I’m back to working on my YA novel this year, taking it through our writing group chapter at a time. We’ve done the first three of fifteen and I’m submitting tracked changes this time around. The research I do for this story is sometimes silly, sometimes disturbing, but always interesting. Here are some highlights.
Google searches like:
brown recluse eyes
brown recluse eyes close up
human extra eyes
human six eyes
do spiders have hair or fur? (hair)
I also looked up pictures of woad and information about Celts. (Curious about Celts? This was a nice read.)
Karen Hayes was an incredible poet who worked with children, adults, veterans, and dementia patients to share her love of poetry and its transformative power. She celebrated and was celebrated in every aspect of her life. She was loved unanimously. She carried an inextinguishable spark. If you would like to learn more about the life and times of Karen Hayes, check out here, here, here, here, and here.
Karen ran a monthly reading series with open mike and featured readers at a local Little Rock coffee shop called Guillermo’s. For years she kept it alive and going strong, always discovering new talent and spreading the good word. I kept meaning to go but other stuff would get in the way, I’d forget, I’d put it off. I’m no poet, I’d tell Karen. But Karen knew that even prose writers could have that poet soul. I finally hiked up my big girl panties and got to it. I went to one. It was so awesome, the energy was palpable and everyone there was there for the love of the craft. I decided my first night I’d be a regular from then on. And then my first was her last. When Karen died suddenly, no one knew what to do, what to say, or how to process. Instead of the next reading we held a poets wake. And then there was this question: what would happen? Who would lead? Who would keep Karen’s dream alive? I stepped up.
There was no one else, I only lived five minutes away, and it all felt like a sign. Working at the library, being a grad from UCA, being a local writer and a participant in Nanowrimo, I was in a unique position to invite friends and acquaintances from so many different circles to come together. I expanded the umbrella to include poetry and prose and I ran the series, posthumously named for Karen, for one year. Then Covid happened. We were once again in a situation where no one knew what to do or what would happen next. I couldn’t keep an in-person program running, and I didn’t yet know all all the ins and outs of Zoom. I set it aside, hoping Covid would run its course and we could get back together when Covid was over. Well. That clearly isn’t going to happen, and I think we’ve waited long enough. I know some people are understandably burnt out on Zoom, but I’ve come around to the way of thinking that something is better than nothing.
I return to you, now under the auspices of the CALS Writing Circle, the virtual Karen Hayes Poetry and Prose Monthly Reading Series. To kick it off right, the first event will be a two-night extravaganza, and attendance will determine which night we schedule going forward. Mark your calendars, friends, for the last Tuesday and Thursday in April. 4/26/22 and 4/28/22. 6:30pm-8:00pm both nights, online only, Zoom link to follow closer to time. Bust out and dust off anything you’ve been wanting to read. We’re back.
In March, we’ll do a “Clear Space, Clear Mind” class for cleaning up your writing space. In the meantime, have a peek at just a few of my writing spaces over the years…
All of my fantastic suggestions were shot down.
Word’s Eye View
Rise and Spine
Bookmark My Words
Tied in Plots
Connect the Plots
Lost in Plot
Penny for Your Plots
A New Trope
Trope Springs Eternal
Lost and Bound
Willing and Fable
Stay True to Your Shelf
Jobe. Scouring the internet so that you don’t have to.
Q1. Why is the library important to you, personally?
I grew up in libraries at school and in the community wherever we lived. We moved around a lot but I always knew I would feel at home in a library. Being surrounded by books as a child and knowing I had the freedom to learn anything and experience any adventure was empowering and exciting. My parents read to my siblings and I and imparted a voracious love of reading and learning. I have been a lifelong reader and an aspiring writer for most of my life. I had always hoped I would end up working at a library or bookstore, surrounded by books and knowledge and people who valued them. I treasure the fact that this dream came true.
Q2. What is your favorite reason to use the library?
I love that we serve the community and are able to make services available for free or at very low cost to people who might not otherwise have access to them. I love that we are able to stay current with technology and reading trends. I love that we offer a multitude of avenues for obtaining knowledge, whether checking out audiobooks, paper books, e-books, accessing information on one of our many databases or websites. I love that we offer programming for children, teens, and adults, and offer a safe, positive environment for all these ages. I love that we maintain a peaceful, welcoming environment for gatherings and study and solitude, that all ages can discover and learn in so many different ways. I love that we make technology and meeting space available to the community and facilitate gatherings for such a variety of interests and concerns. I love that our book collections are just the tip of the iceberg of what we have to offer. I’m constantly impressed at the ways we are always expanding our offerings from cooking classes to the tools library and the toys library to our art gallery, used book store, theater, maker space, genealogy studies, and more.
Q3. Who does the Library serve?
The library serves everyone in the community. The library is for the young and the old, the rich and the poor, people of all colors, all religions, all abilities, all orientations and genders. The library may be one of the last places in America where you don’t have to buy anything to have “permission” to take up space. The library is for the homeless, the elderly, parents, kids, teens, introverts and extroverts, groups and loners, public and private and home-school students, the traditionally employed, unemployed, and the self-employed. The library is for everyone.
Q4. Why is the library important to those people? What will new funding do to help them?
The library offers access to reading and listening and watching materials, education and entertainment, current news and data, access to databases and apps and streaming. The library has the ability to aid people in internet use, printing and copying, gathering for study groups and meetings. The library has the availability to be of use throughout the week and on the weekends. The library offers programming in a hugely diverse range of topics from book clubs and specialty interest groups to mindfulness and meditation to fandom clubs and video gaming to puppet shows and sing-alongs to art groups, creativity groups, and writing groups. The library even transitioned seamlessly between virtual and in-person programming as dictated by COVID safety concerns. Continuing to fund the library will continue to ensure that we are able to provide in these myriad ways, while new funding will enable us to serve even more robustly than we already do.
