Non-Fiction

Wait Time

Photo of a dirt road with grass and trees on either side and a truck with lit-up headlights at the end. Blue filter over image. White text aligned left reads, "Our lives are so short, and yet we spend so much of our time waiting." Handle @sage_pantony in white in bottom right corner.

A big part of life is about waiting. A big part of life is about learning to be patient. You can’t always get what you want, and you certainly can’t always get what you want right away. If what you want is coming, you’ll have to learn how to wait for it.

We wait in line. We wait for the school year to end. We wait for our lease to be up. We wait for the right time to speak. We wait for the night to pass. We wait for the morning to come.

Our lives are so short, and yet we spend so much of our time waiting.

You have to get comfortable with the wait. You have to learn to be patient. Patience is a virtue, but not one of my virtues. And yet, I wait. I wait because I have to. The universe gives me no choice in the matter.

There’s a lot to be found by waiting, a lot to learn while waiting. There are lessons you can only gain from waiting.

There’s growth that happens while waiting, quiet growth. Not the kind you can measure against the wall, no, the mark won’t move, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. While waiting, you might feel like nothing is happening, but really, you are transforming. Like ingredients in a crock-pot, you’re a meal that’s slowly cooking.

There’s value in waiting, as annoying as it might be. These wait times are mandatory. You must go through them. You cannot rush off to the next thing. You must pause. You must wait your turn. You must learn the lessons only waiting can give you.

You will come out the other side of these waiting periods transformed. I guarantee it. How and in which ways? You’ll have to wait and see.

Non-Fiction

You Don’t Need to Have a Brand

Photo taken out of a car window that's covered in water droplets of a storefront with an open sign in the window and several framed pieces of art on the walls within. Pink-and-purple filter over image. White text aligned left reads, "You don’t have to have a brand as a creative person. You can just create. It’s fine." Handle @sage_pantony in white in bottom right corner.

You don’t have to have a brand as a creative person. You can just create. It’s fine.

Late-stage capitalism and social media are impacting our relationships to ourselves and our art. We are encouraged to commodify, label, and measure the success of our creativity.

If we don’t have a large audience for our work, we may feel like we’ve failed as artists. If we don’t make money from our art, we may feel like we’ve failed as artists. If we don’t have a defined brand or theme for our work, we may feel like we’ve failed as artists.

We haven’t.

Feel free to experiment, get weird, and try different things. Don’t feel like you have to stick to creating something you don’t like just because it’s a part of “your brand”. It’s probably healthiest to stop thinking of yourself as a brand.

Creativity likes flow, freedom, experimentation, messiness, and room to breathe. Creativity doesn’t like confinement, pressure, rigid expectations, commodification, and, um, capitalism. Don’t kill your creative process with branding. Don’t try to label and define something just as it’s trying to be born.

Let yourself fuck around. Start new projects and abandon them. Spend your time creating what you want rather than what you think the world wants from you. Don’t get stuck making the same thing over and over just because other people like it.

Art is not always straightforward, presentable, and easily consumable. Not everything you create has to be made for consumption. Not everything you create has to resonate with an audience. Art can exist for its own sake. You can make it just because you want to.

If you’ve been feeling pressure to create specific things in certain ways, if you’ve been feeling blocked, try doing something completely different. Step outside of the confines of what you normally make. Experiment. Don’t worry about how it will be received, and know that it doesn’t have to be received at all. Don’t worry about the final product. Allow yourself to get lost in the process and see what happens.

Non-Fiction

Someone’s Probably Laughing at Your Art

Close-up photo of a flower peeking out between two wooden slats in a fence. Pink filter over image. White text in the centre reads, "Yes, someone's probably laughing at your art." Handle @sage_pantony in white in bottom right corner.

Yes, someone’s probably laughing at your art.

Depending on the size of your audience, there may be multiple people laughing at it. Unless you’re a comedian, this probably doesn’t feel great.

I recently saw another poet talk about how devastated they were to find out their partner and his friends laughed at their poetry. Obviously, that’s cruel and messed up, and it’s going to hurt.

I assume that there are people who laugh at my writing. While I wouldn’t tolerate this from a partner, I expect it from strangers online. I’m sure some people follow me or look at my stuff just to make fun of it. If that’s what you get out of my work, well, I’m glad it makes you feel something at least. Making people laugh isn’t the worst thing.

This is the risk of putting yourself out there, making yourself vulnerable, and showing the world your art. This is the risk of being sincere about what you love.

Some people will laugh at your art. Some people will make fun of you, especially if you’re on the internet.

If you’re a lurker who laughs at my work, I wish you all the best. And if you’re an artist who’s worried about being made fun of, know that this happens to everyone. It doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do. It doesn’t mean you should stop doing it. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put yourself out there.

