Let’s Talk: My Opinion On My Writing

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to give a quick update on how everything related to my writing is currently going and my opinion on the work I’ve been doing lately. If you’re interested in learning more about what I’m up to lately, keep on reading!

This blog has grown a significant amount in the past couple months since I’ve shifted it to mainly focusing on sharing my poetry, and I’m so happy and thankful for that. I’m glad you guys are enjoying the content. I know that it’s 100% normal to have some posts do better than others and some weeks with higher view counts than others, but I have noticed something a bit odd.

Some of the poems that I’m most excited about posting on here/pretty proud of tend to not be viewed by as many people as a lot of my cheesier, just for fun poems. This is totally fine and again I’m not trying to complain– I just want to know if this means you guys would like to see more cheesy/silly and fun poems over other types of poetry. Please let me know if you have an opinion on this and would like to share your thoughts!

Outside of this blog, I’m currently participating in the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference. I was intimidated upon the start of the conference since everyone seemed so smart and insightful and I was worried I’d be the dumbest/least experienced of the group, but it has been such a valuable and wonderful experience thus far. Everyone is so nice and willing to help with work and share their own.

If you remember my post a couple months ago about working on a book, you might be wondering how I’m doing with that. I actually took a break from working on it around AP testing and have had trouble getting back into the swing of things. I’m hovering around 30,000 words right now, and I’m hoping the skills I’m picking up in the writing conference will help me return to it full steam ahead. I’ve let myself have a longer break than I would’ve liked to, but I don’t want to force anything and end up writing half-hearted scenes I’ll have to scrap later. It’s also been a busy few months even after AP testing, believe it or not!

I recently submitted a batch of poems out to various publications and entered a couple contests, so hopefully I will hear back from some of those soon. I will definitely post updates when I do!

I’ve also gotten into experimenting with all types of writing more. I used to strictly write poetry and then I got into my book, but now I’ll write short stories sometimes and even some creative nonfiction. It’s been really nice to experiment and I suspect I’ll be playing around with different genres a lot more in the rest of the Sewanee workshop as well.

That’s basically all for now! Please let me know your thoughts or if you have any suggestions for where to take this blog/my writing in the future based on what you want to see. Thanks for sticking around 🙂 Stay safe and healthy out there.

Brooke

A Visual Conversation – Poem by Me

either right place, right time by coincidence or 
a true understanding and connection
somehow fostered in math class

two columns over, two rows away
yet your eyes keep meeting mine and i feel like
you can really see me, here in this silent
classroom

nothing spoken out loud

but i see you too
and i'm not worried or self-conscious
i'm just looking 
to get to know you

and i think i know you pretty well
learning more and more as our eyes
keep meeting

I hope you enjoyed this piece. I know it’s probably really cheesy unless you’re currently in middle school or high school (and even then…) but it was an idea I had in my drafts and I wanted to try it out. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or any writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the near future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

What Are The Odds? – Poem by Me

what are the odds that you and i become 
a we or an us

what are the odds that you'll tell me if
that's what you want
that we'll be honest with each other for
once instead of dancing around
what we already have and wondering
if it's ever going to be something more

what are the odds that i'll be the one
to speak my mind
to tell you how i feel and make the 
first move because i can't control
your actions but i can sure control
mine

what are the odds that we do this
together, that we move forward and 
take on the world hand in hand

I hope you enjoyed this piece! I know it was kinda cheesy but I hope it was still a fun read– it was fun for me to write. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or any writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the near future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Simpler Days – Poem by Me

land i've never seen
open roads i've never driven on
the sky is our blanket
and the stars sing goodnight

the grasses sway in greeting
when the morning sun rises
the sky is now watercolored
and the dew melts into our feet

trees i've never climbed
offer up their fruits for our
labors in keeping them company
and the leaves shield us in the heat

I hope you enjoyed this piece! I know it was a short one. It’s inspired by my current rereading of the Little House on the Prairie books, and an ode to one of the (many) lifestyles I used to think were super cool when I was younger. I now see many issues with the series, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to reminisce on childhood. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the near future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Let’s Talk: Receiving Feedback On Your Writing

Welcome back everyone!

So, you’ve posted a piece of writing (not necessarily creative writing, we’re talking about anything here) or submitted it for publication, and you get some feedback. Even if the piece is jaw-droppingly amazing, there’s probably still going to be some critiques in any feedback you receive. Today I’m going to give you a little overview of how to respond to feedback, how to get better at reacting to it, and how to actually take it into account. If you’re interested, keep on reading!

There are a couple different ways and places I receive feedback on my writing: comments on this blog, responses from literary magazines I submit my pieces to (Polyphony Lit specifically is an international teen lit mag that gives every submission 3 rounds of feedback sent back to the author), and just simply sharing my pieces with other people for peer review. I don’t get many comments on my work here on this blog, so I’m able to respond to every one that I get and think deeply about the feedback given. Most literary magazines/publications don’t give you too much feedback other than acceptance/rejection, but in the case of the ones that do, I try to comb through the feedback for points I may not have thought about before and am willing to actually rework and change in my piece.

As far as sharing my pieces with others for peer review, I’m very weird about sharing my writing (I made a post about this not too long ago) and I don’t do this as often as I should. I know it’s one of the most helpful things you can do to get feedback on your work in a more gentle manner, but I’m still working up the confidence to do so. I will actually be doing a lot of peer review very soon in the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference these coming weeks, and I will surely give an update on how that goes.

