Image via theeverygirl.com
As a product loaded with gendered norms, makeup can cause a lot of unnecessary grief. Women who don’t wear it get criticized. Women who wear too much get criticized. The internet is full of tutorials for how to wear makeup without looking like wearing any. Some women reject makeup, and others feel like they need it.
And if you’re a man who wants to wear makeup, you might encounter your own set of criticisms. Rock stars can get away with it. But an average guy can’t necessarily just wear some eyeliner and blush because he likes it without facing criticism (and that’s putting it mildly).
Think about our cultural standards surrounding makeup, and then consider your own associations with it. Do you like it? Hate it? See it as wasteful and unnecessary? Want to try it but don’t want to face people’s judgement? Do you yourself judge people for their makeup habits?
Use this reflection as the jumping-off point for a piece of writing. It can be personal, political, or both.
Pinterest Fail is a site where you can see photos of Pinterest tutorials gone horribly awry. Browse through the site to see all the ways in which the projects can go horribly wrong. Then find a Pinterest tutorial that looks fairly complex. Write an alternate version of the tutorial describing how to fail at whatever it is the tutorial is telling you to do.
Spend an entire day (or if you’re brave, an entire week) writing in a style or genre outside of your usual. Try romance if you write literary fiction. Try writing only sonnets if you’re normally a free-verse poet. See what develops when you’re in unfamiliar territory.
Get a random number generator. Random.org is a good one, and they also have a great app for your mobile device.
First, decide what you want your first pass with the generator to determine:
- The number of total syllables in your poem OR…
- The number of total lines in your poem
If you went with option 1, set your range between 5 and 500. If you went with option 2, set your range between 1 and 50. (You can go higher if you like writing long poems.) Generate a number. You now have the required total required number of syllables or lines for your poem, depending which option you chose.
Continue using the random number generator as you write. If you went with option 1, use the random number generator for each new line. Use it to determine the number of syllables for the new line, adding lines until you reach the number of total syllables.
If you went with option 2, use the generator to determine the number of words per line, writing until you reach the maximum number of require lines.
If you hang around me long enough, you’ll find out that I’m obsessed with villanelles. They’re my favorite poetic form. For this year’s creative challenge, I have two goals. First, I want to immerse myself in the villanelle. While I won’t write exclusively in form, I will spend the year reading, studying, and practicing. I love this form, so why not give it my full attention?
My other goal is to teach more workshops. I love teaching. I’ve taught workshops here and there, but this year, I want to make them a commitment the way I made giving readings a commitment. Given that preparing a workshop requires more effort than a reading (at least in my opinion), I’m not going to shoot for one a month. Instead, I’m going to go for 10 between now and March 31st, 2016.
Where is all this leading? To announce that I’ll be re-running the villanelle workshop I taught at the Flor de Nopal Literary Festival last year!
Workshop Description: Many poets are intimidated by the prospect of writing formal poetry. The villanelle, with the constraint of repeated lines, can seem especially daunting. This workshop will explore different ways of creating villanelles, including using found lines, to push the boundaries of constrains and make the form a fun exploration of sound and rhythm.
When: April 25th, 2015 from
3-5 4:00-6:00 p.m. (note the time change) at my home in East Austin (address provided after registration is finalized) OR April 26th from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. online (via Google Hangout)
Cost: $25 for the Austin workshop; $15 for the online workshop
Want to sign up? Fill out the registration form here. Payment can be sent via Paypal to email@example.com, or contact me at that address to make other arrangements.
Being bawdy at Austin Writers Roulette in February 2015
At last year’s Poetry at Round Top festival, which was also the weekend of my 30th birthday, I gave myself a challenge: to do at least one reading a month before I turned 31. I was going to read in public at least once a month, either at an open mic or as a feature. It didn’t matter if it was one poem or several. I was just going to get up and get out there. That meant 12 performances of one kind or another in my 30th year.
At the Georgetown Poetry Festival
As it turns out, doing one reading every single month was quite challenging, and some months I didn’t read at all… But I not only met my goal, I surpassed it! In November, for example, I was too busy training for my black belt test to schedule anything. And while there are poetry readings and open mics just about every week in Austin, some months, I couldn’t get anything that meshed with my work schedule. But there were other months full of abundance. December was particularly active; I read four times!
I ended up reading 16 times. 13 of those times were in Austin, one was in Georgetown, one was in Fort Worth, and one in Waco. This year my schedule was just too heavy for me to get to San Antonio or Houston again. I can’t believe I haven’t read in either of those cities in over a year!
Now that this challenge has been met, I plan to keep it up. Reading 12 times in a year was tough at times, but overall doable. Now I’m just trying to figure out what the literary challenge will be for Year 31!
Create a piece about breaking rules. Which rules were broken, and why? What was the outcome? Did your character/speaker (or you) get away with it, or get caught? Was there punishment involved? Guilt? What was the fallout, both short-term and long-term?