The Poet’s Insights: ‘The Artist’

The poet tells the story behind her poem, ‘The Artist’.

Advertisements

‘The Artist’ is one of my favourite poems from ‘Leaf’, my first published book of poetry.

 

2016-07-16-15-09-161.jpg
The inspiration for this poem came from my long-time friend Nicky, who is an gifted artist.
Nicky was one of the people who really pushed me to pursue publication of my poetry. She is an infinite source of encouragement and support, but more than that, she is a loyal and constant friend and confidant.

I should preface this story by pointing out that I’ve never been good at drawing or painting. My grandfather was an artist. My sister once painted a brilliant life-size portrait of Charlie Chaplin that covered her bedroom door for years. My mother could draw animals, people, and groovy designs with a ball point pen and make them look fantastic.

And then, there’s me. The only thing I can draw is cash from an ATM, and the occasional stick figure.

One day, Nicky showed me one of her beautiful paintings, which she had just completed. I gazed at it for a while, and sighed,”I wished I could do that.”

The Artists Plain

Without missing a beat, she replied, “You do. You just do it with words.”

That came as a real revelation to me. At that point in my life, I just wrote poetry for myself, and shared the ones I liked with a couple of friends. I didn’t really consider myself a poet as such, nor did I think I’d ever be published.

With those words, she inspired this poem.

The Artist.

ScreenHunter_439 Apr. 11 11.03

As a poem, I believe it hass integrity. It feels and sounds good when reading it aloud, and the rhythm works well with the ideas of making brush strokes and splashing a bit of paint around. At the end, it’s a reflection of that moment when the artist stands back and is surprised by what she finds on the easel in front of her.

The artist in the poem is definitely me. Like the artworks in the poem, some of my writing is vivid and colourful, while other pieces are dark and tear-smudged. Even a poem that appears to be fictional, like ‘Misery’ – which has been included in a fairy tale anthology! – is deeply rooted in my own reality.

I have very great affection for ‘The Artist’ for the truth it tells about my own experience as a poet, but I also love the fact that it will always be about my friendship with Nicky, too. Without her inspiration and encouragement, I might still just have a bunch of notebooks full of poems that nobody else would ever read.

Leaf 2nd Ed eBook Cover 6x9 350ppi

I first told ‘The Artist’s story when Nicky spoke at my book launch for ‘Leaf’ in June, 2016. Completely unaware of the story behind the poem or the fact that she had inspired it, Nicky chose ‘The Artist’ as the poem she would like to read to the guests. When she finished her reading and speech, I followed with the account of the poem’s inspiration. It was a beautiful moment in time that highlighted the wonderful thing that we share in our friendship.

 

Joey'sMapleLeafTatt

I hope you enjoyed ‘The Artist’ and the story behind it. If you appreciated this post, please click “like” below so that others find it more easily. You’re also welcome to leave a comment.
Thank you in advance.

 

Stained Glass

Promo Stained Glass Cover

I’ve just released an eBook titled ‘Stained Glass’.

‘Stained Glass’ is a collection of 22 poems for and
about women, by a woman who is striving to live,
love, work and make sense of the world she lives in.

‘Stained Glass’ is poetry that reflects the light and shade of life, and all the colours in between.

The poems celebrate the strength and extraordinary resilience of women through the exploration of diverse issues, including love, loss, social expectations, self-awareness and personal integrity.
In rare moments the glass is rose-coloured; elsewhere, the window is astonishingly clear.
There are 7 brand new poems in this collection.
Some of these poems – roughly one-third – are in ‘Leaf’, and others – another third – are in ‘Nova’.
‘Stained Glass’ will be permanently priced at 99c, and is available on AmazoniBookskobo and other digital stores.

On Being A Writer.

Tonight, an author friend posed this question in a discussion group: Is being a writer just a pipe dream?

She asked this in response to a controversial tweet by Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, last week:
‘English Major = Want Fries With That? Pick something that will give you enough money to write what you want.’ (Follow the link to the full article.)

It’s a thought-provoking question. Can I legitimately call myself a writer or a poet if that’s not my main source of income? Without a doubt, yes!

Authors throughout history have held other jobs to survive while they pursued their writing.  I’m just one in a very long list.

In this world, being “just” a writer is the domain of very few.

However, being a writer AND having another job doesn’t mean one is not a writer.
I don’t make enough out of writing to quit my job… far from it… but writing is both my passion and my therapy, so if I can cover my expenses… in my mind, that’s a good outcome.

If my writing helps someone feel that they’re less alone, or less weird, or can better understand someone else’s situation… that’s far more like what I want to achieve, particularly with my poetry.

I’d like to sell more books, sure. But not doing so isn’t going to stop me writing. And it won’t make me any less a writer.

You just wait til I’m dead. (Hopefully not any time soon.)
My poetry will go off the charts then.

Maybe you should buy a signed copy from me while you can.

2017-03-16 22.32.17

2016 – Turning Over a New Leaf

There’s no denying that in many, many ways, 2016 has been a rough year.

People around the world mourn leaders and entertainers, and there seem to be plenty of those that have left us this year. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Leonard Cohen…just to name a few. And I’m not even going to start talking about politics – nope, I’m leaving that one right alone.

I also know a lot of people personally who are struggling with illness, pain, grief, money problems, relationship issues. I know those things happen every year, to everyone at some point.

Personally, my year has had very few highlights.

One of those highlights was the launch of my book, ‘Leaf’, in June. That was the one positive event in a very dark patch of grief and sorrow like I have never experienced before.  Thankfully, my launch of ‘New Horizons’ ten days ago was plagued only by end-of-year teacher fatigue, so it was a much more enjoyable event.