As artists, we deal with all kinds of rejection. People mocking your art is a kind of rejection you may have to face. While we can’t change other people’s behaviour, we can choose how we respond. What works for me is to anticipate and accept that some people will laugh at my work and take that in stride.

Non-Fiction

Create What You Want to Create

Close-up photo of a blooming flower. Grass, sidewalk, and road in the background. Red filter over image. White text in the centre reads, "Let yourself create what you want to create." Handle @sage_pantony in white in bottom right corner.

Let yourself create what you want to create.

Your art can be anything.

It does not have to be serious. It does not have to be “real”.

Creating silly art for the sake of it is a gift you can give to yourself.

Creating silly art for the sake of it is a gift you can give to the world.

You are not meant to take your art so seriously that it drains you of joy.

Your desire to create is a gift you were given to bring more joy into your life.

Embrace the ridiculous. Make silly art. Don’t worry about what “counts”.

Respect your desire to create by allowing yourself to create whatever the hell you want.


For years, I thought I had to be a fiction writer to be a “real” writer. I don’t know why. I suppose I didn’t understand that creative non-fiction is a legitimate art form. I thought that I couldn’t just write about my life, I had to write about something interesting, something people would actually want to read. I didn’t think that the kind of writing that comes naturally to me, creative non-fiction and poetry, “counted” as real writing.

So, I wrote short stories. I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as writing creative non-fiction and poetry. I also wasn’t particularly good at it, but I persisted. If I was going to be a writer, then I needed to be a real, legitimate writer.

Then one day, I sat down at the computer and typed up an essay about the challenges I was facing trying to access hormone replacement therapy. All of the logistical and emotional details poured out of me. Writing that essay felt effortless, cathartic, and therapeutic, but I told myself that it wasn’t “real” writing and I needed to get back to my fiction the next day.

I ended up submitting that essay to an anthology that wanted to publish it. Years later, I included it in my zine about transitioning. I’m unable to recall most of the fiction I wrote years ago, but the creative non-fiction and poetry have stuck with me. Non-fiction has felt more meaningful, and even though I tried to push it away, I couldn’t stop writing it.

I have since learned that this thing I do where I write about my life is called creative non-fiction, many writers do it, and it’s a perfectly legitimate art form. It is creative, expansive, cathartic, therapeutic, vulnerable, brave, painful, and also ART.

These days, I write what I want. When I noticed I was writing more about kink, I went, okay, that’s a scary subject to tackle publicly, but I’m going to make a zine about it. When I found myself writing more poetry than prose, I embraced that. When I started to enjoy adding text to my photographs, I indulged in that too. I create because I am driven to. I believe it makes more sense to create what I want rather than what I think I should. Both I and my art are better off for it.

Poetry

Have a Problem? Write a Poem

Photo of the corner of a stack of newspapers taken at an angle. Light sepia-coloured filter over image.
Photo from http://mrg.bz/69cacb.

Have a problem? Write a poem. Don’t worry, here at Make You Write a Poem, we’ve got you covered. Covered in cut-up newspaper. Oh, you didn’t hear? The poems are already here, you just have to find them. Unfortunately, the problems are here as well. What, you think that’s not your problem? You’re the one covered in newspaper, pal. It’s your funeral. No, really, this is your funeral. Haven’t you looked in the casket? Ah, yes, they never like this part … Who am I talking to? Don’t worry about it. You should get to writing poems—bringing them out of the paperwork anyway. That body isn’t going to bury itself!

Uncategorized

Announcement

Close-up photo of a pile of chopped wood on the ground with green leafy plants and grass growing here and there through the cracks.

Hello everyone,

I wrote in this post that I would be making some changes to my online presence and some announcements down the road. Well, we’ve arrived at the announcement portion of the road!

Firstly, I am not abandoning this blog. I will still be here. I will still post sometimes, though likely not as frequently as before. If you’re looking to stay updated on what I’m doing and are interested in snippets of my writing, I’ll still be pretty active on social media. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Okay, on to the announcement: I’m launching a Patreon page! This page exists as a way to support my writing. I’ve previously made most of my work available for free. I’ll still be doing this with snippets and shorter pieces. However, it’s not sustainable in the long-term for me to make the majority of my long-form writing available for free. Most of my time has been going into maintaining this blog, which I’ve enjoyed doing, but it’s time to transition to something else. I will be changing careers and moving to a new city in a couple of months, so it feels like the right time to change this up too.

On Patreon, all patrons will have access to the patron-only activity feed, which includes works in progress, exclusive pieces of writing, updates, details about my process, other bonus content, and access to digital copies of my zines and poetry chapbooks. There is one higher tier where patrons can also receive three printed zines of their choosing in the mail.

