Love Letters > Angry Rants

Ranting and rage seem to be my jam of late. I mean, obvs right? Stuff is so haywire, collective nightmares and hopeless empathy, railing and angry, my mind is sad and I’m tired today.

I was thinking of love letters and how they soothe my savage soul. Writing love letters is prolly the most over the top and indulgent writing one can do.

My niece’s 8th birthday is in July and I try to write her a love letter every year. Sometimes I don’t but mostly I do.

She’s almost 8 and is easily the most brilliant, hilarious, charming, fashion forward, badass, caring, artistic, nerdy, young woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and I’m grateful that she calls me “Auntie”.

Here’s a short history of Auntie’s love letters to ASH.

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Stolen Moments and Seemingly Quotidian Details

I am deep into the trenches right now. The baby is eight months old, the big girl four-and-a-half. It’s winter. I don’t leave the house much. I don’t get much sleep. There is no time for reflection, considered thought, planning my writing life. But I am writing. 250 words a day. Whatever comes out. It doesn’t mean anything, doesn’t add up to anything. Not yet anyway. But here’s some from last week.

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The hot breath of a teething baby. That smell, what is it? Raw, iron-ish, but not bloody. Metallic, vital. It makes me want to put my face right up next to hers, kiss her repeatedly while breathing in that life force. Four new teeth at once! I tell her she is doing a really good job.

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Unlocking From the Inside: A 30 Day Writing Challenge

I’m in the tail end of another 30 day writing challenge with this group I now refer to as my infrastructure. I’ve participated in these challenges in the past and enjoyed the camaraderie, focus and once had publishing success as a result. I don’t always hit my word count and sometimes miss a day, but I think about the writing in a more obsessive way, which I embrace.

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The Five Truths of My Writing Process

The writing is not happening. Even though I try not to get caught up in the New Year’s resolution “live your best life” hoopla, every January I still secretly think maybe this is the year I will finally get my shit together. But here’s the thing about shit: it likes to spread itself around and stink up everything. And once it gets into the carpet, well, it’s never coming out. Too much? Right, too much. My point is, I will never have my shit together because life is messy and unpredictable and I have to learn to deal with it. (A zen master I am not.) However, I’m not a victim of circumstance either. I can buy some bleach and get a new carpet. What I need to do first is get real about my writing process and what I need in order to make the writing happen. So I made a list, and I’m sharing it with you here because the Internet loves lists almost as much as cat videos and trolling.

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Interview with Short Story Contest Winner Wendy Lym

Writers and artists are all around us, y’all. In this case, Wendy Lym is a colleague and neighbor (her office is just down the hall from mine) at the community college where I teach. Since we’re also friends on social media, I learned that she won the Texas Observer’s 2017 short story contest with Muriel, and I knew I had to interview her about her off-campus life as a writer. Enjoy!
—Jen Hamilton

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The 15-Minute Writing Challenge

Making time to write.

This is difficult. Some days it is impossible.

How do I find time to draft ideas, make outlines, develop characters?

Then I remember: I wrote an entire novel in 15-minute increments. I did it in the car, at the Laundromat, while the kids were in the bath. I am not a drafter. I am not an outliner. I have tried time and again to sit down and PLAN what I am going to write. But I know that the stories are all around me and they come out when I least expect it. I want to scoop them up, I want to see the ideas floating in my everyday life and use those to get better. I’ve stopped working on my novel for a bit so I can focus on smaller pieces, short stories that bring together everything I am trying to do in my giant book. They’re small, manageable slices of the larger ultimate goal.

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Writing While Weird

I’m defective. I can’t figure out if I was born this way or if it was a conscious decision. At five years old, I remember noticing other kids getting super dupes grossed out by spinach and deciding that I would love spinach. Around the time that I reached puberty, I remember deciding that I, absolutely and without a doubt, should not and would not get married (ever) or have children. I remember thinking that I could actually fly before I hit puberty.  At 16, I remember astral projecting across my tiny town. I’ve never worked in an office. I’m a female line cook, in a sea of really really male line cooks. I willfully ignore grammar in favor of rhythm. I try to find the “hard way” and I call it the “scenic route.” I don’t know how I got here. I’m 43 and my mind still works this way.

I’m afraid of this defective nature. I don’t understand why I am “other.” My point of view, my poetry, my ideas, my stand up, my art, my love letters are all defective.

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My Practice Went A Little Awry

“There is a ruthlessness to the creative act. It often involves a betrayal of the status quo.” ―Alan Watt

I have a few habits that prepare my thoughts for my writing time. I’m lucky to have two weekday mornings every week that I can write until 10 am. I wake up early and get started before the movement of the house begins. I take advantage of being an early riser on the weekends as well and I use that quiet time the same way: meditation and writing, for a total of four days/week. Sometimes I’m pleased with the work, other times it’s words and words of unused drafts. All part of the learning curve of finding and expressing my voice.

Over the summer I noticed I was becoming a little particular with my ritual. What started out as a cup of coffee and a quick meditation became an indecisive time-consuming mess robbing me of words on the page.

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Where We Write: Claiming, Then Reclaiming My Space

I tried to read Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” years ago while on a spiritual retreat in the San Jacinto Mountains of California. In my early 20s, I believed it was required reading for a good feminist. Sliding that thin book off the shelf among all the other options, I felt like an actual grown-up woman, anticipating the wisdom I was about to receive.

Here’s the thing, though: I could not get into it. And I tried. But it was: (a) boring, and (b) irrelevant to my life. A year post-college, I had recently moved to Chicago and was crashing in a rundown house with a group of my new co-workers. I was years away from beginning to write, and nothing about my sketchy living arrangement indicated the potential for a closet of my own, much less a whole room.

I have yet to gain an appreciation for Woolf’s style, but as I have aged I’ve certainly come to understand the wisdom behind having a room of one’s own.

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