The Beauty of Being Prepared

On Having a Pre-Formulated Theme for Your Future Chapbook

Today’s Writerly Wednesday post started from my speculations whether or not having a theme for my chapbook helps. From there, my thoughts went to being prepared in general. Is creativity something you can direct?

I think not. But being prepared and having a direction in mind is really useful.

This year is my 9th in poeming for the November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge. It is very similar to the April Poetry Month one, mainly in that you are supposed to write at least one poem every day. The differences start from there. In NovPAD you are also expected to follow specific prompts, while for April PAD, or NaPoWriMo, you can follow yourself and poem on whatever topic you like. Why is that so? Primarily because in November the goal is to use all or most of your resulting poems in a brand new chapbook which you might publish or submit to contests. Of course, no one stops you from doing that with your April-produced poems, yet that is not the explicit objective of the Poetry Month.
In 2010, when I first joined the magnificent community at Poetic Asides, I had no idea about chapbook or contests. I went there with the pure heart and enthusiasm for taking part in something new and wonderful – writing poetry with help and support from others who thought like me. Until that moment, I had never had a supporting community. I joined a couple of so-called “Poetry Clubs” at school and then at university, but honestly, they didn’t do much in the way of support or practical help. I don’t think those clubs sucked, I believe it wasn’t the right moment for me. Plus, let’s admit it, online is much easier. You may take your time, appear whenever it’s convenient for you and choose whether to write to a prompt or not.

In 2012, I started, as usual, simply trying to follow the stream. The previous two years I was doing NaNoWriMo along with the poetry thing, so it was both easy and difficult to write every day. Easy, because you are in the writing mood anyway. Difficult, well, you’ve guessed already. In 2012, I was collecting and sorting papers and articles that would help me in writing my thesis which was due in June 2013. That was instead of a novel that year. Because I was online all the time, I was able to follow the poem-a-day challenge and around Day 7 I noticed that I consciously chose to bend every prompt into a poem about my Dad. At first, the prompts fitted naturally, but after I found the tendency, I started looking for a fit even if there wasn’t one.

Nothing happened after that. Despite some great advice I received from fellow-poets on Poetic Asides, I never got down to actually compiling the good pieces into a book. But they are there, so I may.

In February 2014, I was writing to a month-long creative challenge. I participated in it 2 years in succession. The first time I tried to be diverse, but it didn’t work well, so in 2014, I thought I’d stick to poetry, as this is my medium. I saw again that poems go one direction, and from Day 7 or so, I started leading them in the same direction on purpose. I already compiled the Devastation of the Soul chapbook. Not published yet. I haven’t made up my mind what I’d do with it. Let it rest for a while.

This November, I created my theme a long time before November even started. I even had time to forget it, so I had to look in my earlier Tweets to see how I announced it. So, here’s a take away: announce, because you are going to forget.

The advantage: I am greatly relieved when I see the daily prompt because I know where to take it. I suppose I am one for preparation. Being prepared means a lot to me. It spares me from the initial chaos of wallowing in the swamp of not knowing which way to turn. It saves me a lot of time, energy and I can hit to poeming right away.
I can see this advantage working for me in my blogging activity, too. Now that I plan my blog posts and prepare by research and schedule I am able to meet the time frame I’d set for myself. I mean, having an Editorial Calendar is good, but not enough.

Maybe you have some other tricks and means by which you help your creativity get active and efficient. Or maybe, having read this, you think you should try it. Try it and in a month come back and tell me what happened.

The Theme behind November PAD


Image credit: Rebecca Barray

For today’s post I decided to tackle the November Poem-A-Day Chapbook challenge and focus on its prompts. Some time into the challenge in 2010, Robert asked whether or not we have found any particular theme behind it. Then I managed to identify a theme for myself and formed my chapbook around it. Of course, I didn’t follow that theme throughout all my poems. Not only does it need a lot of pre-planning, which I am completely incapable of, but that also means very severe sticking to the theme, another incapability of mine.

In 2010, the theme I saw unfolding behind Robert’s prompts was the cycle of a love affair – starting with opening the new page, all the way to lessons learned.

In 2011 I participated in the challenge again. I do that alongside NaNoWriMo as a way of pumping my creative enthusiasm. My busy daily routine then, however, didn’t allow me the time to sit down and consider whether or not there was a theme behind the prompts. Moreover, I skipped several and that only added up to my frustration.

