This is our last week of the workshop. You may submit a new story or revise words already submitted. We’ll also look at how to get your words out into the world!
Watch the clip above featuring awesome mindful writer Natalie Goldberg (if you haven’t already definitely check out her book, Writing Down the Bones). Then, I encourage you to think about space and place. What gives you a sense of space in your life, mind and heart for creating? Is there a way to cultivate that? What is a place that calls to you, is you? Can you speak of that place more in your work? Perhaps go back to writing we’ve already created in this course and see where you can add some hyper-color to your sense of place, where you can layer in details of surroundings. In a related way, think about the writing space you work in. Many people set up shrines or special spots to cultivate a spiritual life. Likewise, we can think about where we create writing as a sacred space and do what it takes to create specialness (for example, lighting a candle to feel ready to write and to set aside the space for writing)
“They” say (who is they anyway?) all writing is rewriting. I don’t totally agree. There’s that freedom of the first draft (oh Glory!) when we go on our riffs, explorations and hopefully can feel free. Then there is the rereading, the editing, when we try to shape the thing. At least, that’s one common process. In general, writing takes a balance of both Freedom and Structure.
Stirum Sukham Asanam
-in yoga, both a balance of freedom and structure is needed (the Yoga Sutras)
I hope the last few weeks have inspired you to USE YOUR LIFE as raw material for art. By looking inward at the body and breath, outward at the world around us, we can create. This week we’ll talk about how to edit and submit/share when we are ready.
Writing as a PRACTICE not a PERFECT.
One of the killers to writing (or any art) is that nasty P word….perfectionism. But there’s a good P word, too…practice! Practice doesn’t necessary make perfect when it comes to writing (since we are always evolving and the most “perfect” art has its own imperfections that make it so) but it does make product. I want to encourage you to keep up a writing practice. Just like people have meditation or yoga practices to ground themselves and their lives, your writing can be a practice, too. If you come to it regularly, it will start to open and open and open up for you. The more you fall in love with the process, the more you’ll create. Perhaps try repeating this course material (using the mindfulness meditation, then writing….or going out into the world with your iPhone camera to look for visual writing prompts) and keep giving yourself mini-assignments until you can’t HELP but write and create!!
So Once You Write and Love and Edit and Sleep on It and Read It Again and Edit and Read and Love: HOW Do You Submit??
I think it’s important we, as writers, talk openly about the other part of crafting and loving words: finding ways to share them.
Here are some tips for getting your work out into the world once you’ve not only written it, but given it some time to breathe, and read it out loud and edited it and maybe shared with some friends for feedback. For me there comes a time with a draft that I feel it starts to stand on its own, as its own living, breathing thing. That’s when I think to try submitting.
1) Research- Yes, check out and Read! the literary journals, newspapers, magazines, etc you might want to send your work to. There is a good list here. It can be tempting to just blindly send your work everywhere but it’s your baby….treat it with care. Really figure out where you want to send it and think about whether you feel it’s a good fit.
2) Submit! A lot of lit journals now have online submissions and you can just submit through their site, usually using a service called Submittable. Other times, you might have a general email. If you’re given a general email challenge yourself to go all Nancy Drew and snoop down who the exact editor is you want to send to. It’s WAY better to send your work to a specific name then just “Dear Editor”….you might even find the email address of that editor (but note: DON’T submit through Facebook or some editor’s personal gmail, keep it professional and keep cool.)
3) COVER LETTER- OK, so your work speaks for itself. It came from your heart and guts and love and inspiration and observation, and you read it out loud (yes, I keep reminding you of this) AND you maybe shared it with a few friends for feedback. It’s rocking.
But the cover letter or email letter is really important too. Actually, you want to grab the editor’s attention in a short and simple way in your cover letter so they’ll actually go read your piece. As mentioned in #2, try to reference the actual name of the editor (Dear Ms. Jones, not Dear Tina or Dear Editor if possible). Then let them know you actually read their journal. If there’s something you love about it, tell them in 1 sentence! Then in 1 sentence tell them what you’re sending them and why. Then in 1 more sentence tell them who you are and why you wrote it.
Yes, I’m only talking about 3-4 sentences here. It’s challenging, but editors seem to like brief emails (I imagine they read a gazillion!) Then attach your piece. This way you are introducing yourself in a professional and brief but complete way, then moving onto the work.
4) KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON- OK, so we all get rejected. It sucks. There’s no way around that. Even the top writers still get rejected if their work isn’t the right fit for the place they sent it to. (so take heart!!) Our job as writers is to keep on keepin’ on. This is one of the biggest challenges. Sometimes it seems so unfair…..writers have to be sensitive enough to feel and see and think about the world around them IN DETAIL, but then tough enough to withstand rejections! *&^^*(^! What a puzzle. But if we can support each other and go gentle on ourselves we can keep on, with our work and our sharing, take the hit of rejections when they come and MASSIVELY CELEBRATE acceptances when they, inevitably, come as well.
5) Stay connected to your intention- WHY do you write? What do you love about words? About reading? It’s SO important to stay connected to that day in and day out. If you love words they’ll love you back and seriously, that relationship will be in and of itself fulfilling whether or not anyone gets your writing. I truly believe that. Words heal, and we can create poems, stories, essays, etc, we love ourselves no matter who listens (though someone will listen :))
End of Course Questionnaire
Please complete the End of Course Questionnaire. We will use this information to understand what is working for you in the course; what can be improved; know what courses to add to our schedule; and understand how you came to find us. Thank you for sharing your words and talents with us this month. We hope you’ll join us again. Make sure to check out the upcoming course listings and let me know if you have any questions. I’ll be happy to make recommendations.
Free Alumni Promotions
As an Eckleburg Workshops Alumni, you now have free access to our listservs in quick and easy to complete forms with automatic distribution to students, alumni and faculty of The Eckleburg Workshops, readers at The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Eckleburg Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Tumblr followers. See below:
- The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Spotlight: In this spotlight you will not only speak about your workshop inspiration, but also about what the writing process means to you and your work. You will also let Eckleburg readers know about your current writing projects and focuses.
- Tell Us About Your Eckleburg Works! This distribution is for works you wrote and/or critiqued here at The Eckleburg Workshops, either in part or whole.
- Alumni Publications Shout Out! This distribution is for an alumni works published, whether they were workshopped at Eckleburg or not.
- Recommended Reading: What veteran writers know, and new writers sometimes do not, is that the literary community and markets are not only about talent and craft but also about the karma. The generosity you show other talented writers who have inspired you will come back to you. Start the good karma on your upcoming publication by sharing with us a work that grips you. This distribution is to spread the word about works you are currently reading and feel others should be too. This can be a book, a short story, a poem, etc.
Sarah Herrington’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Writer’s Digest and she was named a Poet to Watch by Oprah Magazine. She is the author of a collection of poetry, Always Moving (Bowery Books, 2011) and several nonfiction books, including Om Schooled (Addriya Press, 2012), and Essential Yoga (Fair Winds Press, 2013). In addition to writing, she is an advocate for mindfulness and creativity and is the founder and lead facilitator of OM Schooled Teacher Trainings. Sarah is a graduate of New York University’s English and Creative Writing programs and holds an MFA in Creative Writing through Lesley University. She is a grateful member of the Bowery Poetry Club community and has worked for Gotham Writers’ Workshop and Girls Write Now. She divides her time between New York and California.