Hello, readers, and welcome to another weekly Pick-a-Poem post. Every Wednesday we feature a new poem on the blog, hoping that you’ll enjoy a bit of poetry injected into your day and perhaps find something new to read. These poems come from the oh-so helpful Poetry Daily, a site that features a new poem every single day. This week we’re featuring Passing Palmers Green Station by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.

According to her bio page on Poetry Daily, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has had eight volumes of her work published, including Selected Poems (2009), The Sun-fish (2010), and The Legend of the Walled-Up Wife (2012), which consisted of translations from the Romanian poetry of Ileana Malancioiu. She currently edits the literary journal Cyphers with two other editors. Previously, she was Associate Professor of English, Dean of the Faculty of Arts (Letters), and a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin until she retired in 2011.

Passing Palmers Green Station by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

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#Sometimes you just need a system. Sometimes a task that seems insurmountable can be made that much easier by having a set of guidelines in front of you. When it comes time to edit a story or novel that you’ve been working on for a long time, you may not know where to begin. Ideally, someone else would be editing your manuscript. It’s best to have someone who has not been involved with the story at all looking for mistakes. But more often than not, we are our own editors. If you’re struggling with the editing process, something like an editor’s checklist might help you out. Recently I found a great post on The Editor’s Blog that offered some helpful guidelines.

In this post, Fiction Editor Beth Hill suggests ways to attack/edit a manuscript. For instance, she says you should “anticipate how changes in one element or scene or plot thread will change elements and scenes and plot threads later in the story.” This is something that could be easily forgotten. In the past, when I’ve edited first drafts of my own, I’ve been so focused on fixing one part of the story that I forget repercussions those changes will have later on in the story. One easy way to keep track of these changes is to use a program that allows you to leave comments in your manuscript’s margins. Insert a comment whenever you make a change that affects the plot. Then you can skim those comments later on to see what needs to change elsewhere. You could even color code your comments according to characters or plotlines.

Most of us are not completely prepared to be editors. We are authors and so aren’t in the editing mindset, especially not when dealing with our own creations. Because of this, you might be helped by this piece of advice from Beth Hill’s article. She says, “Editors are often concerned with the elements of the story that are not yet on the page—they look to see what’s missing.” When you sit down with your manuscript, you may be focused solely on what you’ve put down on the page. You may be concerned with fixing those elements and, in so doing, fail to notice what your story lacks. I would suggest setting the story aside for some time and then doing a full read-through. As you read, make notes about what doesn’t make sense or what needs to be developed more fully. Refer to those notes later to figure out what your story still needs.

At the end of Beth’s post, she has created an actual checklist of questions for you to ask when editing your manuscript. These include questions about the plot of your story, your characters, your setting, your dialogue, and much more. I would suggest checking out the post to get started on editing a project.

Happy writing and happy editing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Welcome to another installment of our weekly feature — Pick-a-Poem. Every week we choose a new poem to feature here on the blog in the hopes that you’ll find some new poetry to read. These poems come to us from Poetry Daily, which is a great website that features a new poem every single day. This week we’re featuring So Legged, So Footed, and Who’s Left to Care? by Allison Hutchcraft.

According to her bio page on Poetry Daily, Allison Hutchcraft has had her work published in various places, including American Letters & Commentary, Barrow Street, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crazyhorse, and Cincinnati Review. She currently teaches a creative writing course at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

So Legged, So Footed, and Who’s Left to Care? by Allison Hutchcraft

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I know. Sometimes you have to get away from that writing project. If you’re one of those people who can write for days on end without needing a break, this post is not for you. No, this is for those of us who sometimes need to step away from what we’re writing, lest we strangle our characters and develop a mighty hatred for the story we’re embroiled in.

Absolutely loving your own writing project 24/7 is not a requirement for being a writer. There are almost certainly going to be times when you hate the sight of your own words and just want to run at the thought of working on that project. When you get that feeling, though, don’t be so quick to run to something frivolous. Sure, those frivolous pursuits have their place, but you shouldn’t always be using them as an escape. Instead, try to fill your non-writing time (or at least some of it) with a productive form of escape: reading.

Why is reading so productive? Well, in general, it’s just a better way to engage your mind than staring mindlessly at a screen. (Just so you know, I say that as someone who spends a lot of time staring at a screen. Do as I say, not as I do.) But reading can be especially beneficial for writers for several reasons.

