i am only me*

thinking of lost innocence
known only to time

on a cold autumn night
i stare at the stars above

the wind whispers
upon the last leaves

and i know
i am only me

 

*revised edition

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Making Resolutions

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        I resolve to never write again.  Instead, I think I’ll just chill and listen to Jimi Hendrix music.  Okay, that’s not my New Year’s resolution.  I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.  This year my resolution does involve scaling back my writing, though.  The past three years my resolutions have focused heavily on writing.  That’s all well and good, but I’ve neglected one important aspect of writing: publishing.  Sure I picked up a copy of the Poet’s Market, and planned to go through it to find the right publications for my work.  The problem as it turns out, is that there are just too many publications.  Don’t get me wrong, that is a good thing.  On the other hand, it also makes coming up with a good short list of publishers difficult.  Inevitably, I always lose interest and go back to what is comfortable: writing.

        This year, however, I resolve to put the work in and focus on publishing.  Currently, I have more than 20 unpublished poems from my Lost in Time collection, the fourth and final collection of The Past, Present, and Future.  Of course, I still have some other works that have not seen the light of day yet.  I suppose the time has come to test the waters of the publishing world with some of my unpublished work.

        While I’m trying to convince the distributors of information that my work is worth presenting to the consuming public, I suppose I should keep myself busy.  That’s why I have decided to publish 10 poems from Lost in Time on this site.  As always, I’ll publish on the third day of the month.  Pacific Standard Time, of course.  Most likely a few minutes after the day begins, as I typically like to do.  Then in December, I’ll post an update on my publishing adventures.  I do hope that you like my Lost in Time poems as much as I enjoyed writing them.

        Now, where did I put that copy of the Poet’s Market?  Oh, I suppose I should pick up a copy of the 2015 Guide to Literary Agents while I’m at it.  For good measure, I imagine I should throw in a bottle of The Macallan.  You never know when you’ll have to sip away your sorrows, or toast your successes.  As always, I hope for the latter, expect the prior, and will be content if I find myself somewhere in-between.

Those Little Touches

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        My pulse quickens and my extremities tingle, as my fingers dance upon ebony keys.  I have just finished one of those little touches, and I know my work is almost complete.  What is a little touch?  A little touch is more than just the words upon a page.  It’s the middle layer, the ivory between black, the alternate possibility that opens the door into a hidden realm.  A realm where all is not what it seems.  A realm immersed in bright, white light.

        Creating those little touches is why I write.  It’s also why I get behind on deadlines, and forget to submit my work.  The problem you see is that I always want just a little bit more.  One meaning is good, two is better, and three is quite divine.  Even then, though, it is hard to quit.  Four, five, six, why not?  By some estimates, English has more than a million words—almost all of which have multiple meanings.  This, of course, means there is inevitably another word that may convey your message more effectively and there is almost always more meaning to be squeezed out of each word.

        Still, though, one must be careful.  There is a big difference between a Kubrick who bides time to create masterpieces and a Lucas who continually destroys his original genius by indefinitely reimagining and recreating it.  No, you definitely don’t want to be the latter.  Just ask poor Greedo about that.  On the other hand, who doesn’t want to be like Kubrick?  I suppose that explains why so many good film makers have copied him over the years.  Trouble is, not everyone can be.  Sometimes you just have to know when enough is enough.

        As for me, the time has come to put the finishing touches on something that I have been working on for quite some time now.  If this year is kind, it will see the last little touch come before the stroke of midnight on this year’s last day.  If it is divine, it may come just a tad bit earlier.  Thirty-some-odd minutes would do.

        For now, I sit and ponder.  How shall it all end?  There are a few good contenders, but like Frost I know it will all come down to fire and ice.  Both are tantalizing, but only one covers everything in a layer of white.  I suppose it will just have to suffice.

Burning Books

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Photo by Elizabeth McCullough

        Why do autocrats love to burn books so much?  I suppose they are afraid of new ideas.  That raises the question: are ideas really that dangerous?  Why of course they are.  They always have been, and always will be.  Repeat after me:  Ideas are dangerous.  Ideas are dangerous.  Ideas are dangerous….

