Awesome Student Work

Near the beginning of the semester, I have both my Comp and Creative Writing classes read “Shitty First Drafts” from Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird.  Then I ask them to personify their inner critic. Once they have done that, I ask them to get rid of it. One of my students , Taylor Tavanese, wrote this great response and gave me permission to publish it here.

My inner critic

As I am sitting at my desk, keyboard at my finger tips I feel as if I am sinking into an overwhelming rush of emotions constantly repeating “You just can’t do it”, “Taylor you just can NOT do it” I feel as if I am incapable of anything at this point. Slowly my chair legs start to sink into what looks to be this endless pit of sand. Words of negativity that complete my inner thoughts and outer surroundings consume me as if I am physically suffocating from the over powering stress and pressure I constantly feel. Not being able to write is honestly one of my worst fears, what’s even scarier is having the ability to write about anything I wanted and my so called masterpiece turning out to be something absolutely horrid. Children cry at the site of my words written on a piece of paper, grandparents faint, and many adults start projectile vomiting at the sound of the words from something I put all my effort into.

These constant nagging feelings make me feel like (what seems to be slowly) quickly falling into a pit of quick sand struggling to find breath, to keep my fingers attached to that keyboard to write with all my heart’s desire. As the sand consumes my chair and the lower half of my body I feel rushed and panicked to do something, but I just can’t. The consistent whispering of all the voices around me, as many as the grains of sand that are engrossing me, continually discourages me making me feel powerless. I need something to pull me out of this sinking pit of doom, my mind is consumed with only wondering if anyone will care to find me under this pit of sand. Will they miss me, but more importantly will they miss my writing? Will the memory of my life go on without me? The sand pit seems to disagree as the voices of judgment continue to get louder and louder. Will I ever put an end to all my insecurities and just let go? Can I just pull myself out of this sand and find motivation in my experiences to write about what I know is good? Where is my confidence?

As I sank down neck deep I finally realized, in all these years I have spent trying to write, in all the times I have ever gotten blocked I have never wanted to find a solution. I have never tried to get out of any slump that I was in; I would just let myself sink gasping for air as I listen to the negative voices around me. Well screw that. No more negativity, no more sinking! And in that very moment I pulled myself out. I stopped sinking, though I couldn’t save my chair or desk, the derogatory voices went down with my outdated furniture and I am free. I am free to write whatever I wish with no regret, and no shame of what may be the worst writing any one has ever seen, I don’t care because it means something to me. So screw that quick sand! Screw the ones that don’t believe in me! Believing in myself and my possibly horrific writing is all I need.

How the Lobster Boy Disappointed Me by Heather Jones

LitConsultant:

The wonderful journal Cartagena has published one of my plays. After you read my play, go check out the rest of the issue, and then the archives.

Originally posted on Cartagena:

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Heather Jones’s plays include Last Rites, a selection for GLO, an annual festival of one-acts by women; The Hoarder’s Child, which appeared at The Philly Fringe Festival, and won Most Inspirational Work at the Asheville Fringe Festival, and My Unspeakable Confessions: Gala Dali Declines to Explain Herself , which has recurrent productions at The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg FL. Her writing has been published in literary magazines, including The Louisville Review. She is also the author of the zine Kissing the Lepers. She collaborates with local writers and Writing Organizations to create literary events. Heather holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University, and teaches writing at University of South Florida, St. Petersburg.

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Page A Day Club

Over on Facebook  I have created a Page a Day Club.

Page A Day Club is a place where writers can support each other. We commit to writing a page a day, and we post about our progress. While this is not a critique group, if writers want to share writing, they may. But I repeat, this club is about commitment, accountability, and support, not criticism.
You might also want to post on Twitter with the hashtag ‪#‎pageaday‬.

This is a closed group, but all writers are welcome. Please feel free to invite writers who might like to join us in writing (at least) a page a day!

Here’s the link  –come and join us in supporting one another as we write. Another benefit is that you get to see a little sample of how I communicate with writers.

I also created a FB Page for Heather Jones LitConsultant, where I post interesting articles about writing, as well as submission opportunities. Head on over and like it!

This summer, I treated myself to a research and writing trip. Stay tuned for thoughts, interesting research, and pics!001

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Murder, Circus, and Birds: Some Thoughts on Writing

LitConsultant:

Here’s a piece I wrote for The Gloria Sirens about my writing process. I highly recommend their blog; they have a pool of excellent women writers writing on all manner of interesting topics.

Originally posted on The Gloria Sirens:

I was super excited to be asked to write for the Gloria Sirens. I was given choices, and I chose writing about writing because I thought it would be easiest. Not quite.

10404436_595480257231716_2240693970839367786_nWe’re all curious about how other writers work—do they write every day? In the morning, the night? With coffee, dead drunk?  We scour other writers’ lives to find out where we fit or whether we’re “doing it right,” or if someone has discovered the secret balance between life and writing. I know I eagerly read the first two posts in this “blog tour,” written by Susan Lilley and Lisa Lanser Rose , curious about what these writers do to sustain a writing life. What I’ve come to suspect, though, is this: we’re all doing it right, none of  us has found the secret, and what we are finding is community. So in the spirit of the blog tour…

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Summertime News

Whew! The spring semester turned into the summer semester in an instant!  This summer, in addition to teaching online composition classes for University of Maryland University College, I’m working with some great young creative writers at USF St. Pete.

More good news: A book by one of my editing clients has garnered interest from not one, but two, publishers!

My own short play, “How the Lobster Boy Disappointed Me,” will be published this August in the online journal Cartagena.

In the meantime, Here’s the press release for the latest literary event I’ve organized. You can find out more about the event, the writers, and the bands here.

 Smells Like Teen Lit:Teenage Wasteland II, a literary and music event, planned

ST. PETERSBURG – Heather Jones LitConsultant, Wordier than Thou, and Planet Retro Gallery present  Smells Like Teen Lit:  Teenage Wasteland II, a music and literary event, Saturday, June 7, at  Planet Retro Gallery, 2414 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg.

The event will feature local writers reading their unedited teenage works including poems, diaries and love letters, as well as original works inspired by the angst and isolation of adolescence.

Readers include John Henry Fleming, Sheree L. Greer, Julie Garisto, Jeremy Gloff, Thomas Hallock, Shae Krispinsky, Sandra Lolo, Juliana Torres, and Gina Vivinetto.

The event also will include local musical acts Permanent Makeup, Y Los Dos Pistoles and Glow Low.

Requested donation $7 at the door or bring a new Children’s or YA book to donate to Eckerd Family & Children’s Services Organization. All proceeds will benefit Eckerd.

Admission is All Ages, but 16 and older is recommended.

Heather Jones LitConsultant is a St. Petersburg Writer, Teacher, and Editor.

Wordier than Thou, helmed by writer Tiffany Razzano,  organizes fun, inspiring literary events – open mics, author readings, workshops and more – to help bring together this community of wordsmiths, as well as hosting a bi-weekly radio show on Life improvement radio and publishing a literary magazine.

Planet Retro Gallery is a local retailer of vinyl, performance venue, and art gallery.

If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, join us!

Supporting Students

Supporting students means so many things these days. It’s still trying to come up with useful and interesting assignments, turning up to teach, and responding to their work. But It has also become answering emails, lots and lots of emails. And it has become helping people who might work 2 jobs, take 7 classes, and belong to 5 organizations to manage both their time and their stress.

This week, though, I get to support a couple of my students in a special way, out in the world. Tonight, I’ll see a student I’ve been working with on a Fiction directed study make his debut at a local story telling open mic (Wordier Than Thou at the Studio @ 620 for the locals), and later in the week another creative writer will be making her debut with established local writers at an event at the local nature preserve (for the locals, 13 Ways of Looking at Nature in the City at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve).

For both of these writers, presenting their work to the public is a new, and nerve wracking  experience. I’m proud to be able to be there to help give them the applause they deserve.

Slowly Building this Blog and What I’m Up To

Today I added a new page with my mission, services and prices. Check it out!

Other than that, I have been careening toward the end of semester, reading student essays and screenplays.

Two of my own plays appeared in Gasp! the first Fringe Festival in the Tampa Bay Area.

I just finished editing a wonderful book by a Buddhist sharing her thoughts on her journey, and I’m co-hosting literary events here in St. Pete, including the Book Release for a new book on Florida Breweries.

Whew!

My own writing consists of binge writing on Friday or Saturday nights. Looking forward to dipping into some more research and sharing it here.

My book recommendation this week is Beloved, by Toni Morrison. If you haven’t read it, read it right now! If you have, read it again. This was the third time I read it, and it gets richer with every reading.