Before I moved away from home, I hadn’t written a lot, at least I can’t recall if I did. When I got pregnant with Nate, I tried to write, especially about being pregnant, so I could remember and have something for him.
I’ve written before about what a painful time in my life that was. The pain continued for quite some time after Nate’s birth. To write, I would have had to see it. To write, I would have had to feel it. To write, I would have had to face it. So I didn’t write.
I can’t recall exactly when I stopped. I can’t recall exactly when I started back. I’ll give a good guess and say it was from the end of 1994 to the end of 1997. I probably started with angry letters that I never sent and moved on to poetry. I re-worked some of my older poems but I wasn’t overflowing with ideas. For the next three years I dabbled but didn’t produce anything other than one poem that I would actually let anyone read. I was still stifled.
After I met Holland (the drunk), and became entangled in that fiasco, I finally turned back to writing as a release and wrote a lot of poetry, including “Sanctuary,” which I linked back on the “Viva Viggo” post. This was also the time period I was contemplating a few short stories, novellas, and novels – just contemplating.
After Holland left in 2002, and I found out AZ had his post office box back to himself, I asked him if I could write to him, like I had many eons ago and he said, “Sure.” *Loud, evil, wicked laughter.*
The flood gates opened and the words came out. Many, many words. Each letter was of epic proportions… 15-20-30 pages a piece… sometimes one every other month, one a month, sometimes two or three a month, for about a year and a half. I would mail one and begin another. AZ was my blog… just a private one and one that once the words left, they didn’t get discussed or at least rarely. Looking back, I think that was best. It got me to where I needed to be, and that was dating Lex. Six months later, it got me again to where I needed to be, right here with you.
During the time period between 2002 and when I began blogging, I wrote a great deal creatively as well. I finished several short stories, biographical profiles, essays, two novellas, and a lot of poetry. I submitted stories to writing contests and magazines, and even my novella to a publisher. It was discouraging that I wasn’t published but it was also encouraging because of the personal positive feedback I received from a few magazine editors and the editor of the publishing house.
Just like when the teacher called me to her desk in 1983 and encouraged me to continue writing, it meant as much 20 years later. I didn’t do much creatively, aside from blogging, last year. I was too busy peeling the onion and that takes up a lot of time and energy. But not now. I look at my notes and my research and what I have written so far, and realize… I have two novels, two novellas, two screenplays, and three magazine articles in the works. Its like they’re on a giant CD changer, and every so often that CD changer rotates and whatever comes up is what I work on.
The CD changer has landed on “magazine articles” for right now. I have finished one, another is one or two paragraphs from being completed and the last is written in my head and just needs put on paper. I find I work best when I rotate around like that.
I can’t imagine going for such a long period of time again and not writing anything… nada, nothing. I’ve learned I’m much happier when I write. It doesn’t matter if I ever sell an article or a novel or anything else. I’m still a writer. I’ll always be a writer.
I haven’t always been a writer. For the first 11 years of my life, I didn’t write much more than what I was supposed to. I don’t remember writing creatively or anything special about my writing during that time. I suppose I can credit the British for sparking my writing career. The first poem I ever wrote was about the Falkland Islands’ War. So, I can narrow my first creative writing effort to sometime in the Spring of 1982.
I also wrote a poem called “Night Light.” It would be the first of many of my poems dealing with darkness, the night, and security issues. I stuck to poems and school assigned writing until 7th grade. Our assignment in 7th grade English was to do a creative writing assignment, a couple of pages perhaps, including all the parts of a story or some junk like that. I asked the teacher (a prolonged substitute) if I could expand and she told me of course. (Yeah, I was a teacher’s dream.)
I wrote a short story in the fantasy genre named after an obscure Duran Duran song called, “Secret Oktober.” I even illustrated the covers with the symbols from “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.” (That would be the album from whence “The Reflex” and “Union of the Snake” came.) Perhaps the events from 7th grade are so clear because of my obsession with Duran Duran and the fact the teacher called me to her desk and praised me on my story and told me how impressed she was.
