Why are my poems always so depressing?

Something I’m sure you’ve all noticed and that I’m definitely self-conscious about is the nature of my poems.  I rarely write happy poetry, or poetry that is remotely positive.  I feel self-conscious because I worry my poetry may be hurtful to others who struggle with their own negative emotions.

Well, poetry is cathartic for me.  It allows me to say the things I can’t say in regular words, sentences, paragraphs….  If I’m happy, I feel I can be pretty open about it.  If I’m happy, it’s usually because of positive things.  If I’m upset, it’s usually due to other people, and I don’t want to name and shame.  I’ve tried to channel my happy feelings into poetry, but it just doesn’t work the same way.

“Take your broken heart and turn it into art.”  Those are the words of Carrie Fisher, of blessed memory – an actress I’ve always wanted to meet (and hope someday to meet when my time is up), and an author I don’t plan to read.  But these wise words resonate with me.

My heart has been broken plenty of times, though not in the way Taylor Swift or Carrie Fisher or other amatonormative artists likely discuss in their works.  The best thing I can do is make art out of my negative feelings.  I can only do so much venting to my fellow, fallible humans.

Still, I hope sometime I’ll get better at channeling other emotions into verse.  Art should inspire others to make better art, even if I’m not there yet.


Authors & Fans, Part II

Earlier this year, I blogged about how two of my friends, on opposite sides of the Author-Fan relationship spectrum, had interesting experiences.  One of my friends was slighted by an author who took her criticism out of context; the other is a creator who’s had to deal with an overly attached young fan.

In recent months, I’ve experienced a similar challenge to my author friend.  When people join the very small Allison the Writer fandom, I appreciate it so much, but that doesn’t make me best buddies with all of my fans.  It’s true, I have good friends who have become fans of my work, and I also have fans of my work who have become my good friends.  But this doesn’t apply to everyone, and in my situation, I feel the fan wasn’t getting that.

There’s a lot of background information that I feel would be inappropriate and disrespectful to get into, so I’ll cut to the chase.  Long story short, I asked them (as politely as I could manage) to leave me alone, to not email me as they’d been doing every time I posted something new and interesting to the blog.  It’s a free country and I can’t stop them from reading my blog, even leaving public comments on my posts.  (I mean, I could, but I really shouldn’t….)

I saw the way a famous author acted beneath her dignity and slighted my friend on social media; I’d hate to be that person to somebody else.  As an author, artist, creator, I feel I have an obligation to be professional, not pettily vindictive or mean simply because I have the power to do so.  Everything I said about barriers of professionalism still stand for me, and as challenging as it may be, I must stick to them.

Anyway, this small, somewhat annoying challenge was a good opportunity to practice what I’d preached with little experience to justify it at the time.  At the end of the day, I’m grateful to G-d for giving me this test.

Progress on After the Fall

I have good news: I’ve been on a roll with writing After the Fall.

From May to August 2016, I’d managed to churn out several chapters in quick succession.  It was an intense and exciting time, and I was hoping to finish the story before a certain significant milestone in my life.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and when Autumn rolled around, I started to run out of steam.

It’s taken a while, but I’m so glad to say I’ve returned to this project and I’m making significant headway once again.  I am so in love with the story I was trying to tell that I felt so guilty at the thought that it might get permanently shelved as so many others have.  Fortunately, that’s not happening!

Where I’d left the story, I had a bunch of unfinished, disjointed chapters and snippets that didn’t really have places in the current order of things.  I managed to salvage most of them and rework them slightly until everything fit together.  But there’s still so much more to write and I’m so ready to write it.  (I’m not sure if it will be a novel-length work by the time it’s done, but that really doesn’t matter to me as long as the story flows.)

Here’s the kicker: I’m seriously considering pulling another Seaport for After the Fall.  When I self-published Secrets in Seaport, I was overconfident in my self-editing skills and I inflicted the story upon the world in a frankly sorry state.    But as much as I hate Seaport now, I force myself to keep it available as a snapshot of my abilities at the time it was written; a cringey milestone, if you will.  I’ve promised myself to do better next time.

Cliche is my attempt at doing things better, more traditionally and responsibly for self-publication.  It’s being beta-read.  When that’s done, I’m going to edit, revise, and proofread it to the best of my current abilities.  Then and only then will I publish it.

