Good morning, blog readers! Welcome to another installment of Pick-a-Poem, wherein we feature a new poet and their work. As always, this week’s poem comes from Poetry Daily, which is a really great site for discovering new poetry. This week we feature the poem Body & Kentucky Bourbon by Saeed Jones.

According to his page on Poetry Daily, Saeed Jones is the author of a chapbook titled When the Only Light is Fire (2011, Sibling Rivalry Press) and he won the Pushcart Prize in 2013. His poems have also appeared in publications such as Guernica, the Rumpus, West Branch, and others. He is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and Queer / Art / Mentorship. He is currently the editor of Buzzfeed LGBT.

Body & Kentucky Bourbon, by Saeed Jones

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Yesterday, in our weekly advice post, we discussed the value of talking with someone about your writing. Talking about your writing projects and forcing yourself to say things about your project aloud can have an enormous benefit to your work. On the surface level, it can simply boost your self-esteem to discuss what you’re working on and get validation from someone listening to you. But on a deeper level, discussing your writing may lead you to learn where your plot holes are and figure out solutions to your writing-related problems.

If you’ve already had experience with talking about your writing projects, then you probably have a person or a group of people you typically consult. Maybe you have a trusted family member who has seen your writing grow from when you were young. Or maybe you have a friend who doesn’t do any writing herself, but is a big reader and can always pick out what your story needs. You may even have a writer’s group with whom you regularly meet to discuss projects.

Personally, I have several different sounding boards to discuss my writing with. I often talk to my brother about my various plot ideas, especially when National Novel Writing Month rolls around. I also have some friends who participate in NaNoWriMo with me, so they understand that special brand of insanity. It’s the most fun and the most helpful to discuss matters of writing techniques with them. And my NaNoWriMo group as a whole is a great sounding board for all things plot-related.

So, now it’s your turn. Who do you talk to about your writing? Who in your life can find the cracks in your plot, answer your queries, and support you as you continue to write? Feel free to share in the comments!

– Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Writing can be a very solitary activity. For the most part, writing consists of sitting alone at your computer or your notebook and putting word after word. As a project begins, you are probably feeling protective of your work and wanting to keep it away from other people. That’s a completely understandable feeling, of course. Your writing project is something that has lived mainly in your head, and now that it’s making it onto paper it feels more fragile. But, eventually, you will have to talk to someone about what you’re working on. And getting someone else’s feedback can be more helpful than you might expect.

In a recent post on his blog, Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig wrote about essential elements that a writer needs to cultivate instinct. One of the things on Wendig’s list was talking about your writing. Here’s what he has to say on the topic:

“Sometimes? Sometimes you just have to talk about it. Go out to a movie, go get pie with friends. Read a book? Get online to chat about it. Have a story problem? Go talk to someone. Talking about The Work — ours and everybody else’s — helps us hone our writing knives and story swords.”

Of course, as Wendig mentions here, the best time to get out and talk to someone about your writing is when you’re feeling stuck. If you have a problem in your story that you can’t seem to get past, talking to someone else and puzzling out the problem aloud might help. Even if the other person doesn’t have any advice to offer you, saying the problem out loud might help you see where you could fix things. So, this is a great way to get out of writer’s block, or at least lessen it.

Wendig also makes a great point here when he says that we should be talking about ‘The Work,’ ours as well as others’. Discussing the books that we like and what we think worked well in those books is essential for understanding the craft of writing and translating that into your own work. Hearing the opinions of others might also help you understand what readers want to see in a book.

In addition, I would add that talking about your writing projects makes them feel more valid and real. Explaining what you have been working on, mostly in your own head, gives it new life. Letting someone in on the “secret” of your writing can also be quite fun!

If you haven’t yet, find someone you trust and talk with them about the writing project that you’re currently engrossed in. You never know how it might help or what they might have to say.

– Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Hello, blog readers! Another week has gone by and another Wednesday has come, so it’s time to feature a new poem here on our blog. As always, this week’s featured poem comes from Poetry Daily, which is great site to check out if you’re looking for new and interesting poetry. This week we feature Small Container, Fury by Sandra Lim.

According to Poetry Daily and Kore Press, Sandra Lim’s most recent collection of poetry, Loveliest Grotesque, won the Kore Press First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in publications such as Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, and ZYZZYVA. She holds an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is an assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Small Container, Fury by Sandra Lim

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Yesterday I wrote about writing while you still have a day job, and how we should all be enjoying the writing process. Unfortunately, you may sometimes have trouble enjoying the writing process or your current project. There will certainly be days when you sit down at your computer or notebook and the words simply won’t come, or you keep feeling like you would rather be doing something else. There will also probably be days when you feel bogged down by the project you’re working on.

