Great green leafy trees are reflected on the lagoons glimmering surface. High above the actual trees dance in the breeze, drooping, almost as if to kiss the water with their branches. On the shore are large rocks which I take and skip across the lagoon. The mermaids will love me for this.
I continue to skip rocks until a few lovely mermaids pop their heads out of the forest lagoon and give me dirty looks. They hope it’s Peter, but when they see it’s only Peter’s shadow, they roll their eyes diving back under the water beneath the lillypads and floating flowers.
No one anywhere thinks much of a shadow and they don’t realize shadows are beings too. So the mischief in me has unsewn myself from Peter Pan. He’s been chasing me all day but I’m quicker and smarter than he. It’s why I decided he should take a trip home to a little girl I fancy; she is called Wendy.
I love orchids, especially purple ones. For me, orchids stand for resiliency and strength. One reason for this is that orchids need little care. A cupful of water every few days, leave them in the sun by a window, and they will continue to bloom and put out new shoots. Kindly, remember not to water them more, it’s how they die and orchids are notoriously difficult to kill.
Season after season orchids put out shoots which turn into buds and burst out as soft petaled flowers. I think as orchids, humans are built to last. Though we are all moving towards our eventual death, on the way we are continuely putting out shoots and if we’re careful, growing beautiful flowers in the lives of those we touch. We are people who can grow even in harsh conditions. It doesn’t take much to fuel us, to keep us going, demonstrating our kindness to others.
I considered the colour red. How I’m equally attracted and repelled by it. How I pass by a red v-neck sweater in the right shade, but mix my acrylic colours, blend them until my instincts say stop; stop sign red. No wait . . . a bright cool startling red appears on my canvas. I think this is passion and passion is the boldest red. I think of how I not only crave to paint in vivid red, but in many vivid colours and textures. How I trace the feeling of layered paints with my fingers, and hunger for other colours with my eyes – blue, green, and purple. Though I adore all these colours, my favourite paintings are all in red.
As with my love for sexy heels, which I adore in red too. If red is passion, what more can I say about women and sensuality then red shoes. They’re expression and fierceness. Like Kelly Picklers song “Red High Heels” — “I’m about to show you just how missing me feels, in my red high heels . . .” Red for revenge, red for moving on, red for love. But I hate red for love, it’s memory is sickening. He looked good in that colour – almost the best.
Yet red is so many things more. It’s anger, hate, rage, hurt, demons dreaming — the beast inside who does not die. Red is sinful, delicious, and deadly. It’s sex and power; a primilness. It’s royalty and blood, red blood spilled for in the body it’s blue (hence bluebloods). I love how classic red is — nothing more classic then a cat eye and red Bridget Bardot lips. Nothing as classic as red Mustang.
I don’t wear red, the colour outshines me and doesn’t fit with such pale skin and blond hair. Please no red dress – I’d rather blend in and be a classic black or navy dress cut perfectly. But I seek out bits of red and cling to them, not wanting red to blind me. Only some sparkle and razzle dazzle to hold in my hand. Red nail polish is beautiful, with a bit of bling Red as some of the lights in Las Vegas and red fireworks; red stoplights.
Red is perplexing because it’s complex, not simple at all. Red is nationalism and red is internationalism. It’s a proud Canadian colour and I don’t mind wearing it on our Nation’s Birthday. Or cheering on our Canadian hockey teams in the Olympics and junior hockey.
As well, roses are so divine, so deadly pricking your finger. Red, passion and pain. Together swirled these colours of red, of love, and hate collide. There are many shades of grey, but even more shades of red. It’s more than a primary colour it calls as a siren, “Look see me.” No one hides in red. Red cars are often caught barely speeding and Red is a theme of many songs albums as in “Red” as T. swifts song and album and the Beatles album “Redone.” Red as “My love is like a red red rose.” Some choral song I cannot recall.
But I’m sitting here, music blaring trying to decide what to paint. I’ve that special shade of red and it’s mixing and melding with other colours. Shades and tones. I see, red on my canvas and it bleeds. Red blood, blood . . .life, the most prolific association. Red is blood. Blood is life. Red such as poppies, that we must always remember. Red for anger, red for hate, for war. Red to hurt, poor the droplets down a crystal glass. Red red wine. To drink away the blood and crippling thoughts. Red to forget. I like a Malbec with bite. A Zinfandel to make me chatty. A Merlot or Cav-Sav with some friends. Red sangria is delicious. Red strawberry margaritas because there’s real fire in tequila. Red is too many things, too symbolic, too self-contradictory. Red is life.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks/things you can think up if only you try!”
