I’ve thought a lot the past few years about how my thoughts create my reality.
I know. It’s all a little “woo woo.” But it’s true.
After slamming my head into the sidewalk two weeks ago during a run, I’ve spent time recovering with a bruised, scraped, and sore face. It seems every little thing reminds me of how much I hurt. A wire clothes hanger fell out of my closet and hit me in the forehead. Usually it’s not such a big deal, but this week? OUCH. And then there’s the pretty color of my face–a greenish yellow, a pukish color that has remained after the black and blue.
But I would have been ok with that incident. After all, it could have been so much worse.
Then, my right hand, the one with the arthritis in the thumb basal joint, started acting up. It seems I may have carpal tunnel, too. Even trying to unload the dishwasher made me wince.
So I’ve been grumpy. Really grumpy. And taking it out on everyone.
Yesterday, I realized I can let myself be so overcome by the darkness that I fail to see the light–my wonderful writing groups, the progress I’m making on my memoir, good friends and family, and a fabulous place to hang out during the day.
As George Harrison once said, it’s all in the mind. Here comes the sun…..
I loved teaching Cormier’s books (I am the Cheese, The Chocolate War). It’s probably why his words mean even more to me now.
In my worst nightmare, I am 5 or 6, riding in the back seat of my family’s car. My dad is driving up a steep mountain, around and around, almost like a child’s cylinder cone I used to play with. Suddenly, we stop. As we look out the front window, we realize the road has ended, as if it has fallen away.
A dead end.
I was thinking about this today when I read a piece about an artist’s need to balance control and risk. So often we find ourselves at a dead end, a place that seems to have no way out. A poem fails. A character loses authenticity. A sentence forces itself. We stop.
Our culture tells us failure means loss, an emptiness, a lack of worthiness. And yet, isn’t it in that space we often find ourselves?
This poem has failed at least five times:
I glimpse a second of your life
as the train barrels past Philadelphia and then south.
Smokey clouds pulse to rhythmic clacking
The toddler, too long in one place, runs up and down,
bumping into books and food, saying “Mama, Mama, Mama”
a thousand times.
And we ride along, managing our own stories
But, something in the telling makes me want to rewrite it again. I may finally pluck only the first line. But the poem will not have failed.
In my dream, my heroic dad manages to turn the car around inch by inch, until we are heading back down the mountain to safety.
I’d like to think I can turn this poem around as well.
I am compiling rejections from my poetry submissions. But, don’t feel sorry for me. Each one comes back, looking for a second, third, or twentieth massage.
That’s what good writing takes–effort. And, holy cow, is this fun. Revising feels like a word game for introverts–the only competition is with myself.
When I’m not revising, I’m surfing/reading. I had no idea there were so many literary sites. Everyone wants to write these days, it seems. This is my newest find where I just read (and will share with my writing peeps) — this.
It’s like my own little MFA.
I really thought I might make it, writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month. But since I’ve now missed a day, I think it’s time to end this experiment.
This was a stretch for me. My writing has been limited to feature and news stories for our local paper, academic writing, and blog posts–both personal and professional. When I opened my writing studio in January, my intent was to push myself to explore creative writing, which I loved as a child. Even as a reporter, I tried to focus on telling stories rather than covering budget hearings. One of my favorite assignments turned out to be spending the summer with homeless alcoholics in Fredericksburg. The paper allowed a three-day, front page series of stories.
Opening the studio has allowed me to dream big dreams. Write poetry? Sure. Start a novel? Why not? Work with other writers? Of course.
What I hope to do now is choose some of the poetry that has potential and toss the rest. Wendy Bishop says this: “Revision takes you from self to society, from the writer’s concerns to the readers’ concerns.”
The real work begins.