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It is National Poetry Writing Month (for any of you who wish to learn more about it go here), and as few of you know, I have been writing poetry my whole life. I go in phases, sometimes publishing here, sometimes elsewhere. Since the muse has been distracted for some time, I have written little of late. NaPoWriMo, which, along the lines of NaNoWriMo, encourages writers to create one poem a day for the month of April, is a good time for me to reacquaint myself with the craft and all of its nuances. I’m a few days late starting, so I’ll try to catch up over the course of the month. Here, I give you today’s offering:

Twins
Ripped from his roots and tossed in the street,
She felt the remains of his limbs at her feet.
His leftover lifelong intertwinedness
Curling around the tender tendrils of her toes,
The nature of the stone in his leftover soul,
Slowly slowly
Stealing away her green, her light, her life.
She died,
Inch by bitter inch,
And yet she did not die.
She stood, her own life crumbling around her,
Her madness and grief on display for all to see
In her wild hair and shattered serenity,
And her untended children.
She caught and cradled herself in her own brittle arms
As she fell, piece by broken piece,
And her heart become dry and hard,
Hard and cold until the day she could no longer
Stand to stand,
The weight of the world too much to bear.
She gave up,
Throwing herself from her steadfast post,
Cathy on the crag ever seeking her lost Heathcliff ,
And pitched in a fit of wind-driven pique,
Collapsed with a hush, wrapped in frozen blankets,
Her descent carefully guided by watchful angels,
Finally to join him.
And yet, some small part of her still fights,
That raging, tangled madwoman, turning on her saviors,
Cutting them to ribbons as they tried to help her move
On towards a transformed life.
Accepting death
Is never easy,
And death itself is seldom
Terribly gracious.

__________________________________________

But, never fear, gentle reader, I shall not deprive you of your daily image, quote, and gratitudes. Enjoy the month.

IMG_3120
Elk and Pines in Snowfall, Estes Park, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”  — Leonardo DaVinci

Daily gratitudes:
A beautiful day
The velvet of pansy petals
Fighting off a cold (and losing, but still fighting)
Trying to help
Warm milk at bedtime

 

 

I have 318 draft posts in the stomach of this blog.

318. That’s getting close to a post for every day of the year (just in case you couldn’t intuit that for yourself.)

But here’s the thing:

I have no idea what some of them are about.

Like most writers, my inspirations do not always strike at the most convenient times – like when I’m sitting down at a keyboard or with a journal and a pen.  So I do what all writers do. I write down whatever I can wherever I can. Because I know I won’t remember it by the time I get to the “writing place”. I can’t even remember the five-item grocery list that I’ve been reciting to myself ceaselessly for an hour – even going so far as to make up a little song as a memory aid – if I walk into King Soopers and am distracted by the shopping carts being stuck together.  Poof!  The list is gone, just like the outline of a cloud. I will, however, remember, while sitting in a meeting at work sixteen hours later, that I forgot to buy lemon juice.

This lack of total recall translates into several things:

1.   I have a dozen notebooks going at once.

2.   Even so, I don’t always have one with me. When I need one and no current notebook is handy, I find (or buy) a new one.

3.   If no notebook at all is available, I use whatever I have to write on – bills, receipts, dry cleaning tickets, my hand.

4.   I can’t throw anything away because it might have a precious nugget of creativity on it (though I do wash my hands). Kelsea is going to have to save everything so she can piece together my memoirs after I am famous and dead.

5.   I am a menace on the road, because it is very hard to write while driving.

6.   Sometimes my notes make no sense at all.

Many of my post drafts are just a title.  If it’s a brilliant enough idea to be a post and to have a title, surely the title will trigger that same waterfall of creativity about the topic.  Wouldn’t one think? Well, one would be wrong.

Take, for example, a post drafted in February 2011 with the title “George and Jennie”.

I don’t know anyone named Jennie. And I only know one George. Maybe something about Winston Churchill’s mother? I tried googling “George and Jennie” – maybe it was something an old movie stirred up, or something inspired by NPR’s StoryCorps series.  I often find that those spark the creative kindling.

The only thing I came up with was a couple named George and Jennie in Fayetteville, West Virginia, who mysteriously lost five of their children after their house caught fire back in 1945. Now, this does sound like something I would actually write about, but I know in my heart that I have never heard of this tale before, nor was it at all related to whatever my post was going to be about.

So I guess my George and Jennie post is as much as mystery as what happened to the five children sixty years ago (not to minimize the tragedy).  It will likely come back to me one day while I am petting a random dog or rock-climbing or changing cat litter. Most likely at a time when no writing resources are available.