I was no longer limited to poetry, having proven myself in the short story realm. The summer between my 7th and 8th grade years I spent an inordinate amount of time at my grandparent’s house, writing. And writing and writing and writing. What was I so busy writing? What is known today, which I did not know then, as fan fiction. At the prompting of my two best buds at the time, equal Duran Duran nuts, I began a saga as only a 13 year old can. I probably wrote, all told, over 200 pages (longhand on college ruled notebook paper) on that story.
As our fickle teenage taste swung from Simon to Nick to John to Andy to Roger and back again, and as we squabbled over who WE were going to date, heh, so did the storyline change. I also met Beanie that year, who had just entered 7th grade, and she fit in just perfect. I’m not sure if I included her in the story or not but I think when I started hair band fan fiction she may have been a character. I know I did a bit of hair band fan fiction but not as much as I did the Duranie fiction.
In December of 1984, an event occurred which would further spur my writings and that was the death of my band director, Louie. We left from school on Friday, and he stood at the band room door and in his booming voice said, “I’ll see you next week.” He didn’t. He died either that night or the following night of a massive heart attack. Our small community was devastated. He had been the band director when my mom was in the band in 1964. He’s buried within in a mile of my current home.
I had never faced death before. I doubt many of us had at that time. The memories have faded a bit over time, but there are many things that still stand out. Crying on the lapels of my other band director and our choir director. Huddling with other members of the band, the announcement that school was canceled the day of the funeral, how the well meaning funeral director tried to pull me closer to the casket and ended up freaking me out.
As I entered 9th grade, my reputation preceded me which allowed me a coveted spot in a creative writing class, usually reserved for Seniors. (That’s a trial by fire I STILL have difficulty writing about.) I don’t recall what our first assignment was but I do recall what I wrote about and it was Louie’s death and the affect of his death on those around me, especially Mark, the associate band director, and someone that I was particularly close to (to the extent we didn’t pull a Mary Kay and we actually waited until I was OUT of high school to…. ummm… you get the picture.)
Even as I wrote it, I didn’t realize the impact of my words. I didn’t realize the emotion my words would provoke until I read it aloud to my class. I did what I’m doing now, and that is choking up. I didn’t realize that all of the things I felt and saw happening around me, others had too, and when I wrote it down, I captured it, as a time capsule that we would, collectively, always understand.
Writing stopped being just a creative outlet. It became an emotional release. My writing began to take on other facets as my world continued to evolve. I carried over my creativity to the yearbook and became copy editor before I was ever in high school. That was between the 8th and 9th grades. (That’s how I got into the creative writing class – the teacher was the yearbook staff advisor.) My Sophomore year I was copy/assistant editor and at the end of my Sophomore year was named editor.
My Junior year also propelled my writing. In addition to still writing most of the copy for the yearbook and learning a lot about layouts and editing, I still spent a lot of time writing poetry and journal entries to help me deal with my growing restlessness. I used to pick a song or lyric for everyday of the week. Another coup was our year end World History project. I love history but it can be bland. How about I spice it up a bit?
Instead of writing another boring dissertation about the French Revolution, I made up my own characters and inserted them into the events, just like a historical fiction novel (except no sex). I had to fight my history teacher for it back. I’m not sure who won. I know at some point I had seen parts of it floating around but I’m not sure what ever happened to it. Again, a confirmation I needed to keep writing.
I was further buoyed by my success at the yearbook conference, in which I beat out 200 other students to win an all expense paid trip to a seminar at the Journalism School at Columbia University in New York City. I did what I had been doing for three years, writing copy.
At the end of my junior year, I defected to Germany and barely had time to finish the yearbook for the previous year before I left. Did I mention my yearbook advisor/creative writing teacher was also my German teacher? Did I mention she’s the one responsible for putting that crazy idea in my head? I still love her.
I bought two diaries when I arrived in Germany and spent a great deal of time writing letters and in my journal. I mean monster letters, twenty to thirty pages handwritten. My fan fiction continued in a way except I did a Purple Rain type thing where I wrote the storyline around the music and then turned the whole thing into a huge music video production. Hey, I loved that shit. How else could I be Tom Keifer’s sister and kiss Sebastian Bach??? Shut up.
College is a writing blur. I know I wrote a lot of angsty (I made that word up) poetry and a lot of letters to AZ and Jeff and I wrote in my diary. I hated my college writing classes and that must be how I ended up in Criminal Justice instead of Journalism. Feh. Bah. *Scowl*
I moved away from home and got pregnant with Nate. I stopped writing, not even a grocery list… for a very long time.
As this is already pretty long… I’ll continue it tomorrow.
Stepping into the night sauna makes me think of melting wax or chewing gum. If you pressed your finger into your skin and lifted it, I can imagine the skin stretching like gum. It makes me think of ice cubes and cold water running down the hollow of my throat, sweat rolling down the center of my spine.
Skinny dipping, nudity slicing through water like penguins, breaking the surface, wishing for just a breeze of the arctic. Drifting on a float like a mermaid, hair streaming in the water, unafraid, unabashed of nipples puckering under sensual thoughts.
Bullfrogs languidly croaking for mates, lazy crickets, blues on the radio, heavy on the saxophone. Hand fans, ceiling fans, electric fans, whirling, whirling, whirling, moving hot air from place to place to place. Cats, laying in the garden on the Mother’s cool earth, their ears flicking, otherwise showing no signs of life. One glowing cicada emerges from its chitin, and attempts to dry its wings so it can sing its love song.
Restless, tossing, sex, steam rising, slipping, sliding, feverish, intense, heat crazed, breathing – heavy like the air – hotter, fingernails sliding on slick, slick, slick skin, skin slick with sweat. Carnal fucking, animals in heat, for we are animals, harsh, sexual words. Moans, gasps, hands and mouth and teeth urging faster and harder, so urgent, out of control, bodies arching, pulses racing and whirling, whirling like the fans, drying the slick sweat, from place to place to place.
A cat flicks its ear forward, sensing before seeing, a train in the distance, raising through the night, the earth trembling and creaking, the whistle drowning out the whirling and the croaking and the lazy crickets. The cat watches the train disappear and closes its eyes in the sultry night.
We had a pretty bad storm last night. Actually, it was those 60 mph winds that took out four limbs from the nabe’s tree. Damn tree is rotten and always loses a bunch of limbs when the wind blows.
I went by Lola’s (new) (old) owner’s house to at least leave them a note. Place is empty and there’s a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Neighbor told me they have been gone about two weeks. That’s what I get for giving my cat to a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend. Schtupid peeps.
I got very cranky with Nate this morning. He pissed me off. I had taken my keys apart yesterday. I can separate my car keys from my house keys and I thought I had put them back together and hung them on the peg. Well, it was just the house keys on the peg but we found the car key but Nate didn’t put the house keys back on the peg and then of course we couldn’t find them. He said, “Well, if you hadn’t taken them apart then this wouldn’t have happened.”
You know who he sounded like? His father. That blaming, accusatory, this-is-all-your-fault attitude. And, me being in a PMS, cranky mood, told him so. Yeah, I told him he sounded like his dad. I shouldn’t have. I know this. It flew all over me like a hot wet blanket, especially since neither of us was “innocent” in the matter. I’ll be damned though if I hear that shit out of my son and I told him that too.
Its time for a long talk with that young ‘en.
Called me this morning, pissed off as well. Her ex had left the keys in the ignition all night with the ignition turned on… so naturally her battery was drained. I hope he hid all sharp objects before she went back in the house. I had to pay the water bill this morning or I would have given her a ride to work. I think we live further apart than we work, and we only live 2 miles apart. I’m not sure if she got a jump for the car or if she’s in jail.
I went to the bank a little bit ago and realized how empty the city seemed. There weren’t many people out, hardly any cars, no people on the park benches, or talking on the corner. It seems the heat has driven everyone indoors and those left outside are too weary from it to do much else other than just exist. Even the Blogosphere is slugging along, sedated in the summer doldrums. This didn’t happen last year… because the majority of us had just started blogging in April/May/June and were still getting to know each other. It was all fresh and new. Now, we’re just like an old pair of sweat pants, stained, with a hole in the knee and the half broken elastic in the waistband. Not fit to wear around company but perfect for the company of friends.
Sweat pants are welcome here.
But you can’t take the home out of the cat. This is Lola, who I gave up for adoption on the Saturday before Father’s Day (5 weeks ago). Yesterday, Hagar’s wife told me she had seen a black cat on my porch and wondered if I had kept any of my black cats. I told her no.
