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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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NCWN Writers Residency

The North Carolina Writers' Network Fall Conference in Winston-Salem is this weekend. I received a scholarship to the Summer Writers Residency in Raleigh and received a week of great mentoring, studying and crafting new works. I told several people I planned to attend the Fall Conference.

But I've got the post-writers-residency blues. I should be elated at the wonderful events of the Summer Writers Residency, but why am I so blue these last few months? Does this happen to anyone else--these unexplained sometimes disabling blues?

Prior to the summer residency I took a writing class that I learned so much from I was ready to explode. The experience was so rich at moments I thought maybe I do have the stuff and stamina it takes to be a writer. So I prepared a poetry manuscript for the Summer Writers Residency and applied for a poetry scholarship. In a couple short weeks I was in Raleigh enjoying an intense time of writing, reading, and studying contemporary poetry. By the second day I had met kindred spirits (known affectionately as the "Triumvirate;" pictured above). Less than three to five days after that fantastic experience I was having trouble sleeping. With in a month I was irritable (and I am sure on edge emotionally) at the lack of time I was spending playing with words.

A lot of this may be directly related to my professional life--manager of a "new products" division. Many decisions had to be made--or rather, many sacrifices had to be made. I stopped certain activities relating to writing so I could focus on developing "new products." Not only do I have to come up with "new products," I have to make them myself, design the ad/marketing material and campaigns and a few other elements like e-commerce and what-not. But I digress.

Attendance at open mics and poetry readings became rare. I resigned from my weekly post at Write Stuff. Regular submissions to The Indie almost vanished as well as serious blog writing. My composition book and notebook I half-filled during the Summer Writers Residency accompanied me everywhere I went. They were always hidden in one pocket or another in my backpack. I would open the books and start to write new material and something interrupted me or nothing would come at all.

Soon I stopped opening the notebooks. I began to hate them as one might hate a tattoo of that one girl's name. The girl you thought you might love forever but forever is a myth and the tattoo the slavery of reality. At one point, a guy at the church I attend asked if I had written anything recently. I said no. He encouraged me to spend at least fifteen minutes writing something that week. I did. It was about resigning my post at Write Stuff.

Some of the symptoms of postpartum depression include: "depressed mood, tearfulness, inability to enjoy pleasurable activities, trouble sleeping, fatigue, appetite problems, suicidal thoughts, feelings of inadequacy... and impaired concentration." Weird how some of these symptoms fit in regards to my writing life. I wonder if all poets and writers feel this way after a writers conference or one-week residency?

The composition book was opened once recently--at the Marvin Bell reading. I sat next to Sebastian Matthews that night. I read a few pages of notes from Evie Shockley's residency discussion on blues in poetry and self-consciously felt like an impostor. A woman sitting in front of me at the Marvin Bell reading requested a story about a beautiful woman. Mr. Bell chuckled and said, "Beautiful women never come to my readings." The woman who requested the story was very beautiful that evening. I haven't opened that composition book since that night.

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