Some draft posts are titleless and contain nothing but a few choice phrases. Opening those is like opening a present – I have no idea what I’m going to find inside. But those are the ones that, when the spirit moves me, I can whip into a literary frenzy and complete with relish (and mustard, if that’s your preference). Those drafts are easier to work with.

Many potential posts dwell in my notebooks as well, lists of them.  I often say to Kelsea, “I should write a post about that,” and she’ll say, “You should.” I treat her as my back-up brain – two days later, I’ll ask her,”What was that great idea I had for a post when we were watching Jersey Shore?” Sometimes she can remember, but sometimes she can’t.  Darn unreliable back-up brains.

The notebooks contain nearly finished pieces, but unfortunately, they’re in the notebooks.  And that’s often where they stay. Which is why Kelsea is going to have to keep everything that I have ever written on.  Half-baked (as opposed to fully cooked) posts will also dwell for eternity on neatly lined pages if they take longer than a bus ride to finish.  However, few of them – this one, for example – will, like a single-minded and determined sperm, make it to the promised land.  But only a very few.

A draft is defined as “a preliminary version of a piece of writing” or, if you ask Mr. Webster online, “an instance of drinking”.  I think for a lot of writers, there’s little distinction between the two.  Just ask Hemingway. But at the end of the day, as I contemplate my 318+ drafts, I’m certainly inspired to drink a toast to them, and to all that someday-to-be-tapped creativity.

Every writer is on a quest for the perfect pen.

It doesn’t matter if I use a keyboard for 95% of my writing.  I’m still seeking that one instrument that will add magic to my words, that will be a direct conduit to the muse.  Anyone who writes has been through this, I think.  Even as a child, I was particular.  My crayons had to have some kind of point.  I mean, we all know that AMAZING feeling when you open a brand-new box of crayons, right?  It’s like a world of perfect, pristine rainbows with endless possibilities.  (If only we could view every day that way – except it’s a little over-the-top bedazzled unicorn-y.) 

Graduating to pencils, I was still particular.  #2 Eberhard Fabers or Ticonderogas were the standard.  Remember how we always had to fill in the little circles (completely) on our standardized tests using a #2 pencil?  The computerized reader would be unable to read a #1 or #3.  I hated #3 pencils.  Far too light.  As if you weren’t committed to your words.  I loved #1 pencils – dark, firm, strong, but we could almost never find them in the stores, and when we did, well, they weren’t the requisite #2’s, so we didn’t buy them.  And I was enchanted by those pens that had about a dozen little points that you could push through from top-to-bottom – but they were expensive, and so not in the family budget.  I was truly envious of the girls in fourth grade who had them.

Pens are generally kept far away from children.  I could be the poster child for why this is the case.  At the tender age of about 3, I accessed one of my Dad’s ubiquitous Flair Pens – a red one – and wrote my numbers, 1 through 10, on the pale green living room wall right above the couch early one morning before anyone else was up.  I did my three backwards but I was so proud.  I went to wake up my Mom to show her.  She was great – she could see how thrilled I was to have achieved this accomplishment.  I vaguely remember her shock, and some very slight praise.  I do not remember being scolded or punished, though knowing my Mom, I’m sure she explained the error of my ways to me.  After that, the pens then were eternally out of reach.  I guess everyone learned a lesson that morning.  And the numbers stayed there on the wall for perhaps seven years, until the living room was repainted.

Back in the 1960s, pens were experiencing an evolution.  They were moving from the fountain pen era to the ball point pen era, with Flair pens being the latest and greatest.  Of course, now we have gel pens, rollerballs, stick pens, click pens.  And that’s where the writer’s dilemma occurs.  What is the pen for my hand, and mine alone?

I’ve found some that I like.  Unfortunately, the ones that I like the most have been displaying a tendency to leak.  While having ink stains on my fingers makes me feel more like a writer, I don’t like it.  They take forever to come off and having ink leakages in purses and backpacks is a true pain.  They’ve certainly given my backpack some character, but if I get caught in a rainstorm, I find that the ink stains get wet and leap onto my hips where my backpack rests, like a shipwreck victim straining  for dry land.

Pens seem to have a mind of their own, which means that have the ability to independently decide where they want to go – which means they mysteriously vanish.  When I was gainfully employed, I would buy nice pens for myself for work.  If they made it home, I know that Pat was the vehicle for their disappearance, even though he rarely wrote anything down. 

