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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

What with summer courses and now weddings (well, mostly one wedding), I haven’t been writing much. A little, yes, and I have a half-finished post about that typed up somewhere.

But that post has been eclipsed by some wonderful news: I am to be published!

This is the first story I’ve had accepted since college, and I am, needless to say, pretty thrilled. The literary journal is called Dappled Things, and I highly recommend them. Their poetry, especially, blows me away with each issue. (They’ve rejected several of my poor poems, though they accepted one of my talented cousin’s works.)

 

The journal is named for Gerard Manley Hopkin’s poem “Pied Beauty,” and the editors describe the relationship of this poem to their journal much better than I can. But I am both humbled and excited to be published here, since this journal is one dear to my heart.

 

Of equal awesomeness in this whole matter is the fact that because this is my first publication since my undergrad days, and since it will be printed after my wedding … I can publish it under my married name without any worries about inconsistency. So whatever happens with my writing in the future will happen under the name of “Rosemary Callenberg.”

 

Now that I have shared my news, we may return to our regularly scheduled blogging indolence.

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I’ve been posting much more often over here these past few weeks, and I think that reflects my general state of being. I am very busy with teaching and being a student and writing, but it isn’t what occupies my mind for the time being.

I feel this sharp juxtaposition right now between “grad school” and “real life.” I guess because I’m getting married, planning for the future, dealing with the stuff of adulthood. (Because really, grad school doesn’t completely require you to be an adult, although it helps.) That juxtaposition is part truth and part illusion, because life is whatever and wherever you’re living in a moment, not some abstract concept. And yet when it comes to where I imagine myself being, and who I imagine myself to be, this MFA program is transient. Important, desired, but over in another year. I’m not entirely certain what lies on the other end of that year, but I’m eager to find out.

Committing regular time for writing has been difficult. Partly because of this blasted business, but also because my attention has been focused on other things. I find that writing requires a balance of stillness and activity. Too much of one leads to stagnation, too much of the other doesn’t allow one(/me) that interior quiet that’s necessary for creation.

If good writing captures the spark of life, it seems to me that it’s necessary for the writer to life a full life (which isn’t the same thing as a busy one). But when life is exceptionally full, I often find myself drawn away from writing, or simply forgetful. (Except there is always that guilt gnawing away at the corners of my mind, asking me how I can call myself a writer, which will only be silenced by writing, and writing, and writing well.)

I’ve no conclusion to this train of thought.

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… I’ve been submitting stories. To a contest and a literary magazine most recently; planning on sending another thing out in the next week or so.

I feel like a writer. Woohoo!

It’s been a bit too long since I last submitted anything, honestly; same as it’s been too long since I posted on this blog. One always intends to do that sort of thing over Spring Break, but then things happen. Like surprise bridal showers and apartment hunting. (Other things don’t happen as much, like homework.)

To be honest, it’s when all that Real Life stuff starts taking over that I stop and wonder, why the heck am I still in school, again?

And then, gradually, I remember Reasons. To be part of a writing community; to better myself as a writer and an individual; and, of course, to write.

And I certainly know there are many aspects of academia that I’ll miss sorely once I’m finished. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two years, it’s that I have absolutely no desire for an academic lifestyle on a long term basis. And there’s always a part of me that’s chomping at the bit, waiting to be finished.

I guess it’s pretty lucky time doesn’t listen to my whims.

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This post was originally composed last spring, when my grandmother passed away. I’ve thought more since then about place, and about the women in my family and what I share with them. Parts of these thoughts will probably end up here eventually, because they’re something I’d like to write more about. These are things that have often preoccupied me, but I believe this is the first time I tried writing about them.

The post has been sitting in my drafts folder for quite some time, and the only reason I can imagine for this is because I didn’t know what word came after “part of this” … so I have put a period there, and now I give it to you.

~~~~~

I have been absent this week, six hours away from Pittsburgh and immersed in my other life: the life in Philadelphia.

More accurately, it is my life in Doylestown, because although my grandparents (both sets) lived about an hour away from the city and I visited them several times a year growing up, I’ve only been to Philadelphia proper twice that I remember.

It is another life of mine, that part of Pennsylvania, with the stone houses and the red roads. It was a secret that my friends in Michigan couldn’t see, and that I couldn’t describe to them, and so a part of me that I knew couldn’t be known by many. And so, even though I’d lived in Michigan since age 2, I, like my parents, knew what it was like to live somewhere other than home, to feel like you belonged somewhere else.

That home is disintegrating, falling to pieces bit by bit. My grandmother passed away a week ago today, meaning that now an entire generation is gone. (“It’s down to our parents now,” I said to my cousin, and it was a sobering thought.) The house I spent so much time in–the living room with Pop-pop’s chair, the red maple we used to climb out front, the 11 acres of woods out back, the pipeline next door, the split driveway that my grandparents shared with Great-grandma Ivy–these things are gone, belong to strangers now, even though as I drove past them yesterday they looked the same.

But the roads still hold something. Those red, narrow country roads that can’t really handle the congestion that excessive development and suburbanization has brought. The feeling that I associated with them–something tangible in my chest, something different than anywhere else–it’s still there.

And I am sitting on the couch with a stack of essays next to me which I haven’t touched since Monday, seriously behind on my work; but I am still lost in stories: my stories, Grandma’s stories, my mother’s stories, Great-grandma’s stories. Right now they pull me back to the past, and I can get nothing done. They tell me that grieving is never really over.

But they also push me into the future, teach me that my stories, too, are a part of this.

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With Open Arms

New Year’s Day is as good a time as any to return to the old blog, isn’t it?

Not that any of my resolutions have to do with blogging. I was tempted, but no. I blog best when a subject bubbles over into words–although it does require a commitment from me to overcome laziness and stir the pot, tend it before everything evaporates. (Oh my word. Too many weird metaphors … obviously I haven’t been writing enough lately.) Although, if I can blog more regularly, among other things, I may just reward myself with a domain.

I did make some resolutions, however. Here they are:

  • 1. Write 15 hours a week.
    2. Read more poetry.
    3. Pray the rosary regularly.
    4. Don’t stress about getting things done.
  • The best goal is #2. Straightforward and non-guilt-inducing. The first is … necessary. But I’m going to allow myself a little flexibility there. Maybe I’ll write 10 hours some weeks, and there will be weeks I write much, much less. But it’s about cultivating a habit. Which is, ultimately, why I came to grad school. So.

    The fourth will be the hardest. Nice and abstract. But there you go.

    And the third is easiest in its specificity, if not in practice. It is also the most needed.

    This is going to be a busy, busy year. Wedding preparations, a manuscript due in the fall (are you serious….?!).

    But I welcome it with open arms.

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    Anti-Baxter?

    Currently reading chapters from Charles Baxter’s book, Burning Down the House. I like his fiction, what I’ve read of it–partly, I suppose, because it’s set in Michigan, but also the flavor of it. I used “Snow” in the class I taught this summer.

    But I am not really liking these essays. They are too antagonistic, for one thing–which I think is deliberate. I suppose it may just be that I don’t agree with him. Flannery O’Connor’s essays about writing could also be seen as antagonistic, but I always think she’s right.

    There is really no point to this post except to say I’m not enjoying reading Baxter, which is a disappointment to me. In fact, I ought not be blogging right now at all. I am ridiculously busy, because I got no work done this weekend, because I got engaged Saturday morning. That has a way of distracting you.

    Happy Tuesday to you all.

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    I had a dream …

    … that I got a domain for rosemarywrites dot com. Is this a sign? 😛

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