Hey, guys! I've had a couple of people tell me that they really loved the poem I posted on Monday. I'm glad, of course. But I fear that a few of y'all skipped the introduction and missed the fact that Henry Holcomb Bennett, not M.J. Piazza, wrote that poem. I don't mean to plagiarize and wanted to clear up any misunderstandings real quick.
There's a comedy sketch on YouTube that I watched the other day--"The Restaurant of Life" by Studio C. One of the characters in the sketch is a writer and, at one point, contemplates getting a hobby. One of the other characters says, "You have a hobby. What you need is a job."
He's wrong, of course.
Every job has its challenges. When I worked at Domino's, I had to work in a fast-paced environment with customers who didn't always like me and coworkers who smoked pot in their spare time. At my after-school tutoring job, I had to get middle schoolers to listen to me. I'm currently getting paid to do my grandparents' laundry, which unfortunately means folding underwear that's a few decades older than I am.
But writing? Sure. Inventing worlds, people to live in those worlds, researching everything from thermonuclear astrophysics to Aztec fertility rituals, stringing words together in such a way that people laugh and cry--none of that's hard at all.
That was sarcastic. I enjoy it. Really. But it's hard sometimes.
I'm going to be twenty at the end of the year. I started my first novel when I was ten. That means I've spent a whole decade--half my life--pursuing a career in writing. I haven't really benefitted financially from it. I've sacrificed my social life and, at times, my sanity. And, recently, I've been sort of discouraged.
Fortunately, I'm doing what I'm pretty sure God wants me to be doing with my life, which means He's got a few tricks up His sleeve to keep me going.
It started off last week, right before the Fourth of July, at my church's baptism service. A lovely woman who recently read Where the Clouds Catch Fire came up to me and said that I encouraged her to finish the children's book she's been working on for years. I was honored. Encouraged. But God wasn't finished.
At the same baptism service, I overheard someone talking about needing a babysitter. I quickly injected myself into the conversation, as I need the job. The next day, I was contacted by a woman at my church who needs someone to watch her two boys every Wednesday. The youngest boy shares a rather unique name with one of my characters. It's even spelled and pronounced the same.
I watched him last night. He has contagious giggles, a sweet spirit, and the most adorable little face. He likes sharks and dinosaurs and playing Ninja.
When God wants to encourage you, He knows exactly how to do it. And I, for one, am grateful. Extremely grateful. I'll keep at my job, unrewarding as it is at the moment, and trust that I'll have my moment of breakthrough in due time.
When was the last time God encouraged you? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to review us on Amazon!
Sorry about not posting this week! I've been busy being patriotic. To make up for lost time, here's a poem I had to memorize back in eighth grade: "The Flag Goes By" by Henry Holcomb Bennett. Enjoy!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
A dash of color beneath the sky:
The flag is passing by!
Blue and crimson and white it shines,
Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines.
The colors before us fly;
But more than the flag is passing by.
Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great,
Fought to make and to save the State:
Weary marches and sinking ships;
Cheers of victory on dying lips;
Days of plenty and years of peace;
March of a strong land's swift increase;
Equal justice, right and law,
Stately honor and reverend awe;
Sign of a nation, great and strong
To ward her people from foreign wrong:
Pride and glory and honor,--all
Live in the colors to stand or fall.
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums;
And loyal hearts are beating high:
The flag is passing by!
Strictly a monstrosity, chemical atrocity
Forgive my rank verbosity and overscrupulocity
As I express my animosity
For this set of hideous dyes
That make me want to bleach my eyes.
Your hues are garish and nightmarish
I have no clue who would cherish
Such an evil that should perish
From the realm of all humanity
Without an ounce of sympathy.
We know that God makes no mistakes
So unless you grace a bird or snake
Your existence induces heads to ache
The reason man should never take
Creation into his own hand
(I'd rather all my sticky notes be bland.)
My sister turned fifteen earlier this month and invited a few of her friends over for a sleepover. I did a pretty good job of staying out of everyone's way, although my pastor's granddaughter did end up seeing me in my nightgown. Anyway, my sister also decided she wanted brownies instead of a cake. I made said brownies. And I burned my arm on the 350-degree oven rack.
