Ending the Jam

With everything that’s been going on the past couple of weeks, I realized today I’m never going to catch up with my poem a day project, which I’d already fallen behind on. I’m not giving up on writing poetry (I still owe people poems from last year’s fundraising event), but I know I can’t manage a poem a day right now.

However, I’m still going to work on doing something creative every day, including pushing myself to write more fiction. I recently looked at the notes I’ve written for some stories I have in mind and realized that if I want to write the stories to the best of my ability, I don’t need to do any research and very little prep. Basically, the stories would write themselves. Which gives me no good excuses for not writing them RIGHT THE HELL NOW.

I guess I better get my ass in gear and DO IT, huh?


Neff Poetry Jam

I’ve decided to take photos of my daily poems and post them to Flickr. I like the idea of showing them in the original handwriting. And frankly, it’s easier than transcribing them to the blog. So if you want to follow my daily poems (keeping in mind they’re all going to be first drafts and off the top of my head, so there’s no guarantee for quality or craftspersonship), check them out on Flickr. (I’ll also be posting them to Twitter and Google+.)

Project 365 2: Electric Boogaloo

I’ve got one day left of my “365 Days of Neff” project, my daily self-portrait thingamajig. After thinking about it and asking for input, I’ve decided that for 2012, I’m going to write a poem a day, at least one page in length. I’ll be handwriting them in a notebook (I hate writing prose by hand, but I can’t write poetry any other way) and either transcribing them and posting them here or taking pictures of the pages and posting them to my Flickr account (I haven’t decided which yet).

I’m jazzed about this because writing poetry uses different parts of my brain than writing prose fiction or writing blog posts. I want to get back in touch with those parts of my brain and push myself to try new things in terms of poetry. We’ll see how it goes.

Get ready for “365 Days of Neff Poetry”!


i’ll see you in hell
or maybe in heaven
or maybe there’s no afterlife at all

but it makes no difference to me
I have too much to do today
to worry about tomorrow

have i shown enough love?
have i shared enough joy?
have i danced with my friends?
have i sung songs with strangers?
have i given out food?
have i set fire to money?
have i painted my face?
have i written on walls?
have i walked across seas?
have i raced across deserts?
have i discovered new worlds?
have i raised the dead?

& when tomorrow comes

…we’ll just see what happens then

Crisis Averted, Opportunity Taken

Thank you, everyone who donated to the Help Josh Out fund. In just a couple of days, I’ve hit the goal I wanted to hit. And I’ve got a number of people to send poems or other writings to, which is a big kick in the inspiration pants. I’m feeling much less anxious about the present and near future and much more excited and inspired about writing. I’ve got a few projects to work on now and I’ll be able to move forward with the major life stuff I really need to do. So again, thank you. I’m deeply touched at how people have reached out and given me support I sorely needed.

This is the world I want to live in. A world where people in need are helped, not derided or scorned or asked to “tighten their belts and make sacrifices” just so people with more don’t have to give anything up. I look forward to the day when things aren’t so financially tight for me and I’ll be in the position to give money to people who need help–friends, family and strangers. And in the meantime, I’ll give what I can of my time, my energy and my heart. Because we absolutely cannot get through this life without helping each other out. We just can’t.

The Nature of the Catastrophe

One of the hardest things to do, I think, is ask others for help, even when we really, really need it. We don’t want to feel like we’re a burden, like we’re taking advantage of people. This is especially true when it comes to money. In the US, there’s a powerful undercurrent of thought that if we’re having money problems, it’s because we screwed up in some way, we brought it on ourselves, we deserve it, it’s our own damn fault and it’s nobody else’s problem. It think that’s bunk, but because I grew up here, it’s hard for me to get past the guilt of needing help with money.

But I’m asking for help anyway.

I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck. Bills are piling up. Berkie and I are trying to find a place to live, and we’ll definitely save money living together, but even coming up with the money for a deposit it looking difficult and stressing us out. Julie and I want to legally get divorced, but she’s also living life on the financial edge, and scraping up the money for court fees is difficult. And I just got slammed with taxes. I can’t possibly pay what I owe right now. All of this is amping up my anxiety to stupid levels and making me physically sick.

So I’m asking for help.

I currently have a little over 1,400 followers on Twitter. It occurred to me that if half that number gave me $10, I’d be well on the way to getting out of this financial hole. Really, if I can just raise $300, I’ll be in a position to get back on my feet. I don’t think $10 is all that much. I’ve given more than that to political groups, charities and to friends when they were in financial need. Asking for $10 doesn’t make me feel so bad.

But I’d also like to turn this crisis into an opportunity. Let this be not just a catastrophe in the sense of being a disaster, but also a mathematical catastrophe, a change in the dynamic of my life.

I recently had the idea that I’d like to put together a book of poetry. I quite like a number of my older poems and I like the poems I’ve written lately. Putting together a whole book of poems that I would publish myself is something I’d very much like to do. But I’d like to have more written than I already do. I want to push myself to write more.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m putting a Paypal donation button on my blog. People can donate or not, as they choose. And they can donate as little or as much as they want. In return (and in appreciation) of your donation, I’ll send you one of my poems, handwritten just for you. Suitable for framing, making a paper airplane, origami or whatever. It might be one of my older poems, it might be a brand-new one. Maybe it will be a one-page prose-poem or micro-story. But if you want something, make sure you put your address in the donation information.

I hate that it’s come to this. But I also know that we can’t get through life without relying on each other. So…there we are.

And thank you.