When someone provides you with feedback, no matter the case, make sure to thank them!! This is crucial because you want to show that you are gracious for their time in reading over your piece and telling you how to make it even better. Please do not get discouraged by a lot of criticism or negative-seeming feedback. It is all in your best interest to hear the perspectives of others and how they may have interpreted your work.

Another thing to consider is you don’t have to take all feedback into account when revising your piece. Definitely read it all, but if changes are suggested that would alter your piece in a way you’re not willing to or would take away from your intended meaning, then don’t make those changes. It’s completely okay to listen to parts of someone’s feedback and not all. That being said, if the source of the feedback is someone you trust and/or someone with a lot of writing experience and knowledge, you might reconsider ignoring what they say. I know it probably sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but I promise I’m not! This is just how it goes– as a writer, you’re probably already used to looking at everything from both sides and all the angles in between.

You may be wondering, how do I actually implement the changes suggested in the feedback I’ve gotten? I would first comb through all the feedback and highlight the points that you agree with most/want to rework in your piece. If these are more specific, I would just start attacking those parts of your piece and implementing a first round of change. If the feedback was more general, you could read through your piece and highlight portions that relate to what you’re trying to change. After you’ve done that throughout the whole piece, start working on those.

When you’re done with that first round of reworking, take a break. Come back and look at the piece later, and see if it reflects the changes suggested in the feedback and the changes you wanted to make. If so, pass it on somewhere else for feedback again. If not, go through another round of reworking yourself. Repeat. This is what I do, and it tends to move the revision process along pretty quick.

I hope this helped you with anything related to feedback on your writing! Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to leave some feedback on this piece 🙂 Stay safe and healthy out there.

Brooke

Pen Pal – Poem by Me

putting pen to paper and spilling one's guts 
felt unnatural at first, with her tendency to 

pick up the phone to call her mother or run
to a friend down the hall. but something about

sitting down and writing relaxed her-- her 
shoulders stopped tensing and her posture

relaxed. you could just see it. what you couldn't 
see was her trying to assemble the pieces, put

together fragments of information from the letters
to stitch together a fabricated version of the person

behind them. she could only imagine their face,
their laugh, and their genuine reactions to 

her words if they were to have an in-person conversation.
can you send a picture of yourself? i'll send you one of me, 

she wrote. enclosed with the latest letter was a photo
of her, smiling on the beach with hair blowing 

in the wind. she would await a response patiently.

I hope you enjoyed this piece. I’ve never actually had a pen pal, but during quarantine one of my friends and I have been sending letters back and forth to each other. It’s been fun, especially when I see I’ve gotten a letter in the mail. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the near future. Stay safe and healthy out there!

Brooke

Odds and Evens – Poem by Me

2, 4, 14, 24
numbers that mean something to me, 
most of them not for any particular reason

i prefer evens to odds-- i always have
and you're about as even as it gets

if i had to attach a number to you, it would
be 14. maybe that's part of the reason why
i was first drawn to you. i can't explain
why i have to quantify everything with 
numbers, i just do.

i find a number to describe everyone
it's a good thing you're even and not 
odd.

I hope you enjoyed this piece! It was something a little odd that just popped into my head, and although I don’t actually describe everything/people with numbers, I really do prefer even to odd numbers 🙂 Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Borrowed – Poem by Me

yellow sheet on the ground
right next to the chinaberry tree
thrown aside in the heat of the moment
running away from history
sobbing and balled up on the ground
full off of nasty-looking, good tasting
catfish and fries
I couldn't breathe
so I laid there and waited

I hope you enjoyed this poem! The reason it’s so short is it was actually a little challenge using page 85 of Kiese Laymon’s Long Division. I took some portions of sentences from that page of the book and added in/edited a couple things to make this poem. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or any writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the near future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Valleys – Poem by Me

the syllables get caught in my throat trying to 
slide off my tongue-- the word doesn't look
right when i type it out in a paper. 

v a l l e y s
forget these silly grammar rules of words ending in
Y and changing it to -ies

forget the word itself, forget the valleys (and the valleies)
where the heat traps itself in the air, where
the wind blows just a little bit harder

This was a short one, but I thought it was kinda fun since I focused in on a specific word. I technically live in a valley (valley is part of my city’s name!) so it’s just something I thought about using as the topic of a poem. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or any writing challenges you’d like me to try out in the near future. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke

Picnic in the Park – Poem by Me

a lazy afternoon, summertime starting to bloom
     a picnic basket holds down a checkered blanket
on the overgrown grass, shaded by an equally 
     overgrown oak tree. a middle-aged woman can

usually be seen complaining about the maintenance
     somewhere on the grounds. a slight breeze
blows by, leaving the leaves and weaker branches
     to sway in the air, almost suspended in 

movement for a few seconds each way. an attractive
     young couple opens the basket hungrily, to 
reveal sandwiches, fruits, and a bottle of champagne.
     the same middle-aged woman will pause her

complaining to lecture the couple on their 
    drinking in public, but they will laugh it off. they
pretend to stow the bottle away in the basket
    again until she leaves. the sun beats down on

your forehead. you continue to watch the
    couple enjoy their late lunch, as you are the
observer,
    like always

I hope you enjoyed this piece! It was a fun one to write. I could honestly write tons of poems about the different scenes and people I observe while taking my daily walks around my neighborhood park. Please let me know if you have any feedback on this piece or writing challenges you’d like me to try out. Stay safe and healthy.

Brooke