Vine Leaves

Good news – the #3-issue of the Vine Leaves Literary Journal is out since last Friday! Another lovingly and skilfully crafted issue that you should check out by all means (and not only because they published one of my poems). The two editors, Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius, have specialized this Literary Journal in vignettes, be they prose or poems, and publish original artwork as well.

Now, what exactly is a vignette, pray tell? Here's the editors' explanation:
"Vignette" is a word that originally meant "something that may be written on a vine-leaf." It’s a snapshot in words. It differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot. Instead, the vignette focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object. It's descriptive, excellent for character or theme exploration and wordplay. Through a vignette, you create an atmosphere.

So do check out this latest issue, enjoy and – if you're a writer – submit one of your own pieces if you feel it might be convenient for the Vine Leaves…


About IPads, obsessions, resolutions and rewards

Have you ever been through a DL-DEL-frenzy? As in “Download-Delete”? If yes, then you must have bought an IPad (or an IPhone). I know what I’m talking about. With my 40th birthday looming right around the corner (sigh, I can as well inform you that my Big Age Bang will occur on July 14), I decided to treat myself to a nice, new IPad last Friday. I was dreaming of myself comfortably sprawled on the living room couch, IPad on my lap, typing away all those future award-winning poems, short stories and novels.
OK, sprawl I did after the purchase. And right through the weekend, to be honest. The weather was halfassed-sunny-cloudy so I wasn’t much tempted to go outside anyway. But as for typing away… Just let me tell you that it’s not the new machine that’ll do the job for you. Inspiration did not spread like a venereal disease from the IPads rapidly grease-stained screen into my eager fingertips. It’s a very cool contraption, I cannot deny it, and I don’t regret having spent a mini-fortune to buy it. But to be honest, write I did not. Or not much. No, I spent my weekend setting up the basics, then downloading new free apps, trying them out, deleting most of them, searching for new ones, downloading, trying, deleting… while checking my Twitter-, Facebook- and Google+-accounts every five minutes simply because I could do it so easily.
Great fun, I agree. I really did enjoy myself because this was new and exciting and funny and not even remotely related to work. Very unlike serious writing, which always is.
Now, this DL-DEL-frenzy only kept so much of my intellectual capacity busy. So I was able to mull over some other things that have been going through my mind for a few months. And my suddenly clear-sighted sentence: as of lately, I had become increasingly frustrated with my blogging life. Why is that so? I asked myself. The answer was obvious too and dawned on me somewhere between a Re-Tweet and a round of (lost) Free Solitaire HD: blogging had become stressful. Primarily because I put much energy and time in it, with less and less results. But also because I had become obsessed. Obsessed with the perfectly wrong things.
The first tasks I did each and every morning (apart from taking a shower, having coffee, getting dressed, walking the dog and so on)? Here’s the list:
  1. Check my emails to see if new blog comments, blog followers, blog whatnots had arrived
  2. Check my blogs to make sure there hadn’t been a problem preventing new blog comments, blog followers, blog whatnots to be signalled by mail
  3. Check my blog stats
  4. Check my Alexa-Rank
  5. Check my Twitter-account for mentions, re-tweets, new followers
Truth is, during the last few months comments, stats and Alexa-rank have gone down, down, down. Hence my growing frustration. This weekend, I realized I had become obsessed with traffic. I always wanted more, more, more; I wanted to become THE literary blog, the one everybody reads and talks about, the It-place that gets so much traffic that literary agents and publishers alike are simply forced, by the mere weight of my literary influence, to propose a yummy contract. And in order to grow traffic to my site, I had become obsessed with Entrecard-Drops and regular post deadlines, regardless of how much time I had to write them, regardless of any genuine inspiration.
A real No Win-No Win-situation if I’ve ever seen one.
So yesterday, I’ve taken some healthy resolutions (Free Solitaire HD, even when you lose ten times in a row, can trigger off wholesome insights!). My new credo involves:
  1. I shall delete from my EC-Drop-list all those blogs I never really read for lack of interest. I mean, I’m not into sports or cars or cunning investment schemes, so why the hell do I have to stop on sports-, car- or investment-blogs only to click on a stupid EC-button? EC is fun if it helps you discover great blogs you return to because you like to read the newest posts (while dropping on EC in the process). EC is crap if it means you have to spend I don’t know how much time hopping from blog to blog without so much as gazing at the topic for a second. Thus, I’ll only keep the blogs of my best friends, whose posts Ill always read with mucho gusto, whether they sport an EC-button or not (and please do me a favour: check them out, all those gorgeous and awesome and talented Chrissies and Lisas and Catherines and Lidians and Jennifers and Francises and ThoughBubbleTens and Heddis and Glynises and Roberts and more, whose links you’ll find in my “Blog List”).
  2. I shall not give a damn about my blog stats and my Alexa-rank. It’s too much (stupid and self-induced) pressure. My situation reminded me vaguely of those restaurant-rankings that some renowned French cooks took so seriously that they committed suicide because they were afraid they might loose a star in the famous Michelin-guide! I mean, I had approx. 400 daily visits and an Alexa-rank of 230.000 some months ago. It was Wow! Now it’s about 100 visits and an Alexa-rank way beyond the million. But what does that tell me about whether people appreciate what I write or not? Wheres the link between (traffic) quantity and (blog) quality? Nowhere! When my visitors were 400 a day, they could as well have been EC-droppers who didn’t give a damn about my newest novel-episode, who they didn’t even bother checking what my blog was all about. They left as they came, in a flurry movement that made my stats go up one but that didn’t make me any wiser. Henceforth, I shall say NO to quantity obession; and ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY YES to quality. Quality of my own blog posts as well as quality of my visitors.
  3. Thus I shall accept that if you’re only two or three to read my lines and paragraphs, but two or three genuinely interested persons (or even blog friends), I shall be happy.
  4. When writing, I shall take my time in order to offer said quality blog-posts. If inspiration’s gone for the weekend, then it’s no use to try and force it back. That only leads to stress and to writing crap. I dont want to waste my time, and your time, with crap. Anyway, inspiration will come around on Monday. And if not on Monday, then on Tuesday.
  5. After having finished chapter 3, I shall stop publishing my ongoing novel “Children of the Moon” in this space. Yes, yes, you heard me there. I’ll concentrate on finishing that novel (which still excites me very much, so I think it’ll be ready somewhere between the end of the year and the first months of 2013) but you’ll have to be patient if you wanna read it all. I’ll write other blog-posts like poems or short-stories or updates about myself, do not worry about that. And from time to time, I’ll let you have glimpses of some future episodes of my “Children of the Moon”, too, in order to keep your interest alive. Probably (hopefully) some cliff-hangers that’ll leave you gagging for the book to finally come out.
By the way, and this will conclude today’s longish Pro-Domo-post, do not forget to check out the #3-issue of the Vine Leaves Literary Journal that’ll be out on July 6. I have the great pleasure and honour to announce you that this excellent magazine has accepted to publish one of my poems that I have recently submitted. It’s not the Nobel Prize yet, but I’m really really very proud and excited.
So you see, the purchase of a little machine has led to my thinking about loads of things this weekend. And what I really learned in the process was the truth of this little sentence that is so obvious it’s almost ridiculous: “Hope dies last.”