However, here I am, participating in NovPAD again. A fellow-poet, Maxie Steer, put that theme question across, so I started thinking. This time Robert doesn’t offer the prompts himself, so we can’t suppose he has a hidden theme for the chapbook. This time he picks prompts from participants’ suggestions. The challenge started with my own Matches prompt (which was a great honour). Here is the list, so far:

  • Matches
  • Full Moon
  • Scary
  • Just Beneath…
  • Texting
  • Right /Left
  • Circle
  • Talk Back to a Dead Poet
  • When He’s Gone
  • Foreign Word/Phrase
  • Veteran Poem
  • Non-existing Device (that should exist)
  • Letter/Recipe
  • Stuck
  • Tradeoff
  • Last line becomes First: Thrilled
  • Wheel
  • Glossa-form
  • Gathering/Letting go
  • Song Title: On a Lonely Island
  • Paradise
  • Deep

I started by a love poem, then I wrote a life-asserting poem, some vague scary stuff, a self-irony poem, a love lost poem in the unsuccessful form of a text message, a pun poem and then the Circle prompt came by and I wrote a poem of my Daddy. After that, and after talking to Maxie, I started thinking that perhaps this chapbook may focus on my daddy and my relation with him. I have many poems written about him, but several more won’t hurt. After that the When He’s Gone prompt hit it again. In between, however, I still wrote either love or nature-inspired poems. What can I say? Sometimes I just want to write that, depending on the prompt!

I must state it honestly that I am a bit behind on the prompts and I have been thinking about what to write, or, more precisely, how to write it. I have just vague ideas and feel I am too slow. Luckily, this post is not about NaNoWriMo, because I have had a complete crash over there 🙂


What is your incline with the PAD prompts this year?

NaNoWriMo Starts Today: Setting the Goals!


Participant in NaNoWriMo 2012

NaNoWriMo starts today!

Am I in? Yes, I am. I participated twice in a row, so I was just looking for a good reason to log in again this year. Of course, I found one. How else could it be, when I am part of a strong writing community – the Wordsmith Studio, which started from the April Platform-building Challenge at MNINB. Initially, we started as NotBobbers, but soon we took a name of our own. Apart from FB group and regular Twitter chats, we have two blog-sites, forum, group membership and even Founding Member’s badges J. Well, such a tightly-knit and closely-communicating group wouldn’t have let me pass through the net of NaNoWriMo, especially when I signaled so definitely that I wanted to participate.

Setting the goals

That was the tough part. To sum up, I had to choose between regular NaNo-er and a NaNo Rebel. A rebel would be a more suitable profile for me, as I didn’t actually plan to start a new project before I manage to end the existing ones. I still need to finish Orange’s story, which I started writing with so much love, and I still have to do some heavy editing of Lily’s story which I finished with so much love and support. Alongside with those thoughts, I still do my courses at University and have six exams ahead, for which I have to complete six written assignments. Still.

So, I needed to think. I must confide in you, that communities do wonders in such dilemmas. One rarely needs a full-bodied and argument-supported opinion, since “one” has already decided, so the said “one” tends to hear just what is consonant with “one’s” intentions. In addition to this, I must admit that all opinions were consonant. Everybody said, “Go for it.” So I did.

My Goal for NaNoWriMo this year is to prepare the Theoretical Chapters of my Master thesis for graduation. I have no doubt it will be less than 50k, because that’s the volume of the entire work, yet writing under the pressure of deadlines and impending word count will be a great help, as always.

Happy Halloween, Happy Educators’ Day in Bulgaria and Happy start of NaNoWriMo to all!

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Future Fridays – Why Tweet?


#futurefriday #blogpost #blogging

Image credit:

Twitter has turned to a self-sufficient tool for mad link-share w/ no one actually clicking on them, & no one actually replying your tweets. It’s just an automatic “share” we click after we post on our #blogs in hope someone would care.

Does anyone care? Have you checked how many times your “followers” have “followed” and/or commented on your blog?

Have you “replied” to someone in order to start a small conversation, maybe only to “Good-day” one another? How many times you got a reply?

Some people sharing, re-tweeting and writing small thoughts in perfect isolation under the public uninterested gaze… is that twitter?

What’s in store for Twitter, then? Facebook takes over, with numerous possibilities of the group-life, where “closed” groups could remain isolated by the rest and discuss in threads. Sure enough, Twitter has the feature called “hashtag” which serves as a key word, a thread name of sorts.

When I joined I would look for my closest tweeps and @ them to talk to them. Not a very private thing, but still people used to “reply”, and back, and back. Nowadays, it has got somewhat lonely there. Here is an example: someone logs in to Twitter in the morning and tweets something like: Up w/ a headache. Need #coffee. Badly. Now. Any1 up 4 it? #morning

This person may get a couple of replies by followers, in the vein of: #morning back 2 U. Weather fine here. Wh bt U? #coffee is good.

