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My artistic process - the 30 Day Poetry Challenge 


I’ve been in a bit of a “waiting for something to happen” phase lately, mainly because of my novel. I just finished another round of revisions, and I am waiting for responses from literary agents--some of which are actually reading my full manuscript. I wanted to wait until I got feedback from them/the second round of beta readers before I started on more revisions so I'm not actively working on a larger writing project at the moment. 

I’ve also learned that I think I really need to be involved in two projects at once: one writing project, and one artistic project that is collaborative in some way, like a band or a play. This is really how it’s always been, but I’ve realized how anti-social I get when I am just writing, and I don’t think that’s healthy. I need the inspiration from being around other artists. I need inspiration from just being around other people in general. Everyone is beautiful and everyone inspires me in some way.

I think this is one of the big reasons I did Godspell. I was really burnt out on the Atlanta music scene so I didn’t want to be in a band, and then my church just happened to be doing this musical that I loved. I had an amazing experience, and it has inspired me to do more theatre. I’ve actually even been going on auditions again. (Well, just one so far, but we’ll see how it goes.) Theatre is the perfect thing to do while I am in limbo with my novel. It gives me the opportunity to be artistic, creative, and collaborative, but it doesn’t take quite as much out of me as writing all of my “rage against the ex-boyfriend songs.” (And anyway, I’m really in a pretty positive place which means I haven’t even been writing many songs lately -- I guess I only write songs when I’m upset about something.)

Luckily, while I'm sort of in limbo with other artistic projects, the 30 Day Poetry Challenge on Facebook has started back up. It was started by a few of my fellow grad students from the University of New Orleans (all poetry majors), and this is the third year. To celebrate National Poetry Month (which is of course April), the idea is to write a poem every day based on prompts posted on the Facebook page. Poets are encouraged to post their poems on their own Facebook pages or the 30 Day Poetry Challenge page, but it’s not required. I have participated in this the past two years, but I never got through all 30 days. (A poem I wrote is actually even appearing in an Anthology of the first two years of poems.) So far, we’re on day 9, and I have written a poem every single day. I’m hoping I actually get to Day 30 this year. (And I'll be sure to post the favorite poems I've written in the challenge this year here on the website when the month is over so stay tuned for that.)

Not every poem every day is going to be golden, but that’s not really the point. I love exercises and challenges like this. It reminds me a little of the writing marathons I used to do. In those, you get prompts and you HAVE to write for 5, 10, 20, or even 30 minute intervals. The point is just to write. You might not get anything usable out of the whole day, but you will exercise your writing muscles. And sometimes you have to write 18 pages to get to one really great sentence. But it’s all worth it, because in the end it’s not really even about the sentence. It’s about the process. And that’s how I feel about the 30 Day Poetry Challenge. It’s a challenge in the truest sense of the word. It is forcing me to step outside of my normal writing habits by making me do things I wouldn’t normally do. 

The most important part of writing (or any art form really) is just to do it. If you want to be a writer, write every day, even if it’s just two pages in your journal about how you stubbed your toe. Who knows? The emotion from that might lead to a poem or a short story. You never know where you will end up if you don’t start somewhere. Put the pen to the paper. Type on your keyboard. Write anything. Don’t care if it’s good or if people will enjoy it. Write for yourself. You can always edit and revise later if you want to make something more structured. Just get it down on the page. That is the best writing advice I’ve ever been given, and I think that is what sets those who want to write apart from those people who have writing inside of their blood.

Click here to purchase Ready For Consumption: An Anthology of Poems from the 30 Day Poetry Challenge

Reflecting on Godspell - spirituality, theatre, community 

A photo my fellow cast member, Liz, snapped of me last night at dress rehearsal

As many of you know, I'm doing a production of Godspell this weekend at my church, Unity North Atlanta. 

I did Godspell ten years ago with Cobb Children's Theatre when I was a senior in high school. I have always loved the music and the overall energy of the show, though it is a little chaotic and random at times. (It's kind of like Hair. With Jesus. And without the nudity.)

I haven't done a musical in so long, unless you count Hedwig and the Angry Inch. (I thought of the Hedwig experience, though, as more of a "band" experience than a "theatrical" one though--probably because I had a guitar strapped to me throughout the whole show.) Mostly, the past ten years of my life have been more focused on playwriting or writing in general and performing my own music, whether in bands or as a solo artist.

So when I saw that Unity was having auditions for a production of Godspell--which is also the first theatrical production of this scale being performed at Unity--I knew I had to audition. I had literally just finished grad school, I was still taking a break from playing my own music in the Atlanta music venues, and I wasn’t working on anything artistic aside from novel. Also, I thought it was too coincidental that the production was going on literally ten years after I last did it.

I don't plan on going to my ten-year high school reunion, really, but in many ways this production has made me more reflective about the last ten years than any reunion could. I keep remembering the CCT production of Godspell, and I keep thinking about how different I was then.

The thing I have noticed the most was that my motivations for performing have changed. As a teenager, acting/singing and being in musicals is very much about finding yourself and finding your own voice. I think CCT was so important because so many of us essentially grew up in that organization--we discovered who we were underneath the lights of the Jennie T. Anderson theatre. So much of being a teenager and coming of age is feeling insecure and wanting people to acknowledge you, and when we performed in these shows, we got just that. We discovered who we were by pretending to be other people.

