Is There Any Hope

This world is getting uglier by the day,

Hate crimes killing us everywhere.

Why can’t we all just wake up and see,

That we are brothers and sisters in humanity.

And you’re no more deserving of this place than me.

Were your ancestors born onto this land?

No?

I didn’t think so! So don’t go tellin’ me to leave my home!

Reject the media’s call to war,

Turn to sources that side with peace,

Because

Divided we keep falling to our knees,

Keep shouting out that ‘we can’t breathe!’

We need to stay united, spreading love,

Understanding that with no community,

We will remain incomplete.

Let’s join forces, join hearts together,

Cure this cancer called hate once and forever.

We are shepherds of the earth,

Appointed to watch over it,

Why do we keep destroying it?

Stop killing our children all around the globe,

Their innocence sees not skin, sees only soul,

But evil tongues keep digging an evil hole,

Filling their heads with lies of supremacy,

Erasing their hearts, ending their purity.

Our children’s smiles keep fading everyday,

Tomorrow’s skies hold promises of gray.

Is there any hope in changing this fate?

© Hend Hegazi 2015

(To give a listen to the audio version of this poem, please click here to visit the Pen Powered Mic blog. While you’re there, check out the other great audio poems in honor of World Poetry Day.)

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Out of ideas for your current piece? Start another!

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I used to think that in order to be focused and effective, I could work on only one writing assignment at a time. I worried that if I tried to write multiple pieces, I would become easily distracted and unable to give each piece the effort it deserves.

A few weeks ago I found myself faced with three deadlines, two separate articles and one for a piece I was editing. Just the thought of working on all three simultaneously had me anxious…but I am NOT one to ignore a deadline! I had no choice but to buckle down and get to work. And it turned out to be such a great experience; I learned the value of juggling several mentally demanding tasks at once, and I have become a better writer for it.

The beautiful benefits of working on more than one writing assignment is that you have a wider creative field, so ideas flow more easily. Often you can use them for one of the projects at hand, which is great for your short-term deadlines. Sometimes the ideas that come to you may not fit any of your current projects, but they will tend to be ideas with potential, so you can jot them down for future use. If you do experience a period where ideas shy away from you, then editing – which requires more analysis and less creativity – can help keep your mind active. By having simultaneous deadlines, you are under more stress to finish the job at hand, but the fact that your brain must stretch into different spheres increases your ability to do so. It’s similar to academically successful students who participate in extracurricular activities; they have just as much studying to do as every other student, but they also have other commitments. Since they understand that their time is limited, they know they cannot simply idle away the minutes, so they finish their tasks quicker and, quite often, at a higher caliber.

So if you’re worried about taking on a couple of different projects, don’t be! Working on them simultaneously will provide great practice in mental multitasking. Starting new writing projects is a great trick to overcome periods where you experience a shortage of ideas. In either case, working at several writing tasks simultaneously will undoubtedly help you improve your craft.

Reviewers vs Editors: Whose Words Are More Painful?

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Back in the day, when we first learned editing and peer critiquing, we were taught that before we point out the weaknesses in a piece, we should always provide a positive comment. The positive comment makes it easier to digest the negative, sort of like a literary ‘spoon full of sugar.’ An encouraging word also gives the writer an important sense – however small it may be – that the editor truly wants the writer to improve, and that improvement is indeed attainable.

It seems that editors are abandoning this practice, however. Perhaps due to the millions of pages they have waiting on their desks, ready to be graced by their red pens, their limited time makes them focus on the changes which need to be made, neglecting to give an encouraging word. But for those of us on the receiving end of that, such an oversight can be debilitating.

Writers need to have thick skin because there is no question that one’s work will often be met with harsh reviews. The difference, however, is that a review comes after publication, after the writer signed her piece and someone, somewhere saw it worthy of putting it out into the world. Regardless of whether or not it makes any kind of bestsellers list, being published is, in and of itself, a milestone, a mark of success. A review can often be more tolerated than an editor’s comments because that review comes once the piece is completely out of her hands. The words of an editor, however, have the power to keep her piece crumbled up inside of her, soaked with the stench of failure.

As an editor, I make an effort to point out the positives in all my clients’ work. I do that because, as a writer, I know that we can swallow a mountain-load of negative…but without a sip of positive, it can easily get lodged in our throats, choking us into a stationary state.

Fellow writers, find solace in knowing that we’ve all been there. The disappointment feels unsurmountable, but breathe deep, and keep moving forward. Remember the last words of encouragement you heard from anyone, and let that reignite your confidence.

And my fellow editors, please don’t overlook the encouraging words. Your are on the same team as your clients; make sure they know that.