It didn't hurt much, so I didn't bother putting anything on it. Little did I know that today, nearly two weeks after the fact, I'd still be mending.
"Do you think I'll get a scar out of it?" I asked my mom on Monday, as we were fetching Dad's shop-vac from the house we're trying to rent out.
"Probably," said Mom.
"Why do you think that's cool? Most people hate scars."
"They're like tattoos for me," I explain. "Each one of them reminds me of something."
At the moment, I have two noticeable scars. The one, obviously, is the little pink line on my left forearm that'll probably disappear entirely in a few months or years. Every time I see it, I'll remember my sister's fifteenth birthday party. The brownies. The pizza. Sitting at my grandparents' pool watching my sister and her friends having a blast.
The second is on the back of my right hand. It's three or four years old now, and I got it when I was playing tug-of-war with my dog, Zuma. She has a habit of pawing at your hand to try and get you to drop the rope toy, and on this particular occasion, I got scratched. Never thought I'd get a scar out of the ordeal, but here we are, I guess.
A lot of my characters have scars. As far as the Clouds Aflame series goes, Drostan has burn scars over most of his arm from when he fell into his fireplace as a five-year-old. Rowan has a mark under his jaw, but it's usually hidden by his plaid, his hair, or the low-light situations medieval peasants usually found themselves in. Alynn has a nice little mark on her shoulder from getting stabbed during the Battle of Faith.
A few of my more notable scars belong to characters outside of the Clouds Aflame series. The feisty Ojibwa protagonist of my crappy Wattpad historical romance has a cougar bite mark on her arm. And Chinua Zeren, the mentor figure of my yet-unwritten futuristic fantasy, has claw marks across her face from fighting a demon.
Unlike my own scars, which remind me of pleasant accidents, the scars these characters have remind them of their strength. Running Horse and Zeren can look in the mirror and remember everything they've been through. That no matter what happens to them next, they'll be fine. And lots of real-world people have similar scars. Like my dad, who used to have a mark from a third-degree electrical burn on his hand.
So maybe now you can see why I like scars. They either remind you of a fun time or your own strength. And both of those are noble things to keep in mind.
Did you get a scar from something that was supposed to be fun? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Instagram!
Sorry for the late post. I'm helping my dad install hardwood floors in my bedroom, and I had to take my car in this morning to get a recall fixed. Enough said.
There's a lot of things
I remember about your house.
You wore a green sweater
And Grammy wore a red one.
You drank from a green plastic cup
And Grammy drank from a red one.
The rocking chair in the corner,
I remember being rocked in it.
Grammy sang "Jesus Loves Me"
And carried me to the back bedroom.
She set me in the wooden crib,
Under the Precious Moments stickers on the wall.
The toy cars and the dollhouse,
I remember playing with them.
You would read about squirrel twins
And Grammy would read about dogs.
You would win a game of Solitaire
And invite me to watch the cards bounce.
The clock hanging on the wall,
I remember listening to it.
Every evening you would wind it
So it would keep working.
That's what your house sounded like,
The comforting tick-tock of that pendulum clock.
I have a very special announcement to make today, dear readers.
You can get your very own personalized poem or short story from stan.me/mejpiazza. Written by yours truly.
A website was recently released called Stan.me. It's a place where creators can share their work, and where people can buy that work. What's more, you can sell (and buy) custom things.
Why would you want a personalized poem or short story, you ask? There's a million reasons. Father's Day is right around the corner. Give me a few details about your dad, and I'll have the perfect gift for you. Baby shower? Get them an acrostic poem with the baby's name. Anniversary? Love poem. Literature class assignment you don't understand? I'll give you an example of a villanelle, just so long as you promise not to turn it in. Plagiarism is wrong, kids.
There are even more opportunities for short stories. Your kids want another bedtime story, and your brain is racked and exhausted. You're the DM for Dungeons and Dragons and you need something to set the vibe. You spot a writing prompt on Instagram and you'd love to read a story based on that prompt, but you don't feel like writing it.
I'm going to take the rest of this blog post to be honest with y'all. I'm tired. I started writing books when I was ten years old. Ten years ago this December. I'm not sure what's scarier--the fact that I'll be 20, or that I'll have officially spent half of my life writing. The good news is, I've got two self-published novels and two rough drafts to show for it. The bad news is, unless a five-star review can feed me for a month, I don't see a way I'll be able to make a living off writing.
