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Writer's Cramps: Dealing with Rejection and Self-Doubt

Sometimes I wonder why I write since I seem to be running into more roadblocks these days. I put many hours into a project even though it might never reach fruition due to someone else's disinterest or rejection. Worse yet, I might never finish the project because I am tired or do not know how to complete it. The obstacles keep mounting whether they are external, such as committee meetings or more papers to grade, or internal, especially self-doubt and inability to commit to ideas. I seldom have writer's block, but I often lack the commitment to do the hard work of editing or revising.  Writing is a commitment that sometimes feels too much like a compulsion because I often find myself writing when I should be relaxing. I want to write in my free time, but I also want to sleep, watch television, or listen to music. Instead, I try to push through, but my job and other commitments have made it increasingly hard to do so. There are only so many hours in a day is a truism that does

Seasonal Shifts: Needles on the Ground

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I was walking through the needles today and thinking about fall, a season that used to be one of my favorites. Recently, I have found fall less appealing, probably because I am not used to the southern changes in season. I miss certain trees, and I miss the snow.  Watching the world turn gray but never seeing snow is distracting and strange. I never thought I would miss snow as much as I do, but fall affects me more positively if there is a snowfall that covers the brown leaves and points to change. Here in the south, I have to wait longer for this renewal as the world stays brown until spring arrives.  I should get used to these different seasonal shifts. The seasons change, but they are not as evident to someone who grew up with four distinct seasons with vast temperature changes. In Wisconsin, you get used to shifts in the weather that are shocking and quick. Winter is long and snowy and feels so different from the southern fall, which is not as cold or different from the southern w

Don't Die of Ennui: A Trip Into Edward Gorey's World

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It is halfway through November, and the leaves are covering the ground, so it is probably time to read one of my Amphigorey  volumes by Edward Gorey. His taste for the absurd and the horrific have fascinated me since I first noticed his artwork on PBS's Mystery! opening title sequence. I never put two and two together that he was the same artist who did the Amphigorey collections until years later when I started seriously collecting cartoon collections and independent comics. As a kid, I was a big fan of John Bellairs's books with their gothic and creepy adventures in which boys like Lewis Barnevelt and Johnny Dixon faced sorceresses and wizards. The House with a Clock in its Walls and  The Mummy, The Will, and the Crypt were particular favorites. Gorey did the covers for these books and many horror collections that I have read since. I habitually buy any book that has Goreycover art and reread his works almost every year. Numerous Marvin Kaye edited collections, such as Ghosts

Halloween or Not: Folklore and The Lady in Black

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I do not have any assignments related to Halloween this semester, but my Freshman Composition class has focused on folklore readings, including an examination of Henderson State University's "Legend of the Lady in Black." I was looking for articles on folklore on college campuses and included part of a chapter on college student folklore from Richard M. Dorson's 1959  American Folklore.  They were surprised by the legends about paper grading and class attendance. For example, many students believe in the fifteen-minute rule that you are excused if your professor shows up after the first fifteen minutes are over. I have never tested this one because I am usually prompt. I told them that I had often heard about the process of throwing tests and papers down the stairs and giving them grades based on how far the papers sailed when I was an undergraduate. The idea is that professors grade papers by tossing them down the stairs and determining grades based on their position

(untitled poem)

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writing poetry is fun when you have free time; however, you might not take it seriously when  you have bills piling up in the corner, when  you have a pile of stacked midterms, when you have an article due with the editor breathing down your neck, when the editors are not responding to the lengthy e-mails you send them, or when you find that editors and readers want  a different style than you are selling, and students want a different grading system; you cannot pay the bills without the CVV number, the QR code, or  whatever that thing is; you cannot pay the bills without an exorbitant convience fee that ain't so convenient; editors don't care and students don't care that you have bills due, and creditors don't care that you are done  with their codes and numbers just like you are done  with the numbers on the midterms, or the unreturned phone calls to political campaigns; it is October  in an election year; however, you should take that seriously. writing poetry is fun

Track This: Claudio Simonetti's Phemomena Theme

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This theme is a dream was my first thought when I started writing about the Phenomena theme because Goblin's style (Simonetti is the keyboardist and one of the primary composers) has become intricately connected to Dario Argento's mise-en-scene. This connection is especially concrete in  Phenomena stemming   from the film's narrative arc to how Argento utilizes music. In this case, the film does not use the complete Goblin score but instead opts for distracting metal songs by Iron Maiden and Motorhead, which I hated the first few times I watched it. They seem out of place, but on subsequent watchings, I started realizing that they add to the film's disorienting effect. In fact, there can never be enough Goblin/Claudio Simonetti tracks because they bolster the narrative so effectively.  Simonetti's theme for Dario Argento's Phenomena includes everything great about Goblin's music. It starts with repeating keyboard patterns that sound like they could also fit

So Tired: Life in 2020

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Sometimes when you work too much, you achieve a level of clarity that allows you to step back and take stock of your life and the choices you have made. Other times you just feel exhausted and want to take naps and sleep in every day. Of course, you force yourself to get out of bed and go to work because that is the adult thing to do and you have responsibilities. If you are anything like me, your sense of self-worth that is intricately connected to conscientiousness bordering on insanity. Your Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) leads to the strangest behaviors like getting to work early and taking on extra work to maintain a sensible sense of identity.  During these odd days of COVID, I find myself doing less work than usual or struggling to maintain my usual level of obsessive-compulsive writing and grading. I have new habits of grading a few papers a day instead of my standard marathon sessions; however, if I do decide to embark on a marathon grading regimen, I have graded for as l