Poem, Untitled

Do you deny me even now

  my lips declare

    this hasty vow?

Be aware

  my supplication

     is curs-ed hope

Wrenched, thus broken.

Molten pyrope

  drip thee down

    in passion’s inferno

I must drown

  as sweet notturno

    beckons deep

Wax moon floating…

Time to sleep.

Mired betwixt

  rapture and pit,

    I slink amidst

False graven writ;

   must this be

     my epitaph,

All of this, lamentably?

Words suffering thine autograph

  ages passing raise the mask,

    shroud perjured lines:

Permit to bask

  in veiled crimes,

    flagitious past.

Empyreal pearl…

Play is cast.

Son of ignobility

  dashing he, his artifice swayed

    pensive geniality,

from daughter of none, unwitting cade;

  never perceiving all the while

    pyrite aglitter

In his smile.

Bound fast by sacred scripture,

  cord-looped wrists

    I bore the future,

Ignored his trysts

  denied the rumour

    followed his call

Crescent waning…

See them fall.

Then the wee ones

  lying down

    wary of the blade he hones

Quite oblivious to my frown

  beg, have mercy

    take these crowns

Ah, but he was much too thirsty!

All is lacking, all I gave

  fractured cries

    cannot save

Though I see ‘neath his guise

  Flee in vain

    I must comply

Sinking moon…

Tonight we die.

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My last four posts can be summarized as follows:

  1. I love writing, and what do you know?  I have this idea for a novel that demands to be written.
  2. I’m a perfectionist; rather than using this drive to work on improvement, I use my perfectionism as an excuse to put things off, because whatever I do, my efforts will never live up to my ridiculous expectations.
  3. As a result of point number 2, I rarely do the things I really want or need to do.
  4. End result: life is messy.  The novel is neglected for long periods of time, my apartment is in shambles, etc.
  5. After surveying said mess, I manufacture lists of excuses and justifications for why it is perfectly acceptable that I haven’t done any of the things I know I ought to be doing.
  6. I am tired of all of the above foolishness.   I have no one to blame but myself.  Therefore, I shall take action!

Actions I’m taking to improve my writing, as well as improving the quantity and frequency are:

  • Starting this blog and promising that I’ll write three posts a week.  As far as this week is concerned, I’ve done it!
  • A couple of months ago I entered a short story contest with the first short story I’d written since high school.  I didn’t win, but I did meet a lot of other inspiring writers who are brimming with advice and encouragement.  Valuable connections, great insights, and wonderful critiques.  I am thoroughly in love.
  • Through my charming short story group, I learned about National Novel Writing Month.  I didn’t bother looking up what NaNoWriMo was all about until almost the end of the month, however.  One opportunity missed for the year, at least as far as formal participation goes.  The great news is that missing out doesn’t matter!  I can apply the concept on any month any time that I want.  Yes, it would be nice if I had a bunch of fellows racing alongside me with all the support, advice, and encouragement that implies.  I just don’t see why I can’t make a goal to write 50,000 words on any month I choose.  One of these months, very soon, I will.  NaNoWriMo sounds like a fantastic idea for someone like me in the sense that the only reasonable way to reach 50,000 words is to put quantity on a higher pedestal than quality.  I’m convinced that the best way to surmount my perfectionistic tendencies is to allow myself to write garbage.  Unlike most garbage, though, shall I throw it away?  Of course not!  I’m going to go over my writing, find what is worth recycling, and rework my garbage into art.  Honestly, if writing a novel often requires multiple drafts, what is wrong with the first draft being outright terrible?  Logical answer: absolutely nothing.  At least something has been written, at least there will be progress.  Next year I will participate in NaNoWriMo, but if I have my way, I’ll already have done something similar of my own volition more than once.
  • Goal: I will finish chapter 12 by Sunday, pull Safran (main character of novel demanding to be written) out of her rut, and stop using her as an excuse for why I cannot write.  I will also stop fostering the belief that I cannot write without her.  Promise: I will provide an update.
  • I am also writing poetry and short stories, experimenting with writing styles and genres other than the ones I typically dabble in, and making an effort to read large amounts of amateur and professional writing in those usually unexplored areas.  Exactly why I am doing this and why I believe such efforts are helpful is being reserved for another blog post.  So long as I don’t have any plans for submitting the pieces I write, I will post them on the blog.  Any helpful commentary* is appreciated.
  • I’m NOT editing this post.

*I notice that I have some views, followers, and comments now.  Welcome, and thanks for stopping by!  Some of the commenters may have noticed that my comments are being moderated.  Although it might take me a day or two to approve comments, I will only delete or refuse to approve commentary that is spam or that directs hate at another commentator or group.  Hate or disapproval directed at me or my writing, however, is, with rare exception, permitted; I do reserve the right to remove comments should I have reasonable suspicion that said commenter is trolling.  Otherwise, I welcome critiques of both the negative and positive variety.

Safran, or My Muffled Muse

For the past several days eating and sleeping have been incredibly difficult.

No, I’m not in love, or at least, not that kind of love.  The love I feel for Safran, the protagonist of my growing novel, is much more complex than a crush, even a passionate, all consuming, flips-one’s-world-upside-down crush.  Safran is real; my flame-haired heroine, omnipresent and usually quite vocal, is capable of swapping my sight for full-scale visual clips of her world.  I’ve been able to see her since the first time I whispered her nick-name, swirling the breath reverently over my tongue to hear the syllables.  I wasn’t expecting a full-scale manifestation.  How could I possibly have anticipated such incandescence?  Or that she would actually consent to an interview?  I knew nothing about her yet, but Safran, luckily, wasn’t short on information.  Even now I believe she knows everything.

When Safran first appeared, she was whole and self-assured, everything she will come to be by the time the novel (or–because my verbosity cannot be curtailed–series)  is completed.  Her present self is different from her past, novel self, and her initial appearance and foresight have always left me with the feeling that I’m not writing fiction so much as history.  How disconcerting, then, to find her demonstrating two sides of her self simultaneously: present and past.  Now that I am writing her lowest point in this “history” the past self is obscuring the present.  Crippled with pain, Safran has tucked herself away and hasn’t mumbled so much as a word in weeks.  I want to end her suffering, but the only way I can rescue her from her trauma (I think) is to write a few more chapters.  I’m not sure I can write the story without her help; for the last 77 pages, or approximately 45,000 words, Safran has generously granted me her life and voice.  She never prepared me for this.  Without her I am no longer sure that I know how to write.

Silly self-defeating illogic.  I will write those chapters even if I butcher them on the first attempt.

Still, the torch illuminating my story has been dampened in the downpour.  I miss Safran and not just because my fingers are itching from lack of use, or because I haven’t gotten my writing dopamine fix, but because in the five years that we’ve shared my humble space she has become friend, confidant, and advisor.  I’m pining now for her wry, teasing smile and blunt honesty.  Worse, her depression has percolated across the thin membrane separating our two worlds and affected my own mood.  Sleep won’t come for me; all I can think about is pulling my companion out of the darkness.  Last night I didn’t bother crawling into bed until 7:00 AM.  I stayed up and worked on a poem instead; even my poetry is tainted by despair, ‘though it is not my own.  I’m not depressed, but being so aware of a character who is down is proving remarkably similar to living with a loved one in the same predicament.

I know what I’ve just written probably sounds a bit crazy, but at least one of the joys of the internet is that I can say what I’m really thinking and feeling without “those fine young men in their clean white coats” locking me away for safe-keeping.

Blogs, Perfectionism, and You Know What, Screw it Already…

I’m having difficulty with the concept that I have a blog.

It seems as if everyone has a blog these days, and by everyone I mean every person who has semi-regular access to the internet.  Some of those people have more than one blog, and apparently even goldfish can reserve a little space of their own.  After viewing various webpages, I might be a wee bit convinced that the other side has access to the world-wide web.  There’s some questions I’d like to ask those posthumous bloggers, so if you’re out there…

With so many others for company, I shouldn’t feel weird at all about this blogging thing, right?  I do feel odd, though, all looped up and knotted inside, though I’m about as anonymous as anyone can reasonably be, and I’m not nursing any high expectations of becoming famous overnight (or at all).  Am I worried that some stranger on the internet is going to laugh at me?  Be bored silly by my dull, self-serving diatribes?

I don’t think that’s the problem…although maybe it is part of it in the sense that I am a straight up, frozen in fear lest I do something that isn’t perfect kind of person.  I don’t know about other perfectionists, but my obsession with everything being done just right means that I very rarely get anything done at all.  If I don’t try, I don’t have to worry about failing.

Occasionally there is something I care so much about that, after a long serious pep-talk and a bracing cup of coffee, I manage to actually dip my toes in.  A little.  Naturally, the end product of my efforts always seems less than satisfactory.  I was once the sort of person for whom failure meant “Try again.  Try harder.  You’ll show them…eventually,” but somehow I can no longer seem to muster the gumption.  Even if every single other being in the universe, or all the universes (hypothetically, aren’t there multiple universes as far as “we” know now?) agreed that I was the most brilliant thing since the Big Bang, I’d still feel like I didn’t quite measure up, and somehow that means I ought to just give up.

Thoughts such as these are the opposite of constructive.  I know that.  But.  Oh, yes, but.  Knowing is easier than doing or overcoming the shadowy beastie lurking in the back of my mind.  It doesn’t matter that not trying at all means that I’ll never get better and that, at the end of my pitiful existence, I’ll have no one to blame but myself for delaying doing the things I enjoyed because I wasn’t fantastic at them–yet.  Of course I was going to be fantastic at some point, because being fantastic would somehow, magically happen without me ever risking failure, or even worse, actually failing.  Then everything would be great, except that life doesn’t work that way, and I would look back and know that, much the same way I know it now, and I would wonder why I never did anything to change the disturbing contradiction between my knowledge and my actions.

Fortunately, there is something I care about enough to want to kick the perfectionist beast out of my head once and for all, and that something is a glorious novel that I could never, even in delirious daydreams, do justice to.  I’d still like to do better than I am doing, though.  Maybe part of that improvement is tossing myself haphazardly into the judgmental world and writing without wasting so much time thinking…and stalling.  Part of the perfection vice is procrastination, where I wait endlessly for the perfect phrase, plot, character, or idea to burst out of me–all of this somehow effortlessly, without practice, work, or even brainstorming.

Every November thousands of would-be or already novelists participate in an event called NaNoWriMo, where they attempt to churn out 50,000 words apiece in thirty days towards a novel.  I wish I had heard about this lovely program sooner; writing just to write, without being held siege by the naysayers of my mind, sounds glorious.  It is too late to play this year, at least, unless I plan on writing 50,000 words within the next four days.  I am going to take part next November, but until then let there be this blog and the goal of posting at least three times a week.

Blogging isn’t exactly the same, but it does get me writing.  About something.  Anything.  Regularly.  I *gulp* don’t really want to promise this, but at some point in the near future, this blog will be speckled with my first attempts at writing poetry and short stories in over a decade (or since school forced me to).  They will probably be awful, but I don’t care because I am going to get better.  Practice doesn’t actually make perfect, of course, but I’ll certainly have to improve this way faster than if I spend all my time lolling about on my duff.

I will not worry about sounding stupid or offending anyone, nor will I obsess about the misplacement of commas and the lack of apt metaphors.  I will not stop for any of these tiresome things, for though they are important, they are not the most important.  What is vital is simply getting started.

Black Friday

Yes, I know it’s Thanksgiving.  Following fast on its heels, though, with millions camping out or already queuing up in lines for the best deal of the season, comes one of the most turbulent days of the year: a veritable free for all.

I find Black Friday terrifying.  Granted, in my area, it’s not quite so bad…we’re not likely to make the national, or even the local news with some large shopping scandal wherein someone is trampled to death, hospitalized, or violently assaulted in the name of buying a small, “must-have” toy for a child or getting the best price on some flat screen T.V.  Thank goodness for rural areas.

