Archive for January, 2007
Posted in Animals & Critters, Art, Bones, Doodling, On the Road, Practice, Random, Taos, Work, tagged drawing of a black dog, image of a black dog, retro wallpaper, the black dog, the practice of doodling, ybonesy doodles on January 30, 2007 | 2 Comments »
Posted in 25 Things, Dreams, Personal, Practice, Structure, Topic Writing, Vision, Writers, Writing, tagged 25 Reasons I Write, community, creativity, Practice, Structure, Writers, Writing on January 29, 2007 | Leave a Comment »
1. I don’t know why I write but I’ve built my whole life around it.
2. I write to keep myself alive. I can’t not write.
3. I write because I have something to say, a story to tell.
4. I write because if I don’t it feels like a million cactus pricks are sticking it to my insides.
5. I write to give something back to the world.
6. I write so I don’t say something I’ll regret.
7. I write to make my life have meaning to me.
8. I write to be in the circle of other writers, part of the legacy of other writers, in the lineage of other writers.
9. I write because I love the taste, touch, and smell of books and the lives of the writers who wrote them.
10. I write to practice writing, to feel the words dance on the page.
11. I write because I’ve been called to write my whole life – I can’t ignore it any longer.
12. I write because I love writing.
13. I write because when I dive smack dab into the middle of a piece, everything else in the world drops away.
14. I write to keep myself company.
15. I write to stick it to the Monkey.
16. I write to feel the uncomfortable edges and the vacuous spaces in-between.
17. I write because it feels holy to me.
18. I write because lost is a place and writing is the map.
19. I write because the screaming inside wants to be heard and I believe in what she’s trying to tell me.
20. I write because it helps structure my life.
21. I write because fear sneaks in at all hours of the day and night.
22. I write to keep the creative juices alive.
23. I write because there is no other high like it. There is also no other low.
24. I write because when I ramble around in the insanity of my brain – out on the page springs something sane.
25. I write to be true to myself. I write to live well. I write to be free.
Monday, January 29th, 2007
-related to post, WRITING TOPIC – 25 REASONS I WRITE
Posted in Nature, Personal, Poetry, Secrets, Topic Writing, tagged acceptance, buried treasure, excavating memories, freestyle poetry, letting go, listening, underbelly on January 28, 2007 | Leave a Comment »
Black Beatles box, wax masters
“Listen, do you want to know
Fat, fur-covered lynx tail
in a white Muriel cigar box,
Sting of the Lady Remington,
my grandmother used to take her time
shaving silky legs. Skinny. Electric.
Tucked in a bedroom drawer.
Great Gray flew away
home, February 8th,
two years ago. I cried.
4th Step shifts, 5th Step blunders.
Your soft blue eyes,
clear and penetrating
peering out from under the mistletoe.
Silk scarf from Nepal,
orange pick-up sticks,
blanched peaches, figs
from Aunt Cassie’s squat tree.
Mouths of dark caves,
cinnamon toast, fresh
with jagged bite marks.
Boogie board spinning
off the white-tipped Atlantic;
underbelly meets undertow,
scrapes away the shallow.
Dirt under fingernails
after gardening in the sun.
August, where is she?
Frozen under a snow-covered lamp
shaped like a pagoda.
Ravenous Rebel, surly Savage,
hundreds of cc’s, spitting
dust devils into the river.
Easy. Ride her.
Buddha in Amy Kristine’s
storefront long defunct;
thick bolt of volcanic rock
shaped like a godless god.
Crusty face, ripe body
three days of writing,
never wanting to stop.
Working, tapping, running
into that long black night.
“All this or something better,”
spewing from moon glossed lips
I treasure most.
A far-fetched promise
that peace might spring
from the blundering loins
of star-crossed humanity.
Sign says, “You got to
turn the other cheek.
Sorry – happiness
I am left sucking acceptance
through a firestorm of minutiae;
memories frozen in time,
buried treasure -
flash drive of the mind.