― Dr. Seuss
Alice was growing older and she hadn’t been to Wonderland in years. Yet, she had not forgotten the lessons she learned there.
She was an imaginative girl, so much so her mother could not figure out where Alice came up with her fanciful ideas.
But Alice’s mother adored her daughter so she let her creativity run free, including playing outside and having tea with her imaginary friends.
While having tea, Alice talked to the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Door Mouse, and March Hair. Often, she talked to a smoking Catipillar, whom her mother naturally disapproved of. But Alice only laughed at her mother saying:
” Why the Caterpillar needs the medicine he smokes. He’s in a great deal of pain becoming a butterfly.”
Alice’s mother had been making ice tea in a pitcher as it was summer. Alice didn’t know what to do at first, her friends enjoyed hot tea. But she determined after a while, they would have to make do with ice tea. She poured the cold tea into her prized teapot.
She brought the tea to the marigolds and dandilions in the field by her house and poured the cold tea at the base of all her flower friends. She even brought them a few cookies, which she crumbled around their stems.
Sometimes Alice liked to sit out in the field and read. She brought out a fancy white cushioned chair from the parlour to a field of grass and flowers. She sat there considering life and paging through a novel. She was wearing a hat her grandma had given her to keep the sun from her face.
Alice fell asleep outside in the chair and dreamed she was in Wonderland. She dreamt she had eaten bread to make her big and tall.
She found herself next to a curious house with the appearance of a giant 🍐 pear ; it had a small red door with steps going down to the grass below.
There was a handsome Raven sitting on the house, opposite of where Alice stood. She placed her ear against the house, trying to hear if anyone was inside.
“You won’t find anyone in there,” the Raven told Alice.
“But why wouldn’t they be at home?” Alice asked. “Its Wonderland, creatures here don’t go to work even if they’re adults. Besides, wouldn’t a mother or wife be at home?”
“I wouldn’t quite call them adults and it’s presumptuous to think all women should stay at home.”
“If they’re not adults, how come they have a house?” Alice wondered. She looked back to the Raven, “I only thought the wife or mother might be home because she could be like my mother who stays home.”
Alice sat down, reaching towards the small red doorway of the pear 🍐 house; it was locked up tight. “Why is the door locked? Who would break into their home here? My father never locks our door.”
The Raven chuckled in the weird way birds do, “I think they are avoiding unwanted guests of giant proportions.”
“Also, I think you’re forgetting everyone needs something to do in the day, work or otherwise. We all have tasks, seasons of life to experience, even in Wonderland.”
“Seasons of life?” Alice asked confused. “Well, what season am I in? I don’t feel young, but I’m certainly not old. I’m only nine. But since coming to Wonderland years ago, I think of things adults don’t even consider.”
The Raven squawked, continuing to chuckle.
“Hmmm,” Alice said, “It only occurred to me, no one ever told me why a Raven is like a writing desk?”
The Raven ignored Alice but began to whistle a discordant tune.
“That’s awful,” Alice said but he continued his song.
When he stopped he peered with little black eyes at Alice, “See everyone has a song to sing. Not everyone thinks their neighbour’s song is pretty, but it’s theirsong and so they must sing it.”
“It is the same with the creatures in this pear 🍐 house. They are off singing their life song, doing what they feel they are meant to do in life, in this season.”
“Each part of life has a song,” the Raven said. “I hear you singing your song when you’re out in the fields having tea with your Wonderland friends, using your imagination. You’re in the spring of life and your song is lovely and new.”
“But,” continued the Raven, “I am in the Winter of my life. I’ve had many children and I am old, but I sing mysong anyways. Even when we are old, we have a purpose and must sing our own song.”
Alice thought a long while about the seasons, singing, and what the Raven told her. Then she smiled, ” I understand what you mean now. But do you think you and the owners of this pear 🍐 house would mind joining my other Wonderland friends and myself for tea?”
