Archives For Writing

edit 1I’ve helped to fund several literary projects through Kickstarter, a crowd-funding site for the arts. Kickstarter describes the company’s mission on their website:

“Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects. We’re a home for everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of projects, big and small, that are brought to life through the direct support of people like you. Since our launch in 2009, 5.1 million people have pledged $860 million, funding 51,000 creative projects. Thousands of creative projects are raising funds on Kickstarter right now.”

The projects I backed include publishing a board book for children, publishing a comic book, and supporting a literary journal seeking new equipment. Some of the perks for funders are fairly interesting–from copies of books to art.

For the first project, in exchange for supporting production costs, I received a copy of Melissa Mariko Kieselburg’s comic book Edit, a 29-page comic book about robots and self-discovery, along with original art from the project and custom buttons. I really enjoyed her art and wanted to own some of the original artwork as much as I wanted to read the finished comic book. The goal for her fundraising was $2,000, and she exceeded it.

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The second project (still in final proof stages) is a board book for children, Are You My Typeface?, by Jesse Austin-Breneman. The funding goal for this project was $15,000. Here are two photos of the mock-up:

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Are You My Typeface? will be printed and delivered next month. It’s not just a book for children. I’m attracted to it because it seems to preserve a small piece of the printing industry that existed prior to digital technology. Typefaces are still critical in graphic design, but many children don’t think about how variations in typeface can convey meaning.

I’ve seen some books do really well with funding. I’m not affilitated with Kickstarter, but it has been entertaining to support worthwhile creative projects.

More about Jesse and his book project here and here.

More about Melissa here.

Kickstarter website.

ghost town nvIt’s close to Halloween, and I’ve had this nagging thought on my mind; it has to do with allowing myself to evolve as a writer without being hemmed in by past accomplishments, writing styles, etc. I think of this dilemma as being haunted by the ghost of poems past. One particular poem is both an anchor and a problem for me. It is, in many ways, one of the more successful poems I’ve written (according to editors), which sets up pressure to have all other poems follow in its path, to conform to the style of writing that worked so well this one time. This expectation becomes a weight that keeps me from moving forward. I just found a copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones (embarrassingly, I have so many books double and triple-stacked in rows on my bookcases, I didn’t realize that I even owned it), and she wisely points out what a huge mistake it is to try and control your material before it is even written down. That’s what these hauntings are, a gordian knot of expectations that encourage you to control the material or shape it in ways that are preconceived (actually limiting you).

I used to write narrative and image-based poems, and that has been a difficult pattern to break. The newer poems have a different style and subject matter, and will likely be taken by a new group of journals, which means wading into unknown waters and facing a steep learning curve with new editors. I’m excited about the prospect, but it’s tempting to go back to the writing style I know and the journals I am most familiar with. I’m using an old English proverb as my mantra these days, sticking to what’s elemental and not chasing after what’s not important:

Catch not at the shadow and lose the substance.

I’m using Writing Down the Bones to keep me anchored to the substance of writing. More on Natalie Goldberg’s books in the related content.

Twyla Tharp, choreographer, says “If you only do what you know and do it very, very well, chances are that you won’t fail. You’ll just stagnate, and your work will get less and less interesting, and that’s failure by erosion.” Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit, is one of my favorites.