Inspiration: While you’re reading another author’s work, you may feel inspired to continue your own work. Sometimes seeing what another author has done will give you that extra push you need to care about your own story again. In this way, I guess reading can be a tool for getting back to writing sooner. But it doesn’t have to be…who says you have to stop after this chapter?

Idea Building: In addition to simply seeing what an author has accomplished, reading what they’ve come up with might spur you on to new ideas for your own story. We all steal from what we read to some degree, so if you’re reading something you really enjoy and admire, you’re likely to find some ideas in there that you can use in your own project.

Engaging: Reading is just another way to engage with words. If you don’t feel like creating words, reading someone else’s is the next best thing. That way, you’re still in the realm of writing and you’re still thinking about writing as a craft. You’re just doing it with a book or e-reader in your hand rather than a pen or laptop.

So, the next time you’re feeling burnt out on writing and want to gravitate toward Netflix, consider reading instead! It might just help you get your writing mojo back.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Editor’s Notes #164

Posted: May 10, 2015 in Editor's Notes

Hello, blog readers, and welcome to another Sunday! Two weeks have passed since our last Editor’s Notes post, and in that time the semester has come to an end. That means that our intrepid Jet Fuel Review editors are either graduating or preparing to kick up their feet for summer. Either way, things are going to be a little quieter around our blog in the coming months. We hope you’ll stick with us, though. And in the meantime, please check out the latest issue of the Jet Fuel Review, which is live and available for you to read right now.

In the world of writing advice, I’ve written two recent posts. The first one was about what to do when you’re stuck. We’ve all experienced writer’s block, and hopefully these bits of advice will help you when it comes around. The other was about multitasking, which is sometimes the only way to get writing done in a busy day. We also featured some poems here on the blog in recent weeks. First, we featured three poems from Javier EtchevarrenGlue, Punta Carretas, and Garbage Dump. And we also featured Last Lights by Kim Addonizio.

Recently, a few of our bloggers wrote their final posts for the semester. Sabrina Parr’s last book review was My Fair Godmother by Jannette Rallison. Michael Cotter’s last installment of “What Are You Watching?” featured the show Ghost Whisperer. Kelly Lyons wrote two final “Book Bucket List” posts for the blog. These featured The Silver Linings Playbook and The Lovely Bones. And we had just one more “Meet the Editors” post, this time to introduce our new Assistant Web Editor, Monika Kois.

Thanks to all the bloggers for their thoughtful and compelling contributions to the blog during this past semester. And thanks to all of you for continuing to read our posts here. I hope you all have a wonderful summer!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

In all honesty, the only reason I decided to read The Lovely Bones was because my high school banned it. I was still in middle school when it happened, but basically my school chose it as the school-wide summer read until an army of conservative, suburban moms rallied against it. This, of course, bumped it up to the top of my reading list.

That being said, there are unquestionably triggering elements in this story. However, I don’t think that merits a school-wide ban. Like most banned book cases in the world, this book is infinitely more complex than dissenters believe.

In the beginning of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, the narrator, Susie Salmon, is raped and murdered by her neighbor, George Harvey. Susie ascends to heaven, where she watches the continuing lives of her family and friends. While Susie now knows that Harvey is a serial killer, she looks on in frustration as the police write him off as creepy but harmless. Susie’s family struggles to move forward after her death, and she watches them slowly break apart under the pressure.

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Welcome to another installment of our weekly Pick-a-Poem post! Each and every Wednesday, we feature a new poem here on the blog. Hopefully this introduces you to some new reading material. Every poem we choose comes from Poetry Daily, which is a really helpful site that features a new poem every single day. Check them out! This week’s poem comes from a poet whose work I actually read in class, Kim Addonizio. This week we feature her poem, Last Lights.

According to her bio on her own website, Kim Addonizio has written several books, the most recent of which are Lucifer at the Starlite (a finalist for the Poets Prize) and Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within, a nonfiction book. She has also written novels, including Jimmy & RitaLittle Beauties, and My Dreams Out in the Street. She also has a new collection out right now entitled My Black Angel: Blues Poems and Portraits. She has two NEA fellowships and Pushcart Prizes for both poetry and essay.

Last Lights by Kim Addonizio

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