however, if writing in the day versus night produces different types of works then it might make writers avoid writing at certain times if they desire more control of the mindset they write in.

In the future, I want to challenge myself to generate writing solely at night for a week and then write solely during the day and compare what I’ve written, but that will be way after finals week!

I would love to hear what people have to say about this since we all have different writing schedules.

Julia’s Favorite Things…

I write about a lot of the same things because its all I know:

Addiction, Alcoholism, Heartbreak, English, and Law. That’s all I got. Sorry. 

For this last blog post, I wanted to write about the books I suggest for summer. And OF COURSE that all ties back to drinking or a boy or something… again–sorry. BUT–last summer, when I recently became single, these five books that I read after my breakup were life changing. They were my own therapy. I wrote a blog for Gandy Dancer encompassing this idea, and wanted to share that with you all. So–here is my Gandy blog post, and here are my book suggestions for this summer:

 

We’ve all been there. Whether you are suffering after a divorce, first love lost, or the defeat of your favorite team, heartbreak is tough. Here are five books to read that will help you cope in this trying and difficult time.

  1. First step of the process is to grab some Rocky Road, a comfy blanket and a lot of tissues. All settled? Now, dive into New Bern, North Carolina—the hometown of Nicholas Sparks. Let’s wallow. My personal Sparks favorites are The Notebook and The Last Song. This step is the most important to give the appropriate grievance to your loss. The Notebook reveals a tender and beautiful story about the aching and persisting power of a strong love. Within this love, there are obstacles and longing memories revolving around the most steadfast emotional bond within human nature. There are high stakes and crucial changes between these characters that make the book a suspenseful read and definitely, a tearjerker. The Last Song is yet another powerful Sparks novel unfolding around the same idea of love and its various forms. This story understands the incredible relationships, along with their downfalls, between lovers, family and friends. This demonstration of a deep and unforgettable love will break your heart, then heal it just the same. So once you’ve cried your eyes out, on to book number two.
  2. The next part of the process is distraction. The prolonging feeling of thinking and overthinking needs to be interrupted. So, let’s move on to an interesting and amusing novel as we enter the stories of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of intense, curious and mind-blowing crimes and detection. While reading this, you will enter London and the brilliant, charming dynamic duo of Holmes and Watson. This world will distract you from your lingering thoughts, and let you live a different life for a while as a cool, crime-solving detective. You will be able to experience a fast, unpredictable environment and escape reality for a bit in this thrilling novel. Arthur Conan Doyle will challenge your mind in a multitude of installations and make you think twice about the impressions you give off to others. This break from reality will help to heal by experiencing a refreshing breather from the wallowing, and instead enjoy curious thought and surprising plot twists.
  3. Now, it’s time to put some things into perspective. The world is HUGE and there is so much going within it. Your misery looks smaller compared to the universe, and knowing that others are hurting just the same will help you to feel less alone. This company and support will help because you will know that others are sad too, you are not going through this pain unaccompanied. So now, dive into the cold world of Russia with Tolstoy. Anna Karenina will show you complexity, heart ache, and complicated familial issues. This book revolves around star-crossed love, seclusion, and engulfing drama and reveals to the reader that you are not alone in your problems. Others have been there.
  4. The next step is to gain some self-awareness and remember who YOU are as a person and who you want to become. A powerful book regarding cleansing and self-discovery is Walden by Thoreau. Follow Thoreau into the woods as he unclutters his life and finds true meaning by dissecting the difference between man and animal. It is an intricate read that will leave you thinking about how you should go on trying to find yourself. While in a relationship, it is easy to morph yourself into a duo. But go into the woods, and discover who you were meant to be. This book will intensely challenge the necessity of things and provoke an inspiration for minimalism. Thoreau proves that all you need is yourself and your thoughts.
  5. The final step is to forgive someone who likely never even said, “I’m sorry.” You’ll be happier when you realize how much more you are worth, and how this person doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. But, you forgive them anyway. For yourself. The final book is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. This book will show you the strength you never knew you had. It will send you off back into the world inspired and ready to rise above anything. Jeannette Walls shows a story of triumph. She was able to create a successful life on her own terms. The flawed love that was generated by her unconventional family gave her the determination to discover who she wanted to be and what life she wanted to build for herself. This story is one that develops the idea of tenderness, inspiration and persistence—the perfect memoir to end your journey.

Overall, these five steps and five books will give you the keys to success that you need to get through this trying time in your life. And when you want a break from reality you can escape—all readily available on your own bookshelf. These pages will be there for you whenever you need the support. As much as people may betray or hurt us, books never will.

 

I hope you all enjoyed, keep reading.

 

 

xox Jules

Workshop Experience

As I first entered this class, I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous of course, and I knew it was going to consist of workshop, but I have never partook in a workshop this intense before. It was for sure stressful and nerve racking at first, but as the semester is coming to a close, workshop has become something I really enjoy.

Critiquing other peoples work has really enhanced my writing skill. It helps me realize and understand the type of work I want to produce. Work shopping my peers work gives me ideas of what to possibly write about while helping me avoid techniques and or vices that I do not wish to write about.  

Sometimes I find myself unsure of what to comment on my peers work. No piece of writing is truly perfect but it may be hard to find the right thing to comment. I always try to give my peers comments to the best of my ability. It is always disheartening when you receive your poem back and there are little to no comments on it, does it mean I am doing something right or does my reader not care? Showing some effort truly goes a long way. 

Collaborative Poetry

Poetry is often thought of as a solitary act; an art form we do alone. I understand this, as most of our poetry is rather personal and reflective. At the same time, workshop is a collaborative effort, in which we gather the thoughts and opinions of other people on our work.

Recently, I have been wondering what would happen if we made poetry even more collaborative. Some works of fiction have co-authors, but is this possible in poetry?

Yes, according to Wikipedia, (I apologize I know referencing Wikipedia is not ideal in an academic setting) there is such a thing as collaborative poetry. Japanese poetry is influenced by collaboration, as are some famous French Surrealist poets. Similarly, Charles Henri Ford created the “chain poem” in which each author writes a line and then sends it to the next author. This type of poetry was also relevant in feminist poetry. These are just a few of the sources of collaborative poetry; however, it is enough to pique my interest.

I think it would be very interesting to write poetry collectively, especially with my talented peers here at Geneseo. All the workshops I have attended offer such great feedback and produce such amazing results, I can’t imagine what madness we could create altogether.

Next writing exercise? Collaborative poetry?

i’m going to write until i figure out why i haven’t been writing

I mean that literally; this blog post is going to be a stream-of-consciousness wherein I try to figure out why I haven’t been writing much lately. In other words, a therapy session wherein I am both the therapist and the patient. 

So, yeah, as you know by now, I haven’t been writing much lately.  And I’m not sure why that is. It seems I just haven’t been able to find inspiration on my own for some time now. Most of the poems I’ve written over the last few weeks stem directly from the writing exercises. This, of course, isn’t the worst thing — after all, I am still writing. It’s just that these writing exercises are acting as a crutch for me in a way that I’m not used to.

Again, though, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The poems I’ve been writing for the exercises have been far longer and less restrained than my poems have been all semester, and it honestly feels really good. 

Maybe, then, this writer’s block isn’t so much of a block as it is a balancing act. I’m figuring out how to better harness creative energy, learning to have stamina in the act of writing, letting my poems get longer and looser. 

Or maybe I’m coming up with excuses for writing these long, nonsensical poems instead of the more concise, logical poems from earlier in the year. Or maybe I’m finding my style or my voice or something like that. 

Honestly, this blog post is pretty comparable to how my poems have been lately, for better or for worse; that is to say, unstructured and selfish.

Also, I’ve been painting a lot recently. And painting is a whole lot like poetry for me. So maybe I haven’t stopped writing. Maybe I’m just writing with watercolors instead of words for the time being. 

Therapy sessions are never truly conclusive, and as such I think it would be unfair of me to assume that this blog post would be any different. It seems our time for this week is up, would you like to schedule an appointment for next week?

A poem in a psychology paper?

Guys, I found a poem!  No, it’s not a “found poem,” in that I constructed it.  I literally found a poem in Dr. Merrilees’ 2014 research!

Some context: Dr. M is a Psychology professor here at Geneseo.  She is also a peace psychologist, which means that she studies peace maintenance in conflict zones.  Dr. M’s research focuses on the conflict in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants, specifically on how the conflict affects adolescents’ social identity.  The text I’m featuring is from the discussion section of her 2014 paper. Here it is:

As youth develop a greater

awareness of group distinctions, naturally occurring

changes in sense of community &

group identity may shift.

I swear on my GPA, these words appeared just like this in the paper!  Even sans context, a poetry workshop could legitimately workshop this.  I’m blown away: poetry is everywhere!

 

Why I don’t play an instrument

I don’t have many theories on life, nothing like Sick Boy’s unifying theory of life from Trainspotting, but I do have one personal philosophy on the arts that I’m a little proud of and like to spout at the hours of the night suited to sustaining pseudo-intellectual platitudes. I listen to a lot of music and enjoy talking about it, but have never really tried to dabble in it myself, aside from a few recorder lessons as a first-grader that culminated in me throwing my recorder to the ground during my first recital.

Sometimes I fantasize about being a rock star (Who doesn’t?) or even just strumming a guitar after a long day, but for the most part I think that respecting music only as an outsider to it’s inner workings is beneficial to my sanity. Maybe my ego is over inflated, but when reading I have something of a competitive streak. Really good lines are appealing, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but compare my own work to the them. Beyond this, I also find myself dissecting pieces of literature, identifying various craft elements that make them what they are. I think this a good thing for me as a writer, but worry that it damages my immersion as a reader.

I can handle this with one art, literature, but don’t think I could deal with doing the same for another, music. I have close to no grasp on the ways in which music works, I’m nescient as to what the different notes are, I don’t really get what chord progressions are, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of my overall musical ignorance. Yet, this means that music is untouched by any sort of law for me, it’s like a miracle to me. It also means that I in no way compare myself to whatever musician I’m listening to. I may pick mental fights with Hemingway’s craft (I don’t win), but not with Hendrix. Okay maybe a lyric makes me jealous every now and then, but instrumentals are too abstracted from my understanding to stoke any sort of envy in me. I respect people who attempt to take on multiple arts, but I know that it’s best for me to stick to the one and let the others retains their mystery. One form of artistic turmoil is enough for me. 

Recurrent Theme: “Body”

I never thought of my poems as having “recurrent themes” because they seemed to go in all sorts of directions. But one day recently I was looking at different literary journals and I found one called Love Me, Love My Belly which is a publication of Porkbelly Press, out of Cincinnati, Ohio. I am super excited about this zine and hoping to purchase one of their issues soon. They requested that work submitted be in relation to the body. I started looking through my work, self-reflectively, and noticed that much of it deals with the theme of my conflicting relationship to my body, my questioning of my body, and sometimes, a bolstering of my confidence concerning my body. What’s interesting also is that I really like the word “body” and I use the word itself in many of my poems (I didn’t realize this before). It seems to signify, to me, the mechanism which houses a person’s spirit, the skin and muscles and bones that put a person together. And in a certain sense, it also represents, to me, the sexuality of a body, as the “b” stretches to the “dy” slowly, having to press its way slowly over the “o.”

Continue reading “Recurrent Theme: “Body””

What Poems Ask of Us

One of the things that struck me this past week was our analysis of There but for fortune. I noticed that the poem itself was incredibly straightforward and blunt, but our analysis assumed that the poem was a multi-faceted metaphor, with layers of symbolism and multiple different meanings. There but fortune is different from the most of the poems we’ve looked at in the past- it tells events just as they happened, with little room for conjecture. 

That’s not surprising, our training as readers has always been to look for the deeper meaning. We have been taught to vivisect text under a microscope and pluck out what’s there. We expect everything to be a mystery wrapped in an enigma, unraveling layers of surrealist metaphors, and that’s justified, all the poems we’ve read have done that with few exceptions. Our poems have always asked us to solve them like puzzles. So I’m not surprised when we would confabulate when faced with something so straightforward, so blunt, so immediate transparent and bare, our only reaction can be “What am I missing here? What does it mean, and why can’t I see it?” 

Of course, none of the interpretations are wrong. There is zero objectivity in poetry. Sometimes, a poem is just asking us to bear witness to an event, an emotion, to glimpse something we have never experienced.

i

I get comments (concerns? questions?) very often about the choice to refrain from using capitals in my work. Lately, I’ve been attempting to analyze what it’s all about, knowing that I don’t typically like to do things for simple aesthetic pleasure. I mean, ya girl hates Pier 1 and its associated meaningless decor. If it’s not about aesthetics, what is it about?

During the identity writing exercise in class, I wrote the following things:

who am “i” (I)?

“i” prefers to watch shrek alone in a hotel room rather than attend a cocktail party. “I” will go and wear extroversion like bad perfume.

“i” winces at the sound of rushing water. “I” tells her therapist she’s over it.

“i” is always convinced of being unseen. “I” is a fake brand of assertive

.

“i” tells people what she needs to say. “I” tells people what they want to hear.

& some other semi-dramatic declarations.

Writing seems to access the primitive realities in which the “i” humbly dwells. Living seems like a big game of faking it, especially (perhaps exclusively) in a university setting, where “I” give presentations in fake confidence and drinks up the term “resume builder” like SmartWater. I’ve taken comments from writers I trust about using capitals, but as soon as I do so, it feels off. I’ve come to try and separate the quiet, bold, refreshing honesty of the “i” with the “I” that I must unclasp and throw on the ground like a bra at the end of every long, exhausting weeknight (sorry for the image).

There is a weird divide between who i am when i write and who I am when I meet with professors or walk around the Union like I own the place. I’m sure we all know this feeling, as separating personal from professional is good and necessary. However, i see the distinctions so clearly between “I” and “i,” it’s not even about whether the “i” in the poem is being assertive or passive, it’s about the difference between what“i” says on paper and what “I” would do in real life. I can’t bridge the gaps that exist there. 

I’m not sure if this makes sense, and perhaps my attempt at justifying myself proves that this technique isn’t working, and I’m not all convinced that it does. I suppose I will continue to revisit what a poem needs, but at least while I’m trying to get through school, “i” needs to be allowed a platform or i might just go CRAZY.

If y’all have any thoughts, please share them! “i” and “I” would both be glad to hear.