Glowing Author #12
I’ve always maintained that the rest of us can never write prose that flow as beautifully from the heart as poets can. Read L.L. Barkat’s book Stone Crossings, and you’ll see what I mean. But this lady is an especially rare find. I call her a “techno-poet”– an honest-to-goodness techno-smarty with the soul of a poet. Prepare yourself for an uncommonly blessed experience, because…
Heeeeeeere’s L.L. Barkat!
Poet… essayist… blogger… So much to balance. How would you describe yourself?
Rainmaker. But not necessarily in the way we understand that term. I was thinking about this today while I was exercising. I’d been reading a book about water issues. It was really cool to learn about the unexpected ways people used to make do with local realities—they dug tunnels into sides of hills, constructed dew ponds, or harvested water off tree leaves. I was thinking I’m that kind of person; I love to work with what’s at hand to creatively make things happen. This applies to a lot of areas of my life, including my approach to business. I believe my writing feeds such an approach—especially my poetry, which constantly reminds me that I can create something beautiful and complex out of the ordinary, simple things around me.
Great concept! When did you start writing?
Does “I love you, Mommy. I love you, God” count? If so, I was five. My mom still has the book to prove it. And the illustrations suggest I made the right choice to stick with words over pictures. But if you mean professionally, then it was after I got laid off from an administrative job with a computer company. I was in my early twenties and the world of desktop publishing had just begun. When my job ended abruptly, instead of seeking new employment, I started my own business in design and corporate writing. I knew two more things than the next guy, regarding computer design, and that was enough to fuel my business for more than a decade.
You do so many kinds of writing—books, poetry, blogging. What can you say about the compliments and/or conflicts of these various styles?
I really enjoy all kinds of writing; they inform one another and work synergistically. Poetry helps me do what you recommended the very first time I met you; you told the class to “write short,” saying it was the best writing practice. Poetry is the absolute most fun way to write short. Blogging is a great place to free-write and discover ideas. My book God in the Yard was inspired by a blog post series and the wonderful comments from my blog friends.
Tell us about your new book InsideOut and how it came about.
It was a surprise. I’d been writing God in the Yard and was in an interim period. In the meantime, I’d started an art pilgrimage (whatever that means!) and begun developing a relationship with International Arts Movement (IAM). One night I thought, “What if? What if a poetry book? What if a partnership with IAM?” I realized I had a lot of poetry that was, in effect, the “little stories” that were being left out of God in the Yard. So I called Christy Tennant, IAM’s marvelous development person, and one thing led to another. InsideOut was born.
I love “What If” questions! They take us to the most unexpected places. Speaking of unexpected, you dragged me kicking and screaming into the blogging age (for which I am most grateful, by the way!). Can you give our readers some quick blogging hints and helps?
How delightful! I don’t think I realized your sentiments until I saw this question. Well, you were the quietest kickin’ and screamin’ child I ever did introduce to the big world of blogging. I’d say my whole philosophy can be expressed in this: be real, be generous. That’s kind of like a Greatest Commandment. Also, if your readers don’t mind a little tongue ‘n cheek, they can check out my comprehensive guide to successful blogging: 31 [Snarky] Days to Build a Better Blog: All the Links You’ll Need
You have successfully published via various routes. What advice would you give a new writer who is still surveying the options?
It depends on that new writer’s platform and level of publishing expertise. Finding a traditional publisher can give a new writer a good start, because there’s so much involved in developing a good book. But for the established writer who has publishing savvy and a big platform, new technologies offer the chance to sell via e-book or print-on-demand and make anywhere from 3 to 6 times the amount of profit on each sale.
Anything you wish I’d asked you?
If you had asked what gave me the courage to pitch my first book Stone Crossings, I would have to say it was you. On a bench outside the bookstore at Mount Hermon, you put your arm around me while I cried (I was away from my kids for the first time). You told me the story of when your husband left YOU at Mount Hermon for the first time. Your little boy’s face was pressed against the back car window; it broke your heart. I thought of my own girls who pressed their faces against the big airport window, all the while I was smiling figuring they’d see my smile and not the tears streaming down my face. I thought about how I had left them, only to find myself seated next to possibly-the-sweetest-woman in the world. I saw how you had made it, despite the vulnerability of those first steps into a writing career. Thank you for that, Kay.
You are most welcome. How pleasant it has been!
L.L. Barkat is Managing Editor of HighCallingBlogs and Staff Writer for The Curator. She has written two spiritual memoirs and a book of poetry. You can find her at her blog Seedlings in Stone or follow her on Twitter at @llbarkat.
Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places (InterVarsity Press, 2008)
InsideOut: poems (International Arts Movement, 2009)
God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us. A 12-Week Course in discovery and playing towards God. (T. S. Poetry Press, 2010)
A thousand seeds
burst from this
to the wind…
of silken forgetfulness.