        Ok, I think you get the idea.  Or at the very least, you’re starting to sing Big Data’s song “Dangerous” in your head.  So, what do you do in a world where ideas are dangerous and books are burned?  That’s simple: write.  Why miss out on all the fun?  Still, though, there is a time and a place.  I suppose not all stories are suitable for all audiences.  On the other hand, burning, banning, or censoring books seems a bit extreme.  I’ve never been much of an extremist myself.

        No, I’m just one of the seven billion and counting people who live in this world.  When I look outside, I see a world that is full of beauty and filth.  Regardless of how much you may want the world to be one way, you’ll never be able to blot out the things you don’t like.  In order to see the world for what it truly is, you have to be willing to sit back and take it all in–both the good and the bad.  Ok, now I’m starting to sound like a sappy theme song from an 80s sitcom.  I’m bad, but I didn’t know that I was that bad.

        Embracing my rediscovered badness, the time has come for me to burn some books.  The autocrats seem to enjoy it so much that I thought I’d give it a try.  There’s only one problem: it would be extremely rude for me to burn someone else’s work.  Ok, let’s make that two problems: I can’t bear to burn my own.  It isn’t even finished yet (it is getting close, though, and I promise it will be finished sometime between now and the end of time).  If someone else wants to burn it one day, more power to them.

        For now, however, I think I’ll burn something else.  I think I’ll burn an idea.  No need to worry, though, the idea isn’t going anywhere.  I have the idea memorized.  Then again, maybe you do too.  I suppose it all depends on how well you read—the color white.

Reversing Entropy

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Photo by Cody McCullough

        Change is inevitable, but is chaos?  According to entropy, everything gradually declines into disorder, or chaos; ergo chaos is inevitable.  That should make the villains of the world happy.  Just like a sappy comic book, though, I believe the villains will inevitably be disappointed in the end.  That is because I believe in the idea of reversing entropy.

        So, just how do you reverse entropy?  My answer: the same way that you write, grow a business, raise a family, or do just about anything meaningful in the world.  Put simply: embrace change.  Change is inevitable, there is no getting around that.  That’s why you can never rest on your laurels.  If you want to be successful at anything, you have to grow and evolve over time.

        What does that have to do with entropy?  My answer: everything.  It’s not nature that leads to disorder, it’s what goes against nature that falls apart in the end.  From what I can see, nature is actually quite ordered.  From the stars and the Universe above, all the way down to our cells and atoms, order is everywhere.  It’s the human world where disorder is rampat.  Why?  Mostly, I think, it is because we like to create things.  Every creation, though, ultimately has its end.  Even the pyramids of Giza will not last forever.  All human creations, eventually lose their battle with time; ergo nature wins in the end.  Which in my mind, is actually order winning.

        No need to worry, though, as humans derive from nature meaning we are not disorder incarnate.  It’s only our creations that represent disorder.  Thanks to the process of evolution we will be fine, our children will be fine, and their children will be fine.  The deck I plan to build onto my house next summer, however, probably won’t survive three more generations (especially if the Oregon rain has anything to say about it).  Decks just aren’t natural in the wild….

        So, what’s the point?  Simply put: embrace change and subsequently increase your cerebral capacity instead of slowly letting it slip away.  When it comes to writing, and just about everything else, we need to evolve along with nature and the world around us.  If we don’t, nature will pass us by just like my future deck.  Be a lifelong learner, be inquisitive, ask questions, seek the truth, and above all, never think that you know everything.  You don’t.  It’s impossible.  If you spend some time at the library, either virtually or physically, you may just find that you know more today than you did yesterday.  If that is the case, then you’re probably ready to write, and ready to join me in the battle to reverse entropy.

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Photo by Elizabeth McCullough

Finding Inspiration

Photo by Elizabeth McCullough

Photo by Elizabeth McCullough

        A single leaf dangling from a high branch, an interesting conversation, a good book, a decent film, a fun trip—indeed inspiration comes in many forms.  In many ways, it is all around us.  With inspiration so bountiful in the world, the challenge becomes finding focus.  How do you tune everything out, and focus on just one idea?  My answer: you don’t.

        In the Digital Age, information overkill is a fact of life.  Instead of tuning everything out to focus on one idea, I grab a life jacket and soak it all in.  After that, I wait.  If something is worth spending the time to focus on, it will usually find its way back into my consciousness.

