Posts Tagged acceptances

Chomp! Does Gum Chewing Help Writing?

Every week during the volleyball season, I attend a cocktail hour with our volleyball coach. He normally brings a player along and we ask questions. Last week’s guest was our star middle blocker. One of the academics in the audience asked her about the wad of gum that was her trademark.

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Coach Tom said when he first started coaching, he banned gum, just as our teachers and other adults did for much of our lives. Another coach, though, took him aside and suggested he allow his players to chew. Tom said he was told chewing gum tricked the brain into thinking it was getting an infusion of glucose. He also mentioned this affected the right side of the brain. He related this to creativity. I’d assume being in the right side of the brain helped them get in the zone.

As a near constant gum chewer, this theory interested me. I especially chew a lot when I’m writing. I did some preliminary research on the Internet to see what I could find. An overview article–with links to original research and references–from Forbes mentions many brain benefits of gum chewing, including possible anti-depressant effects, and a boost to both alertness and intellectual performance.

A number of articles referenced chewing and an increase in concentration, with a few in dissent. A Psychology Today summary mentions increased reaction time, which might be why some volleyball players find chewing beneficial.  A second study found that chewing decreases anxiety, another factor that might help in a team sport. I’ll continue to look for a connection to creativity or being in the zone while I chomp on!

And if you’d care to comment, I’d find it edifying to hear if gum chewing, donut eating, or anything else helps you concentrate or increases your creativity while writing.

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Sometimes Early Success Is Not Helpful

When I first started writing, I wrote poetry and was reasonably successful in finding a places to publish. Most were in small, independent “journals.” One appeared in a college journal, Kalliope, in the same issue as Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, Kathleen Norris, and Kathleen Spivak. That was my biggest success. Eventually, I decided I wasn’t a very good poet and started writing and sending out short stories. I was asked for rewrites and usually received a comment or two, if only a scribbled, “Thanks. ” I took an upper level fiction writing class at Colorado State University during which I handed in two or three stories. This class was huge, maybe forty students, mostly kids in their early twenties. Four or five were slightly older. The professor, an odd, quiet man and published writer, called out two stories he considered possibly publishable, both belonging to older students. One of them, titled, Casanova With Fleas, was mine. His suggestion for me was to cut; the original was around 12,000 words. I cut it to  6,000 and eventually to between 4,000 and 4,500 words. Meanwhile, I wasn’t particularly happy in my job, especially when I learned the only other employee of the senior transportation program I worked for made significantly more money than I did. The director of the program wasn’t willing to increase my pay even though I basically ran everything but volunteer recruitment. I decided to quit and give myself a year to see where I could go with writing.As soon as I gave notice,  we flew back East for my husband’s 20th high school reunion. When we returned, I had an acceptance for Casanova and a check for $35 dollars from a start-up journal, Modern Short Stories. I never did like the name, nor its pulpy look, but they were trying to produce a popular journal to be sold in places like smoke shops and airports. The unfortunate timing, though, made it so I’d met my goal before I started, and I think I wasted a good part of my year, not seriously tackling the business of writing.

My writing group usually has a holiday dinner at my house or a special-event restaurant in place of one of our December meetings. This year we plan to release Flying wish-papers  as well as set our yearly and/or quarterly goals. The trick will be to write goals in such a way that success is achievable without undermining the desire to more completely fulfill each goal. Possibly those of us who are inherently lazy can overcome minor fulfillment of our goals by staggering goals or setting new short-term quarterly, or even monthly, goals.How do others handle setting goals, and has anyone else had the experience of prematurely meeting a goal and having your motivation self-implode?

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