Archive | December, 2013

All about the WORK

31 Dec

“So it’s a new year. It’s not like it doesn’t happen at the end of every other year.” – Rob Berg’s Outgoing Message on Answering Machine circa 1996

So here we go again, back on the ol’ carousel for another jaunt around the sun. I was talking to my husband the other day, who’s first novel was just published, about THE WORK vs the PUBLICATION and how to balance the part that actually makes you “happy” (whatever the hell that little word means).

We both had novels published this year which is incredibly cool but also often followed up with a big “well, now what?” Don’t get me wrong – it’s fantastic knowing that the little world that lived in my head lives on it’s own and it’s wonderful to get good reviews and hear great things about it but there’s still a big old “Well, now WHAT?”

And I’m learned that the WHAT is the WORK.  It’s all pretty much summed up in this incredible letter from Tchaikovsky on Work.

And if you’re lazy like me and don’t feel like reading the whole thing, I’ll summarize my favorite part:

We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination. – Tchaikovsky

which is also another way of saying:

“If you only write when you’re inspired you may be a fairly decent poet, but you’ll never be a novelist because you’re going to have to make your word count today and those words aren’t going to wait for you whether you’re inspired or not.

You have to write when you’re not inspired. And you have to write the scenes that don’t inspire you. And the weird thing is that six months later, a year later, you’ll look back at them and you can’t remember which scenes you wrote when you were inspired and which scenes you just wrote because they had to be written next.

The process of writing can be magical. …Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another.” – Neil Gaiman

Or if you prefer:

So that’s what 2014 is all about. I’ve got another round of revision on Palimpsest staring me in the face. I’ve got some poems and short stories to write. I’ve got WORK to do.

Set your alarm for 5 am kids and get a good nights sleep. Morning comes early. But it’s worth it.

Happy New Year.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

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momentarily winding back up….

27 Dec

hi.

I’m back in Brooklyn after spending the Christmas holiday in Pittsburgh.

It was a great visit – filled with babies that left too soon and books that arrived too late and friends I haven’t seen in far too long. There were a few tears here and there, spots of sad news and worry about the upcoming year but mostly, there was a lot of laughter, a lot of food and clinking of glasses and toasts and a ton of June the Cat trying to sleep on everyone’s lap.

And there was a book release for Jay’s new novel The Librarian during which he read the first chapter (wonderfully) and everyone laughed. More glasses were clinked.

And here is a new poem of mine, from the How To Be An American series I’ve been working on. Many thanks to Burlesque Press for publishing it.

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year/Happy Solstice/Happy Happy/Happy Whatever, kids.

Be nice to each other. It’s a short life and we’re all going to die someday. In meantime, clink some glasses. Make some art.

Peace Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Winding down

19 Dec

Christmas is almost here.

You know what that means?

I’m taking a much needed BREAK.

It’s been a busy damn year and I have written a lot of WORDS and my brain craves sleep more than anything in the world right now. So tomorrow is it. Last 5 am wake up till the new year.

Two solid weeks of sleep.

But before I go I want to thank the oh so lovely Jennifer at Burlesque Press for publishing another of my How To Be An American poems entitled Sorrow Interferes With Our Upbeat, Optimistic View of Life and People Who Are Sad Do Not Find Ready Acceptance.

Goodbye, kiddies. Behave or you’ll get no presents from Santa. See you on the flipside in 2014. Cross your fingers it’s a better year than this one.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

The Librarian by John Grochalski or What Would Rand Do?

16 Dec

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Hi kids!

So today is an exciting day because now you can officially purchase John Grochalski’s first novel The Librarian.

Here’s what smarter people than me have said about it:

Grochalski has done it. He’s taken the wry wit and tenderness of his poetry and transformed it into a lyrical, biting, and at turns incredibly humorous first novel. Welcome to the world of Rand Wyndham, a former librarian and misanthrope extraordinaire in his late 30s who suffers through temp work and other horrors to retreat nightly to the safe haven of Rooney’s Pub, where he has proudly earned his stripes as a regular. In well-crafted prose, Grochalski keenly captures the inane ritual of the daily workplace routine but also the ridiculous and entertaining scuffles, drunken chatter, and other misadventures of bar life. For Rand, having to deal with bleary-eyed hangovers in cubicles under the glare of fluorescent lights is worth every minute of boozing with the other regulars of Rooney’s until last call. And I didn’t want to leave the bar either—I had a hard time putting Grochalski’s book down. A great read and a rousing success.
—Scott Silsbe, Editor, The New Yinzer

And:

John Grochalski aims straight for the heart of things. With equal measures of acid and awe, he lights out for territory originally assayed by the legendary Charles Bukowski. Roll down the windows, fire up the imagination, and pass the bottle this way: you’re in for one helluva ride.
—Don Wentworth, Editor, Lilliput Review

AND:

John Grochalski is that rarity in literature these days—an honest man. In his poems, stories and novels Grochalski eschews artifice in favor of something grander and more immediate; he strives to show the world as it is in all its mortifying desperation. Here is the real grit of lives eked out in the trenches of a culture and country in steep decline. To read Grochalski is to know America.
—Kristofer Collins, Editor, Low Ghost Press

See? Now you’ve got no reason NOT to pick it up.

And if you’re in the Pittsburgh area on  December 23rd,  come down to Modern Formations Gallery (4919 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa) for the book launch. Doors open at 8pm and there is a $5 cover charge. It’s a joint book launch so the always fantastic Mr. Scott Silsbe will be there too promoting his new book The River Underneath the City out via Low Ghost Press.

Exciting stuff!

Happy Holidays kids. And remember as you struggle through another season of holiday malaise, ask yourself What Would Rand Do?

(…..More than likely he’d be at the bar!)

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

How to Be An American poem at Regardless of Authority

4 Dec

download

It’s December.

When did that happen? December?

The last month of 2013.

It’s been a weird year. On the one hand it was all amazing with Vienna and Salzburg and Mozart’s house and driving up the coast of California and so much poetry written and read and heard and published and indian food and Chagall and Klimt and a new little baby named Wes and Nietzsche and novel writing about memory and the theory of eternal return….

and on the other hand there’s been sad things and weird things and few more sad things….

so basically I guess it’s been like all the other years. Some good. Some bad. Some not even worth mentioning.

At the very least I have managed to get a lot of writing done this year. While these five am writing mornings five days a week are probably shortening my life significantly, there’s at least ink on paper, right? Enough to bury me in.

So anyway, many thanks to Regardless of Authority for picking up one of my How To Be An American poems for the new issue. You can read it here.

It’s based on a true story. That all actually happened at the Duomo (pictured above) in Florence just about a year and a half ago. And yes, my poor husband does have to put up with me mouthing off to strangers.

Thanks again to Regardless of Authority.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

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