poetry, Travel, Wordsmith Studio

A Poem of Preparation

Airliner in danger-Gettyimages.com
Airliner in danger-Gettyimages.com

Can you prepare for possible  death? 

In the gap between the “heads up, you may die,” and your actual departure much goes on with the mind, body, and soul.

Heavy stuff, I know, but I began thinking of this when I read that the weekly writing prompt, over on Wordsmith Studio, is “Preparation.” 

I immediately thought of a trip my mother and I took to Paris several months ago.  We boarded a plane from LAX to Washington D.C and changed planes to proceed to France. We had several rocky minutes, bouncing up and down, before the Captain’s voice erupted loud and clear over the microphone.

I began jotting words in my travel journal.

The second time the Captain spoke is when I, and probably everyone else on that plane, experienced our own preparation. My first thought was to pray through the apprehension around me. My mother and I linked hands.

This is Your Captain

“We are having mechanical difficulties.”

Headphones off,

passengers alert,

mechanical difficulties?

The video screen shows a map of the east coast,

Atlantic Ocean and Europe.

The tiny plane marker is a quarter of the way over the Atlantic

on the USA side

Shivers and shakes mark the minutes

Turbulence grows strong,

“Due to these difficulties we are adjusting our plans…”

speaker crackle, then silence

“We are redirecting to Washington Dulles airport..”

several murmurs, what’s, why’s

“Redirecting is necessary, we are over the ocean,

too much space to cross..”

people stand, anxiety floats,  babies wake

zippers open, purses readjust, whispers abound

The plane tilts to the left,

breath catches in throat,

Another dip, a rumble,

tremors beneath our collective feet.

“Please…oh no…”

fingers grip seat arms,

our bodies shift to attention

to appease the quaking thunder
“Crew take your seats,” the pilots voice is strong,

direct, like a father saying “Kid’s stop it.”

Passengers glare, foreheads pull down,

lips squeeze over tight teeth.

The plane dips,

a roller coaster for half a second,

“oh…ahh…shit… no,”

escape from parted lips no longer pink

gasps that feed fear fill the air,

babies cry.

We returned safely to Dulles, went through hours of rescheduling while listening to rude passengers yelling to the customer service agents about the delay and the fact that we had to stay in a hotel overnight.

I didn’t like it either, but compared to what could have happened I was easy-peasy.  My mom sat in her wheelchair and dozed while I took care of business.

I’m certain she was still praying.

30 day writers challenge, A Room of Her Own, Editorial calendar, Encouragement, Fear, Goals, Roadmap to My Dreams, Robert Lee Brewer, Wordsmith Studio, Writing

How to Celebrate a Writing Anniversary

Woo-Hoo, this month is my first year anniversary!


I’m single, but I still have an anniversary to celebrate. An important one.

How to celebrate? 

Well it wouldn’t be a commemoration without food. Unfortunately, it’s not with that yummy looking cake and fizzy champagne, but with a vegan carrot cake muffin and a huge cup of coffee. 

Because an anniversary is not a one woman or one man show, the observation must include the over 130 participants in the April 2012 “30 day challenge to build and refine writer platforms,” given by Robert Lee Brewer (poet and editor).

An event such as this one is also a good time to reflect and assess the writing challenges of the last year. 
How apropos that first year anniversary gifts are paper because a letter is a perfect way to contemplate last years 30 day challenge.
Some of the tasks during that month are noteworthy because I discovered more about my writer self-and other writers- than I previously knew: my writing strengths and weaknesses, my level of commitment, and I found group support to push on during the long and bumpy road of a writer’s often lonely life.
Who understands that driving need to write whether it’s four in the morning or midnight, in the car waiting for kids, or holed up in your bedroom for a weekend other than fellow writers? Who knows the pang of rejection e-mails or the yin-yang of writing and revising? Only other writers.
But back to the celebratory part. Here are some of the highlights of the challenge:
  • The best task: Set your goals. Create an editorial calendar.
  • The hardest: Think about SEO. Go to Brewers site for that one.
  • The easiest: Join social media site (s) and participate.
  • The surprising: Do a Google search on yourself.
  • The ‘I didn’t do it:’ Pitch a guest blog post. 

Participant writers found their community and pledged to go on after the challenge was over. A year later, over 130 participants continue supporting each other via the Wordsmith Studio website, Facebook page, and other social media sites. 

The challenge to one became a writers community for the many. Now that is dedication and commitment.

Has working on a writing platform helped me? Yes-even when I thought “what does this have to do with writing?”
You see it’s the discipline of the challenge. The tasks push you towards assignments you don’t want to deal with because of your self-imposed boundaries. 

Every day the new assignment put me in front of a task I feared, some more some less. It forced me to look at what I didn’t want to do. It made me examine, confront, and drill down to the why and find out my truth.

This self confrontation made me assess whether I was being rational or was I  just uncomfortable with the assignment. Hands down it was a comfort issue.

Through self assessment you find out if you want to keep the fear or pull up your big girl/boy chones and charge ahead. 

The great thing about this challenge was that you were not on your own, and it was easier to cross that frontier with others helping you across. (This is extremely important when you get rejection letters in your email box).

The best and most helpful part of the challenge, for me, was to “set goals and establish an editorial calendar.” From those two assignments I learned:

  1. Place “butt in chair.” Write consistently, whether it’s daily or three times a week, one or three hours, or X amount of words. Pick a number.
  2. Post your goals where you can see them. Use a Roadmap. Pay attention to it. Check your progress every week, then bi-weekly. 
  3. Set a time limit on the time sucks (social media). For me it’s write first, party later. Sometimes I can only party for 30 minutes.
  4. Push past the fears. My top two fears? Spending money for a professional edit and sending out query letters. I did both. After revisions and 10 query re-do’s, I received a request for my full manuscript three days after I sent out the final query letter. 
  5. Submit your writing. I wanted to attend a writer’s retreat, but spent the money on the professional edit, and no longer had funds in my budget. I found an organization, A Room Of Her Own (AROHO), that offered writing fellowships. When I received the award I read the letter several times because I couldn’t believe my good fortune.
As in most new relationships this past year has been a time of excitement and romance (with writing). But make no mistake, there’s a lot of hard work in this 30 day challenge

But to the hard worker comes the harvest. And best of all, after one year, I’m still in love. 

Now, please excuse me, as I have some social media sites to visit and I need another cup of coffee.