If you know me, you know that I hate asking for help. Apparently, when I was taken Algebra I, I only asked for help twice. The entire school year. But if politicians can ask for a person's financial support with a clean conscience, I know I can, too. Right now, I'd be extremely grateful if I could pay my $10/month gym payments solely off writing revenue. I've made $46 this year selling blogs. That covers my gym fees through April. And that's better than I anticipated, really.
So whether you want a poem or a short story, or if you just want to support your favorite author, hop on over to stan.me. You won't regret it.
To be perfectly honest,
I don't have much of anything prepared.
But a poem can be anything,
A confession of love or guilt
or a hymn in praise of God
or nature or a beautiful woman.
To be perfectly honest,
I don't think that "modern art" is art at all.
But a poem can be free verse,
And I still think that it's valid
even if it doesn't rhyme
or if the meter isn't really there.
To be perfectly honest,
I'm not sure that writing's worth it.
But at least it's enjoyable for a time,
And I'm glad I've made people smile
even if I've wasted all my teenage years
by sacrificing years of my life for a few cents.
Good day, my dear readers! I am currently home alone, which means that there are no significant changes to my daily life other than the fact that I'm in charge of my own meals and all the dishes and laundry. So far today, I've eaten two pop tarts, a cheese stick, two Twizzlers, lots of chocolate, leftover Oriental stir fry, and half-frozen black beans. I have no regrets.
(By the way, I'm pretty sure that the Four Horsemen of Adulthood are cooking, cleaning, laundry, and car maintenance. Correct me if I'm wrong. I feel like we need to add at least two more horsemen and that one of them needs to be Filling Out Forms And Scheduling Healthcare Appointments.)
Yep, those Twizzlers are kicking in. I'm having a sudden burst of silliness. I have no idea why. Just a few hours ago I was moping around in bed, bouncing between reading the thirteenth Cadfael Chronicle and browsing Instagram and daydreaming about Clouds Aflame fanfictions. I really wish authors could make fanfictions of their own work. It would be so much fun.
I was thinking about going to the library and the gym today. But then I decided that, since I was home alone, I might as well make the most of it. My sister is terribly sunburned--crispy enough to be mistaken for a Chick-fil-A sandwich and red enough to be related to Bob the Tomato. As a result, she's bound to be in a sour mood on her return from her camping trip, and I'd like to spend as much time out of the house this weekend as possible.
Oh, I need to put the trash can on the curb today. Once I had a dream that we missed trash collection. It actually spurred me to action, and the trash was out early that week. I had a dream the other night that I was camping with my family and best friend. My friend wanted to go kayaking, but I wanted to go to a museum in town. My mom then mentioned that it was the Fourth of July, and I immediately panicked about driving an hour home in holiday traffic.
Surprisingly, this is not the first dream I've had about traffic. I once dreamt that my family went to an amusement park in Oklahoma, but the part of the dream I remember most was us trying to figure out how to get on southbound Highway 75. Even before I got my driver's license, I'd have a recurring dream in which I was trying to drive a car, but was trapped in a field of snowdrifts. (I grew up in northern Illinois if that explains anything.)
Was it the Twizzlers or the chocolate that gave me this burst of energy? It might have been the chocolate. It's got raspberry bits in it. It's really good.
Well, I'd better eat some more junk food before my sister gets home and eats all of it. Sound off in the comments and let me know what sort of junk food I should buy the next time I'm home alone. (I'm already hooked on ice cream and fruit snacks, so don't bother mentioning those.) God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to review our books on Amazon!
Shall we sleep?
forty-three minutes to get here
and I will drive
forty-three minutes back home
through the rain and spray and abysmal fog
just to watch a VHS
of a man singing, afro and mustache and terrible voice
about an old man, about scissors
or Mrs. Potts singing about LSD
or a white guy about breasts.
I could have died coming here
and I could have learned this online.
a guy in a tie with an electric guitar singing about terrorism
what the devil--did I just watch
(Concerning a creative writing class taken in college. Being an English major can wear on one's sanity.)
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.