You want me to shut up because I have a vagina? Two words: hockey stick. Also, fuck you.
My own stance is flexible. I tend to think in terms of tags rather than warnings: a nutshell list of things in a story that people might like or dislike enough to influence whether they choose to read further. Because I don't know exactly what will be which for whom. What I do try is to avoid accidentally dumping an unsuspecting reader into a piece of writing that will hurt them. Yes, I have done that. I've written things that hurt people badly, and most of those were friends because that's who read my work before I'd made enough of those mistakes to learn how to be fairly careful with it.
So I watch for the kind of things that are required warnings on major services, or things that are very commonly requested that people mention, or things that I know perfectly well are perilous whether or not anyone else has figured that out. I also warn for cluster effects, because it often makes a difference if there's just one squicky thing vs. a whole lot, so if you see "Warn ALL the things!" that means the story is an angst-ridden triggerfest of fractal doom.
Because what I want out of this? Is to be able to write whatever the heck my inspiration takes me to, and present that array to my audience in a way that allows people to figure out, fairly safely, what they want to read and what they do not want to read. My audience is pretty robust or they wouldn't be reading me in the first place, but I also know that I have folks who have survived things that, frankly, could be expected to turn the average hero into deep-fried hamburger. I don't go crazy with warnings. I do consider, is this heavy enough that I wouldn't want to read it on a bad day? Does it have something that usually makes a wide range of people uncomfortable? Does it have a narrower trigger but one I know my audience is especially vulnerable to? That's when I bring out the warning labels in my own blog. If I'm doing a fest or posting on a service, and their framework is tag-happy or requires specific types of warnings, I can usually accommodate that too.
Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! Today's theme is "mature and old adults." I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.
Watch for the linkbacks perk to go live. Click to read "Alien In-Laws" (Starfather, 22 verses).
What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?
Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.
In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "mature and old adults." I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.
I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:
1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.
2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- A new feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this progress meter showing the amount donated. There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.
3) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).
0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.
4) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here. See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"
5) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network. Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall. Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl. If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published. If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.
Linkback perk: I have a spare series poem available, and each linkback will reveal a verse of the poem. One person can do multiple links if they're on different services, like Dreamwidth or Twitter, rather than all on LiveJournal. thesilentpoet has volunteered to host the verses this month, so you'll need to notify her of your linkbacks in a comment to her post, in order for them to count. "Alien In-Laws" belongs to the series Starfather and has 22 verses.
1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."
2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function. (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.) These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.
3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity. While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category. Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those. I've also posted a list of other donor perks there. I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.
4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.
5) If donations total $100 by Friday evening then you get a free $15 poem; $150 gets you a free $20 poem; and $200 gets you a free epic, posted after the Poetry Fishbowl. These will usually be series poems if I have them; otherwise I may offer non-series poems or series poems in a different size. If donations reach $250, you get one step toward a bonus fishbowl; three of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be three months in a row. Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it may be a half-day rather than a whole day. If donations reach $300, you get a piece of bonus material for a series.
Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "mature and old adults." I'll be soliciting ideas for middle-aged characters, seniors, their descendants, their friends, objects associated with maturity, signs of respect, places where mature or senior people congregate, unexpected places to find older folks, societies in which elders are honored, societies that are falling apart because elders are NOT honored, ways in which elders solve problems differently than younger people, challenges particular to mature or senior adults, how resources change as one ages, dealing gracefully with old age, beating old age over the head with a stick instead, ways in which mature or older bodies are beautiful, and poetic forms in particular. But anything is welcome, really. If you manage to recommend a form that I don't recognize, I will probably pounce on it and ask you for its rules. I do have the first edition of Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms which covers most common and many obscure forms.
I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations. Linkbacks reveal verses of "Alien In-Laws.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
This poem was inspired by prompts from technoshaman and e_scapism101. It has been sponsored by technoshaman.
Content notes: bereavement, intolerance, loneliness, love (but not falling in love), asexuality, childlessness, innocence, alternative family arrangements, FEELS. If these include sensitive topics for you, use your own judgment on whether to read further. Also, having a box of tissues would be prudent in general.
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