Happy New Year! Welcome to Experience Writing 2023

I came across this video this morning, and it really spoke to me, so I wanted to share it. I named last year “The Year of Finishing Novels.” I dove into studying goal setting and motivation, from tiny habits to atomic habits. And it worked for a little while. But I found, like the video says, that my real problem wasn’t motivation, but fear, especially when it came to my sleep issues. This year, I still have all my tools and tricks I learned last year, but now I realize I’m only working on one thing: Fear. And fear won’t just go away, I need to face it by continuing to move forward.

2022 in Review

Last year was an exciting year for me. I chose abstract nouns as my focus for the A to Z challenge during April’s National Poetry Month, and that led to my study of contradictory abstract nouns that I plan to continue. The study of contradictory abstract nouns in my photography led to all sorts of discoveries and inventions. My favorite was my floating reflection ball studio which I played with all summer.

I had my first photograph publication in Wrongdoing Magazine in the fall. And I have two images coming out in the next issue of Stone Canoe in the spring. I completed the ModPo Coursework and got my certificate of completion. I joined 4theWords for writing motivation, and though it’s not what I meant when I said it was going to be a year of finishing novels, I did finish an entire first draft of a new novel in November.

The Newest Idea by Maria L. Berg 2022

What to expect here at Experience Writing in 2023

Since I have a completed first draft of a novel I can’t wait to get back to (it’s been resting for December). This is going to be the year I finish a novel. So you’ll see some novel revision posts.

Last year I really enjoyed sharing my study of contradictory abstract nouns and my attempts to capture them in an image, and poetry, so you will see more of those types of posts.

I’m going to try some new things as well:

Music – Last year I neglected my musical instruments. This year I want to bring music into my study of contradictory abstractions, so I pulled out some music books and found some contradictory abstractions in my Billie Holiday Anthology Sheet Music. Each week I plan to pick a song to work on and explore how the contradictory abstractions are explored in the music. For my first piece I chose, “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” by Duke Ellington and Paul Francis Webster. During the week I’ll attempt to sing it, learn it on the piano, guitar, bass and other instruments, and close read the lyrics as poetry. This is an experiment. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping it will lead to me writing some new songs later in the year. Another way I want to bring music into my writing is to learn a new drum beat each week and attempt to bring the beat into my poetry.

Reading as a Writer – I have read a ton of books on writing, but I haven’t been reading as many novels as I would like, so this year I’ve made reading lists for novels, poetry collections, and art books and hope to apply what I learn to my novel, poetry and photography. My hope is to read a novel a week and be able to share what I learn about the craft of writing from it, and how I applied what I learned to the revision of my novel. The novel I’m reading for this week is The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry.

So some lofty goals, but I think it’s going to be a great year. I hope you’ll join me for the experience.

Reflecting on the use of Janus words in my April poems

Today is reflection post day for the A to Z Challenge. I enjoyed their theme and posts about games this year. Though I did not remember to do the scavenger hunt, I really liked the idea, and if anyone is still looking for a post for “bear”, I wrote a poem called Black Bear’s Branch. I also did a questions post.

Though I made it through the alphabet with Janus words (also known as contronyms, antagonyms, or auto-antonyms), exploring their uses in my poems, I didn’t find them to be as useful in turning the poem as I thought they would. Without holding both meanings of the word in mind, it’s too easy to glance over the words less familiar, or less contextual meaning, which takes the power from the twist the Janus intends.

I wish adumbrate was a more common word because it’s a great Janus, meaning both to disclose and obscure. My post that got the most likes was a puente form poem called Overwhelming Possibilities which used the Janus phrase “wind up.” My post that got the most views included my poem Put Out by Perch which was selected as a featured poem on NaPoWriMo.org. It was an amusing rant using the Janus phrase “put out.” I think my favorite Janus used was “overlook” in my poem He is a Selfish Moon. My other favorite outcome of the challenge was discovering “Popcorn-can Coveer by Lorine Niedecker and attempting to emulate her form. In one of these concise poems I used the Janus word “terrible.”

At the end of the first week, on my birthday, I found out a friend died. That messed up my motivation and put me in a bit of a funk. Writing poems was more difficult and reading and commenting was also more challenging. Definitely my least favorite part of the challenge, but not something that could be learned from really, unless it informs me to prepare for the unexpected. I’m not sure how I would do that.

I know that many A to Z bloggers prepare their posts in advance, but I don’t have a way of doing that and combining the challenge with NaPoWriMo. I guess I could prepare alternate, off-prompt poems for each day, just in case life gets in the way–in case of emergency posts for the whole month? Writing through it, was probably a good thing. Something to think about.

Overall, April (for me) came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. I hope May will leave me focused on revision.

Just for fun, I found this song called Janus Stair by Contronym

I want to thank J Lenni Dorner for bringing my attention to the film The Professor and the Madman today. It’s an interesting story about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary based on the book by Simon Winchester.