The Raven cawed laughing at Alice. He nodded his little black head and flew away.
The next moment, Alice awoke and found herself sleeping in her mother’s plush parlour chair out in the grassy field. Her mother looked down on her gently and smoothed Alice’s hair:
“Alice there you are. Oh, my good chair. It’s white and you’ve got dirt and grass all over it,” mother said sternly.
Alice sleepily smiled and said,” I was in Wonderland and talking to a Raven about the songs we each sing in life in different seasons. I’m sorry about the chair Mama.”
Her mother shook her head sighing and ruffled Alice’s hair, “Oh you and Wonderland. Will you ever grow out if it? Little girls will be attending school again in Fall.”
Alice sighed and helped her mother bring the chair back into the house to be cleaned. She decided to visit the roses in the backyard later.
Aluce had told her mother many strange stories about red roses. So much so, Alice’s mother gave her the job of watering and caring for the roses in the garden; she babied her roses. She didn’t want anyone to think she’d been painting her roses and that they weren’t truly red — that always led to problems.
She wondered about what season of life the roses and all the flowers in the field were in? What was their purpose except to be beautiful? Alice began to hum the particular song of the flowers, watering her roses and caring for them.
Suddenly, she remembered it was her birthday in a week. She would be ten-years-old; how could she forget? She must go inside the house and remind her mother she needed more bowls to match her tea set.
For a moment Alice sighed thinking about school beginning soon. Children at school didn’t understand her much. Often, they knew less about things than many adults. Girls at school sang their own songs and Alice as usual, sang a unique tune.
Welcome back to my bi-weekly interview series. This week, I’m excited to share with you the creative, thoughtful, and accomplished writer Mark Reynolds. Please check-out his fantastic blog here: Coloring Outside the Lines.
1. Mark, Please Tell Us About Yourself?
Hello, I’m Mark Reynolds, a.k.a Coloring Outside the Lines. I live outside of Cleveland,Ohio on almost four acres of land with trees and gardens; the edge of a rural area. My Mom and Dad were from small farming towns in Western Ohio.
I’m a professional street-walker. Calling myself a Mailman sounds too boring. I’m also a traveler. I have the vacation time to find cheap flights to any place I want to go, South or West. I also play in the dirt or garden. I like to grow food and have flowers and plants everywhere. Having many gardening areas cuts down on running the lawn mower on grass. I’m a person who enjoys nature. We live with several critters such as birds, deer, turkeys, raccoons, foxes, and snakes. I play photographer once in awhile and I have plentyof photos of many creatures and all kinds of landscape.
2. When Did You Start Writing and Blogging?
Complicated question. I began writing as a freshman in College. I wrote short stories for awhile. I could do dream sequences well, but writing the dialogue and including substance in my short stories was difficult for me.
Then a couple decades or so later, I blew out my knee and was trapped on a couch for amonth with a leg brace; that was about a year and half ago. During this time, I started myblog cleverly with a web address ofAny1mark66. My blog changed after taking a WordPress Blogger University Course.
“I like to grow food and have flowers and plants everywhere. Having many gardening areas cuts down on running the lawn mower on grass. I’m a person who enjoys nature.” – Mark Reynolds
3. What Does Writing and Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
Writing is all about expression. Poetry for me is spontaneous writing. A stray thought orstring of words can be woven into an image. There’s a challenge to producing a particular feeling you can convey to others. The meaning of fiction for me….that’s personal!
Every fictional story should display a character gloriously flawed and have the ability to connect to the reader with something familiar, they can find in themselves or others. Real life connections are unique to each of us but if I can get a reader to buy in to the theme of my writing, than the reader can embrace my characters. Additionally, I write because it’s fun, and you can’t kill people in real life, but you can in a fictional story.
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
I participate in several writing challenges. I especially like to mix music with fantastic writing using the lyrics in songs.Nature is also always available for inspirational ideas. And those characters you can kill in writing are fascinating.There’s a quality to them and they inspire me to use different methods to explain why the die and how. Also, I have stray or random thoughts which keep giving me writing ideas. I use my spontaneouswriting when I write serial stories which can be built into bigger works of writing.
