Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ideas: The "Other" Noun.

"Do you know what a noun is?" I asked my new tutee during one of our first sessions together. 

"A person, place, or thing," she dutifully answered. 

"Or an idea. Ideas are also nouns," I told her. "Do you know what ideas are? Love..hope...peace. Those are all ideas. They're nouns as well." 

Ideas are nouns I deal with on an everyday basis. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because some days, all I DO is churn out ideas. Some days, I hardly get anything tactile done, like finishing articles or dragging JPEG files into folders, because I am too busy just brainstorming. 

Not that I'm complaining. After all, my Twitter and Facebook pages both proclaim that "I love ideas most of all, next to people." 
I love to thumb through my books, read a sentence that strikes me (or a poem) and feel the proverbial lightbulb go off over my head. 

Now and then, I feel like the amount of production is leading to quantity over quality. Take yesterday, for example, when I told my boss about an idea I had for the cover image on March/April's issue of Mount Pleasant. It wasn't our first idea (that one fell through) but it was something. 

"What are your other ideas?" he asked. "I'm not excited about that one." 

Talk about deflating my lightbulb. I went back to my desk, frustrated, and kept thinking. 

I was just telling someone the other day how my work never ends, since I'm a writer and magazine editor. My work is to create ideas, which is something I never stop doing, whether it's the weekend or the middle of the night. Sometimes, I'm downtown on a Saturday, looking at something in a cute boutique, and an idea strikes me. It's just like when a poem strikes me. 

In the age of too much information, I never turn off my smartphone or my thoughts. I'm always listening for the next big idea, whether the source is internal or external. But what I'm learning is that I have to sift through all of them, figure out which ideas are good ones right that instant--like having a glass of bourbon on the rocks and reading through my copy of Lucktown--as opposed to which ones are best for the next day--like calling Brian, my coeditor, and asking why a freelancer used a certain word to describe something when another word would've been better. 

I have a hard time relaxing sometimes, but I think if I learned to sift through my ideas and learn which ones need immediate addressing, I'd be better off. Mental organization is highly important. Our minds are like one big closet, after all. A closet with no back wall, like Narnia. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Early Beckon to Litchfield.

My first trip to Litchfield this year came a bit earlier than I anticipated. I drove up yesterday, after delivering the "Stork Basket" that Mount Pleasant Magazine gives to the firstborn baby of the year. This year's baby lives on the outskirts of Georgetown, so I took the opportunity to visit my beloved beach home for the day.

The water has been turned off for the winter, so I didn't expect to stay the night. I figured if something changed my mind I could stay with one of my seaside friends.

The weather was magnificent. I sat on the beach in my aunt's chair (I left mine at home in the garage) and soaked up the sunshine. I even dipped my toe in the ocean. It was freezing, of course.

A few hours of bliss later, I got together with two of my oldest and dearest friends, Gayden and her brother, Steven, for an early dinner in Murrells Inlet before heading back to Charleston.
We had a lot of laughs.

"This weather is nice, but it kind of confuses my brain," I confessed.

It's true. It's strange to feel that surge of springtime hope in January--my heart felt like it was going to burst open yesterday, the day was so lovely. Then again, my moods are more susceptible to the weather than most people's are, I suspect.

Poetry: The New Social Lubricant?

Friday night was the annual open mic for the Poetry Society, and I read a poem, despite feeling like I was going to lose my s*it a couple of times while standing in front of everyone.

Afterwards, a few other poetry fans came up to me at the reception and said "good job," which is nice, of course, but nothing unusual.

What was unusual was getting hailed in the street by this couple I didn't know who'd been at the reading. I was on my way to my car, rather dejectedly I might add, because none of my friends wanted to go out. Then I heard two people calling me.

"Hey! We were just at the reading with you. We loved your poem." They caught up to me on the sidewalk. "Want to get coffee and dessert with us?"

I was surprised. It's not often that perfect strangers ask you to join them on an outing.

