I just saw a quote from Walt Disney on a friend’s Facebook page: The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
So much wisdom is so simple. Simple, but not easy. My last post here was over 2 months ago! That sounds so much longer than it seems to me; so much has happened in those 2 months, that chunk of past time is like a blur. The “doing” part of my life has had very little to “do” with writing, and more to do with being a parent helping a daughter prepare for college. Her departure is now just a little over a week away.
Not surprisingly, my focus has begun to shift back to writing, to the “plan” for achieving “the goals” I have set for myself. Certainly, step 1 is to “begin doing.”
To that end, I am considering launching a new site, and it’s an endeavor that has been over ten years in the making. Let me explain how a new site might help me (and you) begin doing …
I happen to live in an area that is rife with writers. These writers are not only talented, but are generous with their time, their insights, and their knowledge. As one of these talented writers once said to me, “None of us do this work alone.” When I first realized what a wealth of talent and resources existed around me, I began to explore the idea of what I labeled a “Writers’ Energy Exchange.”
In my mind’s eye, it was a physical location where writers could meet informally to work and to assist one another. Most of us have trusted groups to which we belong, and to whom we can take drafts of poems or whatever we are writing and get some good feedback. My two poetry groups have been essential for me in my work. However, I have always thought it would be great to have that kind of feedback on a more spontaneous basis. “Workshopping” someone else’s stuff is such a two-way street: when I am given the opportunity to review someone else’s work, even in draft form, invariably I am inspired to work harder and better.
Maybe you want to check out some fiction at A Writer’s Pages Annex … Here’s a sample:
Mickey eventually grabbed my strap again and whispered, “Come on.” But I didn’t want to go with him – I knew he was going in – and yet I was so fascinated I couldn’t not go. He pulled my satchel from my shoulder and laid it in the grass by the road. His great criminal mind must have instinctively known that a book satchel would make us appear suspicious, as though we didn’t belong – which we didn’t – as though we had just taken a detour after school to intrude here – which we had. He grabbed me by the wrist and forged ahead. Somehow I knew I was someplace that neither Rose nor Mama would approve of me being, but the knowledge that such a place was so close to my normal routes in life intrigued me all the more (I only later realized that it wasn’t the place that was to be avoided, but the event).
One of the most frustrating things for a writer is not writing. In my case, I sometimes sit down at my desk or in one of my favorite chairs with good intentions, but the phone rings or I remember the clothes in the dryer or I decide to check out The Weather Channel … in other words, nothing happens. Why not?
For me, the reasons vary, and it depends on what I am trying to write.
I somehow ritually rid myself of the fear of putting down a terrible poem. In my world, I no longer write terrible poems – they are “drafts.” My friend Scott Douglass once said to me, “I have yet to meet the perfect poem.” Scott meets a great many poems, not only as a poet himself, but also as an editor and publisher, so I found his statement to be quite comforting. I still do. Continue reading
In my last post, I pondered whether the absence of creating poetry while on my almost month-long writing retreat might be contributing to my inability to sleep. My dear friend and fellow poet, Ann, was absolutely right when she wrote in a comment to that post that it sounded as if it was time to write a poem. She also hit upon the fact that editing and revising are not the same as creating, and I can admit that a good portion of my time here has been devoted to the revision process … which is, as Ann pointed out, emotionally somewhat removed from the project.
A couple of weeks ago, while not sleeping, I came across a program on the Discovery Health channel about dreaming. It was while watching this program that I got the title for that poem it was time to write. When I got the first draft of this poem written last week, having to tinker with it was a nice respite from wrestling with revising the snaking prose that had already laid claim to its territory.
The last couple of weeks, I have utterly given in to my natural body clock, staying up until 3:00 or 4:00 and sleeping until 10:00 or 11:00 (when I could sleep at all). I resent this condition in myself. However, there’s nothing to be done for it, and since I have been completely on my own here, why not give in? And yet, there is tension even in that “harmless” surrender. Thus the poem. Here is a stanza from the poem, which is still a draft, and is entitled Six Years of Dreaming. On that Discovery Health channel program, it was said that the average person will spend six years of their lives dreaming. Stanza 3:
Sleep has come to do an intervention
bringing with him
common sense, conventional wisdom
intuition … history. All the self-righteous
and smug know-it-alls.
Naturally, I am repulsed.
It is still a draft, but I like the doing of it … and I slept great last night. Tomorrow I head home, back to my family and, therefore, back to more reasonable and loving expectations.
Currently, running away might be exactly what I could be accused of doing. I am at our small beach house where I have been most of this month. I have been coming here every year for the past 4 summers, during the month of June, in order to write and recharge.
Some years have been more successful than others in the area of writing, but usually I have been able to rest well, even if I have not been able to write well while here. This year, oddly, I have not been able to rest quite as well. One factor has been the weather. We have had storms rolling in at night and these tempests have managed to intrude on my rest in two ways. The first way is the most obvious: if I am sleeping, and if the storm is close enough, it wakes me. The second way is both more appealing and less preferable at the same time: the storm comes before I am asleep and so I open the blinds or go out onto the porch and become a spectator. The thrill of watching a good storm, frankly, makes it difficult to settle down enough to later go to sleep. I simply don’t want to sleep afterwards.
However, for me to blame my inability to rest completely on these acts of God is not the whole story. Continue reading