Where Do We Find Inspiration?

Writing is hard work. The challenge of craft never seems to diminish. So I look for inspiration to keep going.

I’ve long admired Julianna Baggott. Her poems and novels have been threaded through my life. I often turn to her blog when I need something to boost my writing spirit or to help me see a new possibility.

In a post dated May 9, 2017, she turns the challenge of point of view. How and why first person can work in some situations and how and why third person is better than others. In this particular post, she pulls in the significance of humor. She shares this insight: “I should say that in first-person I always allow my characters to have a sense of humor — if nothing else than a realistic coping mechanism and how I personally process — and it can really high-jack a scene. I’m not saying that humor is bad in horror or thrillers or drama. The opposite. It’s necessary — for realism and, when used the right way, it’s a great counterpoint and it can make the scene even darker. But it can also fight you line by line, letting the reader off the hook, letting air out of the scene. One way to ease the effect is to go more retrospective. Past-tense and widen the time gap. This allows for a little softening of the lens, nostalgia, less flattening of the scene and more control of how it’s being read because of meddling from the narrator who has a stronger vantage point.”

In an earlier post, dated April 4, Baggott discusses the difference between form and formula especially as it relates to the novel. She writes, “And, look, structure is often something novelists do have to create by hand — and often it’s a brutal process of the story pushing its form into view. We have to chop through the jungle with machetes. But paths exist. They just do. We’re in the same jungle that other novelists have been through long before us. If you can start off as a writer on a path — in a structure that already exists — all the better. You can keep your eye on other things, like your sentences.”

So if you feel stuck in your writing or if you’re simply looking for a little inspiration, take some time with the writers you admire. Have they shared insight into the process? And if so, what can you take to breathe new life into your work and habits?

Jill Gerard

Lost Smile

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I ask my myself why I changed.

Why did my smiles stop?

There were no tears,

No aching sadness,

Just a missing smile.

Silence and loneliness clings to me

Like darkness hugs all during the night.

Daylight breaks,

The sun chases away the darkness,

Still I remain standing in the dark,

No light comes to rescue me.

People come and go —

Laughter comes and goes.

The silent, lonely darkness remains.

My ever faithful companion.

Still there is no sadness.

I wondered did this happen to other people as well?

And then I realized,

I am only ever as alone as I allow myself to be.

I decided that while the darkness may be a part of me.

It would not rule me.

I let the sun bring me into its warm embrace,

And my smile shines as bright.

The need to find sadness is gone.

I can smile.

 

Sara Horton is a Founding Editor of The Olive Press

Rogue Agent

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Want something different to read? Rogue Agent is a journal that is worth looking at if you enjoy poetry. Jill Khoury, Editor in Chief of Rogue Agent, wanted to create a space for poetry on embodied poetry–poetry about the body. The poetry addresses gender, race, heritage, queerness, dis/ability, mental illness, motherhood, the impact of religion on the body, and the impact of societal expectations on the body. What makes it even more interesting is that the poetry published is on the author’s individual experience and not other’s experiences. I love reading poetry from the author’s point of view, this helps me gain a better perspective on relevant issues. Rogue Agent only publishes ten poems by ten poets a month, as well as interviews and art features. So, if you want poetry that is unique and about the body, go read some of the awesome poetry in Rogue Agent.

http://www.rogueagentjournal.com/

Jennifer Burnside is an editor for The Olive Press.

 

Long Way Down

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is a story of revenge and the consequence of revenge. At least that’s what you think it’s about. Reynolds main character Will lives by three simple rules: no crying, no snitching, and always revenge. The premise of this novel is based on a true event from Reynolds life. At 19, he had considered taking revenge himself for the murder of his best friend at the time. What he did instead was to write a book about gun violence that just might break the mold and actually change some minds. Reynolds says that he tried to write this book in a three dimensional way in order to really hit home with people. He is not trying to teach the reader a lesson. He is simply trying to make reality jump off the page. However, this is not the most surprising thing about this book. This novel is not like most novels because it’s written as poetry. Reynolds said that he knows that many communities and people struggle with literary challenges, therefore he wanted to write a book that someone could sit down and read in 45 minutes and walk away understanding the message.

 

Sara Horton is a founding editor of The Olive Press.

Quiet and Stillness Needed

As December begins, I feel the rush toward the end of the year pick up. It is an inner frenzy–all those things I had hoped to complete this year, my need for plans in hand, the lurking pressure of the holidays.

This sense of pressure makes me appreciate those mornings when I don’t need to worry about an alarm, when it is enough to let the sun break through the blinds, allowing the increasing brightness to shake me into the world.

Today, while browsing and reading online, I came across a poem by David Whyte titled “What to Remember When Waking.” It concludes with these lines:

“Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?”

So here is my hope, that we all find the quiet and still mornings that allow us to look outward and inward, both and find what is calling us into the world this day.

Jill Gerard

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

As college students, we don’t often get the opportunities to read for pleasure. But lucky for us, we get this lovely thing called Fall Break where we get to relax for about four days. Lucky for me, I stumbled across some free books in the hallway on my way out of the building. So naturally like any English major, I scooped them up and made my home to read them for fun. One of the books I found was titled Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson. Now this was a shocker, I thought he only wrote mystery/thriller books. As a hopeless romantic, I love to see relationships blossom within the story, and I also have the slight habit of becoming attached to the characters—which means, DON’T KILL OFF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS. So with that thought in mind, I took a deep breath and mentally prepared myself for what lay ahead. To avoid spoiler alerts: I enjoyed the book. James Patterson did not disappoint. Upon turning to the first page, you might be slightly confused and might dislike the male protagonist of the story but keep reading. I promise things will make sense after a few chapters. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives; James Patterson handles this very well. I was also surprised(in a good way) by his interpretation of what goes through the female mind. There is a definite plot twist, and you should definitely without a doubt check this book out. Take some time out of your busy day and read this book.

This book review is brought to you by Sequilla Arita