“Every fictional story should display a character gloriously flawed and have the ability to connect to the reader with something familiar, they can find in themselves or others. Real life connections are unique to each of us but if I can get a reader to buy in to the theme of my writing, than the reader can embrace my characters.” – Mark Reynolds
5. Do You Find There Is a Time Of Day You Most Like to Write? What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I write at several different times in a day. Poetry is usually, a morning exercise. Flash fiction and stories are easier to write in the afternoon or evening.
I’m finishing up some of my fictional serial stories. I am doing a rewrite of the fairy tale: Little RedRiding Hood which I call: Beware of The Red Cape. In my version, Red is not the small innocent girl you read about in most fairy tales.
My other serial writing project is about a stalker. The stalking begins at a soccer practice and we’ll just say, hasn’t ended yet. Or, maybe it has? I’m not sure yet. I’m still working the serial story out.
I also have a serial story about a Granny whose ghost has become rather strange, a bit crazy. My Granny character has changed slightly as the serial has developed. My characters like to tell me how they wish to be viewed.
6. Have You Attempted To Publish Any of Your Writing? Or Are You Planning to Publish Writing In the Future? Can You Briefly Describe Your Current Publishing Process?
I have been waiting to hear from a group doing a collection of stories from writers with Amazon self-publishing. I have submitted several pieces to this group.I have heard back twice and generally been told, ‘We are not looking for this now but we may contact you in the future.’ So, still waiting unfortunately.
If I understand the process of self-publishing right, I may have professional editing done and have Amazon recommend cover art for my book. It will be in the form of an E-book. I’m not buying a bunch of hard copy books upfront; Amazon does offer demand printing if I wish to go that route in the future.
“And those characters you can kill in writing are fascinating.There’s a quality to them and they inspire me to use different methods to explain why the die and how. Also, I have stray or random thoughts which keep giving me writing ideas. I use my spontaneous writing when I write serial stories which can be built into bigger works of writing.” – Mark Reynolds
7. What Is Your Writing Process Like? Do You Prefer Certain Genres for Reading and Writing?
I suddenly, have an idea; I lose said idea. Then, my idea returns similar, but changed and slightly twisted. Next, I peck out my ideas on my phone or IPad. I prefer to write my entire story all at once. If I come back to the story, my thoughts may change. I want a certain feeling when I write and that’s hard to recapture at a later time if I leave it. I will, however, go back to my writing and play with some new ideas later. But these ideas often become new stories on their own.
My preferred areas of reading include science-fiction books, suspense books, horror books, historical reads, science books, and books on nature. Although I write poetry, I have never read much of it.
8. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?
Forget what you think you know about writing and write outside the boundaries of yourdaily life. If you have to research a bit about a subject or place and learn its history, it builds a greater depth of feeling in your writing. Researching and visiting places to come up with new ideas, or more in-depth ideas, will give you a stronger voice in your writing.
Oh yeah, fail at what you want (to write or do in life) once in awhile. Failure teaches a person things; no one ever learnt much from doing something right all the time.
“If I come back to the story, my thoughts may change. I want a certain feeling when I write and that’s hard to recapture at a later time if I leave it. I will, however, go back to my writing and play with some new ideas later. But these ideas often become new stories on their own.” – Mark Reynolds
9. Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share With Us About Yourself Or Your Writing?
I have a passion for spreading information on things such as the food we eat. We have terrible options for fresh food and for finding out what is actually in the food we eat from the supermarket.
Food labeling isn’t often correct and there should be laws to make the labels on the food a person buys truthful and clear. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are terrible for a person to ingest. You may disagree with me, but try dumping weed killer on your garden plants and eating them, its about the same. But of course it’s safe. Ask the people who made the weedkiller.
“A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism). GMOs are used to produce many medications and genetically modified foods and are widely used in scientific research and the production of other goods. . .
The Organic Consumers Association, and the Union of Concerned Scientists,and Greenpeace stated that risks have not been adequately identified and managed, and they have questioned the objectivity of regulatory authorities. Some health groups say there are unanswered questions regarding the potential long-term impact on human healthfrom food derived from GMOs, and propose mandatory labeling or a moratorium on such products.
