Monday, April 18, 2016

Fooling Around for National Poetry Month

I'll bite. Poetry, yeah, I read it. Write a few. Wish for inspiration. Here's one I'll share, and then offer a shorter version, maybe better, leaner, more core.

Hawk Song
In the woods, a hawk spoke.
She wanted to sing together.
“Sing,” she called, and we threw our voices.
Circling in my sky,
she flew endlessly as I wandered,
as I sought a different ending.
Like the hawk, I must call out, must circle,
must crease the air.
Difference is,
the hawk lives in the now.
The hawk never questions.
When I go, she becomes the woods.
If I am silent, her song spins on.
Difference is,
I need more than the hawk needs.
I need someone to hear.

In the woods, a hawk
She wanted to sing
"Sing," she called
Call, circle, crease
In the now
Becomes the woods
Song spins on
More than the hawk

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Bane of Earnestness

Earnestness and writing may appear to go together, when in fact the opposite seems to breed success. Too many writers gyrate themselves in the public social sphere and succeed at selling their work. Do reclusive introverts, the loners at home with their dogs, make best-selling writers? Only the damn good ones -- the really damn good ones who spend the end of their lives in seclusion, writing backstories for all their famous characters, while hunched over manual typewriters in wooded shacks, down the hill from the main house where the fifth spouse does laundry. Okay, maybe that's a hair exaggerated.

Not happening for most of us. It's a new age. Get your platform-on, sister. Jesus, I hate that word. Platform. It doesn't really mean anything. I wrote a damn book, and then another, and a few other things, and by God, my brain wants me to write a few more before my wrists give out. But I'm freakin' earnest. I'm probably not going to crank anything resembling a marketing machine into something viral.

Ego is a good asset to have to market a book. When you have a big one, it doesn't matter if pieces fall together or apart because the next sales trick will work, and so what if it doesn't? You're a genius, or so your ego says. It induces a bolder-is-better attitude and license to TRUMP the message. BUY MY SNAKE OIL.
Dog in Space.

I'm sitting here writing poems between novels (poems, for God sake) because they give me a sense of accomplishment. I can finish one in a day, an hour. Novels are gangly and complicated. (I'm sure a few poets would argue with me.)

Ariel Gore, an earnest writer who's earned literary success for her memoirs, says after her books reach the 100-page mark, they become harder to manage. The story can't be read in one sitting. It can't be diagnosed and fixed easily. That means more time, more thought, longer stretches between publication, unless you write full-time like mad. Unless unless unless. Ego, madness, kinda go together.

My next project? I'm thinking sci-fi. Why? Because the story can be out there. It can have space monkeys. But damn my soul, my book idea is stricken with earnestness. The protagonist is left behind on a dying planet with a dog. Hmmm, life and art track oddly close together.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Give a Writer a Hug

Few career pursuits require as much external positive reinforcement as writing. The trek of a writer is often full of negativity, rejection, self-doubt, and road blocks. Your writing might be good, but the world might not want to read it. Can you imagine spending years on a project that few people read? The hurdles can weigh even the most buoyant, positive-thinking talent (just ask Elizabeth Gilbert, who attracts ire, for better or worse).

I don't believe in resolutions, but on the first day of 2016 many personal truisms poured out of me from somewhere. For any creative person, it's good to take out the list of Good Things to Remember, those ideas that supply hope when the world may strip us of it. 
We are dwarfed.

Here are a few I should pin up next to my keyboard:

  • Let your heart lead as much as your head.
  • Consider the opinions of others but don't always be swayed by them.
  • It's okay to go your own way.
  • You will forge a path that gives you what you need.
  • If you look inside, you will find the right answer.
  • Stay connected to stay strong.
  • People will help, if you ask.
  • Don't be afraid of the unknown. There will always be the unknown.
  • The mystery of life will be with you forever. Have faith in a positive outcome.
  • Do what you can do to make a difference and be at peace with yourself and the effort.
  • A little is better than none.
  • Plant seeds for the long seasons ahead.
  • You are confident and beautiful. You were always this way.
  • We will get lost; underneath, we still are who we are.
  • Take a measure of contentment in the core of who you are; it will never fail you if you access your true self.
  • Mistakes are just lessons learned along the way.
  • Fear is rarely productive.
  • Step back and assess. It's okay to recalibrate.
  • You'll know when it is right.
  • There are good things ahead as there were before.
  • You'll fight and struggle, but that is part of life.
  • See yourself for who you truly are: a shining beam of pure light.
  • In the greater scheme, you will live the destiny that was always yours.
  • Help others understand they, too, have a destiny.
  • Feeling good is easier and better than you think.
  • If you take risks to pursue a dream, know that the effort is the greatest gift you give yourself.
  • Understanding is always in shortest supply from within, not without.
  • This moment is yours to mold; the future is clay.
  • Love is the world's treasure; share it and it multiplies.
  • Gratitude grows your heart and the hearts of those in need. 
  • Maybe the well doesn't need to be filled; it is just a reminder that we are alive.
  • Kindly think of yourself and others, and the thoughts will manifest beauty.
  • The world is better off from small kindnesses.
  • Where you are now is not a measure of your goodness or worth; it is another step along your path.
Ask, and I'll tell you my top two.