I love John Cougar Mellencamp. I saw him in concert two years ago and I’m still not ready to talk about it. Seeing him in concert was intense bucket list stuff for me. I hold The Cougar in a private sort of way. I don’t hold him out in the open for all to see. His influence and presence in my life: I’ve always felt I needed to hold him close to the bone.
John Cougar Mellencamp, this man who stood for himself and did things his own way, regardless of what the world was doing…well, I was inspired, impressed, and wholeheartedly related to his message. As a sixth grade girl whose friends were evenly divided between Duran Duran or Michael Jackson (those were the times my friends, MJ hadn’t gone all creepy in ‘85. Not that we knew about anyway.) But those were the two camps available to me at that point in my life, and I decided to stand alone in camp with The Cougar.
He gave me a voice when I felt voiceless. He was a friend I rocked out to in my room, my small tape player turned up as far as it would go, distorting the sound of the music from a full rift of a guitar to a high pitched twangy strain of technology. He was honest and heartfelt and didn’t care what others thought about him, and that’s what I was desperately trying to be; but a girl in 6th grade in ’85 wasn’t really encouraged to stand out from the crowd. And still that was the beginning of a twinkle, when I began to think I wanted to do things differently than all the other around me. That was the beginning of my iconoclastic ways.
A woman writes in 1901
This is not the rejection you thought it was, it’s a different rejection of rejection. I’m pretty sure Yoda said that at one point.
So, this morning, I’m sitting in my haven of a backyard, the weather is nice and cool, cloud cover with active squirrels whooping it up, rummaging through the trees along my fence line.
I go through my normal morning moves: coffee, jazz, journal, and then check the email. I’ve subscribed to several informative ‘writer’ blogs and such over the years, and this morning as I read through one such one, an interesting article caught my eye, “Levels of rejection and what they mean.”
Of course, my gut reaction: What the fuck?! You mean there are different levels of rejection to feel bad about other than just the normal rejection that’s eating me up on the insides?!
A glutton; of course I read on.
Here’s a weird bit of information. When you publish short stories on your own personal website, it often voids the chances of said story to be published in a literary magazine, most of them require pieces that have never been published before. That rule includes one’s own blog.
That is one of the reasons I tend not to put any short stories on my blog.
But I love this one. I wrote it for a short story / essay contest held here in my little corner of the world where the theme was Fuel. Well, when I think of fuel, the one thing that always comes to my mind is my love for coffee. It truly fuels me!
Coffee Shops by Nicole Sharp Continue reading
Two rejected grant applications have wandered their unwanted way into my mailbox. This past Friday found the arrival of the second rejection.
So, how have I been handling it? Not well. Rejection, whether it’s the first one or the thousandth, hurts.
And sucks and makes me feel bad and I spiraled and quit because what’s the point and and and…
And if you’ve been reading, you’ve noticed a difference in my determination this year. Well, I will admit that there has been a shift in my depression demeanor as well. Is that a thing?
I jumped on the podcast trendy train. No, I’m not putting a podcast out there, but I started listening to them. I didn’t know where to start with the plethora of podcasts that are out these days. Before getting into the podcast these past few months, I’ve only really listened to two from years past.
Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter did one called A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment. They did about 28 shows, the last one being in October of 2015. The other one I loved was The Dead Authors Podcast. “Legendary time-traveling writer H.G. Wells (Paul F. Tompkins) welcomes literary giants to The Upright Citizen Brigade Theater in LA for a lively discussion in front of a live audience. Unscripted, barely researched, all fun!”
A few years ago, maybe only two years ago, now that I think about it. Two years ago, I found Mary Beard. And since then, the more I find out about her, as she shows up in my peripheral, the more of a crush I develop on her.
Mary Beard has a laundry list of ‘things she is’ behind her name. In summation, she is a Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge. She is an English scholar and classicist, think study of ancient Romans and Greeks among others. She’s been made a Dame of Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which puts the title Dame in front of her given name. There are more titles she touts as well; and she has a regular blog that appears in The Times Literary Supplement.
I first came to know of Mary’s in an article written in the New Yorker. I was fascinated with the easy going, long gray haired woman with no make-up that was practically glowing because as she sat comfortably on a velvet chase, she looked like she had the whole world figured out. The article was wonderful as well, and instilled the beginnings of my crush. Apparently, Mary’s not so polite trolls on social media are no match for her. She often engages them. So much so, that she engaged one such young man and they are now friends. She did indeed, if I am remembering correctly, garner an apology as well.
Art for the sake of art. In Latin it’s: Ars Gratia Artis. That’s the motto of MGM, if you look at their logo of the roaring tiger, above his head is a ribbon with those words written across it.
I’ve always loved that idea. Art for the sake of art.
As a writer, my art, the moment I know I’m creating art, is when the world falls away. Once that happens, when I’m in the thick of a story, skies open up, the sun twists and turns; I own the light and the stars and the shadows. I allow the elements to frame what I’m doing in just the right way. That’s when my art comes alive for me. That’s when I’m writing for the sake of writing.
Art however…oh art for the sake of art. Not for the almighty dollar, not for the fame, the notoriety, but to make tangible the way an artist sees the world. I love that.
I recently read the essay “One Hundred False Starts” by F. Scott Fitzgerald which was published in The Saturday Evening Post on March 4, 1933. It is an interesting insight to his process. The false starts are snippets he’d written down on pieces of paper that floated around him, on his desk, in his pockets. Bits of paper with bits of a story line written on them. Most of the ideas, he claims, he’ll never run down and make anything out of.
Of course, that had me thinking about my own process. There are big ideas, bull-ish ideas that won’t let go until they are satisfied their story has been properly writ. However, when I need a break from the books, I write short stories. Some ideas come to me quickly, but sometimes I skim through my archive of ideas to find inspiration. And my archive of work, it’s pretty large. I have a whole file on my computer dedicated to documents named “just an idea” “idea22” “Idea on a Sunday evening” “Idea 543”. The file folder is bulging with my random thoughts, my angst, and sometimes it seems just writing for the sake of putting words on paper. I also have note books called “works in progress”, the tactile version of my own one hundred false starts. Bits and pieces of paper with ideas jotted down. Ideas that seemed interesting at the time, that seemed like something worth following through with. Like something worth holding onto. Continue reading
The fall school year is in full swing. The smoke that hung low and choked us for too many weeks has loosened its hold around our necks, and a glance at the ten-day weather forecast shows highs in the seventies after we fight the next two days of 95-degree heat.
I lived in Colorado for a few years, and while I was there I wrote. A lot. I was finding my voice and trying to figure out my process. I wasn’t doing these things consciously, I was just writing because I had to. Looking back now, of course I see all the lessons on writing I was learning.
During that time I also began submitting short stories. I feared submitting anything to an agent then, that seemed like such a pipe dream.
One of the publications, Mountain Gazette, had a contest every issue, they published a black and white picture and challenged their readers to write a 1000 word story about said photo. I didn’t always like the pictures, but one caught my attention. I wrote a short piece called “Ending Up.”
The Gazette did not publish my story. I pulled it out two years ago and gave it a polish. It has now won me second place in a literary contest and was just published in Flare, a literary magazine.
I just received my copy this past week and I always get a little thrill at these stepping stones in my career. So of course, I had to share this news with my three loyal followers.
Click here to open the short story.
Oh, and you might be wondering if I saved that photo?
Of course I did.