Concerns include contamination of the non-genetically modified food supply,effects of GMOs on the environment and nature,the rigor of the regulatory process,and consolidation of control of the food supply in companies that make and sell GMOs,or concerns over the use of herbicides with glyphosate.” –Wikipedia: Genetically Modified Organisms
10. Can You Please Share Some of Your Favorite Pieces of Writing With Us.
“Jezzibelle! Jezzibelle! Where are you?” Mama calls out.
She washes her hands with lye soap as she looks out the open window. Mama is nervous about sending the girl off alone. She is of age now, but so easily swayed from her chores. Mama knows the family trait to do the easy gains runs deep in her. But Mama’s love can cure all ills. Her Mama told her the way to be. It’s that figure Jezzibelle is developing she is more concerned with.
Her own Mama has not responded to the traditional cures. Leaches have proved ineffective to her maladies. Herbal wraps have made her skin glow in the palest of white, lacking the rudiness of life. Charcoal chunks have pasted through her without taking the problem with them.
Mama shuffles through bottles of homemade wine. Dandelion wine, it’s pale yellow color and gentle flavor would be prefect for a picnic. Today it’s a message to get well. A smoked chunk of beef rests inside a burlap sack. Two half pieces of bread complete the basket. A single sage smudge stick wrapped inside kept out and bugs.
“Where is that girl? I shouldn’t trust her. My Mama isn’t getting better since Jezzibelle has taken over the role of care taker. I hope Jezzibelle isn’t a burden to her. Mama loves her so. The red cape of velvet came from her grandmother. It gave her a certain glow of vibrant womanhood at the young age. And I remember being that age….The day Derrick came to the farm…I could careless he was so much older. There are men waiting to get a hold of her. Her uncles tell me how much she would fetch us. Maybe the men know best. It’s a lot of money. She will need someone to keep her well.” Mama reflects on the regrets of life and what future her daughter will be strattled with.
“Mama, what is it. I was playing with Mindy’s dog. He’s so cute. I wish we could have that dog. He keeps the ghastly beasts from the forest at bay. Please, could we get one! I really think it would be best. They haven’t lost a single chicken in months. And I would…” Jezzibelle tries to plead her case.
“Enough child! You know what I need from you. Take that basket to grandmother! She hasn’t been by. She still bed ridden. You must take care of her for me. I packed it well. It’s early. The field and woods will be cool. Make haste child. If it gets too warm the animals will smell the food. They will stalk you, and steal the food. Those ugly old wolves might hunt you too. Take your cape! Grandmother will only recognize you in it. Her vision was really poor last week.” Mama is nervous and shaking. “Don’t you snoop around her corners! She will hear you! She doesn’t like snoops. You may get her home one day.”
“Mama, I love grandmother. Will she be ok? I fear she’ll die. I’ll never have her long enough. I want her to know my babies. I don’t want to live there without her.” Jezzibelle kicks at her feet and tries to avoid her mother’s gaze.
“Stay on the path! Don’t stop to talk to anyone! There are strangers who might want this food or try to take you away. A pretty girl like you needs to be careful around strangers.” Mama warns her.
“You worry too much, Mama. I’ll be fine. I have seen a few people in my trips. They know me now. They will help me.” Jezzibelle puts her hand on Mama’s arm.
Mama looks at her with a mix of unsure feelings and hope. Her heart lends itself to worrying about one thing at a time.
Thank You so much Mark for the interview. It was great to read about your writingprocess, your inspirations, and your thoughts on writing and other topics. Here is one more link to Mark’s Blog:Coloring Outside The Lines
If you would like to be interviewed on my blog and share with other writers and bloggers about your writing and the process involved with how you write and how youpublish your work, you can reach-out to me on my Contact Page.
Welcome to another interview in my interview series. Originally, I was going to make this a monthly feature, but I had a great response from other bloggers and writers who wish to be interviewed, so I will try it as a series which occurs every two-weeks.
Today, I’m excited and pleased to share with you the talented writer and bloggerRyan Stone of ‘Days of Stone’. Please visit the link provided to read more about Ryan and read his superb poetry.
1. Please Tell Us About Yourself.
The blood of the Irish runs deep in my veins but I’m an Australian born and bred. I was raised in a ‘man’s land’ of karate, fast motorbikes, heavy metal guitars, and football with Aussie rules. My love of reading and writing was not readily accepted. Instead, I was forced to indulge my interests under my bed covers by torchlight. But the poets Seamus Heaney,Kenneth Slessor, Walt Whitman, and Maya Angelou — all have a way of asserting themselves in my writing.