After the Fall is kind my book-baby.  I want it to be delivered into the world as all babies are, bare and helpless.  (The comparison sounded way better when I said it aloud to my mother….)  If I’m to spend months or even years editing this, as I grow older, it will change too.  It’ll age with me.  It won’t be the story whose general plot I jotted down on a sheet of loose-leaf paper two years ago.

When I finish After the Fall, I’ll do a basic self-edit and some other minor damage-control rituals (to make sure no one’s backing their cars into circular driveways and people’s ages don’t change when they shouldn’t … stuff like that), but then I just want to publish it.

This is a conscious choice made with experience, however impulsive it seems, to publish this book “raw.”  It’s imperfect, holey, unrealistic, you name it.  But that’s how I think I want it to be.  I want it to be a testament to where I am now, that I can look back and cringe at when I’m older.  Hopefully, I’ll cringe a bit less at this one.

Who Needs Diverse Books … More?

A while ago, my friend of mine shared an interesting Tweet about how ARCs (advanced review copies) of an up-and-coming book about marginalized people seem to be going to readers who openly admit they don’t care about the subject, rather than real-life marginalized people who could relate to the subject matter and characters who represent the same traits.  If this is happening, why?

One thing that happens whenever I put my foot in my mouth online or I express an unpopular opinion out there, is people immediately rush to educate me into seeing things their way, or how to express my points with more sensitivity.*

It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the intentions of a diverse writer is to educate ignorant readers about marginalized people, or simply people of another culture or group that is commonly misunderstood (doesn’t necessarily have to be a marginalized person).  That could also be a reason for why an ARC distributor would put an ignorant/disinterested/unaffected person ahead of a real-life marginalized-person reader on an ARC waiting list.

But is that such a good thing?  I don’t buy it.  My friend doesn’t buy it either. Continue reading →

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe follows two teenagers, Citra and Rowan, through their apprenticeship to the Honorable Scythe Faraday.  (All Scythes take on new names, after “Patron Historics,” aka historical personalities, when ordained.)  Neither want to join the next generation of population-controlling killers, which is why they are deemed perfect to be trained; however, only one year of training one can continue their apprenticeship. Continue reading →

Recovery and writing about it? (Not yet.)

While I was going about my day, I had an inkling of a potential subplot for the Cliche story arc.  That story arc would be inspired by a darker part of my writing life, the part I’ve alluded to in poems and more explicitly in the sound art track on my poetry EP.

To respect the privacy of everyone involved, I’ve hesitated to speak about the time someone tried to control my creativity.  I was resistant, but it was at a low point in my personal life, and knowing that, the person tried to use that vulnerability against me.  In fact, anything creative they saw me doing, they tried to take over and then rub it in my face, make me feel guilty that I wasn’t creating for them.

No thanks to that person, I couldn’t really write for a long time.  And I’m wary to this day of collaborative writing projects, especially co-writing projects.  I’m able to do them now, but a) I worry (without basis) it’ll be like this one; and b) what if I become like that person – lazy, controlling, expecting my partner to do all the work while all I do is criticize and get my name on the cover.

Thank G-d, my bout of writer’s block finally cleared when I started roleplaying on Young Writers Society.  Thanks to the lovely people there, my zeal for writing returned, little by little.  I’ve got one completed manuscript that I’m super proud of, and I’m currently 75% done with another.

In my notes for the Cliche sequel, the entire subplot idea is covered in question marks.  Until now, Cliche has just been poking some good-natured fun at the stuff writers do.  I feel like crafting this particular subplot into the story would be pulling from a dark, shadowy source that might taint it.

But there’s a reason it feels so dark.  The thing is, I’ve only just come to the point that I can express my feelings about that time in verse.  I don’t think I’m ready to turn that experience into self-deprecating humor.  The time for that will come eventually, when I can look on that time and actually chuckle at it.  But not yet.

Treat me like a stripe in your banner

Treat me like a stripe in your banner

I simply don’t fit in society’s life planner

When kids in school played being grown

I found peace and solace all on my own


Is this some part of the prudish thing

A short-lived phase that’s come to sting?

My time will come in the traditional way

But that time, make note, is not this day


So let me hang onto the tattered rags

That ravel from your gaily colored flag

Until arrives my one, true destiny

I’ll take this semblance of unity


I hope you get it, my favorite color

Has temporarily switched to another

So I can enjoy some solitude

This is my choice, I am a prude