Sunday, January 28th, 2007
Posted in 25 Things, Structure, Topic Writing, Writing, Writing Practices, tagged 25 Reasons I Write, reasons to write, the practice of writing, the work of writing, why I write on January 27, 2007 | Leave a Comment »
- I write to be able to say something
- I write to have the voice I didn’t used to have
- I write instead of shouting, but sometimes I also shout
- I write to do
- I write to be
- I write to live with others, to be with them and not just sit around talking about the stupid teacher at my kid’s school, which is what a group of mothers did this morning as we waited in the library for our kids to take a test
- I write to clarify statements such as the above, which is to say I write so I have something to do other than bitch and moan and gossip
- I write to gossip, although when you write out your gossip to people who don’t even know who it is you’re gossiping about, it’s no longer gossip
- I write gospel, my own
- I write to own my life
- I write to live
- I write to vent
- I write to rest
- I write to get on fire
- I write to practice the art of not editing
- I write to tell a story about someone important to me
- I write to have something I can do anywhere, anyplace, like those women who knit and the others who carry prayer or rosaries
- I write as a way to be close to God
- I write as a way to be close to everyone in my life that I’ve ever loved or even hated and emotions in between
- I write to capture memory
- I write to let go of memory; isn’t this a quote I just saw last night in the documentary Stone Reader?
- I write so that I can fall in love with myself, and then get mad at myself for falling in love with myself
- I write for the same reasons I draw or doodle, it keeps my hand moving
- I write as a way to practice my spirituality
- I write to give something to someone, who I don’t know, maybe you.
-from Topic post, 25 Reasons I Write
Countdown to Taos. Keeping it simple, short, sweet.
List 25 reasons you write. They don’t have to all be serious. Give yourself room to explore. Surface or deep, snorkel or scuba, dive in.
Walk in the mist – get wet.
-posted on red Ravine, January, 26th, 2007
Posted in Essay, Life, Personal, Practice, Structure, Work, Writers, Writing, Writing Practices, tagged fear, process, writer's block, Writers, Writing, writing practice on January 23, 2007 | Leave a Comment »
I finally broke through. Out of all that anxiety, fear, whatever you want to call it. It was after Liz and I went to see Jean Shinoda Bolen, the Jungian psychologist, writer, feminist, at Amazon Bookstore last Friday. After that evening, everything cracked open.
It wasn’t so much what she said – as what she reminded me of – to go back and tap places of strength. And give what I have away. It will come back to me in countless measure. I don’t have to be so fearful.
It’s good. Because I was beginning to wonder what kind of writer I was if I couldn’t even get a draft down on paper for an essay. I’d better get used to this. It’s going to happen – writer’s block. It’s strange because this is the second year I’ve written on demand for other people. Last year I worked on two book projects and a bevy of presentation pieces. People want to pay writers for this kind of work because they want a fresh angle in the case of the presentation pieces, and another set of eyes, organizational skills, and editing on the books.
I had worked steadily, pushing my way through all that. Then when it came to writing my own essay – stuck. I couldn’t even get out of the gate. It was really getting me down on Saturday. Some ideas running through the mind. But then I wouldn’t write them down. It’s like a form of self sabotage. Finally, I sat down to write a piece for the blog on Sunday and out poured the essay. Boy, was I relieved. Liz was making smoothies in the kitchen and I tap, tap, tapped away for an hour.
I kept working all day yesterday. I got up to work on my consulting and writing projects and got sidetracked by looking at the essay again. I decided to give in, made a conscious decision. I called Liz and bookended, told her I was going to take the day, Monday, to work on my essay. Then Tuesday, I would do my business work, and Wednesday, go back to my 27 hour a week bread and butter job through Friday of this week. I called in this morning and told them my plan.
I ended up bumping the whole week forward so I could take a solid day to write yesterday. And write I did. I worked on the essay until Liz walked through the door at 5pm. And it was even hard to pull myself away then. She was hardly in the door before I was reading it out loud to her. She took time for me. She laughed in the right parts. She’s one of the people who is most supportive of my writing – and me taking space for my writing.
The reading out loud reminded me what John Williams, author of Stoner, said about finished pieces. He said in an interview with Dan Wakefield that what helps a writer most is to have her piece read out loud to her – without comment. You can see right away where the gaps are.
I’ve been doing this quite a while now. And it works. I read my first draft out loud to myself. Then to another trusted person. I make changes, write the second and third drafts. Then I usually reverse it, ask Liz if she will read the piece out loud to me. The gaps stand out like the jagged spaces between my crooked front teeth.
Yesterday, I worked on editing a little more while Liz shook off the day, changed out of her work clothes, and put something on for dinner. Then I realized my eyes were completely fried. And the day long writing high was over. The doubt started to pour in. I wondered if what I had spent the last 6 hours solid doing was even any good. This is how my mind works. Full bore into a piece – riding high – then all that doubt and self loathing.