Although I have no real love of uniforms, I’ve worn a few in my life so far: the combatfatigues of a soldier in the field and driving a battle tank; the torn black denim of a metalguitarist; and the turnout gear of a fire-fighter. I’ve been a rank-and-file cop, a detective, and a member of a plain-clothes special duties team. When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains.
I have no formal credentials, only an observer’s eye and an insatiable appetite for books. I’m rough around the edges, but the right turn of phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time. I love Metallica, Ted Kooser, and with equal passion, my closest friend in the world, my German Shepherd (don’t tell my wife).
“When all the uniforms are stripped off, I like to think it is the writer who remains . . . the right turn of a phrase will stop me dead in my tracks every time.” – Ryan Stone
2. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?
The first time I considered my writing to be writing, was towards the end of highschool. I was blessed with an incredibly passionate Englishteacher who managed to channel a teenage boy’s angst and anger into something less destructive. When one of my poems earned me a kiss from a pretty girl I had a crush on, I knew writing was something I’d stick with.
I’ve never been much of a social media fan. But I reached a point where I became sick of waiting several months for editors to respond to my poetry submissions; I turned instead to WordPress. Along with all the great writing and posts I’m able to read from other writers, I’ve developed a wonderful, supportive group of friends, and readers, who offer feedback and advice in a much shorter time frame than editors. While I still submit to poetry journals, my year of blogging has given me a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction.
3. What Does Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
To borrow from my favourite quote by Anton Chekhov: Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.
I love the way a poem can capture more than a photograph, can carry an image or emotion over time and space, and let me experience someone else’s worldview for a moment. I also like the way reading one of my own poems years after it was written can transport me back to a previous ‘headspace,’ for a moment.
” . . .Poetry isn’t being told the moon is shining – for me, it is being shown the glint of light on broken glass.” – Ryan Stone (borrowing from Anton Chekhov)
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation To Write?
Nearly all of my poetry begins while I’m running with my dog through the rain forest beside my house. Usually, a thought, a memory, or an observation takes root and nags at me until I jot it down. Sometimes, an unusual word or phrase will catchme the same way. My dog has developed his very own ‘here we go again’face which he pulls each time I pause during a run, so I can tap out a note or two on my phone.
5. Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like To Write?
Predominantly, I write at night, when my boys are asleep, and the house is quiet. I am frequently awake into the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes. During these hours, I can most effectively explore and develop the notes I jot down during the day.
” I am frequently awake in the small hours of the morning and find my 2:00 am mind is quite adept at slipping out of the shackles my daytime mind imposes.” – Ryan Stone
6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I have two fantasy novels I’m working on at present. One is about a princess who becomesa pirate queen after her parents are murdered, the other is about an orphan boy who becomes a magician and later, a king. Both novels began as short stories which expanded and grew during a couple of National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo). Both novels are over a hundred-thousand words and in need of serious revision. As with everything, time is a killer.
Poetry wise, I’m writing a chapbook with one of my closest internet mates (Ajay) who lives in India. It is loosely based around flowers and cultural differences. I’m currently editing a collection of my Senryu (5-7-5) poems, with the intention of self-publishing a small e-book of one-hundred Senryu poems, in the next few months…unless a publisher comes along sooner.
7. Have You Published Any Writing or Are You Planning To Publish Works Of Writing In The Future?
I’m fortunate enough to have had many poems published in a number of online journals, print anthologies, and poetry magazines. I never thought anyone other than my mum would enjoy my writing and rarely submitted my writing anywhere until recently.
A few years ago, I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet,” which I thought had a chance of being published, so I submitted it to a couple of places…and was rejected each time. On a whim, I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine (a magazine in the UK to which I subscribe), and was blown away when it won first prize and £100 (quite a lot of money with the Australian exchange rate being what it is). That first win, gave my confidence a much-needed boost and I’ve been submitting ever since.
” I wrote a poem called “Unburied Hatchet” . . .I sent it into the monthly competition in Writers’ Forum Magazine . . .and was blown away when it won first prize and £100.” – Ryan Stone
8. Can You Briefly Describe The Process You Went Through To Publish or Are Going Through To Have Your Writing Published?
All my publishing to date has been by submission, so I’ll talk about publishing by submission. Whether it’s a print journal, online review, magazine, blog, or something else, the rules are always the same.
Read the publication first, to gain an idea of what style of writing they publish. While it doesn’t hurt to offer something fresh, I usually have a fair idea of an editor’s likes and dislikes before I submit.
Read and re-read the submission guidelines before you hit send. An improperlyworded subject line can be enough for an editor to discount the submissionwithout even reading the poem. Some publications request everything in the bodyof an email, others prefer attachments. Decent editors are inundated with submissions which meet their specific requirements and most, won’t waste their time with sub-standard submissions.
Take rejections gracefully.Analyze any critiques subjectively and apply critiques if you think they are warranted.BUT DON’T GIVE UP – submit, submit, submit. There are a million homes for poems out there and because a poem isn’t right for one editor or magazine certainly doesn’t mean it won’t be a prize winner for another editor or magazine. While I’m realistic about my own writing, I generally look at rejections as a case of a bad fit, not a bad poem.
9. What Is Your Writing Process Like?
Almost exclusively, my writing begins as a note or two on my iPhone (often while I’m running) and later develops on my iPad. My writing environment is incredibly vital to me and the Mac/iPad writing program — Ulysses — puts me in an excellent creative ‘headspace.’ I tend to write a first draft quickly once an idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over…
I am incredibly fortunate to have found a brilliant first reader. She’s an amazingly talented poet in her own right as well as possessing editing skills second to none. For some reason, I’ve yet to understand, she seems to enjoy my writing and conversation and has nurtured and developed my poetry to no end. My first reader’s input is a huge part of my process in developing a poem from initial idea to finished piece.
” I tend to write a first draft quickly once an idea forms and then I’ll put it aside for a week or two, before returning and revising a poem over and over and over . . .” – Ryan Stone
10. Do You Prefer Certain areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?
When I’m reading a novel, it is usually fantasy and almost always a series. StephenKing’s Dark Towercollection is a favourite, as are Game of Thrones, Magician, TheBelgariad, Lord of the Rings, and Bernard Cornwell’sArthurianbooks. I play a great deal of electricguitar which draws me to music biographies as well, anything rock or metal is fair game. Additionally, I love short story collections: Italo Calvino takes first prize there, and I read as much modern poetry as I can get my hands on.
Originally, my love of poetry was nurtured by Maya Angelou, Kenneth Slessor, JimMorrison (The Doors), and Jewel Kilcher. When I first discovered Ted Kooser a few years ago, my own poetry made a huge leap. Kooser’s book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, was full of ‘Aha!’ moments for me. Most recently, I’ve lost myself in the brilliant BuddyWakefield and Richard Hugo’s:The Triggering Town.
11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers?
I’m not really big on dishing out advice, as everyone writes uniquely. What works for one person, won’t always help another person; but I can certainly share what works for me.
The important thing is to write, write, write and keep writing. It doesn’t have to be good. I have loads of writingwhich will probably never see the light of day; however, once the first jumble is out of my head, the writing that follows is much better.
I don’t edit my first draft as I write. I write it all down and worry about cleaning itup later. If I’m only editing a word or two, then I’ll delete and replace. If I’m editing a whole line or large section, I cut and paste in a new version – v1, v2, v3, (etc .) and keep each version in the same document. I find it’s much easier to revise without the fear of losing words or ideas I may want to later reinstate.
Once I’m happy with a version of my work, I put it aside for a few days and return to it later with ‘fresh eyes.’ I find it much easier to spot weak points, sticky spots, doubled up words, bad rhythm, (etc.), when I’m reading it fresh.
The poem is more important than the truth. When I’m writing a poem based on an actual event, I find it easy to place valueon a thing because its memory is significant to me. Often, I don’t want to let the thing go from the poem. This can become a weak point as the particular thing doesn’t make the poem better and doesn’t hold the same value for the reader. Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to mymemory, my poetry comes together far tighter.
“Once I let the poem dictate what to keep and what to cut, rather than trying to stay one-hundred-percent true to my memory, my poetry comes together far tighter.” – Ryan Stone
12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like The Share With Us Which You Think Is Pertinent To Writing or Yourself?
