Tag Archives: writing

It’s All About Perseverance

24 Oct

I got the oddest (and most welcome) letter in the mail last month in a hand-addressed envelope from the North American Review. It was my original query letter with a lovely handwritten note from the editor, letting me know that they were interested in one of my poems (huzzah!!).

What made it so odd was that it had my old New York address on the query letter, which is strange because I haven’t lived there in almost two years. As I reread the editor’s note, my eyes finally shifted up to the date on my letter – October 12, 2010. Two thousand ten, people! Almost three years from the date that I mailed out my query, I was finally hearing back. Amazing, right?

Two Thousand Friggin' Ten

Two Thousand Friggin’ Ten

I don’t know which is more fantastical, knowing that the NAR’s reading backlog is two plus years long or that they still finally got back to me. I had long given up on those submissions. Heck, I haven’t submitted a poem in almost six months. And yet, here was this little welcome nugget of approval! Even after so much time, they still liked the poem! They still wanted to publish it!

Which gets me to my point: perseverance. You have to keep at it. Day by day. Week by week. Month by month. Even year by year. Because you never know. Someday, somewhere, someone will get your poem. It will speak to them in a way that they’ve never heard before, just as it was speaking to you when you wrote it.

With all that goes on in our busy lives (work, family, friends, hobbies, paying the goddamn bills), it’s easy to get discouraged and stop making the time to write. It’s easy to make excuses for why you’re not writing, not reading, not listening to poetry, not paying attention. There are more pressing, more fun, more rewarding things to do – at least that’s how it feels sometimes. But if you’re anything like me, the most amazing thing you can do is write. To write a really great poem, short story, novel, play. Because only you can do this. Only you.

So don’t give up hope. Get your butt in the chair. Keep writing, keep revising, keep reading, keep submitting, keep working.

Rock on, people.

~ Jho


NaPoWriMo 2013: Poem for 04.14.13

20 Apr

We’re at the halfway mark for NaPoWriMo, and my writing desk is a mass of stacked papers, books, doodads and paperclips right now. I always like to keep a poetry book or two nearby, so I can flip through their pages and find inspiration when I’m flagging and staring too long at a blank screen.

On top of the stack this week is Sean Nevin‘s Oblivio Gate. This is an amazing book, about family, loss, redemption and especially Alzheimer’s. The cover says it all.


The loss of one’s memory, one’s mind, I would argue, one’s self is a terrifying thing to think about, and it’s something we think about in my family because my grandfather suffered through it. Continue reading

To Workshop, To Workshop, With My New Poem I Go

19 Jan

One of the great joys of my life now that I’m back in Long Beach is my real-life contact with my writer friends. These are my true peeps – they have sweated and suffered through bad poems with me, we’ve congratulated each other and hidden secret envy over good poems, but we’ve managed to stick together for eleven years now. (I had to do some mental recalculating. Eleven years?!? Really? How did this happen?)

My core ladies, the spitfire Ms. J and mother-lion Ms. K, and our various friends who have joined our workshops when they could, have sustained me as a writer whenever I have questioned why I bother or why any of us bothers. I’m just so proud and thankful to have them in my life, as fellow writers and sister-friends.

Which is why I’m so happy (or at least CityBoy will tell you, so happy for me, by my standards of constant pessimism and that-shit’s-fucked-up-ism) that we’re workshopping on a real, regular basis.

workshop notes, baby!

workshop notes, baby!

Maybe we’re not always all bringing our A game. Sometimes crap is what we’re bringing, real C-level crap, but we’re writing and thinking about writing and talking about writing. By which I mean, we’re telling stories and helping each other find ways to tell them better.  Continue reading

Work in Progress: Natural History

14 Nov

I’ve been tinkering with this poem for a while now. I first wrote it when I was still living in New York City, after seeing the famous life-sized dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History, which is an excellent place to while away several hours moving from diorama to diorama, enraptured by the amount of detail and work that must have gone into making them.