Q5. Who is going to be uncomfortable if you ask for new funding?
I would hope that no one is uncomfortable being asked to continue to fund libraries as we are so obviously benefitting the community in such a huge way and in such diverse ways.
Q6. What community groups do you belong to?
I’m a gamer, a reader, a writer, an artist. I’m interested in music and food and cultures around the world. I’m interested in languages. I’m an LGBTQIA+ and Black Lives Matter activist. I’m a UCA alumni. I’m neurodivergent and the parent of a neurodivergent kiddo. I’m a coffee enthusiast. I love buying local and supporting Black-owned businesses. I’m an amateur Arkansas history buff. I love stickers and planners and office supplies and art supplies and arts and crafts. I love teaching classes and leading group discussions. I wear glasses. I take medication. I try to exercise and eat healthy. I love rainbows and unicorns. I love junk food and sweets. I’m interested in satanism, wicca, Buddhism, yoga, tarot, numerology, astrology. I play Dungeons and Dragons and Vampire Larp and more board games than I can count. I love science fiction. I love animals, I have two dogs and three cats. I love swimming. I watch cartoons. I’m pansexual polyamorous cisgender and my pronouns are she/her.
Q7. Where do you live and where do you spend your time?
I live in west Little Rock and I spend my time all over. I love going out to eat at restaurants all over Little Rock. I love spending time downtown. I have lived in the Central High Neighborhood Historic District. I spend time in SOMA, Argenta, North Little Rock, and further out. My husband has friends and family in Benton, Bryant, Cabot, Sheridan, East End.
Q8. Who do you know who knows everybody?
Honestly, I’m one of those people. I’m also connected with a multitude of poets, writers, and professors.
As an extrovert I wondered if this book would simply extol the virtues of the quieter persuasion and end up making me feel bad about myself. It did nothing of the sort! I gained so much insight and empathy for how introverts are raised and pushed by parents and society to be other than they are. I had no idea! I was also surprised that introverts may make up as little as a third of our population. I work in library science, a traditionally introverted field, and am a hobbyist writer, another predominantly introverted field! I thought surely introverts must outnumber extroverts ten to one. We are certainly fewer and farther between in my personal experience than in the lawyering and business worlds that Cain describes. But I think I must’ve also had a unique upbringing being raised by a handicapable introvert. I was taught to use my voice to make sure everyone got a chance to be heard. To use my social prowess to check in with individuals one on one and make each person as comfortable as possible. I am so grateful to have been made aware at a young age that this world takes all kinds and that just because a person is quiet doesn’t mean anything negative about their personality, value, or the quality of their ideas. To Cain I would say thank you so much for the insight you provide to those of us who have not experienced growing up introverted in our extroverted American society and thank you again for the invaluable validation you provide for introverts everywhere to be so affirmed. I want to share this book with everyone I know, introverted and extroverted alike. Beautiful, timely, insightful, and much needed.
Jobe, The Rainbows Herself
We live in a mad world. I needed a new space for a new year. I hope this virtual rest stop brings you solace.
Deb Moore, leader of the CALS Writing Circle and teacher of the popular series Memoir Writing for Seniors, recently shared a terrific article as part of her newsletter. (Email dmoore at cals dot org to be added.) I wanted to make notes while I was thinking about it so I wouldn’t forget to come back to this resource. For my own memoir in progress, which focuses on love relationships and sexual experiences, I wondered what my arc, through line, and beats might look like. The example went like this:
I wanted ______________(the desire line).
To get it, I ______________(action).
To get it, I then ______________(action).
But ______________(obstacle) got in my way.
So, I ______________(action).
Maybe my answers would look something like this: I wanted to connect with individuals, experience love, and better understand myself and others. To do that, I tried various partners and kinds of relationships. I explored orientation and ethical non-monogamy. But jealousy and frustration and desire for my freedom got in my way. So I had to determine what my healthy boundaries would look like and how much I was or wasn’t willing to compromise. (Having a polyamory-specific relationship counselor really helped!)
I’m not sure what the conclusion of my book will look like as I’m always experiencing new things, but I think that outlines one way the arc of the memoir could go. Nice! Thanks, Deb, for the share! And thanks to Adair Lara for the great advice.
Just a quick check-in as I update my site. With varying degrees of success I have been handwriting in a real journal with a real fountain pen and ink! I have re-started my sticker obsession and earmarked two favorite Etsy stores for future purchases, Planner Studio and Joy of Planning. (Honestly I have too many favorite shops to list here and you should just follow me on Etsy if you’re interested.) I have dipped my toes into new hobbies–DIY bookbinding and DIY miniatures (building a tiny library). I have taken up drawing and adore this youtube channel (intended for children) that does step-by-step instructions for kawaii (cute) and chibi (little) characters. Plumbers and electricians vy for my attention (funds) and I am facing the conundrum of needing a couch that won’t break under duress (Americans are heavy, dangit!) but also won’t break the bank (see what I did there). My teaching of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is drawing to a close after three courses worth. I can’t begin to express how important the friendships formed there have been to this EXTROVERT in isolation. I’m watching Utopia (an Amazon Prime original which is completely insane) and reading the fourth e-book of the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (they are SO GOOD). I’m also listening to the audiobook of The New Moon’s Arms by Nalo Hopkinson after I encountered this tee shirt and realized I only knew 3 of the 5 and needed to ammend that immediately! (NK is next.) I went through a bit of an Amazon addiction so I decided to take October as a Buy Ban month to reset my rabid consumer (someone has to reign her in, probably best it’s me). I’m exercising again and tracking my progress on Instagram. Have I forgotten anything? Probably. Vote him out (grab him by the ballot). Wear your mask. Black Lives Matter. Be kind.