Or, he/she may not get a single reply. Maybe no followers online. Hardly. Maybe followers online are too busy working. Possible. Or, maybe followers online are busy sharing their links to madly beg for attention and traffic to their own sites and care little for our coffee-drinking headaching tweep. Most probably.

OK, let’s go further and say that you decided to not leave this tweep an orphan and hit “reply”. Chances are you won’t hear from the person again, or if you do, that will be very brief “Thanks, you too”. Is the other tweep perhaps having coffee to relieve his/her headache. Could be. Is he/she busy arranging his/her work station for the day? Possible. Is he/she simply indifferent to his/her “followers”? Most probably.

Then why follow?


© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Thoughtful Thursday, Poetic Revelation Reblogged

#thoughtfulthursday is here and it is brought about by none other, but my dear friend Sopphey Vance. She writes poetry, she blogs and is the editor-in-chief and owner of the Enhance magazine.

Sopphey tells about her love of Indian movies. She specifically discusses a movie entitled “Umrao Jaan”. To quote from the blog: “For example, Umrao Jaan is a movie about a girl who’s sold into prostitution. She grows to learn her craft, and as a result writes wonderful poems. …”

Go on and read the remaining part of the post on her blog. You may watch the full-length movie itself, too.

And, to quote Umrao’s poetic teacher (imagine a prostitute, taking poetry lessons!): “Remember two things: the delicacy of the thought and the rhythm of the words.”

What else would you be in need of in poetry!

 «Yours, MK»

Two for Tuesday, thank you very much!

It’s Tuesday again and here comes the #twofortuesday post, as it is – low and miserable:

first fresh out of my swamp of despondency emerges an extremely pathetic comment I left at Kasie’s blog (can’t really believe I got so low as to say that out loud):

Hi, Kasie!
This is a great blog post, I really enjoyed reading it. Yeah, I remember being attracted by such banners or emails in the dawn of I-net, too. 🙂 I hope you win the cast and I really wish luck to your growing business. I myself walk the opposite road – I had a regular teaching job that didn’t pay enough and is really the subject of great contempt here, in our country, mainly because of the low payment and the lack of material base to work with, so quit to start my own business with a view of making more money to be able to make ends meet, and now, as I never have the right connection, I am falling out of business, so I’m again looking for a new job – this time no teaching, of course. The feelings of the constant job seeker are sooooo familiar to me… I am not only looking for a new job, I am looking for the opportunity to relocate and leave this country, which makes it even harder and way more depressing. I really hope situation for small business is different where you are, as life in general is.
As to what makes me feel like a winner… Well, nothing really. I have lived in this swamp of despondency for so long, and have seen so many proofs that the future holds nothing good for people without connections and the proper upbringing, that I don’t really believe in future anymore. From time to time I have glimpses of light, find happiness in tiny things, but KNOW that there is no future, so those tiny nice things only make me feel a lot more sad…Even when I work hard for something and achieve it, I believe that I have achieved it because no one else wanted that thing 🙂 Uhm, this is getting very dark-toned, I didn’t mean it to be like this. Life is good after all.

Kasie, I hope you will find your fit with the Freelance Writer’s Den, just as Monique points out. You deserve it and will make good use of it.
Best, M.

and then – because I opened the 6WS, here are my 6 words to describe life as it is:

I do not know which six.

© Mariya Koleva, 2012


Web Wednesday

This is just a short post aiming nothing 🙂 It’s not writing



“Why are you always on your computer?” Sally’s mom peeked through the semi-closed door. “It’s such a beautiful day outside. Go play with other kids.” The mother stood at the gap a little more and, as no answer came, she ventured, “May I come in?”

“Yeah, sure,” Sally waved indefinitely. Sally’s mom stepped in and went directly to the window. She raised a hand to pull open the heavy curtains, but Sally yelled, “No! Get back!” Her mother froze. Sally coughed nervously and added, “I mean, is that necessary? I like the twilight here.”

“Twilight could be bad if too much.” Her mom murmured and came up to her daughter’s back. She put her hand on Sally’s shoulder and froze once again. This time, with fear. Sally’s left shoulder was stone cold, similar to the marble statues on the Florence piazza she had visited in her youth. She pressed Sally’s shoulder harder trying to make Sally turn around and face her.

“Yeah, I can feel you,” grumbled Sally. “What is it?”

“Why are you so cold?” said her mother quietly. “Is there anything wrong?” Sally didn’t speak, so the woman became restless. “Why don’t you look at me?” She pressed Sally’s shoulder harder.

The girl jerked out of her mother’s grip and hissed, “I don’t know what you mean. Go away.”

“Liana has been here looking for you. Why don’t you go see her?” asked the mother, groping for something to say to make her daughter available again. Sally trembled slightly, but she just shrugged her cold shoulders and shook her head, “I don’t care. Please, leave me alone – I’ve got a project to finish.”