"Sure," I said. "But I don't drink coffee at this hour so I hope you won't be offended if I order bourbon!"

We went to a nearby restaurant and had a great time discussing that night's reading, our other work, and just socializing. I love meeting other writers.

After that, I headed to Henry's, a bar that I've never particularly loved, in order to hear a friend's band as I promised. On the rooftop deck I struck up a conversation with a couple of guys (none of them were writers) and asked them if they wanted to hear the poem I'd read that night. They did.

"Wow, we've never met a real poet before," they said when I was finished. One guy seemed especially intrigued--enough that he asked for my number, invited me to the next location with them and texted that he'd like to see me again.

You have a thing for poets? I typed in one text.

I'm not creative at all, he typed. I appreciate your vision. 

Although the guy doesn't live here in town and I may not run into him again, it's refreshing and amusing to know that I can impress barflies by reading my poems. I think I've found a new dating--and socializing tactic. I may just carry a poem in my purse from now on.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Two Years of Flower-Munching.

This week my blog is two years old! Eating Gardenias has already seen me through a lot of changes in the last two years: relationship changes, career changes and even poetic changes.

I look forward to the next two years and beyond. Thank you all for reading. 


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Poetry Resolutions.

One of my resolutions this year is to get more serious about my poetry. 2012 was a step in the right direction; I was published in Illuminations Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, plus I got a Pushcart Prize nomination. I also read out loud at the microphone on Mondays more than before, thanks to a little bit of faith in my newer work and some pestering from my pal Jim Lundy, the emcee.

My next move is to be part of Sixfold, a cool new journal in which everything is decided by the writers themselves, not editors.
One of the best parts about Sixfold is that if you submit, other writers read and comment on your work as part of the voting process, and you comment on theirs. I'm interested in reading the work of the other poets who submit. It sounds like a remote workshopping class, and I'm all for it. 

I've already tentatively picked out a few poems for the haul. Wish me luck. It's always a little nerve-racking, sending your work out into the world, but I have to get better at it. I will keep you all posted. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ringing in the New Year, Parts One and Two.

I don't love New Years Eve. It's never been a holiday I looked forward to. Oh sure, there have been a few years in which I had a good time (mostly the years I threw parties at my house) but all holidays considered, it just isn't my favorite. This year I began the eve in sort of a funk, which was not helping the situation.  Despite a thoroughly delightful lunch with my charming cousin, Elaina, I still announced to my sister on the phone that I was seriously considering driving to Litchfield and ringing in 2013 all alone with my laptop computer--no parties, no people. Just me. After all, I argued to Marie on the phone, alone was the way I'd spent most of the year.

But the trip to Litchfield fell through after I invited the universe to give me a sign if I shouldn't make the trip. The sign happened, so I turned around, headed back to James Island, poured a stiff cocktail of Crown Royal and water, then set about working on my memoir.

I wrote myself out of the funk I was in. By the time my roommate, Dana, came home from work, I was happily sitting on the couch, typing away. But I still didn't feel like being around people.

"Why aren't you OUT?" she demanded. "It's New Year's EVE. Be ready in twenty minutes--I'm driving."

"But I'm content here, with my memoir and my top shelf liquor," I replied.

"What are you, eighty years old? Get dressed."

She finally dragged me out of the house and onto Folly Beach, where our other roommate and neighbor and a couple of friends rang in 2013 with us. I have to admit I ended up having a decent time. It wasn't the best New Year's Eve, but it certainly wasn't the worst.

And even though I enjoyed the"normal" portion of my evening, watching Folly Beach's giant sparkly flip flops descend during the final moment of the countdown and enjoying the fireworks, I have to say that I enjoyed being at home and working feverishly on my book just as much. In fact, I think Dana could have left me at the house and I would've been fine.

But I guess this way I did get the best of both worlds.

Happy 2013 to my dear readers! May you all experience an abundance of unadulterated joy this year.