Sunday, July 24, 2011

End of July


As my hand continues to heal at the pace of a snail swimming backwards through molasses on a humid day, I'm concentrating on non-typing things. One is a series of podcasts that I am creating for my creative writing courses (craft/inspirational stuff) and to share samples of my short stories. Here's my first go... 


Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to upload audio to Blogger yet, so in the meantime listen to "The Probability of Him" (from To Begin Again) here: http://www.jenknox.com


Also, check out brand new fiction in The Criterion: An International Journal in English.

Monday, July 18, 2011

back in action

Okay, so here I am blogging. But not in the traditional sense. Today is the first day that I've used voice recognition software, and so far it seems to be working pretty well. The fact of the matter is I don't have a choice. It's either rest my hand completely or risk permanent damage, so here I am dictating… and it feels damn strange.

I'd like to make a plea to all the writers out there—take care of your wrists and hands. Consider this: I didn't really start writing until I was 18. So even though I have written quite a few words during this time frame, I've really only been writing for 13 years. Yet, here I am with a serious repetitive strain injury (RSI). Given the fact that computers are currently being first used by toddlers as opposed to teenagers (as was the case on I was younger), I wouldn't be surprised if everyone suffers from some sort of computer related RSI injury in the future.

One of the most valuable things I've learned from getting tendinitis is that it is often caused by improper positioning and unnecessary tightness around the wrists and hands (I also learned that I have a remarkably low threshold for pain, but that's another story). If you notice any tightness when you write, or if you hold your hand in the same way—especially if you allow it to hover over the keyboard in a rigid position—check out the following exercises: http://www.handhealthresources.com/Solutions%20Pages/Exercises.htm
They help a great deal, both for preventative care and during the healing process.

It's been rather unbearable to not be able to write. In a way, it's really made me realize how valuable writing is to my life. I underestimated how often I sit down at the computer and write despite the fact that I don't have a regular routine. Personally, I've always tended to write whenever I find the time, which is usually in between other activities. But these in between times really add up. Having not had the ability to write over the last two weeks, I have damn near gone crazy. Luckily, my writing is supporting itself in that I got a few award checks this month that paid for this software. I'll keep you up to date as far as how everything goes, but for now it seems to be going okay… the only way to heal tendinitis is through rest, and unfortunately I'm not a to point my life yet where I can take off of work for a long period of time so for now voice recognition will have to do.

It will be interesting to see if I can complete creative work using voice recognition. I will say, it does feel quite a bit different. Something about the process of recording my thoughts seems somehow off... if nothing else, this is the way to get the rough ideas down.

In writing news, I have just received my hard copy of Short Story America. To share the pages with such talented writers is a distinct honor. I want to thank Tim Johnston and recognize the other authors in the anthology; it's a beautiful work, physically and content-wise. Also, I'd like to thank Dawn Herring for providing some great links that helped me to put together the workshop and provide a set of resources for the participants of the Journal Writing workshop at the San Antonio Public Library. I had an amazing time teaching this workshop. I was surprised and delighted by the wide variety of ages and backgrounds—from seasoned writers to those who had never before considered keeping a journal—which made the event truly magical. I have been invited back to teach another workshop in the fall, and I will be announcing the details about that event on my website very soon.

Thank you for hanging in there with me. I hope to be more active on this blog soon as I get used to this software, and hopefully find a full recovery within a few weeks thanks to the rest that will allow. For now, I'm tired of listening to myself…

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Broad Strokes / The Poetry of Place

Ohio:

When I think of my hometown, I see the small cow pastures that I would drive by on my way to work, that signaled the edge of OSU’s agricultural school on Kenny Road. It was one of the first roads I ever drove, long and straight, leading from Grandview to Upper Arlington. It was the way to my mother’s apartment, the way to avoid 315. It was the way to Half-Price Books and Caribou, where I first felt the privilege of being a college student with my very own laptop and homework to do. It was the road to the apartment I would share with my husband before he became my husband, when we owned a small blue parakeet—the muse for my first published essay.

Vermont:

The benefit of silence. The mountains were so beautiful that it seemed ridiculous I could awaken to them every morning. The drastic differences, American lifestyles that could sell the dream. Vermont is where I found myself overstimulated as an MFA student, where I studied literature and writing for two years. Here were people who lived in nature, with so little concrete, without loud screaming and sirens and men hanging out car windows asking 'to get that number'. Artists. Trust funds to student loans. Remarkably talented people. ABCs. A professor who asked me how I possibly got in; I never stopped asking myself that same question. (I had catching up to do.) The mountains helped, close and unlikely friendships helped. The beauty of it seemed so distant from me, and yet now a part of my memory—a thing that can’t be taken, memory. Enlivening.

Texas:

Building a life with my husband, working harder than we imagined we’d have to in order to pay off student loans: the next bubble. Texas is filled with memories of Ohio; calls to family. Pictures from Vermont; emails to friends. A community I feel slightly unable to understand. A town hall meeting that condones guns for self-defense. Volunteer work. News stories of border wars. The honor of teaching. The students who amaze and inspire, who constantly challenge.

The longing to go somewhere else, where I’ll better fit; the bills that keep us here. A beautiful family that makes location matter less. A husband, who encourages me to write. Friends who teach me about astrology, fiestas and magic. God peddling couples at my door each weekend. The best food of the three states; a second language; breakfast tacos; a proud town of transients, traditionalists, soldiers, students and those looking for work. A nice stop.

The promise of somewhere new.




Written for "The Poetry of Place" -> hosted by Walter Bjorkman -> language / place carnival

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recovery

Ha! I don't know if I'm getting better at writing with my left hand; it looks as though I've plateaued, but the good news is that I've been doing some stretches and exercises that seem to be helping along my recovery. Hopefully I'll be back in full swing before August. (It's officially a bad case of tendinitis.)

Writing News:


"The Code" (a story I've been reworking for some time) was picked up, and it won the Global Short Story Competition for May. Read it here:http://www.globalshortstories.net/maywinners2011.pdf

Thanks for hanging in there with me! I'm still writing, just v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

Observations: Dublin Vacation

Dublin seemed the obvious destination. We would be close to various restaurants and tourist attractions. It would be easy to call a cab or...