Tag Archives: on writing

certainty, uncertainty, and the gift of words

Yesterday I wrote a particularly plaintive poem. It is a good one, well-written in my opinion (though given the close proximity, I probably have very little perspective on this little darlin’, but still).

I sent it to a friend and this morning I got back a reply. This paragraph made my heart sing, because sometimes you need to hear from the outside what you can’t muster up internally:

“You as a person have so far outstripped, outgrown and outdistanced anything you were or might have been had you stayed with him, any comparison is ludicrous. Yes, you’ve had shitty days, and crappy months. But you evince a strength, depth, talent and purpose that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. So buck the fuck up. You rock. Hard. Even on the shitty days. Mwah. Hugs.”

I am so grateful for that.

Whatever growth I experience, I always think it’s temporary, a trick of the perfect storm that has me dig a bit deeper than I would if the conditions were sunny and clear. I think that I will become complacent and enjoy the good too much, forget about the hard times that carved the places that made me extraordinary when the need arose.

Still. I am alone and I think that it’s a failing.. of personality.. of resourcefulness.. of luck? I don’t know anymore – one of those. At times I do feel isolated, but I contribute to that by being somewhat difficult to reach, to connect with. It isn’t because I don’t want to, I just don’t feel the need to, under less than optimal conditions. Why waddle in the shallows when there is so much richness in the depths, so much more?

My writing has improved because I have come to realize that the way I was doing it before left out the reader. It’s become more powerful because I trim it down to say more with less words. It is in the editing, the power of pithiness – it is incomparable at keeping to the locus of the piece.

I have much to do, still. Review my older work and rewrite until every piece says more with less.

And life will continue to bring me inspiration (in whichever form it chooses to) so that the words come through, because that – I think – is my gift.

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thoughts on writing

I’ve been at this (TWSO) program since September, reading through the modules and attempting to keep up on the conversations flowing on the board (sadly, without contributing too much – which I feel is an integral part to the rich community building potential of the program).

One of the modules asks us to examine our writing habits and place(s) of writing, instructs us to look at ergonomics and long-term comfort, etc.

Of course I find this funny. [Insert my peals of raucous laughter here.]

I write on the fly most of the time, particularly my poetry – standing at the bus stop, waiting for the bus – while walking, even, because the words come when they come.

[Insert a link here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Stone – to the story about the poet who sees her poems come like a storm over the horizon, and she must run, run, to pen and paper so that she can capture them as they course through her, otherwise she loses the opportunity and the poems move on to be captured by others better prepared.]

I sneak in words and lines, here and there, plugged into my iPhone notes with two thumbs. Then, when I have more time, I review what I’ve written and rework the words… usually while I’m laying in bed, supine, holding up my iPhone in the inverted cradle of my hands, two thumbs busily tapping against the glass – in the dark, with only the light of the phone puncturing it.

I’m sure that neither set up could be considered ergonomic.

[Insert more laughs… the rueing sort, that clearly shows I am not one of those writers who has lots of time to worry about the semantics of ideal location.]

I wish I was.

I wish I had time to focus on my writing, undisturbed.

Long sequences of time where my imagination can be let to fly along imaginal lines, like the geese in Mary Oliver’s poem, moving, moving, finding their way home, despite the diurnal variations in airflow reshaping their trajectory.

I get there, eventually.  My words arrive.  They just don’t do so in a way that I can predict or plan for.

My desk chair is a swivel wood-backed drafting stool, with a foot rest and a pneumatic handle that allows me to adjust its height.  I have on it an orange pillow, embroidered with bright colours – I had picked it up at a yoga studio in Irvine, had intended it as a topper to my meditation pillow.  It serves a different sort of meditation now, one filled with half-formed thoughts, groupings of words egged into being through the ingestion of copious cups of coffee, sometimes spiked with Bailey’s – all encouraged to come forth and be examined rather than flicked aside, as preferred during the practice of actual meditation.

The desk is an old Ikea birch veneered pressed board wood laminate number which has seen better days.  My son, who has an identical one -or they were identical when they first came out of their boxes- has stabbed gashes into the writing surface during a particularly ghastly phase of adolescence.  Clearly he doesn’t use his for the purpose of writing.

Mine looks worn, patches of the surface laminate worn away through copious use, along the edges and the areas closest to where my keyboard rests.

I suppose I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

My computer, though, is a dream machine.  Years ago (when I first got it) I wrote a blog post about it, how I traded in my car for another machine that I would certainly ride more than I ever did the car.  This still holds true.

I especially enjoy watching Netflix and Shomi streams on it.  It’s replaced another machine, as well: the television.

Time to write is squeezed through the noise of the daily minutia of chores and responsibilities (especially the one of earning our daily bread – which pays for food in our bellies and the roof over our heads.. and cellphone subscriptions, high-speed cable connections and the slack that allows us to fill our inner and outer spaces with the niceties that make life worthwhile).

So here I am, writing about writing, while my novel sits in my belly, a little over thirty-thousand words strong, continuing to gestate.

Today I’ll put my hand on my belly and see if I can feel it kick.