If you’re not able to support me on Patreon, no worries at all! I’ll still be sharing some of my writing here and on social media so please stick around for that. Thank you for supporting my work so far. My platform is small, but I love knowing there are people out there who enjoy my writing.

I’m excited about these next steps. I’m excited to launch this Patreon, move somewhere new, and change up my lifestyle. I’ll be sharing more details about these changes as they come. Like many of us, I’ve been stuck inside for well over a year and life has felt rather stagnant, so it’s exhilarating (and a little daunting) to have all of this change on the horizon. All I know for sure is that I plan to keep writing. The future feels bright for the first time in a while. There are no guarantees, but I’m full of hope.

Sage

Poetry

Happy Birthday, Dad

Photo of a sky, lake, silhouetted trees, and a boathouse. The sky takes up most of the photo and is full of dark, tumultuous-looking clouds. The trees, water, and boathouse are shrouded in shadow.

Content note: this piece deals with addiction, abuse, and intergenerational trauma.


I wish my father a happy birthday.
He tells me he’s drinking again,
And that he hardly heard from anyone.
I can only ever write poems about him.

Write back, he always says.
His emails come quickly, contain hardly anything.
Write back, he always says.
Write back.

I have to come up with more to say, more that I can share.
There are so few safe topics to choose from.
He wants to see me. I don’t know if I can let him.
Just a few years ago, seeing him on the street would send me reeling—
Running, hiding, heart pounding, panic swelling.
I don’t know if he ever saw me run away.

I don’t know how to write that fear into a poem,
And perhaps this is where I fail as a poet.

I never thought I would speak to him again,
Never expected to write to him.
Five years of estrangement passed,
And then I did.
Something within me shifted.
Words like abuser, monster, Jekyll, and Hyde
Moved over to the side—
Making room for
Illness, sickness, and intergenerational trauma.
It took five years for my fear to begin melting,
For my anger to start eroding,
Revealing layers and layers of fresh-cut
Pain,
Confusion,
Compassion.

Write back, he always says.
Get your brother to write to me,
And write back.
Write back.
Write back.

What more can I say, Dad?

Poetry

A Nest of Lies

Those little things that
Don’t add up
Or make sense.
Those things that
Don’t sit quite right.
Are they concealing something larger?

When, finally, we lift this old stone from the mossy earth,
Will we find, writhing on the ground,
Churning in the dirt,
Attempting to flee the scene,
Creatures without mouths, without eyes?

In place of a man, will we find a nest of lies?

Non-Fiction

The Vaccine

Photo of three unmarked vials with clear liquid inside them arranged around each other on a white table. One is laying down with another rested on it.
Image Source

Content note: this piece is about the COVID-19 pandemic.


I walk up to the hospital. There’s a line with a sign that says “COVID VACCINES”. I get in it. A woman lines up behind me and starts coughing. I inch forward. A nurse hands me a medical mask. “You can take off your mask and put this on or put this on over yours”. I put it on over. The mask I wore already has two layers and a filter, so now I have four layers of mask. It slides into my eyes. I fix it. It slides into my eyes again. I am ushered into a foyer, and a nurse with a mask and face shield screens me for the first time. I have to ask her to repeat herself. It’s loud with all the people milling about, and I can seldom hear anyone who wears a mask. “Has anyone in your household been ordered to self-isolate?” I lean my ear towards her, unable to maintain social distancing and our conversation. After a bit of repetition, we settle that my answers to all her questions are no. I am ushered forward again and told to follow the pink dots.

I am grateful for the pink dots because it’s overwhelming inside with nurses, doctors, admin staff, and patients everywhere. I am no longer used to being in places so full of people. I’m thankful for the double masks. I follow the pink dots and am told to stand on a circle. “No, not that circle, stand on the circle at the end”. I walk towards the circle at the end when someone with a tablet beckons me over. Sorry, circle, not today. I hold out my health card, and they do not take it. They don’t take anything from you these days. My details are read off the card and typed into the tablet, and I am screened once again. Then they ask, “Why are you getting the vaccine?” I wasn’t expecting this question. Why are any of us getting the vaccine? Not sure of the appropriate response, I just say “Work”. I give them the name of my agency.

I am told which door to go through. I have no autonomy. I’ve become compliant, turned into putty. Another nurse asks me to stand on another circle. Someone else is told off for standing on the wrong circle. I enter the doctor room. Their names are posted on each tiny cubicle. Dr. This, Dr. That. I see an older woman getting vaccinated. A doctor is explaining to her that the vaccine is not a substitute for social distancing. I follow the line and move to a new circle because it seems to make sense, hoping I’m not doing it wrong. Everyone is terribly close together, but there are screens everywhere to prevent virus particles from floating into mouths and eyeballs. I am sent to cubicle six. My doctor’s name is John. I feel a sense of familiarity, like I’m always encountering doctors named John, though I don’t think this is actually the case.