However, last night as I was letting my other cats in to eat I saw this black cat on the porch and recognized her immediately. I picked her up to look at her belly just to make sure, since Lola has a white pelvis and a few white hairs on her neck. Yep, it was Lola.
She looked at me guiltily like, “Yep, its me, Lola.” I took her in the house and put her down at the food bowl. The other cats came over and smelled her and then licked her so, that was that. Now she’s laying alseep on the Christmas tree box. I figure if she made it a little over two miles, crossed the railroad tracks, and evaded the humane officer she can stay. She’s in good shape, her fur looks good, I found one flea, and she’s not knocked up, at least that I can tell right now.
Oh well, what’s a witch without a black cat? She’ll have to earn her keep though. When I have my big ass pumpkin party, Ms. Lola will have to pose in Halloween pictures. So there. The big puss.
(Inspired by Seamus and his poem post today)
Viggo Mortensen is one of my favorite poets. Although many are unaware that “Aragorn/Strider” is also a painter, photographer, and poet and has published several books and started his own publishing company, Perceval Press, for books like his. Books filled with paintings, and poems in paintings, and photographs, and poems with photographs. The website also features political commentary and is anti-war (and anti-Bush). Conservatives have been warned. They also publish fantasy books and other materials which otherwise would not have a place in a typical publishing company.
I own two of Viggo’s books (“Recent Forgeries” and “Sign Language”) and I’m looking forward to the day I can purchase, “Coincidence of Memory,” and the others. When I bought and read/heard “Recent Forgeries” it opened a new world for me in poetry. What? I can do this? I love this!!! WTF? Where have I been???
Of course, poetry, photography, and paintings are entirely subjective and to each their own. However, when I heard Viggo reading his own material on the CD enclosed with “Recent Forgeries,” indeed I was overwhelmed. Luckily, someone was kind enough to capture that CD on mp3 and examples of his work can be found here.
May I suggest… “Weekends,” to date, my favorite poem by Viggo.
Medicated lilies are lonely and greedy
sick for attention
dying for comfort
you’re drunk for days
Over-burdened moss rotten branches heave slowly with the weak night breeze
like a failing heart
and gray as the stone wall.
The nurse in me won’t let me leave
Homemade illness hardens into sugar
and batters your speech
draping your dry white tongue over your teeth
Red pin holes for eyes and your mouth is a smudge
Do I have to watch tomorrow afternoon
while you keep your face warm with the television
and the maple drips on the lawn chairs
that flake and rust on the flooded terrace?
When you start snoring
I’ll take the tray from your lap and tip you over
so I can look for the rest of your lunch under the green sofa cushions
and probably end up finding those pills you’ve been hiding
By the time the clouds dim
and I start to see us in the window
I’ll be drunk myself
and ready to wake you for dinner.
I don’t know if all of those words are right. The poem wasn’t actually written out in “Recent Forgeries” it was only on the CD. You can listen to it and see for yourself. At the time I got the book, Holland the Drunk had just moved out so listening to this poem was, in a sense, cathartic. I didn’t feel so alone.
Here is the poem I wrote after reading “Recent Forgeries.”
Stride I do on thin ice
spider web cracks
I see bubbles beneath my feet
Further away from shore
I should fall through
Ice is thinner in the middle
Or is it?
What if I don’t believe that?
Away from the shore
Stronger I become
The bubbles rumble
But don’t break
Thin ice holds
Even the heaviest of hearts
I liked it at the time, but now its… eh.
Here, though, is one that I still like:
They drive so close their auras seep into my car like hazy red stop lights, mixing with blue notes from the radio until the air pulses purple. I turn my blinker on and slow down, confusing them on this exitless highway.
So… check out Viggo, have a great day, and read a poem today.
I feel crappy. Nate was messing around last night and not wanting to get in the car, being a little silly and I went to pick him up and throw him around a bit and he lifted his feet up and “dead weighted” me. It didn’t hurt at the time. Yet when raised my arms to wash my hair this morning… OH MY GODDESS!!!
I am in such extreme pain. It could be worse. I could have spasms, which I don’t. I just have a great big terrible nasty painful, owwy, owwy, owwy, owwy knot in my right shoulder and a smaller terrible nasty painful, owwy, owwy, owwy, owwy knot in my left shoulder.
