Writing Life, Writing On Writing

Context! Context! I Hear It in My Sleep

My poetry often tends toward context-less sketches.

Today’s, for example, is just about wings—red, crepe paper wings. There is no big meaning. There is no money line. It’s just…. here’s this picture. Is there beauty there?

Does poetry need a money line, or is the image enough? Is it enough to sketch and offer the sketch without offering an interpretation of the sketch?

I feel like it is but just about everyone I’ve ever encountered either teaching a workshop or participating in a workshop with me thinks differently.

I painted red, crepe-paper wings today standing up to a hurricane. That’s it. No context. No background to give you an idea of where the “wearer of the wings” is, where she came from, or who she is. I think the picture is pretty enough on its own. If a visual artist had to go into a long expository about what the pearl meant and why it was significant and what that girl was doing there and why her head was turned that way and the deeper meaning you should get out of it, it would be an unsuccessful painting. I feel the same can be true of some poems.

Here. Here’s the picture. Sometimes that’s enough.

Sometimes money lines get tiresome.

This could be me simply justifying bad poetic behavior—a naughty habit like the creative equivalent of hanging up the phone without saying “good-bye” or “I love you.” I’m not above rationalization. I may be above context, but not rationalization. Never rationalization.

How important is context really? How much can I get away with, or, more to the point, how little?

Am I a minimalist, or am I lazy?

Anthony Hopkins looks into the camera and asks, “Am I a good man, or a bad man?”

-M.

Writing Life, Writing On Writing

Sometimes I lay into it and declare stridently that my prose is so much better than poetry. It occurred to me this morning that that’s probably just a way of giving myself an excuse to punk out on writing poetry to the best of my ability. This composition stuff can be hard and scary as hell sometimes.

-M.

30 Day Writing Challenge, Humor, Prose

What I Did This Summer (Almost the Worst Thing I Can Think Of)

I moped around a lot. I saw Dr. Sexy. I told him I moped around a lot. He tinkered with my psych meds. We added more of the one that makes me feel like I have the flu for a few hours—the one that’s supposed to treat Parkinson’s but is not diagnostic, thank all the gods for that. It didn’t help—hasn’t helped. Summer is almost over and I’m still moping around.

I bought a blue lamp to help with my blues. I decided I get summer SAD. If that isn’t a thing, I invented it just now and that’s another thing I did this summer.

I bought a blue lamp to help with my blues because, being albino, all this goddamned sun gives me the blues. I get up in the dark and draw the drapes when the sun comes out because summer sun is brutal even through a window shaded by mock orange and concrete. In other words, I’m in the dark a lot. That’s another thing I did this summer: I was in the dark. A lot.

And my drapes are tinted maroon, so it’s red light all day and, as I am not a bat, red light makes me want to sleep instead of invigorating me to spread my wings and fly away, fly away, fly away. (I went to a Queen concert too this summer. Did you catch the reference, or did it fly away?)

So the blue light is to combat the red light of the no-light room I spend most of my time in, writing writing writing. Plugging away. Doing yarn crafts.

I’m making latch hook stockings for friends for Christmas. I’m making a wall hanging depicting foxes in a forest for a family of Foxes for their collective birthdays in November. I’m making a latch hook draft dodger for a friend’s mother. I’m making a penguin tree skirt. I’m making another wall hanging, this one of cardinals, for another friend for Christmas. I have no idea how to properly finish any of it, especially the round things. I’m going to have to learn to sew. That’s another thing I did this summer: started about twenty new projects and gave myself a reason to learn how to sew.

Of course, there is also iron-on binding and I could have merely given myself twenty reasons to learn how to iron in a straight line, but that’s not nearly as sexy, so let’s stick to the sewing thing.

My mother was in the hospital for a few days which meant I had to be a real grown up adult for a while—a real, grown up adult dealing with geriatric parent issues. I handled it swimmingly. She’s out of the hospital now and, as swimmingly as I handled it, I hope that’s not a stream I have to swim up again any time soon.

I ran for 25 minutes straight for the first time. I started listening to Dianetics. I did those two things at the same time. Abject nonsense takes the mind off how awful running really is and gets you more quickly to the place, post-run, of how wonderful running really was.

I told Dr. Sexy that I was able to run for 25 minutes straight for the first time. He’s a runner. Body body body. He was happy for me, but when I told him I intended to run my blue off, he cautioned me that the mental health benefits of exercise cap at thirty minutes, so I don’t need to run a marathon in order to be a happy human. I told him not to worry. I was never going to be a compulsive exerciser. Body body body. I’m sure he believes it.

I started this 30 day writing challenge. I started this essay for day 2 for which the assignment is to write the worst thing you can think of. This essay didn’t turn out half bad, but it has no proper ending. I could justify that by saying summer isn’t technically over yet and I could yet do more stuff, but I’m not gonna. Not having a proper end isn’t the worst thing I can think of, but it’s a lovely clunk that fulfills the assignment, so clunk. There it is. The end.

-M.

Fears, Writing Life, Writing On Writing

Writers’ Insecurity: Give Me 20

I am not a long-write poet and suspect, by nature, I never will be. Most of the time, I see much more value in longer works than in what I produce, (read as: “most of the time I see more value in what everyone else in the world is doing except me”). In this insecurity, I am like a child who stubbornly believes ten one dollar bills will always be worth more than one twenty dollar bill.

A friend of mine once told me he doubts I have the attention span for long-write. Possibly. More likely though, I’ve got an addict’s taste for hit-and-run.

-M.

Fears, Writing Life, Writing On Writing

Some People Call It “Terminal Uniqueness.”

It’s crazy how these old worries keep coming back. In my mind I’m in a poorly lit room. I look down at my own work and think, pouting, “But my work doesn’t sound like other people’s work. My work doesn’t sound like what’s in the literary journals and magazines.” It’s true, but why I automatically jump to the conclusion that this is a bad thing is beyond me. I may have trouble finding a home, but when I do, it will be the right home, the Goldilocks home. Maybe I’ll find several.

The only thing I must absolutely not do is write what I think I should sound like rather than writing what I actually sound like. My poetry and essays look and sound how it looks and sounds in my mind. That’s a good thing because I’m the only one who has my mind. For the world’s sake, that’s an excellent thing.

-M.