Friday, August 16, 2019

Tobi Alfier - Back-to-School Challenge


No matter how long you’ve been writing, how many classes you’ve taken, workshops you’ve attended, books you’ve read… every day you learn something new. It may be big. It may be small, but it all goes toward making you a stronger writer. Even hearing a new phrase in line at the grocery store that would be perfect for what you’re working on—it all goes toward making your writing a better version of you.

This is my back-to-school challenge for you:

  1. Assuming you have kept most everything you’ve ever written, go back and get the earliest four pieces of writing you have. If it was in the typewriter days, like mine was, grab it out of the filing cabinet.  Ohhhh, those pages smell so good! But I digress.

get yours now - $3.75
  1. Read it. Don’t cringe. It doesn’t matter if it’s part of a novel, short fiction, memoir, poem, or journal entry. I bet you a Cholla Needles lined blank notebook that what you’ve learned can make it better.

  1. Pick one and put it on your computer. Even if you like to write and edit by hand, should you decide to submit this somewhere, it has to be on the computer anyway. So reminisce about your old Commodore 64 for a minute and start typing.

  1. Now, look at it. You know you can make it better. All the things I’ve been saying over the last year and a half...check the line breaks, check your tenses, check your punctuation, fix your em dashes. Even check that the spacing after your periods is consistent. Your voice has probably stayed close to the same, so you have a great place to start.  Edit away!

  1. Include it as part of your next submission. It may be a little different, but just as good as what you’re submitting now. I recently had a 35-year-old poem published. It was revised, it was written before there were cell phones or computers, and it was accepted by a good print journal.

So whether you’re a parent, grandparent, professor, student, crossing guard or school bus driver, we’re coming up on a busy week. You probably have to clean out your cabinets anyway, look for your old writing.

And if you just want to enjoy the end of summer, that’s fair too.

I’m writing a short post this week to give you the gift of time, but don’t forget the challenge! xo

- - - -


Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


2 comments: