The rules: The 1st player of this "game" starts with the topic "5 weird habits of yourself" and people who get tagged need to write a blog entry about their 5 weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names.
I was tagged by Autumn Verses.
1. I read my email replies before I check my blogs. I feel compelled to do it in that specific order for some reason. Only after I have read the email do I click over to the blog to reread the same comment.
2. Saturday mornings have become my default time to write. I get into the flow almost instantly and I am extremely annoyed if interrupted. “My time” she shouts to the household. I have other days of the week off while the kids are in school, I have other time, but this time appears to be “the time”. Now I just need to be able to harness it consistently...like herding ferrets.
3. Despite my height, I do not feel tall. Never really have. And it was only after having children that I realize that I am a tall person. Still don’t feel it, but at least I know it now. I get this would be opposite to a habit. I don’t have a habit of feeling my height.
4. While writing this story of mine, yet to be called a novel, because I am resistant to that too, I have covered sheets of paper with notes collected in a binder, and a white board too. It is a magnetic white board (are they all?) so I have collected articles, and other bit notes to hang on this. It is covered with short ideas I jot as they occur to me. As I use the notes, they get stacked so they don’t interrupt me looking for other notes. I realized yesterday, that I need to chart this story. It is getting too big to handle with just my sad little memory.
5. I think my biggest habit is reading blogs of all sorts. I just sat here pondering this last habit. This is it. I am fascinated with seeing into people’s lives. I really cannot get enough. I have always been a people watcher, so this is just a much simpler version of that. But this way, people are putting their lives, whatever they choose, out there. This virtual world astounds me with its honesty, love, beauty, brutality and offerings. It never ceases to amaze me. It is a gift. Luckily I have found nice people so I haven’t had a harsh experience online. This habit has supplanted reading fiction in many ways. It touches me I think because it is real. Fiction usually is not, and that truth is a huge attraction for me.
I tag Gwyn (Half Life), and any four other people who read this entry. I don’t have many links on this blog, so feel free to consider yourself tagged. Let me know who you are so I can check out your post.
Thanks Autumn. Great meme!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
The rules: The 1st player of this "game" starts with the topic "5 weird habits of yourself" and people who get tagged need to write a blog entry about their 5 weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names.
Posted by vmh at 2:15 PM
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Online NewsHour: Lisel Mueller -- Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet - April 14, 1997
Ok, now I have to go and read her. This is almost exactly my experience.
How we come to find things, how we see the butterfly flapping its wings, is a path I enjoy following. This is yet another example.
Not much story happening, but that isn’t a problem. Is the butterfly’s effect that tells me I can wait.
Little bit by little tiny bit, the plot thickens, and I just need to do the work of writing it.
I hope you all had and are continuing to have happy holidays.
Just a small dip into today. Enjoy the link and have a great day.
Posted by vmh at 7:03 AM
Thursday, November 24, 2005
I have been thinking about structure lately. I think that my story might require some. I have been writing as I see fit, bits that come to me, but I think that perhaps I need some sort of structure that could help guide me. I have come to respect writers who use structure invisibly. Unless it is the point, I think it should be invisible. Only visible upon a second closer look.
My story has been floundering a little. The stopping place I reached some time ago hasn’t proceeded. There hasn’t been enough action. And we just don’t want to go to the place where the metaphor for “story of writer” as plot happens. We just don’t. I am letting the muse/whatever we shall call it happen. It seems to be resting and that is of the good. I am of the opinion that it will happen when it does, so I am not worried. But I hope that some thread occurs that ties this together. Some plot point extension that gathers the bits. There is the theme that continues unabated, but that doesn’t tell the story. That is my job. And right now, Trapper is on vacation. Still. Yes, I know, my issues. But seriously, I am not sure what will be next. The other characters seem to want to tell their story. And I know this is of the good as well, so I let them. Hence structure.
I bounce back and forth between structure being an excuse for the lazy writer who doesn’t want to do the work, and structure being the permission to go forth and create. Probably both, like most things, very few absolutes. So that is where I am. Wondering if I should impose another structure on top of what I have already. Or if I should worry about that later. I have to say, after I have some idea that I go back and work into the story, I feel like it is too purposeful and molded to be true, and it isn’t some organic thing. It isn’t. But as I found out last April, that isn’t a bad thing either. Lots of goods and bads here. I am so judgmental about all of this. Hey, it keeps me editing and we all know that is of the good.
I feel as if my writing has changed. I am verbing way more now too. I feel it in my speaking as well as my writing. Bad use of the word verb, but it is Thanksgiving and I am glad for all of my words. Joyce taught me that.
Have a great day!
Posted by vmh at 7:50 AM
Sunday, October 23, 2005
I appear to becoming obsessive about small town details. Apparently there used to be opera houses, even two sometimes, in most small towns in the Midwest in the late 1800’s. Vaudeville killed these, the entertainment changing dramatically. Vaudeville killed the opera star… Evolution. Anyhow, some towns are not trying to refurbish these locations. They were most often on the second floor of a downtown building. The woman that told me about this said her town’s opera house was on the second floor over a hardware store. Ching, ching. This has to be worked into my story somehow. And also outdoors hot tubs. They are quite common in small towns now too. Groups of teenagers take full advantage of the qualities that are most intense about them. Or at least in this one specific town, where many of my characters seem to have arisen. The two sisters will need to have one. So they can watch the character “manage” his mannequins sometimes even in his hearse. (True story)
It really is amazing. The common general consensus is that small town living is the cornerstone of this country. But if the town I have heard about is any indication, then this country is quite um… screwed up to put it politely. I am just amazed that something that is generally considered the foundation of this nation and votes red in droves, really would shock the Republican mindset if that behavior were made public. It really is amusing to me. People around here think that city living is rife with crime, and inappropriate behavior, but no, not really compared to their own “small town” behavior.
People are equally screwed up everywhere. I don’t think location really matters. Is amused again. So much to work with, fodder, fodder everywhere.
Yesterday, I wrote the police scene with young, ever-growing evil, Chad. I will have to work on this. I haven’t had much experience dealing with police matters, so I hope there is at least a little bit of realism within the scene. I have dealt with crisis intervention, so I worked from that perspective. But then again, I haven’t dealt with drunken children, mannequin-loving postal workers, or testicle eating either, and that hasn’t kept me from writing about it.
I worry about the absurdity of all of this, but I realize that is absurd too. If I can manage to actually do this, I hope it works out in a way that isn’t so absurd.
My husband tells people now, who ask him what his wife does, that she is writing a novel. Dumbstruck now. Pressure too. Oh well, that is fine. I will keep that away, because that sort of pressure, pride, is not needed. I haven’t even called it a novel yet. But it is nice to see someone other than myself take it seriously. Makes it feel a little more real maybe. Not just me typing away in my basement office.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
Posted by vmh at 10:35 AM
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Much detailing has been happening lately. The back-story of several characters have been revealing themselves to me.
I wonder how much control I have of this process. I think not much. Therefore I don’t need to worry about it. Actually I haven’t much. It is what it is.
I told a group of friends about this project. They asked if it was a novel and I told them that for now I am simply referring to it as my story. Interesting if that isn’t capitalized and italicized. Swings back around to what it will be. The major character hasn’t been in my spotlight lately. I have realized that some of the plot has been chosen because I know I am not a good enough writer to tackle certain ambitious ideas I have. My ideas are always so much better than the follow through. Most of the time anyway. So I think that the story will keep coiling as I improve. I think I have, at least a little. What I have become is much more critical of what I am reading. That too has been a coiling process. Little leaps and catch-ups and little leaps. So I told them the story outline. Broad, and kept a few details to myself. I don’t know what they would think of them, experimental if you will, so I kept silent about those. The world is building, and from that I need to be able to keep up. I think part of the reason I am looking to other characters right now, is that I had reaching a holding pattern on what I would do with Trapper. So for now, he is waiting. Ha, he is even on vacation right now in the story. On a hammock. What I am assuming will happen, and it has a few times already, is that he is waiting for me to reach him. He then will be able to move forward. Coiling. His hair has coils, my Medusa. I can’t look to closely or I will explode.
The friends were very supportive, interested. And apparently I am factually correct in my imaginings. One woman, who is from a rural area, explained that men in those areas have a dearth of women to choose to marry. There are none. They have all moved on, so the men left have begun to purchase wives. It is happening more and more often and isn’t considered rare any longer. Small town news you don’t hear about. And my good friend here even has um, testicles of cows in her freezer. I was shocked. She said I could visit any time to have a glance. So gross. But there are festivals and such. I don’t think I would have the stomach to attend one of those. I will leave them to the courageous. I will just write. I can do that. How well is still to be determined, I am just worrying about the how right now. The how and the when fills my thoughts. The actual output feels like smoke drifting aloft. In sight, but light and airy and uncontained. Capturing this, him, the story, is fascinating. I watch it while I do it, and I believe the story will capture this too. The gift of this is ongoing. I am having a ball. Every pun intended!
Thanks for reading!!
Posted by vmh at 3:47 PM
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Where does the poem begin? I have been thinking about this lately and will post something about this possibly tomorrow.
Has anyone found any poets speaking out about Katrina and its aftermath? There has been much silence and I don't know why. I might be looking in the wrong places.
Louise Gluck says in Proofs and Theories in the essay "Against Sincerity" that
"the advantage of poetry over life is that poetry, if it is sharp enough, may last. We are unnerved, I suppose, by the thought that authenticity, in the poem, is not produced by sincerity. We incline, in our anxiety for formulas, to be literal; we scan Frost's face compulsively for hidden kindness, having found the poems to be, by all reports, so much better than the man. This assumes our poems are our fingerprints, which they are not. And the processes by which experience is changed - heightened, distilled, made memorable - have nothing to do with sincerity. The truth, on the page, need not have been lived. It is, instead, all that can be envisioned."
I am still struggling with this. I want poetry not to be fiction, although many times it is. This ties back into my thoughts about where the poem begins. The two questions above tie together as well in what I expect from poets, potentially the vanguard of humanity's soul. Should they not be speaking about what can be envisioned in the aftermath of such tragedy?
I guess it is about expectations. I am still struggling with this one.
Posted by vmh at 6:40 PM
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Gazing to gold seraph wing,
With wistful wonder in my eyes,
A blue-behinded ape, I swing
Upon the palms of Paradise.
A parakeet of gaudy hue
Upon a flame tree smugly rocks;
Oh, we're a precious pair, we two,
I gibber while the parrot squawks.
"If I had but your wings," I sigh,
"How ardently would I aspire
To soar celestially high
And mingle with yon angel choir."
His beady eye is bitter hard;
Right mockingly he squints at me;
As critic might review a bard
His scorn is withering to see.
And as I beat my brest and howl,
"Poor fool," he shrills, my bliss to wreck.
So . . . so I steal behind that fowl
And grab his claw and screw his neck.
And swift his scarlet wings I tear;
Seeking to soar, with hope divine,
I frantically beat the air,
And crash to earth and - snap my spine.
Yet as I lie with shaken breaths
Of pain I watch my seraph throng. . . .
Oh, I would die a dozen deaths
Could I but sing one deathless song!
Posted by vmh at 5:12 PM
Monday, August 22, 2005
If wishes were horses, then I would definitely have a whole stable full.
Some where over… one day over the… if I ever have a chapbook published it will be entitled “Lessons”.
This should give me something to sing about. Multiple metaphors, vault the meaning home. Dribble and dank. All of this little bits that are stirring and steeping, how I wish they all were tied together somehow. I am in the center watching them pop and rage, and I am stockpiling them. I have a desktop filled with bits and pieces of what will be something soon one day. I have these fragments that I think are pretty good or will be, potential in all things I insist, and I have been carving them like a crazed aproned housewife at thanksgiving and the carving isn’t resulting in anything other than more pieces.
The more poetry I read, the more the parts fall away. I don’t know what this means. I am having trouble distinguishing. Well maybe not, but so much of what I read now doesn’t suit me or fill me, my ante has been upped and I don’t know what to do with it now.
I have been thinking about expectations recently too. I think this is tied in with the bits. My expectations have changed for what I read, so consequently they have changed about what I write. I referred to this before as the road only getting longer, it is, but when you can’t see the end, or some days even the sides, and you can only see your footsteps in the path, it is frightening. Talk about isolation. I feel like I am grasping, always the poem I see just out of reach. And I have long arms too. The sensation of it is never effable, haha, and always exhausting.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge got it right with:
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
He knew this because he had written a poem. I am certain now this poem is about writing poetry. Beware.
Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 8:40 PM
Sunday, August 14, 2005
I was going to write elsewhere but I am in a mood so I will write for those that want to read what I have to say.
Funny that a public readership is more private than locked posts elsewhere. Anyway, the story is moving slowly. I recently typed up what I had written on vacation. I have included some manipulation of real life events into the story. I think of them as cute additions, moments that develop character and since I was there I hope I am capturing something real rather than just relating imaginary moments. I was not participating in those invented moments, just watching and recording.
Once again I am at the place where I need to reread all of it. I still am happy enough with the plot and characterizations I have done. I think the characters are pretty fleshed out, but I want my actual prose to be better. I want my prose to reveal character even more, I want it full and dense and lively and sonically gorgeous. I want the verbs to be so active they scream and the characters to step off the page. I want you to see where they live, how they feel and get in their mind. I don’t think I have accomplished all of that yet. The other day someone mentioned ambition as to writing. I have heaps of that but whether I am successful in that is the rub. I am not yet. I know that. Never been a problem for me to admit my failings, heh, that is one of my failings.
It has been almost a year that I have worked on this story. October I think I started. Very intermittently I admit, and certainly with losses (hard drive Thanksgiving day disaster) but I am hoping it will add to the texture of the story. I have become one of those people who mine their life for their story. In fact though, I have realized that my life has ended up in the story without any aid from me. I don’t think that can be helped. I am not going to worry about that or else I won’t be able to write a thing. Not a single thing. Revelation you know! And so I am blogging about it. That is amusing to me.
Go and have a great day. Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 8:06 AM
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Friday, July 15, 2005
I will be gone for two weeks and will not be posting during that time. But I hopehopehope to be writing and reading and reading and writing. The stack of books I am bringing on vacation could fill a suitcase. They are (for starters and I am still collecting, as I don’t know what my mood will be):
-Pale Fire by Nabokov (in the midst now)
-The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
-The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
-Portrait of a Young Artist and Dubliners by James Joyce! (I have them separately but these are bound together, excellent for easier traveling.)
-Paradise Lost by John Milton (read it in college, deserves a reread)
-Collected Poems by Stephen Dunn? (lately reading him as been too often dismaying)
I forgot to copy all of my notes for my story. I don’t want to bring them in case they get misplaced. I also don’t want them lying around where prying eyes could see. Spoilers you know!
Have a great couple of weeks and thanks for reading!
Posted by vmh at 10:23 AM
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Things are percolating. I haven’t written here in some time but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking and pondering it. Things are percolating. There are a few poem bits gestating as well as story ideas. I will be traveling for the next two weeks and I hope to write. Long hand unless I can bring a laptop along. Either way I am hopeful. Recent activities have really energized and inspired me and I hope to bring that to my story and to the poems.
It is always amazing to me how interactions prompt creativity. Bad interactions as well as the positive ones. Lately, they have been positive. I don’t know what that will do to my writing. Joyous things I hope. I do hope and wish about my writing. With every word I absorb, every word I read and every word I write, I see the long road in front of me. Interestingly it is only getting longer.
Vladamir Nabokov said that his characters were his “galley slaves”. That is such an interesting fruitful idea. Taking the muse out of the equation. Taking the other out. They will do only as the writer pleases. I like that sense of control. Depending on the other doesn’t make for concrete writing. I feel that it should be a combination of inspiration, the spark that lights the way, and the hard road of the work. I haven’t had any trouble with inspiration lately although I will admit to being a little lazy avoiding the work. I allow anything to inspire me. I won’t limit that. I do find time limits me; all of the other aspects of my life have to be lived too. All I want to do now is write. I like the angles and the points and the expression. I haven’t had the focus on intent like this in some time. In many ways it is completely apart from my life. This solitary aspect is what I am reveling in. I don’t require anyone else around to do this. My life is so bound up with other things, which I love, but this is mine. I crave this now. The dilemma of all those who have a goal. I don’t know the goal precisely, but I know the feeling I want to achieve by doing this. I know how I feel when I do it.
I will try to update before I go. Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 5:04 PM
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Monday, June 20, 2005
So I almost forgot. Almost forgot that Stephen Dunn and Ted Kooser were reading tonight here. Two for one. That is the understatement of the year. And I was brazen too. Tell you about that in a moment.
It began late and my daughter was getting fidgety. She saw Ted Kooser read last time and loved him. She says his poetry is understandable. After too many introductions of university officials, they finally introduced Stephen Dunn. As he was putting on his microphone, it got tied up on his glasses. He never got them undone and did the whole reading with this wire up around his glasses. As a result there was feedback the whole reading. It was like a collective hum. Sort of poetry set to music! He read for not long enough. Only one poem that I hoped he would read, a few I had heard, several I hadn’t. The audience, mostly attendees at the writers’ conference here, seemed split between those that had heard none of his poems, or those that knew all of them. People seemed to enjoy his humorous poems and seemed shocked at those that weren’t. No one clapped for those. Not impressed with the audience.
Ted Kooser took the stage and read for a little longer. He read poems that he read last winter. He read a poem he wrote this week about the stink of fame, and him lapping it up like a dog. Very funny.
What he did was invite the women to give him their addresses to be included in his annual Valentine poem he sends by mail to ladies. I was inspired to be brazen.
After the reading, I purchased two Dunn books, his collected works 1974-94 and his book of essays entitled Walking Light. I got them both signed. Dunn noted my daughter, and commented that my daughter and I look alike. He asked for my name and inscribed the books. I think he may have blushed.
Ted Kooser was sitting next to him signing as well. I did not purchase any Kooser books because I purchased a few last time, and honestly I came to see Dunn. But what I did do was scrawl my name and address on a slip of paper for a future Valentine. He took it happily. I can be brazen. I was going to scrawl it on a copy of one of my poems but I thought that might be a bit much.
The university photographer took our picture with Dunn so I might call them tomorrow and ask for a copy. That would be cool.
We made our way past the table of chocolates, my daughter grabbed several and we left. A very pleasant evening I wish would have been longer.
X posted to lj.
Posted by vmh at 9:53 PM
Sunday, June 19, 2005
A friend asked elsewhere to someone else, do you ever wilt not being able to get the words? This struck me hard. I have found in the last year, when I have had an abundance of words in many places, that by having this abundance, it has made me value the words even more. It does pain me when I can’t find them, when I want or need them. When I can feel the word just out of my grasp. It really is physical. While writing this story (more on that in a moment) I know what I want to say, plot hasn’t been the hard part, but how to say it how I know I want to say it, is so hard. When you read others writings and see the beauty, see the coming together of the words so that the words become invisible to the ideas, I want my story to be like that. I know it isn’t anywhere there yet, maybe will never be, but yes, I wilt. I can understand completely why people give up writing, or drawing. To stand in front of the greats, people who have shook your world to the core, and say, "Here is mine," well, that is harsh. Like Little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two, handing the Grinch the Christmas ornament. Like that. That makes you put away the paper and pen, lock it in a drawer, throw it in the fire, toss it in the trash. You’ve heard the stories. I can understand that. But in my naïveté, I keep going. I think if I weren’t naïve about this a little, I wouldn’t do it. But what the hell. I have failed before, so what? Been there done, that to employ a very over used cliché. Now on the other hand, if I were to succeed in this, well, haven’t done that before. That would be nice wouldn’t it?
So research. Yesterday I was able to get quite a bit of the back story written about poor Chad. Alcoholic, soccer ball kicking, manslaughter goal making 11 year old. Yes, I am still using his name, but I haven’t decided it he will die by hanging yet. That joke might not be sensitive enough to what is happening in the story. For the time being, I will keep that idea percolating, just to see what happens. Right, research. Yesterday I researched EMT’s, body disposal, small town police procedures, paint cans, and wine cellars. All of this just for one short chapter of back story to be inserted somewhere. I haven’t decided where I am going to put this yet. It needs to be placed appropriately, because it explains how Trapper, in part, ended up where he is. Butterfly chaos. It will float around until it tells me where it should be. For some reason, don’t know why, allowing the floating of these bits seems to work well. I think inserting myself into the process wrecks it. Much laughing here. I seem to be able to rewrite something into oblivion. Gotta stay out of it.
Thanks for reading!!
Posted by vmh at 7:41 AM
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Just finished Ulysses. Brilliant. Beautiful, loving and sharp.
Living life with the full realization of what is, is a gift. I think this is the source of Joyce's talent. Well one of them anyway. Joyce had the ability to make fully human a character, without falling into pretention, or stereotype. That is difficult to do well. He uses many methods in this novel to achieve this. Styling variations help too.
I am still reeling. It hasn't completely sunk in yet. I love Molly. I like Bloom. Stephen is harder to grab. Don't know why but he is. I wish we had heard more from Milly. Letters aren't always enough. Mother's imaginings about their daughter is not enough. More layers in the rest of the story.
I like Joyce's Dublin more than the real one I visited. I just remember shopping for my Aran Island sweater. And the IRA bookstore. It has been a while. I have much more vivid memories of Dalkey.
So anyway, have a glass of cheer for James Joyce. A man who knew how to express life. I hoped he lived it as well as he wrote it. I will find our shortly. Amazon is delivering the biography soon. Then I shall know some of the rest of his story. Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 9:38 PM
Monday, June 06, 2005
While my cookies cool, and my tomato sauce simmers, I will update. It has been a while. But I have a great excuse. I have been visiting Dublin, or rather Joyce’s Dublin. A chapter a day of Ulysses, a friend’s suggestion. Better than apples or vitamins, this book has changed the way I think about sentence structure and wording. I think (and I am immersed in Chapter 14 right now) this novel will change the way I think about writing all together. Joyce struggled to find his voice, but boy did he! JJ, as I have been thinking of him, (no not Abrams of Alias fame) but rather a friendly chap who gave us his world. He viewed the world in a very particular, dare I say Joycean way, and only half way through this book, and already, I love his world. It is scary and dank, but it is also light and smiling. Kind of like the real world. Initially I thought he didn’t like his characters too much, that he was angry with them. But now I see how much he cares for them. He is gentle with them despite their wrong doings, their particularities. I think he covets them. He takes them by the hand. I realized that this morning. He is the gentle father I think he wishes the world would be to him. He plays no games and is true to them. He uses them of course, all writers do, but I think so far he has been fair with them.
I truly am enjoying this exercise. Pushups for the mind. I am glad my friend suggested this. A literary voyage of the most challenging and fun kind. Like a walk around Dublin.
Posted by vmh at 4:23 PM
Saturday, May 28, 2005
To those googling chicken-eating spider, there are none here. It was a reference to a potential poem, so off you go!! Hee. Sorry for the interruption in your googling.
Yesterday was a full day. I was inspired in so many different kinds of ways. I let my life inspire me. I let it flow to see where the river leads. I was given a gift from a response elsewhere that has led to me to know in what direction I am going to take a certain character in my story. I was inspired with newfound energy from friends. I think much of the need of the writer is to let his or her life inform what they write. I haven’t decided if I believe in muses or not. I think it might just be a willingness to allow life around you to affect you. The muse is the guiding hand that lets you see, lets you be.
Gratitude is what you give yourself when you are glad. It is what you feel when you see the light of the wider world. Those that cannot be grateful are doomed to never see light in their world. What a tiny little dark place where I never hope to live.
Writing has been a way for me to express me. I didn’t write for a long time, other things took up my time. But now I have a chance to do this, and it allows me to feel more complete. I have the opportunity to do this and for that I am grateful too. I used to think feeling humbled was giving up control, giving up strength. I don’t anymore. But then again, I used to feel that way about gratitude too. Funny how things change. Perceptions about the wider view are absorbed …like a conk on the head.
My story has several conks on the head. One a tragedy, one a gift. Two sides of the same shiny coin. There is value accrued in everything if you let it shape you.
Some Larkin because I like Larkin:
Philip Larkin - To Put One Brick Upon Another
To put one brick upon another,
Add a third and then a forth,
Leaves no time to wonder whether
What you do has any worth.
But to sit with bricks around you
While the winds of heaven bawl
Weighing what you should or can do
Leaves no doubt of it at all.
Brilliant poem. Have a great day!
Posted by vmh at 10:31 AM
Sunday, May 22, 2005
It doesn't happen very often, but I am swirling now. I wrote a poem. Yes, one of those ordered groups of words that I wrote so many of a month ago. But this one has me burning. I am almost afraid of it. When one goes to the center, one can be burned. How is that for removing myself from my own poetry? Wow, sometimes it just happens. The muse, whatever you want to call it descends and starts that fire. Not Joel, but little old me. Sometimes it just happens the way it should.
Maybe it was the James Joyce I was reading. Don't know, but I am very glad.
Posted by vmh at 8:21 PM
Friday, May 20, 2005
I have been thinking about what to post here for a while now. I haven’t come up with much.
I printed out my story and I have to say, seeing it after an absence of a few weeks has been good. The offline off-paper mulling over of this story, coupled with new eyes has made me see its strong points and its many weak points. I need to add much more detail in the early part of the story.
I had planned on not having any dialogue until Trapper meets Iris but now I am not so sure that will work. It sounds too telly rather than showy. And with all of the readings I have done recently on the writer’s process, I have realized the holes the story has in technique. I have so much to do with this story. It is really boggling to see that. But… it is not a problem. I accept that aspect. I guess the problem would be if I could not see where I need to work on it. Even, in many years (ha) when this is finished, it will not be finished. As I realize what I need to do, then I want to go back and fix. I don’t see that ever ending. That is ok too.
I have realized a few other plot details too. Those were lacking for a while but now they seem to have evolved.
April’s poems took so much out of me that I hope there is stuff left. I am sure there is, there always is, but finding it, retrieving it may be the challenge.
I also find myself being lured away by other novels. I am looking at them differently now. I am looking at style, technique something I really never did so purposefully before. Plot, theme, and characterization were what interested me. Now I want to see the structure. How the heck did he/she do that? The quilting of words and the fine detail of choice is what is fascinating me now. As my view changes, so must my words. I wonder if anyone but me can tell? I have no idea about that. In some ways the process is so personal, that must inform that what is born from this process.
This is what this is really about. My story. Everything I write seems to circle back to this.
So I keep writing.
Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 1:05 PM
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online
Is this too cool or what? From Choriamb. The Donne love continues. Sigh. So much complexity.
Posted by vmh at 10:18 AM
Friday, May 06, 2005
No poetry for you today, just a few thoughts about the month of April. As my icon says, it wasn’t cruel. It was beautiful. It was challenging and thought provoking. Mostly challenging, as the thoughts got a little thin by the end. The NaPoWriMo diet. It revealed more than just poetry, it illuminated who friends are, and conversely who friends aren’t and that surprised me. But that is always a good thing because better not to expect anything from people who don’t want to hear from you. Knowing is always better. Cleansing breezes that bluster resulting in refinement and editing to discover the core. We do this with what we write, so maybe best to do it with friendship too. Winnowing and gathering.
I can’t believe I wrote 30 poems. That was the challenge and I am happy to have completed it. I know there are tidbits amongst those poems, bits that will go on to be better poems. That will be my challenge now. I had said that I would try to write at least one line a day. Well I am so poetically spent from April that even reading poetry is difficult right now. It blurs. I refuse to cheapen the experience by skimming. So I haven’t read much. I want to get back and do crits of other’s poems at the PFFA but I haven’t the heart to skim. Those writers deserve more than that. I will allow a few more days of refilling, for that pool is bottomless, before I head over there. I get the impression that is what many people are doing. Refilling.
I have only written 4 lines of poetry since the end of April. I did write a fairy tale for the first time. I enjoy that the word to describe these tales is Fairy. The imagined lightness with wings yet they contain so much weighty darkness. Mine does. But I do think that the ending is uplifting. Not happily ever after, but maybe a challenge to see things differently, thereby allowing the potential for a happily ever after. That is all we can ask.
Trapper has been sneaking around too. He keeps visiting me, and I am going to have to do something about him soon. I need a new printer cartridge and that is the only reason I haven’t printed out all of those words. I can’t even remember how many now. 15K, 20K? Boggling numbers to me. I am looking foreword to rediscovering those words, those characters.
I went to my book club last night. Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House. We were lucky to have the husband of one of the women attending give us a mini lecture on Cather. He is the leading Cather scholar here at the university. She was a fascinatingly complex woman whose personal life is under much speculation. Not one to see novels as strictly autobiographical, I think this novel certainly seems to fit that bill. It is a complex and interesting description of aging, memory, and loss. Especially loss. Technically this was an excellent novel, the structure fractured just like the memories of the characters in the book. Margaritas were had by all. Fun evening.
Thanks for reading!
Posted by vmh at 6:53 AM
Friday, April 29, 2005
I just have one more to go. One more and I will have written 30 poems in 30 days.
I am tired. I have a huge blank in my mind. I am having trouble remembering words, thinking of anything concrete. It is restful in a way, like a blowing cloud. But I do prefer me with words, words flowing. I like the busy meter of my life with words. I feel very empty. I prefer the fullness.
I think I will use May to fill me back up again. May is hard for other reasons, but that refilling might help with that too. We shall see.
I had no goals in this other than to finish. On the good days I was floating on the phrases I made, the twist of life that is poetry. On the bad days I wondered whom I was kidding. Why the hell would anyone, including myself want to read that drivel? But I did see that there is a seed there. I have only been writing poetry again for the last year or two. Writing other stuff since the fall. This intensifying has changed the way I think. Not how I feel, but how I think about words, about connections, the poetic twist, turn of phrase, the lifting of life that poetry offers. NaPoWriMo has forced me to do this. Normally I don’t like to be forced to do anything, but this is only a game with myself. Me daring myself. I don’t mind that. I only cheat myself if I fail.
I still have one more poem to write. I haven’t a clue what yet. My kids keep offering suggestions. My son wants me to write a poem about a chicken-eating spider. Some giant spider that kills chickens and drags them off to their hole in the ground. Ha. The chicken theme has been taken up elsewhere so I doubt I will do this. My daughter just wants me to write about her violin. Did that. I have mined nature, spring and a few other things. Poets are miners. Instead of hard hats, we type words. We light the way in the dark cave of life. Laugh now. I need to think of some bright well-lit idea for tomorrow. I would like to do something worthy of the time I have spent. I have no idea. The absence of words does not make for very worthy poetry. Trying to describe that absence is too hard for today. So I will open another Word file and stare at that for a while. The white absence.
Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 1:33 PM
Monday, April 04, 2005
Breaking news: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050404/nym208.html?.v=4 Cool! Yeah Kooser!
This was a tremendous volume of poetry, so great news.
Posted by vmh at 5:32 PM
My life this month. I woke up and wrote a poem. I went to the park for a picnic and wrote a poem. I wake and sleep poetry this month. Challenges, challenges. Ha. This will either kill my love of poetry or maybe help/save me. I have learned more in 48 hours about writing poetry than I have in years. Years I say. I modify too much. But I am challenged here because I want to add depth and texture, I want to sink into my words, and I feel if I cut and slash too much, there won’t be anything left. That is telling. My fears come true. I am learning. But the other side of that slashy sword is the fear that my poetry will become what I call talky-talky poetry. It is just talk. It means nothing else, it goes nowhere else, couldn’t find a metaphor if one hit it on the head and I don’t like that kind of poetry and I don’t want mine to become that. Run on sentence stop! OK. Fears do that too me, on and on I go.
I am challenged but luckily not deplete. So I will continue. We are at day five. I warned you all on my first day’s silly poem that this would happen. I foretold and now am saying so. Don’t ever say I didn’t listen to myself. So I have two poems I am working on for the challenges, tomorrow’s and maybe, tossing one around for the next day. I don’t think this is cheating, because I am splitting my time for each, therefore less than a day’s worth will be put into each. And it will probably show.
But mostly I am impressed with those poems and people I have found because of this endeavor. They take this very seriously and I am daunted by that. I hope that any frivolity on my part does not belie my gratitude for their help and suggestions. This is fun and this is challenging. Bring on day 5. I already said that today. April may not be cruel, but boy, it is going to be long.
Posted by vmh at 5:14 PM
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Check the link to the left for more info. Much fun is to be had in celebration of National Poetry month. Yes, you see, poetry can be enjoyed in its formally allotted one month per year. NaPoWriMo is much like the month long novel writing challenge, but not. A poem a day for the whole of April, and hopefully this won’t become my hole of April. April begins with a Fool and ends with May so I will grow with the month and not stay stuck on the 1st. Ha. I have been working on my first poem. I don't know if that is cheating or not, but alas, I am. I won't do this every time but I did want a Seussian start. That is how the poem feels to me. Cruel perhaps, but remember it is April.
I am looking forward to this. Words have been flowing very easily lately so of course my one worry is that this effort will stop up the flow. I have enjoyed the flow and want it to continue. We shall see. If I start complaining about the lack of flow, please point me back to this entry so I can be reminded that I already warned myself.
So join in if you dare. I have.
Posted by vmh at 6:58 PM
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Hee, I might do this.
I wonder if I could manage something that wasn’t bunk for a whole month. We shall see.
Personally, I think May is the cruelest month, but who am I to argue with Elliot. I liked The Hollow Men and The Love Song of Prufrock much more than The Wasteland. It was a good beginning. Breeding cruelty, spring does, in my experience anyway.
Prufrock, though, showed us true alienation and loss. The Wasteland, big in title and size, didn’t capture it as well IMO. The personal is always more effective. It also contains one of my favorite lines of poetry: “I am no prophet -- and here's no great matter.” This sums up so much of how I feel about myself some days. It is really brilliant. Simply said, again simply can be most effective, must cutting and most truthful.
This poetry effort might be a fun contest of wills. My will to actually do this and my will to find the words. The battle of the thesaurus vs. my ideas. One begets the other. I am getting too old to remember all of the words I want to use, so thesauruses are very useful I find. “Almost at times, the Fool.” I have no problem with that either. Prophets and Fools are generally the same people anyway.
Thanks for reading and look forward to my poetry. For a whole month! Yes, I know I am scaring you all away with that just when my readership is going up! Marketing is not my strength apparently.
Have a good one and thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 8:50 AM
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Sometimes, when you have read a poem for the 47th time, it becomes transfigured, and all previous meaning that you saw is lost, and a whole other meaning is raised up and offered. I wonder if it is just me seeing that, my eyes alone, or if it was an interior gift that is born of the words?
Probably a little of both, but it is still amazing. This amazement, the real meaning of the word, not just the shock value aspect, but more the wonder aspect, is what makes me reread poetry.
I also have been thinking about what others see in my poetry. I have had comments about it from friends that is very different from my own interpretation. That is beautiful. I want what I write to be a conduit of sorts, to what they see, from what I offer. I want to know about the connections that my poetry makes for them. I think I am greedy in that. I know what other’s poetry does to me and for me so I can only be grateful if a cord is struck for them from what I write.
I keep going back to what a gift this sharing is. I can’t help that interpretation. I keep going back to it…
Posted by vmh at 10:33 AM
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Guardian Unlimited Books By genre Larkin around
Ted Kooser, when I heard him speak, lamented that he is always published now. Every single thing he sends anywhere is accepted for publication. He says he doesn’t want his ultimately bad poems published so he has had to stop sending poetry out. Since being Laureate, there is no review process anymore, as every publication wants something of his. Ha. Oh, his page of woe! I would offer my name to him to use, this, a friend’s suggestion.
Larkin, on the other hand, may not have wanted all of his poems published either. Should they be if he denounced them? From a student’s perspective I would think so. Watching the process is interesting and educating. But from a personal point of view, I can see why he wouldn’t want everything out there to be studied and examined. The duds, the tripe, illuminated. I know I don’t want everything I write examined and you don’t want to see it either.
I have another project now. A friend and I are writing … well, we are not sure how it will be, but we are working on it. A clash between reality and fantasy. That may be the best description for what this will eventually be. A painfully real fantasy with snark.
I sent out another poem yesterday. We shall see! My motto on all things I deliver into the virtual hands of strangers. Be gentle is all I ask. I hope that isn’t asking too much. I hope to collect rejection notices to paste on my wall as decoration and as a motivating force. I hear that is done by some. Hopefully my walls will not be papered with them. Again, we shall see. I wonder what Larkin and Kooser’s walls looked like. Hmm.
Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 8:43 AM
Monday, March 21, 2005
A dream sequence this time, tying past to future, fountains to thoughts, isolation and connection. A song I haven’t particularly liked before inspired me, but it became an earworm so I had to use it, and so a line or two of that song developed into the scene. I was inspired by something I didn’t particularly enjoy but there it was.
I have been thinking about inspiration a lot lately. From whence it comes. I love to use the word whence. My love of the wh’s I guess. Anyway, I am finding that the more I write, everything really becomes available for me to harvest. I use that word purposefully also. Yesterday’s steam from the pasta pot was rising into my face, and I could see yellows within. I had never noticed that before but it was truly beautiful. Used it last night. The curling and the gentle tornadic rising, the bubbles’ releasing themselves was beautiful. Ideas spring forth, words become images, and images become words on a page. A giant lovely circle really. A blending if you will, this merging, I find, makes it really difficult to remove yourself from your writing. I read something this morning, from a friend, and what she wrote was really her revealed. I wonder if she realized how much of her resided in that article. Can we ever write what we are not? I don’t know. I am not sure it matters. But I still think art is a gift to ourselves and to others. Maybe that is what makes it art. Some say they know it when they see it, but maybe what they are seeing is the artist. Maybe that revelation, that truth revealed, is what makes it art, what separates it from the chaff, the common and the boorish. Life lifted.
Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 10:42 AM
Sunday, March 20, 2005
I may be exceeding my grasp. With every word I write, I see the very long hard road ahead of me with this story. It is getting so large, not in word count, but in world building. As my character’s world expands, and he gets out, I have to incorporate the world, his reaction to it, its reaction to him, other character reactions, other character building; it is really large. I forget what I write while I am in the flow, and am pleasantly surprised during the reread. I still need to find more poetry quotes to incorporate and this is very time consuming. I have built a calendar to keep track of events, as timing is everything. I bought index cards but have yet to use them. Too small. My new white board is coming in very handy though. I like to stay organized.
I plan on having my main character take a trip, and I just got that hook last night. When this plot dump happens, it pleases me so. I also think I will have the second trauma happen upon return from this trip. Trips change everything. I love trips! He will receive news that ties old events to recent events; guilt happens, angst happens, this will get all of the characters in an uproar. I have been waiting for this, as they have been too nice, everyone is getting along. Well no more!! I get to be mean now. Hee. No not really, but the first trauma, well actually the second, will help with dealing with the third. It is all tied together. Reactions. So much fun. The question “Who are you?” is an underlying theme here, and these events will realize that.
Now I just have to write this stuff. I love the imagining of all of this, it is very strong and forceful, but time consuming and thought consuming. I want to do this well, and with every reread, and every new word, I realize I need to go back and fix stuff. The plot has had no major changes, but my writing style, my abilities have, and when I reread the early stuff, I see what I need to change. I don’t know how any writer can actually finish anything; there are always changes that need to be made. I guess at some point, you just have to stop. Well, I am nowhere near that point yet, so changes await! All of this in just three months. I can’t wait to see what it looks like as I near the end.
I am still very excited by this whole process and words are flowing in other areas too. I just can’t stop writing poetry. I keep getting side tracked by that. No woe here!! I will be sending out a few more poems too. What the heck I say! All they can say is no. Oh well. I am still checking my email obsessively. Yes, that is just the way I am.
Posted by vmh at 7:51 AM
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Rereading some of this blog, I have noticed that I have been repeatedly excusing my lack of writing. Well, that may be, but it is moving as time permits. Life happens. Poems keep sidetracking me and make me want to write them.
That said, I haven’t been writing as intensively as I did when this effort first started. But what I have seen developing, is the ability to get bits done, scenes done that are relevant but done in a matter of fact, arrival of the fittest, sort of way. These scenes arrive effortlessly (for now) and flow onto the page and fill it descriptively with what I have imagined. I still don’t know how the big looming hole will be filled, but I have no worries about it. I am not letting myself get worried about this at all. It will come when it does, I have no expectations for it, and this pattern seems to be working. No woe.
The scenes with Iris seem to be happening very naturally. Yesterday morning I did a chunk of her back story. At first, I felt I might have been giving short shrift to this character, her arrival the result of so much main character choice that I felt her story needed to be told too. That is coming along nicely. I didn’t want her only role to be subservient to the main character, his plot and my demands of her. No, that wasn’t enough for her. I read something today that described perfectly my concerns with her character. I am glad I found that.
I wrote several poems today, one better, maybe, and one silly. Have to keep balance in all things. The extremes with which these flourish really do maintain the flow. To deny one when the other is calling out, well, I don’t do denial well. The architecture is lovely there, but it is only a façade, a frontage to real life. Plus, silly is fun.
Thanks for reading.
Posted by vmh at 9:13 PM
Saturday, March 12, 2005
I have been thinking in the last 24 hours about passion and art. I think writers write about writing, dancers dance about dancing, painters paint about painting. When a passion leads you with the tools you have, it becomes about the tool. You become the tool. Therefore you can do the thing. When Hamlet held up the skull, it was Shakespeare looking in the feared mirror, looking at death, the end of the art, the end of the man. He was in the grave, knowing that it would come. He was looking at himself looking at him. The reflection of the man by the art. The hollowed skull the remains of the man. But here we are reading the works, reminded by him of the fact of the words. He gave us his words by giving of himself. He gave us himself by giving us his words. Critics often say Shakespeare’s genius was his ability to offer us all of mankind. Womankind too. He captured all of the pains and gains and sorrows and pleasures in his works. All kinds of personalities and people depicted. He did that because he wrote truthfully. When you write with truth, you cannot help but succeed. He was an actor not acting when he was writing. He wrote about acting, plays, but he wasn’t acting when he was a writer. He was writing about his view of the world, his fearful place in it, when he wrote. He used his tools, the stage where he could be, the page where he lived. That comes out in every single thing I have read of his. He feared the world, death, aging, the loss of the gift of it all, but he turned that into “Shakespeare”. I picked up Will in the World again last night. I haven’t dipped into that for a week or so. His family has just lost their fortune, selling off plots of their property piecemeal. What that must have done to their young son. His future, his family’s future unsure. No wonder he had such passion. He had to write. He had to live.
Posted by vmh at 6:41 AM
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I have been thinking about inspiration lately. From whence we receive that gift. I have been inspired lately. Not to write so much, but rather to see the world in the way others see it. I find that deeply enriching and moving. I think that opens the door to places that we wouldn’t otherwise view, that an inspiration in itself. There have been a few instances lately, that I am open to the viewing.
A word, a vista, a turn of phrase. A shade, a twist, a surprise. All of these just open my mind to the possibilities. I worry sometimes that it is stealing a little, not that I use these directly, but I worry that I didn’t imagine them on my own. And then I do!
But there is no rush so great, or almost so great as that connection. I think that is why I am doing this, writing; I love to express that connection. I didn’t feel that need for years, but now I do. I think, maybe, expressing myself with words again, seeing my life through words. A new view. I have taken a step back. Back to that. But actually forward. I used to write a lot but my writing was sidetracked by life. Now I have some time to myself and can write. Again. I didn’t miss it when I wasn’t doing it, but now that I am doing it, experiencing it, I do miss it when I can’t.
Paradoxes untold, and now told.
So far, this time in the morning, it has been a great day. Surprises and twists. I gotta write a poem I think.
Posted by vmh at 10:29 AM
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Yes, that is what they all say. I received a receipt email today and it said they would be reviewing submissions for the next few months. I guess that means I can stop hitting refresh on my email account every hour. But at least it was not a rejection notice.
I am (naively) hopeful. That will be the mantra for the coming months. In the meantime, I am working on updating a sonnet I wrote that I like more every time I reread it. I put stuff away to simmer and then pull it out again to read cold hopefully having gelled like a good rich stock. If I still don't mind it, then I work on it some more. That way it seems fresh and reworkable. New ideas spring forth which can only help.
I got several more pages of my story written over the past few days as well. Little scenes, not directly connected to the main plot are bubbling up now too. I am writing these separately, to add in when necessary. Those connectors will happen too. They just feel right.
I found a poem I wrote a while ago, a few months maybe, and I have no memory of writing it. I don't know what the heck that means. I liked it enough. It needs work. I commented then that the center didn't hold. I was right, and I still feel that way. But more to work with, always a good thing.
Thanks for reading as usual. Comments welcome too!!
Posted by vmh at 8:58 PM
Sunday, February 27, 2005
So…I did it, I did it, I did it!
I sent two poems to an online poetry journal. First time ever other than college publications. Ack now. Nothing profound but fear and anxiety. But I did it! I want to doubt that they or one will be accepted, and they probably won't be accepted, I fully understand that, but ...I want at least one to be accepted, and I did it!!
Still in the squee, god I can’t believe I did it! stage, so please bear with me. I am sure it will pass shortly, and then I will be in the oh my god, what did I do? stage. I have no idea what the formal stages are, and I guess I will find out in the coming days. But I did it.
Posted by vmh at 2:25 PM
Saturday, February 26, 2005
I have been thinking about the brave poet. How they choose to offer it to us, how hard that must be sometimes. I wrote a poem the other day. With just a change of one word, I captured exactly what I want to say. But I am not brave enough to keep that word. That word releases meanings I didn’t even know were there and surprised me fully when I used that word. And it was just a little word too. The power of the word realized.
So here I sit at 6:47 (yes, that is the time) in the morning and ponder my bravery. When a poem speaks to more than just the words on my page. Because by acknowledging that word, that notion, I, well ...I am still sitting here.
The story has moved along this week. I am approaching a blank place, that hasn’t been developed yet. I see it coming. It is big in its hollowness. Luckily, I will see the woman who gave me the idea for this story next week and I can pick her brain. She doesn’t know she was the one who offered this idea to me. She was just talking about her hometown and the characters that live there. Small town life!! Never boring apparently. So maybe I can use our conversation to fill in this hole, the approaching hole. If she only knew! I don’t know if I am brave enough to tell her. We shall see.
Then a wind blew;
And he who had forgot he moved
Lonely amid the green and silver morning weather,
Aware of clouds and trees
Gleaming and white and shafted, shaken together
And blown to music by the ruffling breeze.
Like flush of wings
The moment passed: he stood
Dazzled with blossom in the swaying wood;
Then he remembered how, through all swift things,
This mortal scene stands built of memories,—
Shaped by the wise
Who gazed in breathing wonderment,
And left us their brave eyes
To light the ways they went.
I liked this one very much. Enjoy!
Posted by vmh at 7:00 AM
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Good 45 minutes today. Sitting in the dark writing. One scene that I have been concerned about came to me. Yeah. I wrote it with pen (yes I know, an anomaly) in hand and will type up tonight.
Posted by vmh at 5:46 PM
The other day I reread a story I wrote last year. I was struck by the similarity of some of the themes that I seem to be pursuing in the story I am writing now. I have been wondering if this is something that writers do, pursue the same themes over and over again. Perhaps as a way to figure stuff out, deal with stuff sub/unconsciously. I don't know, but I was surprised. I guess that life knocks you on the head as it goes on; so learning to wield and adjust takes time.
I really do have someone get conked on the head in my story. And actually there are two more characters that will die by paint can conking!! I think I am having too much fun planning this out. There is an undercurrent of the absurd in life I truly believe that if written in a novel, would be implausible. There is a meme going around LJ right now that has you list 10 things you have done. Some of these are so outrageous but true. I am tempted to cut and paste them all for future events in future stories. Good stuff. But the truth of the absurd is what makes life, stories, interesting. I think also that the ordinary nature of my main character, he is just a guy, allows for this absurdity to come to fruition. I don't know what normal is. That would be boring anyway. Maybe. Still working on deciding that one.
So mostly now, I am not stalled, but slowed, a more apt description while I cut and slash. I want to condense the words. I want to tighten them. This has been what I have been doing most recently. Because by tightening, the story flows and that will allow me to really tell it. I have also been trying to decide what will come next. The act has happened. Now the dealing. I haven't decided yet what form that will take. I want to be true to the character, I really do want him to do what he would. But as I am getting to know him (it does feel like that) I want him to allow me to tell this story. His world is getting more complex, he never asked for it, and as his world widens, so does the landscape of the story. Literally. I started with him isolated and alone on his farm, now he is reaching out. Decisions he has made, and now the consequences, unintended and intended. That is where the fun lays.
Posted by vmh at 9:34 AM
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
The Pity of Love
A pity beyond all telling
Is hid in the heart of love:
The folk who are buying and selling,
The clouds on their journey above,
The cold wet winds ever blowing,
And the shadowy hazel grove
Where mouse-grey waters are flowing,
Threaten the head that I love.
I didn't know this poem when I used the phrase beyond the telling. Wow moment here now.
Posted by vmh at 9:25 AM
Sunday, February 13, 2005
said says it best.
Posted by vmh at 10:05 PM
I am thinking of sending a poem out. I am still so new to all of this that I am not sure if it is complete yet, or appropriate, or if I should have the gall. Yes, gall, cheeky me. I wrote this poem in a flash one afternoon but it clicked. This clickiness is what makes me think I should. But neuroses aside, bravery and gall and canon and filled bookshelves teeming with reasons I should not, I still am considering. I don’t want this to become one of those writer’s blogs who fill pages and pages with dread filled worries and trials. And despite the name of this blog, dread is not woe. I write because I like to, want to, find myself in the pages of notes I make. On the one hand, publication is a time stamp of acceptance, but I am not sure I need that. But maybe. Gall.
Our living room is the library. We call it that, because we have put almost all of our books there. Adequate furniture but filled with many books and their shelves. They warm the room, insulate the room, and add colour to the “living” room. Lots of dead guys (and girls) whose words warm our lives. So every time I walk in there, browse, dust, choose, gape, and straighten, I am faced with that. Same reason I used to work in libraries. The warmth of the gift. Choosing friends in which to spend time. Ever since I was a child, books, absorbing the warmth of my hands have warmed me. Challenged me. Comforted me. Taught me. Teased and tickled.
But the difference I realize now is the amount of effort that is necessary. Recently read advice: read 50 poems for every one you write. It really is a matter of supremely hard work. And that is where I am now. Recognizing the length and breadth of this endeavor, but still considering it. So editing is becoming my friend. Slash and burn and edit and repeat. Perhaps a new recipe for my writing. I like cooking! But that is another room! There are books there too! There is no escape!!
Posted by vmh at 2:14 PM
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Eyes wide open during quilting of words: images from last night.
I saw Ted Kooser read poetry last night, I listened and I felt. He talked about “the bee song of the book” and discussed characters he met in his poetry who “looked like someone who had to be reckoned with”. He talked of times where “shuffling magazines grow still” when he heard he had cancer. One of his poems called Lobocraspis griseifusa he wrote because no poet (no poet) could pass up the image of a moth that lives on tears!!! This moth can live on tears! He talked about that which is beyond the edges of his poems.
But the best thing he said when asked about the purpose of poetry (as if it needs a purpose, a lawyer was asking the question) was that
poetry can lift life.
That is so profound to me. And truthful. He takes the ordinary and makes it poetry. It already is, IMO, but he uses words to sculpt the extraordinary from these mere things. Bowls of buttons “an ocean upon which generations of women set forth”. He talked about his mother’s death, the reader, the ordinary reader. He talked about those who write poetry that the ordinary reader could not understand. He talked about a writer finding an audience, finding the right audience. He talked about spreading the joy of poetry to all, his mission as laureate. He will have a newspaper column that will be starting in a few weeks where he will print a poem and discuss it.
There really is poetry for everyone. You just need to try out different poets and see what fits, like a comfy housecoat that wraps you in its warmth. My image anyway. I want my poetry to touch me, to enlighten me to an image that changes how I view the world. I apparently have high expectations for poetry. Stuff that changes my world. And when I find a poet that does this to me and for me, it is a gift beyond the telling. A phrase maybe, something that touches. That is all we got I say!! Connection and the art of the word. The word as tool to touch each other’s spirits and souls. And when our lives are lifted this way, we are more human and more alive. Like I say, I have great expectations for my poetry. Last night, my life was lifted a little. That is a tremendous gift.
Posted by vmh at 9:42 AM
Friday, February 04, 2005
From Cambridge Dictionary – Definition absolve [Show phonetics] verb [T] FORMAL
(especially in religion or law) to free someone from guilt, blame or responsibility for something:
The report absolved her from/of all blame for the accident.
The priest absolved him (of all his sins).
absolution [Show phonetics]noun [U] FORMAL
official forgiveness, especially in the Christian religion, for something bad that someone has done or thought:
She was granted/given absolution.
From Allword.com (because they are so full of gall too) absolve verb absolved, absolving
1. To release them or pronounce them free from a promise, duty, blame, etc.
Thesaurus: forgive, acquit, pardon, clear, vindicate, exempt, exonerate, excuse, redeem, release, set free, liberate, let off; Antonym: convict.
Form: absolve someone from something (usually)
Form: absolve someone of something
2. Said of a priest: to forgive someone formally for the sins they have committed.
Etymology: 16c: from Latin absolvere to loosen.
When I chose this word, I was not completely aware of the guilt facet. I chose it more for the liberating tone rather than the shame filled guilty aspect.
Interesting selection it seems. But that is what I might be trying to do here. Behind every shame is a moment of liberation. A moment of flinging to the wind and a carefree toss to the future. I like wind metaphors. And I really do need to look to the future some days. Cleansing breezes that bring change and novel views.
I have been imagining my main character. He has brownish golden curly hair, loose curls, not long, but long enough to have curls, with hints of red when the light shines just so. Not particularly tall, not particularly good looking but resolute. His resoluteness doesn’t really show on his face (with a strong jaw, or chin) because he is resolute enough not to have to brag about it. He is not particularly shamed or embarrassed by his not so presentable past; it is just what it is. He is decisive when he needs to be but mostly laid back enough not to worry about it. He doesn’t wear hats of any sort, partly due to curl reasons, but most do to the confining nature of hats. His wardrobe is small, worn and comfortable. He sees no reason to “put on the dog”. He is fit, but not a working out sort. His fitness comes from his lifestyle rather than making his lifestyle fitness. Lean but not thin, enough musculature to do his job. He tends to be quiet but clearly makes his thoughts known to those that need to hear. He wastes time with fools but wishes he didn’t. He doesn’t like that about himself. He finds the quiet of animals compelling and attractive, and often prefers their company to people. He likes to hear the quiet sounds loudly, and will sit and wait for them for hours. People think he is loitering but he is just waiting. He waits well.
I am amazed at how clearly I feel this character. What this reveals about me is for you all to decide. I can’t tell. What other people think of me is none of my business. I have always liked that quote. The other characters are coming along too; their back-story seems to arrive first to me, and then features. UPSian musing deliveries and then I get to open my surprise inside. Don’t know why that happens either. Does their story form them I wonder? Probably.
So now I am off to bake a cake. More mixing and recipe-ing words. Chocolatey goodness and motivation. That always works.
Posted by vmh at 10:27 AM
Monday, January 31, 2005
The family tree in my story is spreading, branches and roots. The back-story is the root. The stem is the main story. Each of the branches are other plot bits. Leaves are the filler, the poetry and the description. I love this so much.
Would it be too evil to have a character named Chad, die by hanging? Probably suicide over the guilt originating from deaths of two people. His role would be similar to the boy in 5th Business by Davies who throws the snowball. Chad would not be the predominant character, but just the one who starts a certain ball rolling. Literally.
I am really seeing this in plant form. Yesterday at my son’s soccer game, I brought my notes and figured out the family tree. And their names. That is just too much fun. I think the designing of the back-story is the most fun so far. I may be getting silly as you can see from the question above. But the story itself doesn’t have much silliness I don’t think and so I think I need to bring some silliness to it. No wonder some authors do such outrageous things. I know I need to kill someone off and this Chad ??? might be the one. It would tie up many loose ends and give motivation to several characters.
I am not yet courageous enough to kill off any main characters. I understand now, why certain writers don’t have the courage to do this. I really am having a hard time being mean. And I see now how amazing it is, when writers can do this guilt free.
Another thing that I was reminded of yesterday, that I seem to have not done yet, is include a description of my main character. I have been keeping him incredibly nebulous in my own mind for some reason. What if it turns out I don’t like what he looks like? I have included a description of his girlfriend/purchased wife, but not him. (So sexist here, we see the girl’s physicality and not the boys, ha!) Now I need to think about that. I don’t want to limit what I can do with him, to him, for him, by his physical appearance. Maybe I can go back later and do it. I just know he will not wear a baseball cap. My own prejudices that arise with my characters; this is such an interesting process. I hate baseball caps.
Well, I soldier on. It really feels like the story is out there and I am just gathering the bits. I understand now the quote by Michelangelo, who said “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
Posted by vmh at 7:09 AM
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Character back-story. I am having much fun with this. I want to be able to continue and then tie up themes that the major character is dealing with, in the back-story of the side characters. This one character, that causes the “turn” in the major character to happen, has been niggling me because I didn’t have a good motivation for her to do this thing she will be doing. But the other day when I fortuitously forgot my novel to read while I was working out, I daydreamed the back-story that will allow her motivation. This character means well in her attempt to do this thing, deal with what she has been given, and what has been taken away. I haven’t decided if it will be a fatal flaw yet.
I find this all very satisfying.
I have been researching farm equipment specifically hay harvesting machinery, and Business librarian collections development. None of which I know anything about. But that has never stopped me from doing anything, that is what Google is for ;-). My flinging good sense to the wind persists, as it is very gusty here.
I haven’t been writing much but I figure I will go with this new ebb and flow. While not writing I have been productive on this back-story. I also have been imagining scenery, sets and clothing. I do not wish to stereotype my characters in anyway. **cough**sue**cough**. That would be very mean to the characters. I am having a hard time being mean to them. Maybe I don’t need to be. Something else to ponder.
I am enjoying this process very much. Thanks for reading. More gifts.
Posted by vmh at 11:29 AM
Saturday, January 22, 2005
My newest passion?
Is blogging my woe absolved?
Beyond the telling!
I think that will be my story’s title: Beyond the Telling. A clip:
“Trapper had little success with his neighbors. Luckily for Trapper and his private disposition, he and his neighbours were divided both by land and the density of Trapper’s small forest. The land was beautiful and lush in parts. To the north was the forest, ringed by the infamous falling fence. Trapper and his father built the fence when Trapper was 12. Now chipped and grey, the rails tipped down and were scattered silhouetting a bucolic often overgrown wasteland. The nails on the fence were rusted, and poking out, a reversal of previous effort long past. Trapper quit repairing the fence because Wings kept knocking the bars down. Shadow Wood Lane was to the east. Trapper’s gravel driveway stretched from it. The house was just south of the forest. The stream on the property began in the forest and then swung south to cut the land in half, passing under the Lane like the cross rail of yet another fence. The hay grew on the rest of the property, when it decided to grow.“
I have even made a little map of the area to keep the story straight. Virgo here.
I have been dealing with the organization of this story. So much to keep straight! Not unlike Trapper’s fence.
I also have been contemplating the narrator’s voice. Who will this be? Will it be anyone in the story? Or not at all? I haven’t decided yet, but the narrator’s voice is coming through so I need to decide. Third person really is that person after character and writer. My "other" needs deciding. Like a voyeur keeping us informed, the third is welcome and necessary to my story.
I haven’t been writing much, distractions everywhere. And so much editing. I had not realized how much “squinting” one does when writing. Each sentence, each idea, each arc, each word very much like quilting with tiny stitches. I squint doing that too. I may need to wear my glasses more often.
I really do try to see.
Posted by vmh at 3:31 PM
Saturday, January 15, 2005
One of the books I have been reading lately is called Road Trip: Conversations with writers by Shelly Clark and Marjorie Saiser. I did not realize the scope of this book when I checked it out from the library; I thought it was nationally oriented, a broader view but in fact was very Midwestern oriented. I was surprised.
Here are a few exceptional quotes I tagged and was struck by:
From poet Don Welch: “But a poem, because of its narrowness, requires you to squint, draw your attention down, be ready to focus right now.”
Now his poem:
Note To a Young Writer
If you’re one of the ones
For whom the best sounds
Are like conch shells
Held to your ear,
Swirl out of yourself
The hard whorl of words.
And think of it this way,
Your journey over,
Your poem’s just begun,
Listen to what laps out of silence
And comes ashore at the edge
Of the word.
Jonis Agee says in this book:
“For me it’s digging into a psychic place of aloneness”
Ron Block says:
‘Sometimes people think a poem is a poem because it has metaphors in it, and you excuse the use of metaphor, but metaphor always involves a distortion of the truth. The man in fact is not a wolf; he is a man. Metaphor involves something that is ontologically untrue.”
I was waiting while I read these. I was caught in this book’s web, an interview of midwestern writers, especially poets. I am not sure what I was expecting, maybe just the surprise of the personal nature of the interviews that were followed by the poems. A connection. Some of the writers I had heard of, Kooser specifically as well as William Kloefkorn. But the purpose of the books is to talk to writers about writing, teaching, young poets and place. Welch’s section talked a lot about reading down into the poem, not seeing the words, that they should be invisible. The thing beyond the words (my words not his). I think that is the part of the truth of poetry. It is what touches us. His poem then is sweet and inviting. Poetry can be a fearful intimidating thing, everyone wants acknowledgement so his poem sooths.
Agee’s quote struck me because when I am writing, I do not feel my loneliness. It becomes invisible because I hear my voice fully. I find that very comforting. I am alone when writing; hopefully, not always given my life, and the words spring forth. Hopefully. I do not feel the boundaries of me when I am writing. It is a peaceful invigorating place.
I found Block’s quote interesting. If the man describes himself as a wolf, even if he isn’t, does that alter the fact of the poem? I don’t think so. Those are two different things. I would not judge it like he seems to, but I would agree that there is falsehood. But there is truth in another depiction of something; it doesn’t necessarily make it false. They both can be true even within the falsehood. The metaphor may be false, but the man can be a wolf if he so chooses.
This brings me to The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser that I purchased last night and have been skimming all day today. He takes the view that that the poem needs to be accessible. You choose your audience by your poem. It is a judgment call and if you want to write something that is incomprehensible, go right ahead but do not expect a readership. If you want to write in Middle English, that is all well and good, but you must have to realize that your readership will be quite small. A cost benefit analysis, as he was an insurance exec in his work life. His poetry appears to be quite simple, small town, but each poem has been know have 40 major revisions. He will be giving a poetry reading here soon, and I intend to attend. He is frightened by fame, public acknowledge. He is embarrassed by it. Being the Poet Laureate must be taxing.
How all of this ties together I am not sure. I am dabbling into other writer’s lives, because I think the personal is important. I think what makes the writer makes the poem. It has to affect the end product. It would not be real if it did not.
Plus I used the word whorl in one of my poems, a line of which I am quite proud.
You were one of two
Whorls in winter
I like that word. I like whelped too. Wh’s seem to work for me. How sounds touch us. Another topic for another day.
Have a good one and thanks for reading. Comments always welcome!
Posted by vmh at 9:45 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
So I would like to send a gigantic hello to all of my friends that have found this new blog. Any of you who found me through lj, let me know who you are!
I hope that you will be amused sometimes, touched sometimes and interested always. (Insert drawing of ant here) As my previous entries have noted, I believe this journey to be a chosen path, some paths are chosen, some are not, and all have to be dealt with. I hope this one is satisfying.
I have a new feed on lj that may have brought some of you here. This is a very different environment than lj, less community it seems. But I had visions of keeping this blog more private in a more public way if that makes any sense. I am not sure, but given the lj feed, I doubt it. That is ok. I welcome everyone that finds me.
I haven’t done much writing lately, but I have been dreaming about my story. Infesting, entering my dreams. I have been getting visuals, seeing the rooms, the landscape of the story. It seems to be making it real. Solid. Some writers speak of seeing a movie unfolding and developing, playing in their mind. I haven’t been experiencing that. I think through the plot and then add the details. I am inspired by many of the ideas and things I read that twist the plot this way and that. I have to say that reading Steven Brust allowed me to make the fantastic jumps my story has taken but still keep a gritty feel. Reading Jasper Fforde has allowed me to be silly. I, like he, love the naming of characters. I think my characters have great names. Unusual but not weird, they are full of meaning and amusement. Similar to naming your children, I think the process indicates so much. When I named our children, I did not want to have any associations to inflict on the child. Heritage, history, family associations were discarded. The child needed to have its own name. I demanded that of myself and for the most part I was successful. When naming my characters in this story, I started with a name of a person I heard about while on a long business trip drive. His story, particularly one detail relayed to me, was the basis for my whole story. It struck me, surprised me with its potential and held on. Because of recent awareness about some personal issues I thought I could work this into the story. Is that not cliché? But I think I found a hook, a way to make it interesting. Well I hope! I didn’t realize much of the thematic nature of my story until I was well into it. Only upon the multiple rereading and edits did it surface.
I believe works of literature, works of art, these beautiful bequests, are gifts. They may not be intentional, or purposeful in that way, but they are gifts nevertheless. From one heart to another. How gifts change us and rebuild us anew. This I think is the main theme of my story. The offerings life gives, our responses and how we deal. Sometimes the gifts we get begin as trials and pain. How we transform that into beauty and plucking from it, the seeds of a new life. The apple tree is a great metaphorical story btw. And how literature can do this for us. Literature results from the imaginings of someone who either had to deal or could imagine it. What if all of this was given to us all at once? My story’s short description. How would it change an ordinary person?
How it has changed me!
Posted by vmh at 9:50 PM
Saturday, January 08, 2005
I named this blog A Page of Woe Absolved for several reasons. That phrase is from one of my better poems. It challenges me with the unwritten page and to write unwoefully. Is that a word? I don't live woefully so I hope my writing is not only full of woe. Thursday's child, or is it Wednesday's? I don't know. So I googled:
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.
Ha, I was born on a Thursday. This blog may just be proof of that!
I think absolved is important because I need to allow myself to write, despite the fears and the inadequacies and the potential disappointment. I may fail. I might never attain anything other than seeing my inner voice out on a page. I don't know if anyone else needs or wants to hear that voice. But I am getting too old to worry about that. I do not dare call myself a writer. I would not dare to assume. Ha, I have read such glorious things in my life, the beauty of little letters strung together, gold that change the world.
I am a firm believer in the need not to label yourself anything. You are different from one moment of experience to another anyway, so you would immediately be wrong!! Why do that to yourself!! Life is hard enough not to have to fight yourself. Plus, I hate being wrong.
And a muse.
I haven't decided if I have a muse or want a muse. I think everything I read is inspiring in one way or another, that is enough. I don't want it to be something other. Just me. The flow. I was reading this morning a book about the flow. Being in the flow. I have always been able to attain that, in many aspects of my life. The flow has rarely been cut off. It just has been expressed in many different ways over time. There is much satisfaction in that. Now, I think my focus has changed. Again the flow has altered what and how I see. Now the words seem to find expression. They didn't for some time, but now they do. For that I am thankful.
I can pinpoint how, but I won't. Too private. But I know and I love that it is. It has given meaning and focus to many things. Almost all of them earth shaking.
Boy, I am meandering today. The prairie winds that push and grab despite the snowy grey day.
Posted by vmh at 12:07 PM
Proust is always satisfying but sometimes the little books, the point form stylings offer as well. I went to the library yesterday to trawl, and found "The Pocket Muse: Ideas & Inspirations for Writing" by Monica Wood. What a delightful little book (I refuse to use the word tome) that lists several ideas on each page for characterization, plot, methods in which you can twist something to add to your story. Very well done. Seeming simplistic, and a very short read, (I read the whole thing while on the elliptical machine and the bike machine while working out) it gives a kick in the pants to your creative energies. You probably wouldn't use her specific ideas, although some of them are excellent, but it is one of those books, that invites and allows you to see past and beyond the narrow view of your own imagination. Opens windows and allows a cleansing breeze if you will. A very cute read that I suspect those with writer's block would love very much. She quotes published authors who tell of their own struggles to write. Good use of B/W photography as well. I am glad I checked it out.
The spell check on this blog sucks btw. The word elliptical wasn't even in it. Or Proust for that matter. There is no forgiving that! Hmm.
Also, I am playing around with templates and have chosen this one for now. More apposite I think.
Posted by vmh at 7:39 AM
Friday, January 07, 2005
I have started writing again. In the last year, I have proceeded to write several poems, a couple of fanfics, and start what I am calling my "story". I have yet to call it a novel, and probably won't. Not sure why about that yet. Expectations are everything.
What this blog is going to be, is my writing about my writing.
I would like to be a published writer one day. Maybe. So I am going to begin that effort. My story is now at about 11,000 words. That in and of itself is a miracle for me and it is still coming. The story is still happening for me. I realized the seriousness of my effort when I hit the 5000 mark. Whew. I am not a word counter, but racking up those numbers is inspiring to me. I won't be printing the story here, just telling you about the ups and downs of this effort. I also intend to maybe send some poetry for publication.
I read enough blogs and live journals to know the difficulty of this effort of publication. That is fine. One trudges ahead.
I don't know where this will take me, maybe no where but it is an effort I am willing to make. One year ago, Jan 12, I got a live journal and it changed my life, this year, I got this blog, and maybe it will too. Again expectations.
Have a great day.
Posted by vmh at 6:22 AM