But anyways, back to the poem. I discovered that I had started a draft of this post back in the day, with this iteration of the poem:

Natural History


My 101 Things: 5% Done, 95% to Go

24 Jul

Woohoo! There is money in the Money Pot, ladies (and gentlemen).

the Money (Tea) Pot

As part of my 101 Things in 1,001 Days challenge, I pledged to put away $5 for every Thing I completed. We’re now up to a whopping $30 USD, thank you very much, for crossing off such great challenges as:

– Getting a library card (hello, Alamitos Library!)

– Setting up an emergency fund (hello, Istanbul – I am nothing if not single-minded)

– Revising 10 poems

I’m actually super delighted by this last one. As part of my unending list of neuroses, you may remember that I freaked out on Google Docs (or Google Drive, or whatever new madness those wacky Googleites are concocting next) a month or so back, when I couldn’t print any of my poems from my account. Instead of going back to the manual typewriter, as I sometimes dream about (god, remember that beautiful click-clacking of the keys, the jingle bell satisfaction of the return lever), I settled on the next big thing: retyping all my  manuscript poems as good, old-fashioned, single-computer accessible Word documents.  Continue reading

Poetry Manuscript 2.0: Finding the Point, Again

29 Jun

At the corner of 4th and Inspiration (ahem, I mean Cooper) . . . guerilla art NY-style

As you may recall, dear and patient reader, I set out in 2010 to put together a manuscript of poems for publication. I had uprooted roots for the Nth time July the year before and found myself jobless, (mostly) friend-less and searching for purpose. My daily sifting through Netflix and the previous night’s DVR’d television shows just wasn’t cutting it in the Grand Scheme that I’d dreamed up as “My Move to the Big City.” Of course CityBoy was around, endless optimistic and supportive, but I needed vision, a goal, something outside of myself, to push through or towards.

In April 2010, I participated in NaPoWriMo (the month-long challenge to write a poem a day) and found myself really engaged, looking forward to getting down to writing each morning, fortified by a stiff cup of coffee and some peanut butter toast. I wrote something like 22 poems that month, a ridiculous spectacle of poems, many of them bad or simply atrocious, but I found something too that month–the renewed pleasure in writing, the words just coming, bad or good, across the page under my fingers, that image or idea sprouting like a long buried seedling into proverbial life.  Continue reading

Work in Progress: Boys on the Subway (revised)

10 Oct

It’s the fall again, or at least it will be if this damn weather stops pretending to be summer. It’s my favorite season. Something about back to school and the cooler weather, the leaves changing and the sky darkening earlier and earlier. The air smells of sharpened pencils and wool sweaters (I think I may have stolen this from You’ve Got Mail, which is one of those ridiculous movies that I can’t NOT watch when it’s on TV. I know. You’re thinking, “Meg Ryan? Tom Hanks? Sheesh.” But if you haven’t watched it, do so. You will thank me. Or we’ll discover that we might not become such great friends).

The wedding is finally behind us (or at least it will be after this weekend’s final celebratory dinner with CityBoy’s East Coast family), and we can both breathe a long sigh of relief. We made it. We’re still talking. We still like each other.

Which means that life can get back on track and we can refocus on the things that we love and make us feel human. For me, this means writing again.

CityBoy’s brother gave a beautiful reading at our ceremony, which of course I loved since he purloined some things from my blog as a jumping point to talk about marriage and relationships. I was compelled to admit that I have shamefully ignored this blog and done very little writing this year. Jobs, and proposals, and travel, got in the way.

So I’m recommitting (again). It’s time to get my ass back in the chair and do what I love best: form words into sentences into stories…”the best words, in the best order.”

My writing friends have been instrumental to the “best order” part. It’s amazing what another set of eyes, eyes you value and admire, can do for your own work. I found the idea of starting with a fresh, blank page a little daunting this morning, so I pulled a new poem out of my waiting-to-be-revised batch and I’m quite pleased with the result. You’ll have to let me know what you think.