Back at the beginning of the summer, I was working on a novel-length project that is still in the editing stage. I had written the first draft as part of National Novel Writing Month in November of 2013, and was working on editing and re-writing. For some reason, when the seasons changed and it was summertime, I felt completely annoyed by my project. I no longer liked the story, I felt I wasn’t using my time very well, and I felt like I was simply going through the motions each evening rather than enjoying the process of working on this story.

In this situation, my solution was to switch writing projects and work on something that had lower stakes. The novel-length project was something I’d put a lot of pressure on myself to finish, and that took some of the fun out of it. I still have a finished first draft waiting for me, and the beginnings of re-writes, but right now I need to work on something else. For now, I’m enjoying working on something that’s a little more “frivolous.”

So, what do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or uninspired by a project? When you find that you’re no longer enjoying the writing project you’re working on, what do you do? Do you stick with it, trusting that you’ll enjoy it again soon, or do you switch over to something new? Do you have any secret techniques for reawakening that enjoyment? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

– Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

In the past, I have written about having a day job while also pursuing writing. As I have mentioned, there are both pros and cons to having that day job. On the plus side, you may get writing ideas from your workplace. On the other hand, your day job may cause you to be so exhausted at the end of the day that you don’t have the time or energy to get to your writing.

Though I’m sure we have all experienced the ups and the downs of this particular situation, I think we’re all forgetting something that can be placed in the “pros” column. In a recent post on Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds, author Tom Pollock wrote guest post all about Writing Around a Day Job. Pollock offers some really great pointers for writing when most of your day is occupied by something that brings home your bacon. One of the things that he does is entreat those of us who have a day job to just enjoy writing!

Pollock writes, “Frankly, everybody who writes, day job or not, ought to be having fun with it, otherwise why bother? But this is one of those areas where keeping the civilian occupation can be a positive boon. If you aren’t looking for this book to pay your gas bill, it frees you up to write whatever the hell turns you on.”

He’s right! No matter what your situation, if you’ve chosen to include writing in your life, you should be enjoying it! If you’re not enjoying it, you should stop right now, or at least evaluate the project that you’re working on to see why you’re not enjoying it. Not everything can be fun, and there will certainly be un-fun parts of writing, but you should enjoy at least some parts of the process.

But for those of us who have something else going on in our lives that supplies us with money we need to live, writing should be even more fun. Sure, it might be nice to have writing be our main activity on a day-to-day basis, but that might introduce unwanted stress and pressure into the equation. For now, just enjoy the writing that you do, whenever you get the chance to do it.

– Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Editor’s Notes #147

Posted: September 7, 2014 in Editor's Notes

Good evening, blog readers! I hope that, if you have returned to school, your school year is going smoothly so far. Now that school is back in session, that means that Jet Fuel Review crew will be getting ready to put together a brand new issue! But, if you want to check out what we do, you can read the latest issue of the  Jet Fuel Review right now. If you’re looking for some new poetry, fiction, and non-fiction to read, be sure to check out this latest issue. This issue is even available as an eBook, which you can download HERE.

Now, onto the post round-up. In terms of Writing Advice, we had a post all about pacing your story. Pacing is important for the feel that your readers get from your story, and whether they stay engaged. Then we had a post about getting to know your own characters. If you know your characters, you can help your readers know them as well. Some techniques include prewriting and character monologues — check out the post for more! We also had a post about connections between your characters. Creating connections between the people in your story makes them more real for your readers and it can be fun to do! This past week, our writing advice focused on reading critically to improve your writing.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve also had some discussion posts, in which you can express your opinion about some writing topics. We have a post about graphic novels up right now — have you read any graphic novels? Do you have any recommendations? Share them in the post! We also have a post about writing non-fiction. Are you interested in writing non-fiction? Have you already done so? Finally, we had a discussion post about the reading that you do when you’re in a writing slump.

And, of course, we have also been featuring some poems here on the blog. In the past few weeks, we have featured You Ask Me to Talk About the Interior, by Caroline Ebeid and  A Sparrow’s Life’s as Sweet as Mineby Corrie Williamson. This week we featured Fox in a Tree Stump, by Judith Beveridge.

Stay tuned for more posts from us here at the Jet Fuel Review’ blog.

– Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan