The issue of “priorities” is always a bit of a bear for me, but lately … Since May, I have lost two friends who were writers. When I say “lost,” I mean they died. They were both writers who left things unfinished. Not because they were careless in their work or undisciplined or anything else like that, but because their time here was cut tragically short. They both left behind unfinished projects they loved and longed to complete. They left behind goals they had not yet achieved. Is there a writer living who doesn’t have incomplete projects and goals? I don’t see how there could be, because writing is an ongoing process, just like living.
Importantly, here is what neither of them left behind: people in their respective lives who now are in some doubt about whether they were loved by one (or both) of these women. When it came to caring for their friends and their families, they left nothing unfinished. I want to tell you things about each of them, but I can’t bring myself to use their names simply because I cannot do either of them justice. I don’t want to disappoint the people who knew them, but I have to write something down about them. Something that must be shared. Forgive me in advance for all the ways this effort will be lacking.
I’m not going to go into how each of them died – the sheer unfairness of both their situations will overwhelm me, and I might spin off into a rant as I am wont to do. Made for cliché, right? “Life’s not fair.” Yes. Check. Knowing that life isn’t always fair, and being able to say those words out loud doesn’t make it easier to take. The phrase is a crutch for us when we don’t know what else to say. I don’t know what else to say about either of their deaths, and I refuse to resort to that phrase.
My two friends were the same in many ways, but also quite different. I don’t even know if they knew each other, but they had quite a few friends and acquaintances in common. One (let’s call her “L”) had golden hair that was always doing its own beautifully curly thing, and ice blue eyes that were like tractor beams. Continue reading
I like to renovate and redecorate, so welcome to the new space. I have moved some things around here and also put some things on my website, which I hope you will visit. I changed the name of this blog to “Talking to Myself” because, honestly, I do that all the time. For those of you who previously have been eavesdropping, let’s review: I was toying with the idea of trying to develop a “virtual poetry group,” but after talking to some other folks and taking into consideration my other commitments and goals, I had to let the idea die. It was a nice service with some lovely flowers …
Something strange happened to me last April, during Poetry Month, which brings me to this next bit.
After taking a hiatus from the act of submitting my poetry for consideration for publication, I am back in the “Po Biz,” or, as I like to call it, the “Mostly No Biz.” Just kidding. Not really.
Look, “no” is a huge part of what poets do, and I am all right with that aspect of writing. With poetry – and forgive me if you’ve heard me say this to myself before – I take rejection as an invitation to revise. I read and re-read and re-read the poor little poems that come back to me, unwanted. Sometimes, I readily accept that invitation to revise, feeling embarrassed that I sent my poem out into the big world with its clothes on wrong side out. And sometimes, after I read and re-read and re-read, I think my perfectly appropriately dressed poem just needs to find the right adopted home. Continue reading
Yes, I am on the couch trying desperately not to come down with a full-blown cold. Yes, I could be addressing Christmas/Holiday cards. You’ll get yours. Keep your shirt on. Right now, I have wreaths and a garland on the outside of my front doors. That’s it by way of Christmas decor, so far. Oh, wait. I am drinking my coffee these days out of Christmas mugs, so I’ve got that going for me.
Now, maybe you’ll think it’s because I am a superb procrastinator. Maybe you’ll think I just like taking baby steps when it comes to holiday stuff. Maybe you think it’s just me being out of step, as usual. You can think what you like. I prefer to think I’m just “old school.” Do sit down, and I’ll explain.
We are currently in the season of Advent. Advent is supposed to be a quiet time; a time of anticipation. I thrilled on Sunday morning when, during the Children’s Sermon, the pastor asked the children to be as quiet as they could, to illustrate one of the ways we get ready for Christmas. The whole church was still. Everyone was silent. I don’t even recall hearing traffic outside, or the heat kicking on, or any sound at all, until one small boy whispered, “I can’t take it anymore,” which, naturally, brought the house down. Continue reading
Hello, blogosphere. Sorry for the extended absence. There hasn’t been much of a response to my virtual writing workshop, but I am hopeful that some folks are just waiting to see what the final proposal will look like. I myself am waiting to see what Diaspora will look like, so, here we are.
When last I left you, I was preparing to send my only child off to college. She seems to be faring well – the usual adjustment bumps and bruises. I wish I could say the same for yours truly. Honestly, I wish I could say anything for yours truly with some degree of certainty, but I cannot. I have managed to keep myself extremely busy, and when I’m not busy, I’m sleeping. Uh-oh. I expressed this whack-a-doodle state of affairs to a good friend and fellow writer yesterday, and her advice to me was, “Take some time. Sit with this, and just let yourself feel what you feel.” Of course! Insert smack to the forehead here. I confessed to her that I see the wisdom of such a course of action, and probably just needed somebody to tell me to take it!
As poet Jennifer K. Sweeney and I explored in an interview I did of her a few years ago [Main Street Rag, Spring 2007], a poet doesn’t so much “move on” from painful things as “move through” them.* Frankly, we often move through them when the rest of you cannot bear to do so, and we do it because you cannot bear to do so. We hew the rough underbrush of the path, and hope that you will follow because we know you will feel better if you do. We know so because we feel better for having cut the trail; and, we are also readers, so we also feel better when we follow a painful path that someone else mapped first. Such knowledge of this process, however, did not help me see that I was running away from my own feelings about this personal milestone. It took someone else articulating it to make me realize what I was (am) doing.
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.