Today, I wanted to point each of my readers to a really neat YouTube channel! My brother-in-law is currently filling a sketchbook a month for an entire year. This is exactly the type of exercise that pays dividends on the creative process. Check it out for inspiration below!
“Embarrassment is the cost of entry. If you aren’t willing to look like a foolish beginner, you’ll never become a graceful master.”
I keep thinking about this quotation. It haunts me, if I’m going to be honest. So often, I let my fear of failure lead me into a tailspin of self-sabotage. I’ve redoubled my commitment to be “okay” with looking like a foolish beginner.
One way can affirm that same commitment is to put yourself out there. It’s not the smoothest segue, but I’d like to remind you that I’m currently accepting submissions for our Spring 2021 issue. We’re a month out from publication, and I’m looking for original photography, artwork, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and lyric essays! If you have interest, please check out the Submission Guidelines here.
Each submission that is accepted for publication will be paid at the rate of $5 USD. Payment is upon publication. Bez & Co prefers to use PayPal to pay its contributors. If you need alternative accommodations, please let me know upon acceptance of publication, and I will work to find a solution.
At this time of year, Santa isn’t the only one “making a list, and checking it twice.” As the embers cool on 2020, people are drafting up New Year’s resolutions to make 2021 a better year than last. And while that might not be a tall order for most, there have been some highlights from 2020 in my “writing life.”
I had a chance to publish my first poetry collection through a traditional publisher this year. I held my first book-signing, and got to play “author” for a day. I enjoyed conversing with many of you here on WordPress regarding art, spirituality, and writing. I’m grateful to the Lord for each and every one of these opportunities!
Even still, I’ve made my own list of goals for the coming year. I thought I’d take some time to let you all know what to expect from me (Daniel) and this website (Bez & Co.) in 2021, Lord-willing:
1. Bez & Co. as a literary journal is officially kicking off in January 2021. Since I opened submissions, I’ve received countless poems, short stories, essays, and photos. I’m happy to report that many of these were incredibly enticing pieces of art. It will be my honor to run our first issue in January! It’s my hope that following a successful kick-off, I’ll be able to make this online literary journal a paying market in 2021.
2. I’m going to self-publish two new books this year. One of these books will be one of the longest poems in the English language. The other, oddly, will be a prose version of the same story. I’m aiming to release the poem around March and the novel in December.
3. The novel I’m writing will be the first step into my foray into writing prose regularly. Though I’ve written three novels in the past, I’ll be the first to admit, I am not a novelist. With that being said, I’d really like to improve my prose, and I intend on writing and releasing some novels toward that end.
So, why self-publishing?
Many years ago, it was my goal to get a book traditionally published. To me, it was important to get at least one book under my belt that was “affirmed” enough in the industry to be published traditionally. Thankfully, with Wrenching of the Hip, this has been accomplished. Now, I’m pivoting to something that fits my long-term goals more closely.
By self-publishing, I can produce some more esoteric offerings that traditional publishers wouldn’t touch (such as, my very lengthy narrative poem told in heroic stanza.) I can keep 100% creative autonomy on the writing I’m publishing. Of course, the royalties are considerably better than traditional-publishing, as well.
Lastly, and most importantly, self-publishing most closely aligns with my long term goal: starting a small press that honors Christ and furthers the Kingdom of God. The lessons I’ll learn through formatting, marketing, and promoting my work should pay dividends in trying to do the same for others’ work.
What about you? What are your goals for 2021?
(by Daniel R. Jones)
The people, in private,
rejoiced at the ensuing
For til now, they each tussled
with personal Doomsdays,
but now they had one to share.
(by Daniel R. Jones)
Every human is born with a mind-palace.
Well-kept, clean-swept, fastidiously organized. When it comes time to retrieve an idea, they walk through hallways of doors, each arranged in some methodical alpha-numeric sequence. Upon reaching the right room, they scan metal cabinets, open the drawer they need, thumb through the file-folders until they find the words they wish to write. In this way, they always have the right words to say.
When I was born, the doctors stood in semi-circle, confused by the CT scan that hung on the wall. Where my mind palace should’ve been, there was nothing to see.
Mine had sunk to somewhere deeper in the brain; somewhere less stable- the amygdala.
And what should’ve been a palace was instead a thicket of trees.
So, when I’m tasked with finding the words to say, I take to the trees without so much as a map to guide me. I amble around through thistles and brambles, looking for a sugar maple that I can tap.
The words don’t come gushing forth all at once. Rather, it’s a drip, drip, drip, slow as…well, molasses, as the thoughts freeze and thaw. It is not at all consistent.
After some four, maybe five months, my pail is filled.
I hack down the selfsame sap-producing maples and feed them to the fire, boiling buckets of sap over the open flame.
This converts thought-sap to syrup at a ratio of 40 gallons to 1.
After the foraging through the thorns and the cuts on my arms and the rips through my sleeves;
after the poison oak spreads and there’s a hitch in my step from the long hike and axe-wielding;
after the woods around me have been reduced to smoldering embers just to produce this:
I hold in my hands, my sticky, resin-stained hands, a piece of conscious concentrate: something that can be so essentially saccharine and sappy that it ceases to be so.
Bearing little semblance to sap, it becomes something else altogether.
Then, having drunk deep of this syrup, I pick up spade and seedling, knowing the next batch won’t be ready for another 50 years.
I write because words are the labor, and the reward.
because in the Scriptures, God Himself identifies as “the Word.”
Because words are both the mystery and the revelation.
[Note: This poem originally ran in the literary journal Parody Poetry on Oct. 31, 2016]
(by Daniel R. Jones)
With apologies to William Carlos Williams.
so much depends
a brash, portly
and whether he’s
before he reads my
(after Job 12:7-9)
Ill-tempered and cross-grained. My key off its hook. I’m out through the breezeway. Into the throes of a weekday morning. My brain deplete of dopamine, I scan my surroundings, hoping to find the inconveniences that will justify my cantankerous mood.
Instead, my eyes are met with a horizon dyed the color of mulberries. Two-century-old oaks applauding in glee. A glistening sunrise saying, “I told the truth each morning since I dawned upon Eden. You are the one out of sync here.”
I saw a sparrow plucked from the page of a D.H. Lawrence poem. It chirped out Morse code, which, when decoded read, “No personal tragedy is ever so great that it buys you the right to be ungrateful.”
The sun, in swift rebuke, agreed: “The heavens declare the Glory of God. The flowers are clothed in splendor. The rocks themselves are crying out. So, who do you think you are? Who, exactly, do you think that you are?”
There have been years I tilled the soil of my mind,
weeding out the passe, banal thoughts before I sowed a single seed.
I meticulously cultivated the plot of land that is the page.
Those years yielded a handful of well-constructed, satisfactory poems.
There have been years I doused the sidewalk of my brain with herbicides
and all manner of thoughts not fit for human consumption.
Entire months passed when I neglected to set aside any time
for watering, composting, or gardening.
I didn’t expect a single fruitful thought.
Still, a handful of poems poked their way up through the cracks,
identical in quality to the others.
Maybe I have less to do with this than I thought.
This week, I’d like to bring attention to a poem I had published with the online magazine “Farther Stars Than These.” The poem can be found at the following link: http://www.fartherstars.com/2019/07/7419.html
While you’re visiting, check out the website, as a whole. There are a lot of imaginative, numinosity-inducing flash-length pieces to read!