Poetry Challenge #106-Lobster Day

World’s Lobster in Shediac, New Brunswick

World’s Lobster in Shediac, New Brunswick

Yeah! It’s National Lobster Day! (Yes, there is such a thing.*) In honor of these claw-clacking crustaceans, write a lobster poem. But not just any lobster poem. 

Poetry Challenge #106

Lobster Day 

What comes to mind when you think of a lobster?

Is it the cola-guzzling lobster in Erin Moulton’s funny, heartful Tracing the Stars?

Diane Keaton’s  lobster scene from Annie Hall?

Pilgrimage to the world’s largest lobster?

Or, like me, the last sunset supper of the summer?

Lobster Bake.JPG

Drawing on that lobster experience (or one imagined), list seven words, one beginning with each letter of the word lobster. Use that list to craft a  seven-line lobster poem. In addition, the poem might include: a sound, a smell, a location, a texture, and the word “ruckus”.

Set the timer for 7 minutes.

Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just get cracking!

* More about National Lobster Day: “In 2014, Senators Angus King and Susan Collins of Maine drafted a joint resolution designating September 25 as National Lobster Day. Recognizing the men and women in an industry with a long and rich heritage, the proclamation celebrates the lobster from sea to table.” (National Day Calendar)

**Cindy Faughnan and I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge more than 1250 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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A Pregnant Pause

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the millworkers sing in CarouselJune is bustin’ out all over…”  Flowers are budding, birds are chirping, bees buzzing and as a recent grandmother to Ben,

Bennett experienced the wonders of Indepencence day: Parades, fireworks & watermelon!

Bennett experienced the wonders of Indepencence day: Parades, fireworks & watermelon!

Great aunt for the second time: 

                        Welcome to the World Felicity Allain Smith, born June 9th, 2014.

                        Welcome to the World Felicity Allain Smith, born June 9th, 2014.

And recently revealed gran-to-be:

    Lexi & Ryan are expecting, their baby’s due the end of the year.

    Lexi & Ryan are expecting, their baby’s due the end of the year.

I have babies on the brain, literally and literate-ly.

They—Farmers in the know— say trees always produce best after a “hard” year (“hard” being either an especially cold winter or hot, dry summer). Which might be the reason for the largess . . . although I’m not questioning or complaining. Rather, I’m simply, joyfully, reveling…and pondering gestation:

Elephant gestation takes 547.9 – 669.6730 days (the longest period for mammals).

Salamanders—tiny as they are—about the same. And, considering it, size-for-size, mother discomfort, bulkiness, effort-wise, probably the same elephantian experience too.

Velvet worm—actually NOT a worm and NOT velvet—takes up to 456.553 days,

Velvet worm—actually NOT a worm and NOT velvet—takes up to 456.553 days,

From conception to birth cat's gestation takes 58-65 days. (No wonder they're such hussies!)

 

Manatees 396 days on average.

Manatees 396 days on average.

Donkeys, "Jennys"  330-440 (with lots of variables), camels take 410ish.

Giraffes between 400-460, rhinos about the same, seals and sea lions: 330-350 days.

Giraffes between 400-460, rhinos about the same, seals and sea lions: 330-350 days.

Whales and dolphins: 517.426 (on average with some sperm whales taking 578), humans: 268 days give or take . . . 

Whales and dolphins: 517.426 (on average with some sperm whales taking 578), humans: 268 days give or take . . . 

 As for novels??????

Cause for my literary revelry stems from a cluster of new books by writer friends. With one exception, all by classmates of mine from VCFA. As I have been there through all of these books since inception, in some cases offering a shoulder, always watching admiringly, I’ve declared myself “auntie” to them and as such entitled to muse:

Here are some of the Unreliable Narrators at VCFA last summer.  B.R: Trinity, Cindy, Sarah, Barb, Cynthia; F.R:  Tam, Kelly, Erin.  I fully expect all to be published authors!

Here are some of the Unreliable Narrators at VCFA last summer.  B.R: Trinity, Cindy, Sarah, Barb, Cynthia; F.R:  Tam, Kelly, Erin.  I fully expect all to be published authors!

I’ll begin with the exceptional Russell J. Sanders, who I first met back in/around 2000 when he was a newly retired High School English/Theater teacher and wanna be author at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. Russell recently celebrated the birth of his second novel, which is garnering excellent reviews, Special Effects (Dreamspinner Press, 2014): More about Russell:

How long did Special Effects take from idea to sale?

About 2191.45 days . . . 

Gestation:  about   2191.45 days (with, as Russell noted “ some stops and starts”

Gestation: about 2191.45 days (with, as Russell noted “ some stops and starts”

Erin Moulton’s third novel came out this June. This being her third, one might think the whole “birthing a novel” thing would have lost its novelty for her. Maybe that’s why Erin “made things interesting” this year, but combining the birth of her newest novel, Chasing the Milky Way, with the birth of her first human baby, Tucker! Oh, yeah, and if that wasn’t excitement enough, timing it all to coincide with the date her new manuscript for her work in progress was due. More about Erin: 

Gestation: It's a bit of a blurrrrrr

Gestation: It's a bit of a blurrrrrr

Jennifer Wolf Kam's path has been by award-hopping to publication! A 3-time finalist for the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, Jen first won publication of her ghost story, White House, in Hunger Mountain. Spectacularly, publication of her debut novel came as a result of writing 2 of 5 finalist in the NAESP 2013 Children’s Book ContestMore about Jen! 

Gestation:    5 years: 1826.21 days

Gestation:  5 years: 1826.21 days

Sarah Tomp, author of my often lauded, put-it-back-in-print fav, The Red, White and Blue Goodbye, had a relatively easy time of it with her debut moonshine novel, My Best Everything, which “walks the line between toxic and intoxicating” The gestation time was only 1 1/2 years=547.9632996 days!  More about Sarah:

Gestation: about 1 ½ years:  547.863298611 days

Gestation: about 1 ½ years:  547.863298611 days

Tamera Ellis Smith, who’s writing credits include a first-person essay in  BREAK THESE RULES: 35 YA Writers on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself,  welcomes her debut novel Another Kind of Hurricane, August 2015.  (Publication is scheduled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.) Here's More about Tam!

So, Tam, how long did it take to write Another Kind of Hurricane?:  Almost 9 years . . . 3287.18 days, with “A lot of starts and stops along the way.  Sometimes big stops.”

Last but not least for this crop: Teresa Harris, author of the spunky picture book, Summer Jackson: Grown-Up,  won two prizes (one for humor) for this novel-in-progress while we were still at VCFA.

Teresa's WIP, acquired by Clarion, is forthcoming (I could not find a pub date on the web.) So by my calculations, gestation time: 5.6 years=2045.36 days. However, if you count post-sale as gestation,* the interview announcing the sale was Feb of 2012 and Teresa’s book hasn’t been published yet, gestation's is ongoing. So make that 2921.94 and counting . . . More about Teresa 

 

Why the disparity?

I like to think of it in shark terms. Sharks are K-selected reproducers, (as are, cats aside, the other animals noted above.) Rather than producing a large number of poorly developed offspring, “they produce a small number of well-developed young.” In this way offering their offspring the best possible chances of surviving. Additionally, in these animals, birth can be delayed depending on a variety of external pressures.

That’s why I’m thinking shark. Maybe it isn’t’ about how badly we want to publish . . . what brilliant writers we are . . . the fantastic story premise we’ve dreamed up . . . Or about everyone, anyone, our expectations. Maybe there are other forces beyond our control determining how long it takes.

“You can feel it in your heart/
You can see it in the ground/
You can see it in the trees/
You can smell it in the breeze/
Look around! Look around! Look around!”
— June's Bustin' Out All Over by Rogers & Hammerstein

* The question of whether a book is “gestating” in that time between being sold and publication is up for debate. Might this time be the equivalent of Novel neo-natal?--It certainly adds to the w-a-i-t-i-n-g t-i-m-e. . . tick-tock

Care to give a little listen?? JUNE IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER on Utube

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Battling the Buts

When my friend Teri was in Paris, a few years back,  I went to visit her. Paris_-_Eiffelturm_und_Marsfeld2One day she came home all a-twitter. She had been invited to a party by a guy she had seen, often, at an internet cafe. senior-man-in-beret (A handsome, Frenchman).

Later, she and I, her brother Anthony and a guy friend of his, discussed whether she should go to the party or not:

"But . . . do you think he really meant to invite me?" she said. "Maybe he was just being nice . . . "

"Did he look at you?" Anthony and friend asked.

"Yes."

"Then he's interested."

"But . . .

"Did he smile at you?" Anthony and friend asked.

"Yes."

"Then he's interested."

"But . . .

"Did he talk to you you?" Anthony and friend asked.

"Yes."

"Then he's interested. . . . GO TO THE PARTY!!!!"

It's the same with writing, or any creative, non time-card activity. When it comes to our definition of "working" or not, we go all middle-grade and dismiss all that goes into the process with that 3-letter word: "But . .. that doesn't count... "But . .. I'm not really...

The UNs had a "few" middle school moments at the VCFA Alumni-rez this July

To counteract those insecure boogies, I've created this litmus test. (I've used "writing" as my creative endeavor. Substitute yours for it.) Then print it out and post it prominently. The next time buts get the better of you, give yourself the test.

Am I Writing?

Are you thinking about your story?

You're writing!

Are you doing research for your story?

You're writing!

Are you reading words written by other writers, especially those you admire...or not?

You're writing!

Have you written words today? A grocery list? An email? Notes for your story? ...any at all?

YOU ARE A WORKING WRITER!!!!!!! 

--Read. Respond. When in doubt, repeat. Repeat as needed.

Written Words are a renewable resource!

 

TRACING THE STARS: Just the Thing on a Hot Summer Day

I recently subscribed to Goodreads Quote of the Day. I'm delighted I did; these daily missives provide the jolt needed to spark my sluggish mind. This quote, by the late Carol Shields, author of STONE DIARIES, was the permission--and reminder-- I needed to toss aside all those "must-dos" and DO one of my favorite activities:

"Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve"

Erin Moulton's newest book TRACING THE STARS took me away on this hot summer day!

I didn't stop at 50 pages and you won't either!