All About the Writing Conference

This past weekend, our executive and poetry editors attended the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference (PPWC).  This was the third conference that we have had borrowed solace representatives at in some capacity, and it never ceases to provide a tantalizing learning and networking experience for whoever is in attendance.  This week on the blog, we thought we would recap what we learned — or, at least, recap what was the most instrumental thing each of us learned — during PPWC 2019, It Takes a Tribe.

From Addey:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens.”                      – Ecclesiastes 3:1

If there is one thing that I took away from PPWC this year it is that things take time.  I think we’ve all probably been told something similar, or used it as an excuse when we’re feeling blue, but it was so refreshing to hear all sorts of industry professionals and New York Times best selling authors expound on that fact.

Hard work and dedication pay off — at least, I’m hoping they do.

Writing, or editing, or agenting (is that a thing?) or literary journal-ing (that’s definitely not actually a thing) all seem to take a lot of turns around the sun to finally become anything fruitful.  I heard from some amazingly successful authors this past weekend on how they didn’t even quit their day job until (insert shockingly high number here) of books were published. There was even one New York Times best selling author who still was working her day job.  I listened as agents expounded on how remarkably naive they were when they first started in their career and now 10, 15, (insert shockingly high number here) years later they finally get what those well seasoned gurus at some of the first conferences they spoke at were talking about.

Sure, this thought could be seen as a bit distressing, but I have chosen to see it as a positive sentiment.  For me, this idea harkens back to the Bible in Ecclesiastes —“to every thing there is a season.” For any bright eyed new writer hoping to one day be a New York Times best selling author giving the keynote, rather than listening intently to it from the audience, I think this is encouraging.  Right now, you (and me) may be going through a season of sowing. We are working day in and day out, planting the seeds of our writing endeavors but not yet seeing the end result. One day, if we keep at it, and water those seeds with a lot of effort and even more persistence, I think we will come into a season of blossoming.  

For everything there is a season — for some, they are in that season where writing takes the back burner.  For others, they are in the season where hard work is starting to pay off, and for others, they are already in the season where they are starting to be invited to speak at conferences (those lucky few!)  What PPWC taught me is that everyone can go through each and every one of those seasons, but to get to that season of blossoming and prosperity, the harder seasons might just have to come first.

So I am going to keep plowing the fields of my writing and planting those seeds for as long as I need to, because I have faith that a greater season is coming — one where I can look back on today and see the serendipitous moments that led me to success.

From Nicole:

Learning even more about characters!

I know already that society has become more self indulgent, but now know that we writers, too, tend to become character indulged. People no longer want to read large paragraphs of scenery or world-building. Most editors and authors at the conference who were presenting or critiquing went straight for the connection to the main character. They wanted to know their name on the first line, then their description, in five words or less — who they are.

I am a YA fantasy writer and spend a lot of time building my cultures; different races and classes; the weather and atmosphere; the wars that scared the land; and how the world differs, or is similar to, Earth. But now, I’ve learned that instead of showing the readers this up front, those things must be woven later in the story. This truly amazed me. The story you are supposed to tell (write) is a series of events your characters comes to and overcomes to reach the final destination — this is what we all know. But even developing a scene is now centered on how primary and secondary characters should react, feel, internalize, voice their opinion, and act towards others in the story — this gives the reader more insight to connect with your story. It tells who the readers are supposed to love, hate, cry with, rant with, join the emotional train ride of when they fail or triumph, celebrate with when they win the guy or girl at the end, or seethe with anger when it all gets lost even though they were supposed to be the hero standing in glory.

What I really mean to say is that I learned how characters now come before anything else. They must be fully developed and evoke the reader to reader more.  They must set your character on a train track and let their engines be fueled with emotion….and they always come first.

What is prose, poetry, art?

Nonfiction

[non-fik-shuh n]

Origin: 1905-1910 [non (real) + fiction (made-up)]

noun

  1. Nonfiction is an expression of reality; it can be embellished, raw, visceral, and soothing all at once.

This issue is un-themed, there are no restrictions. Submit your semi-tall tale or surrealistic essay, I look forward to reading them.

—Nicole Taylor

Fiction

[fik-shuhn]

Origin: 1375–1425 [fict (us) ion (forming nouns)]

noun

I once wrote that that fiction was more than the Google definition of “literature in the form of prose…that describes imaginary events and people,” that it was an escape for both reader and author. And, for me, that’s still true.

  1. Fiction is finding sanctuary in a mausoleum amidst vampires and ghouls. Or finding refuge in a cruising star ship, listening to a techno-symphony.
  2. Fiction is finding yourself in someone else’s shoes and experiencing their journey, whether it’s simply a day working at a laundromat or suddenly gaining the magical capabilities to change the course of history.
  3. Fiction, an experience outside yourself that allows you a small reprieve.