An honest first reader who will tell me what works and what sucks without worrying about my feelings, is worth her weight in gold.
13. Can You Please Share With Us Few Links Of Your Favourite or Most Loved Pieces?
Until I saw those wasted hands,
brittle as chalk, I hadn’t thought
how fast the years make ghosts.
I heard them once called brawler’s paws.
For me, they were always more:
cobras, poised to strike.
But his brawling days are gone now;
I could kill him with a pillow,
if I cared enough to try.
Thin sheets press tightly to a bed
more empty than full, his body broken
like the promises of childhood.
Haunted eyes betray last thoughts
of a dim path, spiralling down.
He hopes to make amends.
“Forgiven?” he croaks,
barely there, as always,
and I’m wishing that I wasn’t.
With the last rays of day as witness,
I turn my back with purpose
and hear the silence roar.
In a late-night bar I catch my reflection
swimming in a glass of bourbon;
but I’m staring at a ghost.
– Ryan Stone
First published in Writers’ Forum Magazine issue 163, April 2015 – first place
1. “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. . .” Da da da da da da da da, “So kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you’ll wait for me, hold me like you’ll never let me go; cause I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again. . .” Lydia kept singing the same parts of the popular song she knew; she was mad at her husband Dan because she had wanted to fly to their destination; Lydia was unimpressed when Dan announced they’d be travelling hours and hours by train; well since Dan didn’t ask her if she agreed with travelling by train, she was going to sing what she knew of “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” until Dan’s ears hurt, her throat was soar, and Dan remembered the message.
2. Trains, planes, and automobiles, you chose the train; and I think it’s lovely we get to see the lush foil age of the countryside; trees every now and then with budding green leaves, deer and bison grazing in the wilderness; then, it began to pour and rain, the rain was loud as it hit the roof of the train car, it poured and dripped down the windows and sightseeing along the way to Vancouver became a washed out greyish-green window; I could follow the tracks of raindrops on the window and every time a drop stopped I sighed; this game was boring and I wanted to be in Vancouver already, flying was actually cheaper; I didn’t mind that there was no view, the view would come walking through the streets of the city, green everywhere and flowers and fruit blooming.
3. “When I’m gone, when I’m gone, you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone; you’re gonna miss my by my hair, you’re gonna miss me everywhere, oh you’re going to miss me when I’m gone . ..” Darren sang the Johnny Cash tune as he stepped onto the train; adventure awaited and he could take his bike with him; he was excited, and enjoying travelling across Europe; Darren was young, barely twenty-years-old, but seeing all he’d seen, he never regretted not for one moment, dropping everything and flying to Europe, where Darren rode the train everywhere he went; in every city and country he could explore and absorb into his youthful mind.
1. My dog used to burry her nose in flowers, when she walked outside in Spring and Summer; it was the loveliest moment to witness her absorbing the scent of flowers with her sharp sense of smell; the flowers must have smelled pleasing to her, a fragerent blossom she adored, because the dog would leave her nose buried in the flowers for longer then was necessary to simply check-out a smell; she loved how flowers smelt.
2. A unique talent this dog had was helping me choose the perfect perfume; whenever I received a new magazine in the mail, I would open the flap of the perfumed pages and hold them out for her to smell one page at a time; it got to the point where the dog would expect to do this every time a new fashion magazine came; she could tell if the magazine was one for her to smell and decide if a perfume smelt heavenly, disgusting, or somewhere inbetween; if she liked the scent she would sniff the page, smelling the scent for a while before walking away; if the scent was bad she would smell the page and sneeze a few times right away; and if the scent was only okay, she would smell it, wait a while and then sneeze once; true enough, the scents she sneezed at were never scents I purchased or liked.
3. I’m not sure what kind of flowers these are, they are beautiful and ugly; they speak of springs presence, of hope, and renewal, but I’ve always had this issue with little white flowers, inherited from my Mother; flowers that remind me carnationd, which are small are similar to these flowers pictured, remind me of death; Grandpa Wilson had them on his casket when I was eight-years-old and when my Dad would bring these flowers home for my Mom, she’d sigh and say, “death flowers;” years later, Dad took the hint and now he brings Mom roses on special occasions.