I was the proud owner of a Mont Blanc pen for a short while.  It was a gift, and I’d had it about a month, when my boss asked me about it, because she had lost an identical Mont Blanc pen.  She didn’t come out and say it, but she clearly thought I had stolen hers.  And sure enough, it vanished about a week later.  Ah, well.  It was a lovely pen, but a little fat for my fingers.

I am still searching for the perfect pen for me.  Since pens continue to evolve, when I find one I like, I have to buy in bulk because it will morph into something different sooner rather than later.  I have five pen pots in the house, and they get emptier and emptier daily (I was noticing this yesterday) as the pens emigrate to who-knows-where. 

And I will continue my quest, which may take me from quill pen to astronaut pen, until I find the one, the one that is so connected to me that the ink is just my own cerebral fluid flowing from the nib.

(And FYI, this last photo is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.)

Due to a few influencing factors, I seem to be writing more poetry lately.  As readers know, I’ve been doing the Weekly Wednesday Poem here for about a year – that being a post every Wednesday in which I select a poem that I like from an author (9 times out of 10 who isn’t me) and share it with the blogosphere.  I’ve enjoyed doing that, and I expect I’ll continue doing so.  It helps me learn about poets with whom I was previously unfamiliar, and, more importantly, inspires me to write my own poetry.

Back in my teens, poetry was my big form of self-expression. I would write pages and pages and pages of poetry almost every night.  I still have those notebooks and look back at them only rarely.  Once I hit college, I started journaling and writing poetry about equally.  But once I was out of college, the muse fled.  I still journaled, but I almost never wrote poetry.  After a number of years, I stopped journaling.  I guess there wasn’t much going on in my life other than work, and I certainly didn’t want to write about that. 

Since the divorce, I have found myself writing more poetry.  I’ve posted some of it here, and some of it elsewhere.  With the wonderful Thursday Poet’s Rally, I have gotten lots of encouraging feedback on my work.  So, since my characters in the novel are stilling lolling around on a beach, awaiting rescue, I’ve been thinking of putting together a chapbook.

A chapbook is basically a booklet of 24 or 36 poems that you can submit to contests, literary magazines, etc.  It has a “story” to it, meaning the poems carry the reader through a series of feelings or events, though that story does not need to be known specifically to anyone but the author.  It’s the author’s guide for building a cohesive collection.  That makes sense to me – it would be odd to have a serio-comic poem about fish, followed by a poem about heartbreak.  See what I mean?

Chapbooks were a common vehicle for poets and authors in the previous centuries.  They are inexpensive to produce, can be self-published and are an easy way to promote your work – you can afford to give them away or sell them very at a very reasonable price.  For me, as I say, I’m interested in submitting them somewhere (anywhere).

It’s interesting to me how the muse has come and gone, come and gone.  I think I wrote my first poem when I was in first grade.  I missed the muse during her long sleep.  Now, especially sometimes when I am drifting off to sleep, especially if I am not alone (which is oh-so-very-rare), lines or entire verses just come flowing in like sparkling seafoam across the rocks and waters of the Bubbly Pool, lovely and unstoppable.

I am happy she is back.

A friend remarked this morning, “I miss your personal blogs.”  It made me think.  I was writing much more personal stuff when I was much more stressed, anxious, in turmoil, etc.  That’s not to say that my life has now calmed down particularly, but I noticed when I woke up that I was less stressed than I’ve been in…longer than I can remember.  Of course, now I’ve been up a few hours and I’ve got new stresses, but that lovely awakening, with the skies blue and the sun shining, the birds chasing each other around the split-rail fence, it was almost as good as I’ve felt for ages.

But back to my friend’s comment — I suppose everything I write is personal – after all, I’m a person, so how could it be anything but?  I looked back at some of my older posts to try to see if I could see the difference between then and now, personal vs. less personal.  While perhaps it’s not as clear to me as to someone else, I do see the difference.

Looking at it from the inside out, as opposed to the outside in, as readers will see me, all I know is that I am changing, growing stronger.  I look back on some of the dark posts, and feel pleased that I didn’t take a handful of sleeping pills, that I didn’t give up.  Had I done so, I wouldn’t be here to see this lovely day. 

I suppose it’s similar to my question the other day about “soul-level” writing.  Am I not in touch with some level of my soul just now, and so I’m unable to write from my soul?  Is my muse on vacation?  Distracted?  I can’t say.  I’m afraid we’ll all just have to wait until I can get back in touch with her for more personal blog entries.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy what you get.

Tarnation!  I am having a creative squirt, but I am at work and can’t indulge it.  These frenzies are wonderful when they come upon me, but they must be seized at once, or the muse moves on….

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May 2018
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