Even still, on Black Friday I stay home, only entering the morass of humanity when spurred by the coercive desire to earn a paycheck.  To be perfectly honest, the days, nay, weeks before Black Friday I like to emulate the local squirrels: while they’re bouncing about collecting seeds and nuts I’m stocking up on hygiene supplies, food, and anything else I might need to weather the hectic holiday shopping season.  If at all possible, I want to avoid the stores until mid-January.  I’ve always abhorred large crowds, with the feeling of other peoples’ bodies bludgeoning into mine, the half-hour plus waiting lines, the inevitable shopping cart collisions.  Saving money, while desirable, takes backseat to avoiding the chaos of clustering, desperate hoards of humanity.

Not that I don’t like people.  I just prefer them in smaller numbers.  I’m a one on one, small group of close friends or friendly acquaintances type of person.

Anyway, although I’m not agoraphobic, exactly, or even claustrophobic by any technical definition, there’s something disturbing about large groups of people engaging in the good ol’ holiday shopping pastime.  Maybe it’s the fact that in their desire to set-up the perfect holiday for those precious to them they seem to forget exactly what the holidays are about.  I’m just not sure that Timmy having the latest gadget that he’s been begging for all week is the most important thing ever.  It certainly doesn’t seem important enough to brawl about in the middle of a store aisle or parking lot, and I’m positive there can’t be any reasonable justification for teaching little Timmy that obtaining the material joys of life somehow trumps civility or respect for one’s fellows.

Every holiday season someone somewhere is overspending, stressing over the perfect day, or transforming into a harrowed specter of themselves.  When the beautiful, anticipated day finally comes and everything is set more than a few are miserable.  The glowing warmth of the ideal string of lights, hung just so, won’t stop the chill felt when one family member carps at another about their life choices, the slavishly cooked meal and carefully selected presents will not stop someone from complaining or expressing disappointment.

Is it really worth it?  Wouldn’t it be easier to relax, have fun, and do it together rather than being too exhausted and stressed when the day comes to really enjoy yourself?  Holidays aren’t perfect or horrible because someone forgot to bring the eggnog; they’re good or bad depending on the people they are shared with.  So go share them with someone you actually care about already!

Twisting Threads

When I was a very young child, so long ago that I can barely remember anything about the story itself, my mother read me a tale of a lost girl who could only find her way back home with the help of a magical ball of string (The Princess and the Goblin, by Mr. George McDonald, I believe).  I currently possess enough yarn to make afghans for the occupants of a modest orphanage, thread for dozens of doilies, and enough embroidery floss to weave my own tapestry, but the fey lurking in various cluttered corners, capricious little beasts that they are, haven’t seen fit to bestow the threads in my life with any magical powers.  I’d be happy, honestly, if my pile of sewing supplies could untangle themselves and stay that way for once.

So it goes.  I haven’t really tried setting out any bowls of milk for the brownies; It’s impossible to imagine that even a bathtub of the stuff could induce the industrious creatures to clean my house for me.  Besides, someone in my house leaves milk pooling in the bottom of a glass often enough as is.  Often enough that I could claim (I won’t) that I’ve made my own yogurt.

What I’m trying to say is that life is messy, complicated.  Much like my yarn skeins, the threads usually wind up crossing over each other or knotting up unexpectedly, leading to a long, frustrating afternoon trying to untangle them from one another so that I can straighten them out and wrap the whole bundle up into a nice, neat little ball again.  Those little balls make sense, I can follow them from one end to the other, and sometimes, with a little help from a crochet hook, I can even turn them into something useful.

I suppose, at the end of the day, I’m grateful that the task of shaping my life belongs to me and not, after all, someone lurking in the shadowed creases of my floorboards.  The truth is that even if I never make as much progress as I plan to, I can’t help but derive satisfaction from doing these things for myself.  So I have come to the beginning of an admittedly far from magical journey where I’ll be tugging at the metaphorical strings in my own life, trying to make sense of them one snippet or knot at a time.

This blog is going to be a very random sort of something-what’s-it; I have no idea which thread will present itself for inspection from one day to the next, or if it will brush against one of the others, or even a whole clump of others.  Half the time, I’ll be lucky if the text makes any sense at all.

Welcome to chaos.