I sit down and neither of us speak. He is looking at his tablet. He asks for my name, and I tell him it’s spelled with an I. I’m screened for the third time. I still don’t have any COVID symptoms. I am told that this is not a substitute for social distancing and wearing masks. I tell him I understand. I get the evil eye because I am a young person. I swear, Doctor, I’ve been good! Doctor, doctor, I have an anxiety disorder. I’m a hypochondriac. Trust me, I’ve been good! I am given a choice of arms and sacrifice the left one. “Do you consent to the vaccine?” “Yes”. God, yes. It’s quick, painless. “Well, that’s it, you’ve been vaccinated.” “Thank you!” “Go over there. You will have to wait for fifteen minutes to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.”

I am directed to a hallway where people are lined up and waiting on chairs between screens. They print out my ticket and tell me I am allowed to leave at 12:21. I hear the nurses tell others that they can validate their parking at the welcome desk. I left my ticket in the car. Damn.

When allowed, I exit the hospital with a little more autonomy (though not a lot). I use sanitizer before I leave. I’m not protected just yet. I get in my car and begin the hardest part of my journey. I don’t go back in to validate my parking because I believe that would disrupt the order of things. Just a few people out of place in there could throw everything into chaos, and then I may end up on the news: Local vaccinations stalled by careless redhead over parking dispute. The person in the car in front of me struggles with the parking meter, but eventually, the bar rises and they are free.

I drive into place. The person ahead of me left their ticket in the machine. For some reason, I pull it out and try to put it back in. Then I try with my ticket. Then I try with theirs again. Then mine. There’s a car behind me. I realize then that the machine is telling me to stop putting the tickets in upside down. I put in their ticket again. It tells me it’s already been used. Duh. I put mine in again. It says I owe six dollars. We’re getting somewhere. I pull out my credit card and tap to pay on the contactless “tap to pay” spot. It beeps. Nothing happens. The car behind me pulls into the other lane, pays, and leaves, which I am grateful for. I don’t need a sustained witness. I tap my card about six more times. I begin tapping my card all over the meter. Sometimes it beeps, sometimes it doesn’t, but otherwise, nothing happens. I will die here.

I have to call for help. I press the green “call for help” button. A voice answers.

“Hello?”

“Hi, um, I’m trying to pay with my credit card, and it isn’t working”.

“Have you tried putting it inside the machine?”

“Like where the ticket goes?”

“Yes”

OH”.

Thank goodness there were no other witnesses.

“Thank you!” I say. They hang up.

It accepts my payment, and I leave. As I roll out of the parking lot, I say to myself, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Not the vaccination, just the parking.

I was impressed with how well-organized and efficient they were, like a well-oiled machine, easily able to handle my chaos. If the hardest thing about getting vaccinated is leaving the parking lot, that means they’re doing something right. Thank you to all the frontline workers, the nurses, doctors, screeners, and admin staff, for working long and hard all year to protect fools like me. Your services are essential and greatly appreciated.

Poetry

I Like to Walk

Sidewalk and road at dusk going off in the distance to the left. Two lit streetlamps visible with connecting wires. Parts of two shadowy trees visible on either side of image. Sky contains some light pink which fades into a dark blue.

I like to walk through urban wastelands.
I like to walk where I won’t stumble upon anyone.
I like to walk where the grass is dead and the buildings are disused.
I like to walk past peeling billboards, abandoned advertisements.
I like to walk out of pedestrian-friendly zones, out of friendly zones.
I like to walk in areas only meant to be seen for seconds through a car window.
I like to walk where the aesthetics have never been considered nor cared for.
I like to walk where I’m not supposed to go.

I like to walk with music.
I like to walk all alone.
I like to walk out here in the open.

I like to walk at night after the joggers have returned from their flight.
I like to walk until the muscles in my legs twitch when I stop.
I like to walk where I can sit on the ground and type out a poem.
I like to walk where I won’t be given funny looks for writing a poem.
I like to walk until I am unimportant, unworthy of comment.
I like to walk through places that don’t matter as a person that doesn’t matter.
I like to walk where and when I won’t be seen.

I like to walk through urban wastelands.
I like to walk,
And I like to pause
Without holding anyone up,
Without drawing any attention.

I like to walk at dusk as the joggers are just finishing up.
I like to walk as the sun sets, as the heat follows it out of the pavement.
I like to walk where the ashplant is cracked, and there is no one around to complain.
I like to walk until I empty every last thought from my brain.
I like to walk to the bus shelters without waiting for the bus
Because I like to walk.
I like to walk.
I like to walk,
And often,
I wish I never had to stop.