        I suppose my technique isn’t exactly foolproof.  Occasionally, inspirational thoughts pop up at very inopportune times.  Other times, the inspirational well just dries up all together and I find it difficult to write anything at all.  Then one day, inspiration explodes out of me like a volcano and I don’t have enough time to write all of the words down.

        Hemingway may have been on to something with his 400 to 600 words per day approach.  Then again, Hemingway never had to navigate the Digital Age.  In the end, I’m content to wear my life jacket and bob up and down amongst the waves.  The more that I get used to the motion of the ocean, the more that I am able to anticipate and prepare for the next big wave.

        Well, that’s how I find inspiration.  How about you?

 

How Long is Too Long?

        So how long is too long, anyway?  I suppose the answer to that question depends on the topic being discussed.  For a writer, length most likely means one of two things: pages, or the time it takes to complete a project.  The answer to both questions is simple: find a happy medium.

        When it comes to pages, I have no problem reading, or writing, a long work as long as it is interesting.  It’s when a work drones on and on without getting to the point that I lose interest.  I believe that there needs to be a happy medium between an author painting a picture in the mind, and the reader painting their own picture based on the details and description of the work.  Basically it comes down to not overdoing, or underdoing it (as so many things do in life).

        With regard to the time it takes to complete a project, well, I’ve certainly learned a lot.  When I first started writing my book, I figured a year and I’d be done.  All I can do is smile about that now.  It takes what it takes.  Still, though, I suppose there must be a happy medium between a year and pulling a Salinger and taking half a lifetime to complete your follow-up works.  The lesson that I’ve learned is not to worry about deadlines and timelines.  Instead, worry about the words.  If the words are good, then there’s nothing to worry about.

        Hopefully in the future, I’ll have nothing to worry about.  If it doesn’t work out that way, oh well.  Life is meant to be lived, not avoided.  It’s just something that you can’t get away from….

 

The Poet’s Market

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        The older I get, the wiser I get.  Put more simply:  I’m dumb today, I was dumber yesterday, but I’ll be smart tomorrow.  Case in point: my previous assertion that there isn’t much of a market for poetry these days.  In reality there is a thriving poetry market out there.  In fact, there’s a more than 500 page book that is put out every year detailing the market for poetry.  Who knew, right?  Oh, if I only had a brain….  Recently, I picked up the 2012 edition of Poet’s Market from my local library (I may just have to buy the current edition).  In addition to helpful writing tips and advice, the book lists hundreds of publishing opportunities specifically for poets, which include poetry publications, book publishers, contests, and more.

        Before picking up Poet’s Market, I relied on Internet searches to find information about publishing poetry.  The Internet is good for many things, but finding a detailed list of poetry publishers is a bit of a challenge.  I was able to find some, but I wasn’t able to really narrow my search down to publishers that would be a good fit for my work.

        Currently, I have more than 30 unpublished poems that I’m looking to publish in various literary magazines and journals.  All the poems that have been published on this site, of course, are ineligible.  Poetry publishers do want first rights.  For me that’s not a big issue, as I still have plenty of unpublished poems and this site has been a good way for me to put my name out in the public, showcase some of my work, and work on my craft.  In the future, it will hopefully be a good forum to direct readers to my work as well.

        Now that I have a better idea about the market for poetry, the time has come to send my work to “the four corners of the world.”  After that comes the hardest part: the waiting game (Tom Petty was right in that regard).  It could be more than three months before I hear anything back.  Fortunately, I do have a little project to keep me busy in the meantime….

Welcome to Cody McCullough Writes

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        Welcome to my revamped blog.  I enjoyed writing my poetry collection, along with all the extras, and publishing on this site.  The time has come, though, to move into the future.  This site is now “Cody McCullough Writes,” which will be my monthly writing blog.  On the third day of each month, I plan to blog about my writing process, occasionally share some of my new work, and, hopefully, let everyone know where they can find my published work.  Indeed, it feels as though my little blog is finally “coming of age.”  Thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride.  I appreciate your support, and hope that you will continue on the journey with me into the future.

Lost in Time

lost in time
i float

forever searching
for my home

neither past,
nor present,
nor future
embrace me

all turn
and drift away

forever searching
for my home

i turn
and drift away

by cody mccullough

 

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Photo by Elizabeth McCullough