Ten years later, after hundreds of performances in smoky dive bars and music venues and the vulnerability that comes with having my own words being performed on stage by different actors, I am able to approach acting and singing (and even dancing) in a totally different way. I'm no longer an insecure 17-year-old. I don't need people to tell me that I can sing or that I have artistic talent because I at least believe in myself enough to know that much now. I'm no longer going into a show thinking "I hope people walk out of this going 'Wow, Sara did a great job!'" I want people to walk out feeling inspired. I want people to walk out feeling a sense of joy, a sense of community. I want this show to resonate with people in whatever way they experience spirituality. And my personal goal is that I can add my voice and my talents to that. It’s no longer about my personal performance and my ego. It’s about the collective experience, the community. And that is one of the best things I have gotten out of my own spiritual journey that began when I started going to Unity regularly and reading Eckhart Tolle and meditating and beginning my own spiritual practice.

My favorite part of Godspell (and maybe even the Bible) is when he talks about how you should store up your treasures in Heaven. I interpret this as saying "don't seek fulfillment on the level of the ego--in material possessions or in other people's opinions of you--because these things are fleeting and inpermanent. Instead, seek fulfillment on the level of the Spirit where we are all One because this is permanent." And for me, my whole experience with Godspell this time around has been a practice at doing just that.

I think Godspell is all about building a community and coming together, and I feel like that's my main motivation for doing this show this time around. And I was thinking about how I have had some questions about doing such a Biblical show at Unity where we don't exactly have a literal interpretation of the Bible or even reference the Bible as often as traditional Christian churches. But then I thought about it in a new perspective. I feel like one of the main goals of Unity is to bring everyone together and create a community of love and celebrating God in whatever way is right for you. (I especially saw this a few weekends ago when they did the inter-faith revival and had speakers from the Muslim faith, the Hindu faith, the Buddhist faith, the Jewish faith, and the Christian faith all speaking about what revival meant to them.) Of course we should do this show at Unity because even though it is so Biblical, it is a perfect example of building a community of love and the celebration of God.

I noticed the other day that life has also mirrored art, as it usually does. Julie, one of the cast members, was singing “Beautiful City” (one of my favorite songs in the show). It’s a song all about how we can come together essentially and build something beautiful and new together. And I think that is what we have done as a cast and crew. We are all incredibly different—the age range alone of the cast members is expansive. We have cast members in their 20s and cast members in their 70s and everything in between. Some of us are Unity members, some of us are members of Roswell United Methodist Church, and some of us are just members of the community. And just as Jesus has special hand signals with each cast member in the show to represent his relationships with them, every single person in the cast has inspired me in some unique way, and I have learned something from every person. As different as we all are, we are coming together and creating something new and beautiful. I think that is one of the things that I love so much about theatre—how collaborative it is. But it seems to have new meaning for me doing this particular production in this particular church.

Godspell will be performed Thursday, March 28th, Friday, March 29th, and Saturday, March 30th at Unity North Atlanta in Marietta - all productions are at 7:30 - tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Ticket information and other information available at

Finishing my MFA, rehearsing for Godspell, finishing my young adult novel 

I thought I'd update a little blog to tell you guys what's going on with my artistic projects! 

As most of you know, I graduated with my MFA in Creative Writing in December. (Yay!) My thesis play was The Snow Globe, a children's fantasy play about a boy who's inside of a snow globe. I also have a (very different!) romantic comedy one act called Two Lesbians Stuck Inside of a Closet. It's funny. I spent all of this time in grad school working on these plays, and yet, I haven't done much to get them on stage this whole time. Now that grad school is over, I'm going to make more of an effort to get my plays out there. I'm hoping to self-produce Two Lesbians Stuck Inside of a Closet at some point this year. We'll see!

Also, I'm doing a MUSICAL! I haven't done a traditional musical like this in probably 9 years. (I don't think Hedwig counts--that's more of a rock show!) I'm going to be in Godspell at Unity North Atlanta March 28-30, and I'm really excited about it. I did Godspell ten years ago (wow, I feel old) with Cobb Childrens Theatre my senior year in high school, and I really love this show. It's also great to be involved with a production at Unity in particular, which is one of my favorite places to be. Speaking of, I'm finally becoming a member of Unity North on February 24th. I've been going there off and on for like 7 years and I'm just now becoming a member! I love Unity though because I feel like they really honor everyone's idividual spiritual path, and I'm excited to "make it official." Haha

I haven't been very active with music lately at all. The last show I played was in August. I have a show on the horizon, though, at Drunken Unicorn in April. So I will keep you posted about that. I'm also hoping to start recording YouTube covers again soon. I have a bunch of "happy songs that I've made depressing." Haha. I call it Morrissey-izing a song. 

Some of my songs have been added to the EAV roster, though, so that's exciting! EAV is East Atlanta Village radio, the new online radio station from some of the Dave FM people. Check it out here!

The reason I haven't been very active with music is because I have been working on a young adult novel called The Muses. I just finished the first complete draft, and I've bene revising. The novel is basically a spin-off of my play, Painted, featuring Vincent and Izabella, the Muses from Painted. Here's the summary:

16-year-old musician, Sylvia Baker, has always been able to see Muses—mysterious beings who give artists inspiration—though they seem to be invisible to everyone else. After a near suicide attempt, Sylvia manages to climb out of the darkness of her mind by exploring her own musical abilities with the help of Travis, inspirational guitarist and classmate, and Vincent, the alluring British Muse who becomes Sylvia’s obsession. As she travels further into the world of these immortal beings that influence art, she finds herself in the middle of an epic battle between the modern Earthly Muses and the Original Greek Muses—some of which want her life.  

I've been sending out queries to literary agents as I revise, and I'm hopeful. Even if I don't get it published in the traditional way, I will definitely be self-publishing. So either way, it will be out there for people to read soon enough. :)

On top of everything else, I've been moving to a little apartment off of the Marietta Square. Because I apparently wasn't hanging out at Cool Beans or MacCrackens enough. Haha.