—Amber Porter

Poetry

[poh-i-tree]

Origin: 1350–1400 [poetrie + maker]

noun

  1. Poetry is many things and nothing all at once.
  2. It is the beauty of a still, blank, moment; and the roar of a pulsing, combusting wave of light. This is what makes poetry so unique, and so very important to the literary landscape.
  3. Poetry allows for the breath between. It is the small, contemplative, instant after a long book, a short story, or an essay.
  4. It is similar to art in this regard – a fleeting moment, yet it can fill so much space.

—Addey Vaters

Art

[ahrt]

Origin: before 950 [ear + be]

noun

  1. Art to some is fleeting, a moment, a breath, a feeling—there to embrace and gone as soon as one walks away.
  2. Art for others is everlasting—there to remember, to stand against time, something to go back to and visit.
  3. Art to me, is neither of these things, to me, art is a collaboration of heart, soul, mind, nature, nurture. It is how one expresses their creative side from the world influencing their creative decisions, and the rest of the world sees the result.
  4. The true beauty of art is that everyone experiences what they see and feel differently, letting them have their own definition.
  5. Art is the world of others that shakes me from my own—that makes me peek out from my bubble, step outside the bubble, and understand.  It helps me walk in a world different than my own (especially my lovely bubble).

—Nicole McConnell

Tips from the Editors: Poetry

While I myself am a perfectionist at heart, sometimes so much so that it is my absolute detriment, I have come to learn that imperfection in poetry is where beauty often abounds.  As I have read through the submissions for our next un-themed issue (and as I am still reading – if you haven’t heard back yet don’t worry, I’m still wading through the submissions pool) I have noticed that the moments that grab me are the unexpected ones.  My breath catches when I read a line that makes no sense yet makes perfect sense or a stanza that stops me so that I can examine each word once more.  These are the moments that could be seen as imperfect in a poem, but that in the wild and unruly world of modern poetry create the spark that fans a thought or a word into a fiery work of art.

I can’t say that I really understood this concept until I took a poetry class in my final semester of my undergraduate degree.  Up until this point poetry seemed like something to be admired from afar and handled with crisp white gloves and feather dusters – something to be kept behind glass and not messed with for fear of breaking something as fragile as a sonnet or a villanelle.  I realized in this poetry class, however, that the fragility of poetry is a myth that I taught myself as I fed my poetic imagination a steady diet of classical poetry.  While I greatly admire classic forms and structure, I realize now that my favorite poems are those that play with structure just enough to leave me guessing what comes next or that switch the form up just enough that it’s fresh and exciting.  While knowing all the rules is important in writing poetry, it’s knowing when to break them, when to bring in the imperfections, that makes a poem magnificent.

So my tip to you, dear reader, is this: mess around with your word choice, your syntax, your synonyms and metaphors.  Don’t just admire the poetry canon from afar, dive in and make ripples everywhere your mind travels.  Perfection is overrated, anyway, and beauty lies in the crumpled up moments that you were about to throw away with yesterday’s newspaper but decided to take one more look at.  There’s beauty in catastrophe.

 

Addey

poetry editor

Tips from the Editors: Nonfiction

What Makes Creative Nonfiction Good? The (1/4) Creativity

One of the things that makes nonfiction such a compelling genre is the role that truth and reality play in it. Fiction can be anything you want, but nonfiction must be based on real events, people, or experiences. This may sound like a limitation to most, but it has always been a benefit when correctly used.

As we established, nonfiction is built upon the truth. However, memory is not perfect. There will be details that are forgotten, qualities changed, and conversations manipulated. As much as an author may try, these changes in composition are inevitable. These faults are due to the fluid nature of memory. Whenever we recollect something our brain is constantly changing it as it tries to recall.

When you sit down and start remembering interactions to write about it may be difficult at first. Slowly it will come back, and you will be able to recall the memory entirely. Well, most of it. There will most likely be patches that are vague, or pieces missing. How was the room laid out? What was that person wearing? These holes are perfect areas to utilize the creative part of nonfiction. They allow a little wiggle room for the author to play around and immerse the reader in the experience they had. Though the scene may not be accurate to the reality that occurred, it is accurate to your memory of reality (memoir is the best for this, journalistic pieces are tricky and should be as close to reality as possible).

The next time you have trouble remembering something exactly as it happened, understand that it is an opportunity to explore the creative craft and steep the reader in your experience of reality, rather than a limitation.

 

Nicole Taylor

nonfiction editor

Tips From the Editors: Art & Photography

I am a writer by night, a painter by early morning, an editor for both the journal and for Great River Learning by day, and a half exhausted pigeon by mid-evening. But nonetheless I like to use art as a writer to become inspired. Writing is a form of art, yes, very true, but all art in my opinion has its own unique beauty and value to it. I paint on canvas, one of my many hobbies. I like to paint with acrylics and create abstract forms to see where my mind and creative hand lead me. It honestly, and quite frankly, usually leads to something horrible.  A second grader could do much better than I.  Yet all art, and writing, only take a little bit of talent and imagination, but also lots of practice and hard work. 