Maybe it’s part of the writing process. And I will battle with it the rest of my life. If a piece is short enough, I know when it’s tight, crisp, and flowing. This essay is about 6000 words. I plan to hone it down to less than that. I might take some parts out, crop others. I know it won’t get any longer. I’ve said what I want to say, made my points with what I have. If anything, I’ve got too much, am trying to pull in too many different ideas. And that will be the next edit.
What do I really want to say? Have I said it? Do these other parts fit in? Or are they another essay? All good questions. I want to learn to write tighter. I can tell where the essay is tight and where it starts to ramble. I’m getting better at editing. I’m still learning how to completely whack off paragraphs or sentences or parts where I like what I’ve written but know it doesn’t fit into this piece.
Writing is so process oriented. It’s different than art that way. Art is process oriented, too. But there are visual points along the way where you can check in with other students, get feedback, know if you are headed down the wrong path. Or in the case of photography, I tried a lot of alternative photographic processes like cyanotyping, mural printing, and brushing developer on slabs of red clay from Georgia that I formed into tiles. So I often had to go back to the drawing board if my formulas didn’t work. I could see it visually – back to the drawing board.
Writing? A whole different animal. The abstracts are playing out all in the mind. And my mind can try to kill me. I do my best writing when I have uninterrupted periods, 4-7 hours where I write and edit solid. Then I need to step away and come back to it a few days later. This is something I’ve learned from writing on demand for a year – write intensely. Step away. That’s my process. I’m not one for two hours here, two hours there. It doesn’t work for me.
That’s why I planned my weeks around taking a whole day to write, usually Fridays. Those are supposed to be the days where I structure in my creative time. But the tail end of this year, it hasn’t worked that way. My 27 hour a week bread and butter job falls in the middle of the week over three days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So I work 9 hour days and don’t feel like doing much when I get home. Mondays are the day I work on my writing and consulting business. And most weeks, I find I need two days to do this when I filter in the administrative and invoicing pieces.
Guess where that leaves my Friday creative day? Down the toilet. This week I decided to take the day anyway, though I couldn’t really afford it, and get the first draft of my essay done. If that’s all I show up in Taos with, I’ll be happy. But I’m sure I will try to do at least one more draft. I want to start collecting pieces I can submit to magazines. It doesn’t even matter if I get rejected at this point. I just want to get my work out there, floating around in the world. That’s why I write.
It’s gray in Minneapolis. I’m on my second cup of coffee. I missed practicing the last few days. But I elected to work on my essay instead. I also did a lot of work on taking my business to the next level. I’ve met with three people about next steps. And now I have a plan, an income plan, a writing plan. It’s good to have a plan. Clarity should replace vagueness if I’m doing things to take care of myself.
Writer’s block scares me. I can practice all I want. But there are times when I am going to not know what I want a finished piece to be about. I won’t even have a structure. In the end, I have to honor the process. That’s why I refuse to put all my eggs in one basket. I want at least three different avenues available to me to pull income in while I work to be a self-supporting writer.
Life never goes as planned. And that goes double for the writer’s life. I envy the yellow finch that has returned to the feeder outside the winter steamed window. I’m watching her peck her beak into the small holes, grubbing little pieces of thistle, bobbing her head to take them in, bits spewing out the sides of her microscopic tongue. Then she dives in for more and lets the remains of the day fall to the deck, letting go of what drops.
I’m not that good at letting go.
But over time, I see the value in chop, chop, chop. This will be the third day I haven’t been out of the house. Liz has gone to work. I’m sitting on the couch doing my writing practice. Then I will shower and get to work on my business. But I’m being pulled to check out the essay one more time. It’s a dangerous ploy. I know I’ll get sucked in. I can think of worse things than to be knee deep in an essay about change, and being stuck, and writing, and tapping the past but living in the present. But I need to stay disciplined. I have to pull myself out after one peek.
Do you agree? Okay [sigh] reluctantly, I agree. One peek. Then to work. Someone’s got to make the money around here. If I had my druthers, I’d work on my essay all morning, head outside in the afternoon, scrape the ice off the deck and my car, and head over to St. Paul to walk the labyrinth. But I don’t get my way. It’s my work day.
I hate growing up.
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007