Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Poem

Today I opened
my heart to you,
bare and beating free.
It quivered and wilted
under your gaze,
waiting for the lash.
Before it only knew
dull pain,
silent betrayal,
and the melancholy rush.
I opened a wound
once scabbed over
now raw and swollen
with memories.
Today it was
set free
by the ease of
acceptance.


 
 
*Image courtesy of Google

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Significant Moment

The weekend was full of promise and adventure with the sunshine.  Now this wounded Monday is cloudy and already dragging me down with the load of things I should be doing but don't want to do.  But I will plow through it because that is just part of my personality and what not.

Today's prompt is a significant moment in my writing history.  This should be something interesting and telling about me.  Yet, I am having the worst time trying to figure out what that would be.  A lot of things have influenced me, but they are playing hide and seek in my memory to spite me and this prompt.  Darn those memory goblins.

I guess we will just have to take a look at my smaller days.  When I think back to when I was younger, I remember bending papers in half and stapling them together to form a book.  I drew pictures inside and wrote little blurbs of dialogue and descriptions of young animals, especially baby turtles, and the ever interesting fairies.  Back in those days, I was obsessed with fairies and thought they were roaming in the bushes behind my house.  What young girl didn't think this? 

What I remember prominently about these little books was that no one read them or paid much attention to them, which crushed a little piece inside of me.  Sometimes, people read them, told me it was great, and then left it on a table to later be thrown away with the rest of the junk mail.  I continued to make these little stories and telling relatives and friends about them to entertain and make them all laugh, but they all eventually lost interest.  That was hard to deal with, but I kept on writing my little stories because they at least entertained me.

In middle school, my love of stories was finally recognized in my first ever official English class with Ms. Merritt.  I remember in sixth grade how we did a unit on poetry and fairy tales.  We wrote poems in class and were required to read them out loud to everyone, whether you wanted to or not.  At the end of the unit, we all went up on a stage and read a poem we wrote to jazz music and everyone snapped for each nervous kid, no matter the content of the poem or its quality.  We documented all of the poems we wrote in hardcover books that we put together and shared them with the class.  To this day, I still hold that little poetry collection dear to my heart.  Another assignment we completed was writing a continuation of a fairy tale.  I chose Snow White's story and wrote about how rough of a time she had with her mother-in-law.  It was fun, and I enjoyed every minute of Ms. Merritt's class.  Before the end of my sixth grade year, she provided me with information about a writing camp for the summer and really made me feel like I had potential to be a writer.  I will always be grateful to her for this gift.

That is probably my significant moment.  The moment Ms. Merritt walked into my math class and singled me out for something that I would come to feel special by.  At that point when she came to Mr. Hasselquist's math class, we were just sitting at our desks, doing the assigned homework for the night.  It was the beginning of algebraic formulas and headaches to come.  She weaved through the clustered desks to reach mine in the last row closest to the window.  When she reached me, she knelt by my desk and handed me an envelope.  Inside it was information about a writing camp for sixth to ninth graders that was put on at one of the middle schools during the end of July to the beginning of August.  She told me she thought this would be good for me and she believed that, with a little more knowledge, I could be a writer. 

After all of that, I am here at St. Norbert College, studying English with a creative writing emphasis.  I hope she's not disappointed.  I think everyone who ever wants to do anything they love, whether it's writing, painting, or finance, they just need that one person who makes them feel like they can actually do it.  That belief and encouragement is powerful.

Many of my English teachers throughout middle school and high school helped further my confidence in writing after that pivotal moment.  I appreciate all of the teachings and guidance they provided.  To all of them, I give thanks.  I wouldn't have made it this far without you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lamott vs My Writing

I've been assigned to reflect on Anne Lamott's words while, in actuality, reflecting on my own process, sense, and discovery of writing.  How do I write?

While reading Anne Lamott's book, bird by bird, she starts off by mentioning the never ending writing pot of childhood.  With this, I am brought back to where I actually began to write.  From the time I was an elementary schooler, I've enjoyed books and writing little snippets of words down.  I've gone through an abundant number of journals of ideas and short stories that don't make any sense now but were brilliant to me at the time.  When I'd show them to people who wanted to know about it, they'd nod and smile, telling me that's wonderful.  Then they'd ask how math was going.

Writing is not believed to be the most practical occupation out there.  Maybe they're right, but it genuinely fills me with satisfaction in a way that math and science never did.  That might make me crazy and ideal minded, but doesn't it matter that I am happy?

Whatever the answer, I will continue to write. 

But I digress.  This is not a rant about the illusion that may have been cast over me or the judgements on being an English major.  This is supposed to be about reflection.

If I were to look through the numerous word documents stored on my hard drive or the bajillion journals sitting in a drawer somewhere over the rainbow, I'd find changes in how I write today.  When I began writing, I tried to start at the beginning of a story, or what I thought would be the beginning, because this was proper according to my teachers.  Now I start wherever an idea wants me to.  Sometimes this results in me starting at the beginning, more often in the middle, and frequently at the end.  I write all these bits in pieces on separate word documents or pages in my leather journal.  Eventually, they will be smashed together and smoothed out.  At least, this is the hope.

Lamott says to plow out that first shitty draft in whatever manner possible.  I recall now a Stephen King quote where he says, "The scariest moment is always just before you start."  Somewhere in my closet there is a t-shirt with this saying.  Also, I don't remember who it is, but someone also said to just shut up, sit down, and write, which is another t-shirt in my closet.  All of these are pretty accurate.  In many cases, though, I have no choice BUT to write.  Otherwise, I have this constant nagging at the back of my mind of something waiting impatiently to be told, gnawing away at my focus until I admit defeat and try to record it.  I think this is probably why I have so many different things started on my computer.  Now I just have to finish something.

I like Lamott's  advice on carrying around index cards.  In lieu of those, I tote around post it notes.  When those seem to run away, I usually have a pen on hand to write on myself.  The trick then is to write it down somewhere else before the ink fades.  Eventually, those post it notes turn into bulleted lists in my journal or laptop.  The origens of those words that scribble their way down range from what Lamott recommends as paying attention to life and how it communicates to you.  Other times, it's just thoughts, random images that pop into my head, or nightmares/dreams that never seem to stop plaguing me.  Maybe this is a good thing, but I really miss full nights of sleep.

This is becoming a lengthy response, so I should probably wrap this up.  I agree with a vast majority of what Lamott mentions about writing.  Needing to pay attention to ones surroundings, delving into memories for material, feeling protective over one's pieces, and the curse of perfectionism all make sense.  There's been a many word documents thrown into the abyss because I couldn't gag my inner perfectionist.  Other works I no longer had interest in, or I grew away from the narrator in the story. I use a lot of emotions from childhood memories to form a story or make characters among a setting I am familiar with from my small days.  This seems like something natural to a writer.