Moving on from painting, what we receive is mainly photography submissions, which is great! Since we receive so many photography submission, I would like to provide one tip for photographers that will help give their art a higher chance of acceptance. I recently just bought a Fujifilm Instant Camera, with the old style Polaroid film. As soon as you take the picture, with a click and a crackle slides out the blank white slice of film and you can watch the picture appear without a black light. The first photo I took was of my beautiful curvy pug and  made me realize the lighting, her position, and the background. 

I notice the background in photos probably the most. When I can view a photo from several angles of zooming in or out and side to side that is what makes a photo successfully and gives it a really high change of getting selected to get published by this journal.  Why is setting the scene and utilizing angles the most important tip you might ask? My philosophy is that art should be viewed and used to put in front of people’s eyes so that they can’t miss the beauty of the photographer’s eye that can capture a stunning moment like a child at the end of a dark tunnel bathed in sunlight, or a bush of roses. These two photos had the light, position, and background to make one gaze upon the images with wonder.

Art is fun, so be creative, be open minded, and look for what catches your eye because everyone interprets art a little different.

 

Nicole McConnell

executive/art editor

The 411: Poetry

*As we prepare to open submissions for issue two (!), our first unthemed journal, we want to give you the inside scoop on what each of our editors are looking for in their respective genres.  Stay tuned for a guest post from each editor!*

So what do I look for in poetry?  That question initially seemed harder to answer without a theme than with one, but I have realized that is not the case.  Good writing is good writing, regardless of theme.

When you submit poetry to borrowed solace, submit your best work.  Yes, that means to follow our submission guidelines and make sure your poems align with what we at borrowed solace represent, but that also means that your submissions should come from the heart.  Sometimes that means a poem written about something you are passionate about, or other times the topic is an event that happened to you, but it should always be something heartfelt and real.

Send me poems that are heart-wrenching, that make me laugh out loud while I’m reading.  Send me poems that experiment with all the things that make up a poem but that never let go of a some sort of universal truth or understanding about the world.  Explore with your words, and make me delight in your journey.  Send your best most provocative work!

 

-Addey

The 411: Nonfiction

*As we prepare to open submissions for issue two (!), our first unthemed journal, we want to give you the inside scoop on what each of our editors are looking for in their respective genres.  Stay tuned for a guest post from each editor!*

Though this upcoming issue is without a theme, that doesn’t mean that “anything goes” for submissions; it simply means that I have a wider lens of view. There is still a goal I keep in mind while selecting submissions for nonfiction– to maintain a standard of literary excellence and beauty.

I want pieces that captivate the senses with vivid imagery, pieces that tell the unfettered truth in compelling ways, and pieces that engage the mind with harrowing tales of reality. Creative nonfiction is unique in this way as it operates in truth and reality, but becomes functional literary material when it is infused with careful crafting. Send forth your flash pieces, your short memoirs, your essays, and your moments in time! I look forward to reading them!

 

-Nicole Taylor

The 411: Fiction

*As we prepare to open submissions for issue two (!), our first unthemed journal, we want to give you the inside scoop on what each of our editors are looking for in their respective genres.  Stay tuned for a guest post from each editor!*

What am I looking for in fiction? There’s no theme this go around so I’m not looking for anything too specific.

You know what that means?

That means I want anything and everything. I want to feel. To laugh. I want pieces that grip into me and refuse to let go until I‘ve reached the very last word on the very last page. I want to be afraid. To be sad. I want to be stunned to the verge of speechlessness.

I want it all.

Submit what moves you, submit those pieces you’re passionate about, be it genre, literary, or flash…heck I’ll take a thousand two sentence stories—that was a joke, please don’t send in a thousand (I would like to survive to the next journal edition.) Let’s say up to fifty per person…yeah, that seems more reasonable—submit it all.

 

-Amber

The 411: Art

*As we prepare to open submissions for issue two (!), our first unthemed journal, we want to give you the inside scoop on what each of our editors are looking for in their respective genres.  Stay tuned for a guest post from each editor!*

 

Hello happy artists and photographers! I can’t wait for what you will submit for our non-themed journal; and am excited to see what you come up with. I am looking for art that will do two things: one, take my breath away, and two, inspire me.  I’m hoping to find art that has a personality and pictures that want to make me write a thousand words. I want the readers and viewers and onlookers of borrowed solace to appreciate art, stop to look, study, and be amazed. We welcome the inspiring, moving, gasping kind of art for our upcoming journal, and I can’t wait to see what comes my way!

 

-Nicole McConnell