Her mother let go of her shoulder, looked around helplessly and left the room. Sally waited for a while to be sure that her mother has left, then stirred. She tried to move her left hand and pushed the chair away from her desk.  The curtains had done slightly apart and through that crevice a tiny shaft of sunlight came. Sally moved in its way, dragging the chair on its wheels. She could see the left side of her face reflected in the mirror on the wardrobe. Totally frozen. As was the entire left side of her body. “What’s wrong with me?” she thought and suddenly remembered her mother’s touch on her left shoulder. “Who was she? And what did she do to me?” Her eyes widened in fear. Was she… Did she…

Sally stiffened and started to remember… How long has she stayed in front of her computer? When did she last see anybody around this place? Or go out of the twilight room, for that matter? Memory twilight got denser and heavier, as the stiffness overwhelmed the bright afternoon. No birds, or children’s shrieks, could cut through.

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Sunshine Sunday, Kiten

“Sunshine Sunday” was the title for today’s blog post. Surprisingly for the end of June, sunshine has been sparse today. And yet, where I stand the sun has been shining blindingly for hours. Even amidst the grey clouds, even with the high wind.

Yesterday we arrived in Kiten, a southern Black-sea resort, for a seminar I am attending with the university. We went to the beach and had a wonderful time. We spent the night worrying if our little one had or hadn’t got sick because of the sun and the breeze. Today, it is so windy that we feel almost cold and we preferred to stay at the hotel and get Silvi have a nap. Even coffee on the balcony was a coldish experience. And yet, this Sunday is very sunny and sunshining. Silvi has been lightening it up – running, jumping, hopping, zig-zagging and chirruping, the little sparrow she is. Since we arrived she has been in literal rapture with the whole experience – we are on an excursion, we are going to the sea…

Nothing will be adequate enough to describe the sunshine of this Sunday. A perfect day, one in a million, one to remember, to cherish and lapse back to, when in gloom.

Ah, thanks a lot, Sofia University 🙂

© 2012 Mariya Koleva


Beautiful Zombie flash

Beauty Queen

“By God, it’s so hot.” Sheila thought and tried to stretch her arms, yawning. Before she knew anything, she noticed the utter darkness. “Am I in a cellar?” she murmured. She couldn’t see her arms did not stretch. With a grunt, Sheila tried to stand up. Failed. The darkness was as thick as always. She wanted to rub the numbness off her feet. Failing again, Sheila suddenly realized she didn’t feel numb. She didn’t feel. “If only there was light,” she was getting annoyed. Was she even moving her limbs? Were there even limbs for her to move? What was that ineffective place?

Only last night, it seemed to her, Sheila was the new Beauty Queen. She remembered she drank champagne off the glass of that masked boy – mask way too scary, yet he was a charmer.

“So, how do zombie beauties live?” Sheila blinked in confusion and irritation.

© 2012 Mariya Koleva

Submitted to Writerlious blog to a prompt: Beautiful Zombies.

Twisted Tuesday, short fiction


“A twisted mind will get you nowhere nice” he repeated to himself while splashing the freezing water over his face. That was something his father used to tell him when he was little. He cupped his hands and stared at the water for a while. He looked on as it started to trickle off, oozing between his fingers, the pool inside getting shallower and shallower. He tried to press his fingers tight to one another, in an effort to keep the water from trickling out, and it seemed to slow down a bit, but then oozed out anyway.

Looking up from the basin, Luke saw his badly-cut face in the mirror and pressed his eyes shut. That hurt, too. He didn’t know which hurt more – the black and blue image in the mirror, the black swells on his eyes, or the memory of how he had received them.

“No more vodka,” he thought furiously. It was all vodka’s fault. He even didn’t know why he ended up drinking that stuff. He hated vodka since the last time he got drunk on it. He knew that threat would not intimidate the bottle he could still see to the left of the dirty fridge. He knew he was trying to intimidate himself. And he knew it was no good.

His face hurt. He filled his cupped hands with freezing water again and splashed it on. His father’s words rang through his mind again. Why wouldn’t the old man be quiet for a while? How come it was his father’s words he could hear, and not those of his elder brother?

Every time his elder brother heard those words he would counter them: “A twisted mind will get you anything you want.”

With a soft grunt he moved away from the washbasin and towards the window.

A champagne stopper flew off with a weird pop. Who would be drinking champagne at this time of the day? His face felt huge. Something caught his glance. On the front of his muddied and torn T-shirt was a rose in bloom.

“A twisted heart will get you nowhere nice,” he thought with his last flash of consciousness. The floor was cold and hard, and damp with filth.


© 2012 Mariya Koleva