Imagine my surprise when this little poetry book made it onto a number of selected reading lists on Goodreads! I’m so excited that people are reading and enjoying my work, and that it’s starting to get some attention.

If you’re on Goodreads, check out ‘Leaf’ on these lists:

Favourite Books That Released in 2016
Best Indie Books 2016/2017
Beautifully Written
Poetry

Wow!  I’m humbled that ‘Leaf’ is in very fine company, and not even last. ‘New Horizons’ is also on those first two lists, which is even better!

If you love reading, and you’re not on Goodreads… let me recommend it.
It’s a great place to find new books, network with other readers, and connect with writers whose work you enjoy.

 

 

Positive Reviews!

There’s always a bit of trepidation when you do something new and you’re not sure how it’s going to go.

There’s always a bit of trepidation when you do something new and you’re not sure how it’s going to go. ‘Leaf’ has been available for just over three months now, and I’m very thankful and excited to be getting positive reviews.

I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I am really thrilled about these two readers’ responses  that I’ve received recently.

review-jay-bell-2016-10-05-17-39-52

review-nicky-glynn-2016-10-05-10-55-40

Both of these people, and others who have given my writing positive reviews and ratings, have encouraged me more than they realise.  Sometimes being a writer is a really lonely thing, because there’s a whole experience and process you have to go through before you can know if anyone is actually going to understand and connect with what you’ve written.  To know that my poetry has had such an effect on people is both motivating and incredibly humbling.

 

‘Leaf’ – Available Now!

‘Leaf’ is my first published collection of poems in which I explore my own humanity, experiences, and observations about life in a way that will challenge the reader to see things from a new perspective.

‘Leaf’ is listed on Goodreads, and available as a paperback or an e-book on Xlibris, Amazon, iBooks and kobo.

You’re also welcome to visit my website at www.jvlpoet.com
leaf-banner

Shameless self-promotion.

One thing I’ve learned about being a writer is how hard it is to get people to take notice of your work…

One thing I’ve learned about being a writer is how hard it is to get people to take notice of your work. It’s even harder to get them to get them to buy a copy. There are a lot of “that’s nice!” responses out there.

At no point did I go into this with glazed eyes and a plan to “get rich quick” – as I explained to one of my students who asked if I would make a heap of money and stop teaching them, “…nobody gets rich writing poetry!”

I would be really happy to sell a few more copies of my book, though. There are always expenses, and I’d like to think that I’ll make back what getting published has cost me. It would be great to break even on the box o’books I ordered on the assumption that my friends and relatives would all support me, because that is exactly what I would do for them. Some have, and I am super grateful for each of them…  and some haven’t. I guess I should have seen that coming. I’m still working on trying to not take it personally.

So, I’m busy engaging in shameless self-promotion. I’m posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and anything else I can think of to advertise. If you have accounts on any of those places, please friend/follow me (just click on the handy links I’ve created) and share my posts with your friends.
You can also follow me as an author on Amazon and Goodreads. (Again, handy links!)
Another thing you could do to help me out is to rate/review ‘Leaf’ on Amazon, iBooks or Goodreads, as that really helps to raise both awareness and book sales. (Yep… links!)

I’m also in the final phases of designing and producing a website, which may or may not help me sell books, but it looks impressive! I’ll be sure to let you know when it goes live.

I do have a couple of book-signing events at upcoming fairs and festivals, which will hopefully give me opportunities to bless people with hard copies of my book in exchange for cash.

It’s hard work, but it is satisfying. Nobody can ever say I sat back and waited for something to come to me. And in the meantime, I’ll just keep writing.

Raising My Profile.

It’s amazing how much help there is out there for writers when it comes to promoting their work and raising their profile…

It’s amazing how much help there is out there for writers when it comes to promoting their work and raising their profile.

Like anything in life, there are a few sharks out there who want you to give them your money in return for not very much at all.

There are also some great websites and services that offer great services and publicity without costing your life savings and a ransom worthy of your first-born.

Goodreads is a two-way service for both readers and authors. Readers can rate and review books, update their friends on what they are reading, and engage in different reading challenges. It links very conveniently to Facebook and blogs. Authors can set up a profile and blog that are aimed at increasing readers’ awareness of their works, and giving their books publicity and promotion.  It’s easy to do, and I’m very happy with my profile. Goodreads gives regular updates on Twitter, promoting authors, books, and reading in general.

Quotesrain is a thriving literary community that presents authors and quotations from both famous people and the authors themselves. It’s visually rather lovely, too, so it’s quite relaxing to browse around. Quotesrain is also on Twitter.

Also on Twitter is All Author, a service of Quotesrain that will promote my book via social media for a year for just $24. There’s another level of promotion I could sign up for, but I’ll see how this goes first. I  only signed up yesterday, and they’ve already tweeted  both my books at least once. I’m pretty happy with that!

Finally, there’s the Indie Writers’ Cooperative on Facebook, where authors are encouraged to share the links to their works, promote their events, and to help each other out by sharing one another’s links, works and events. It’s a positive and encouraging environment where writers can meet and help each other out with a little healthy cross-promotion.

All in all, it’s been a productive and quite enjoyable exercise.

1472376928192-43-poems-that-consist-of-my-deepest-thoughts-blood-sweat-and-tears-enriched-with-the

A promotional quote for ‘Leaf’ made at Quotesrain.

 

 

Raising Her Right.

Today I received the most beautiful photos…

Today I received the most beautiful photos from a friend whose young niece was reading my book to her.
Adorable – AND smart! She knows good poetry when she sees it!

ScreenHunter_391 Aug. 29 21.34

That’s raising her right. A+ parenting!