I can’t turn my head very well and every time I move my shoulders pop and crack because the muscle has everything out of alignment back there. I’ve taken four ibuprofen and its barely touched it. I’m contemplating ice or a sledgehammer.
If I were at home I would be outside working in the yard and loosening the muscles up, even weedeating in the warm sun… which would feel really good on my shoulder right now. It hurts all the way into my hands… argh. Its gonna be a long day.
Have you clicked your mouse today? How often do you click your mouse? A lot right? We here in Blogland tend to be a fairly creative bunch of peeps. We write and knit and sew and sing and dance and play music, paint, draw, and otherwise create things. If you’re like me though, you wake up all right-brained and ready to march forth into creativity only to have to go to work and become a logical, rational, analytical individual. At least I do. The only creativity I get to exercise at work is how to spin problems out of cases.
When I get home, I’m mentally exhausted from forcing my left-brain to override my right-brain so I’m not blogging, writing articles, doodling, and daydreaming my day away. I find if I can just get my brain to click back to the right side I’m fine. Its like its sat over there, dormant, twiddling its tentacles, poking its bulging grey matter, thinking about how it needs to diet, and what a slug it is, wondering when it can come out and play.
I like writing at night but I was having problems a few months ago getting my sluggish right brain restarted after a rough day at the office. Until… my keyboard broke. That’s right, just broke. I tried putting my mouse on the right side of my extremely messy, tiny desk but it kept falling off and the wire was just “thismuch” too small to comfortably use it. So, I switched it and put it on top of the printer desk on my left side.
Yes, I am ambidextrous but after years of clicking with my right hand it was a little frustrating to remember to use my left middle finger to double click and my left pointer finger to “right” click. Sometimes it still takes conscious effort to get that middle finger to double click. Single clicks are okay, but double clicks are more difficult.
The payoff though is that by forcing myself to use the left side of my body for an unusual activity which requires a little more concentration it forces my right-brain to wake up. I believe I read about a similar exercise in Betty Edwards’ “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” in which you had to do an exercise with your left-side to prepare you for right-brained activities. Dr. Edwards has a new book out now and an exercise on her website which is linked above.
I’ll give you another tip from her book regarding drawing in general. Often when we go to reproduce an image we look at it as a whole. However, if you flip the image upside down it becomes a jumble of lines and curves which forces you to reproduce the angles of the curves and lines instead of attempting the entire thing at once.
Additionally, I learned in college to “grid” a photo using a square cut out of a stiff piece of paper. You divided your photo into a scale model and then drew the lines on it and using that stiff piece of paper made sure you can only see one square at a time. This forces you to only draw the lines, curves and shading which is in that small box.
That’s your right-brained/drawing lesson for today. Now, go out there and make me proud.
Sorry I didn’t answer any of the comments from this weekend. I’m a bad blogger!! Forgive me.
So, I talked to my cousin PC last night and since he had finished the book, he and I had a gabfest over the still to come (in two or three years… its already killing me) Book 7. I spent the remainder of the weekend doing further research on Jesse James and his connection to my family. I found a very interesting commentary on him posted on another family site which supports my great-great grandmother’s assertion that she served him dinner in a boardinghouse in Pikeville, KY, sometime around 1874/1875.
Matter of fact, I’m so excited, I’m writing an article on it. I hope though, to actually make it to the area and meet some of my distant relatives, take pictures, etc. I will be contacting the Pike County Historical Society and see if they have anything in their archives NOT related to the Hatfields and McCoys.
I’m also working on an article on ADD/ADHD from a personal perspective and on a trip I took to East Germany/Berlin before the Berlin Wall fell. I now feel the need to research National Geographic to see if they have done an article in the last 10 years on an idea I have. Wouldn’t that be the shizznet? If National Geographic paid me to do an article? Hey, I aim high!!
Anyway… I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and I’ve got files piled up to my chin, I need more coffee and some sort of sustenance. Happy Monday!! I’ll be around to see you guys as soon as I can.
I’m crying too hard to read right now and everytime I get under control enough to read, what I read makes me cry.
Funny how you don’t realize how much characters in books feel like your family…
The strange thing is I predicted what would happen, just last night at the party…
I’ll say no more.