Saturday, March 26, 2011

Truth and Bone

“Sometimes I can feel you breathing into me.
And these hands I can feel them tugging at my sleeve,
I move through the day in the rhythm that I've known.
I've got this crazy dream of stripping down to truth and bone.”

Arms stretched overhead with fingertips hooked into opposing hands, muscle and sinew thrum, pulling, contorting, ache to the surface. The wonder dog pretends to stretch with me, front paws in a halleluiah bow with her tail swishing the air, back legs splayed in a ‘watch me do a split slide’. Head cocked, she does a dog’s version of an eyebrow raise to see if I notice. I burst out laughing, leaving her with a goofy grin. She knows my moods and how to play heartstrings. I’d be lost without her.

The chill morning seeps skin deep, raising goosebumps along my arms. Goofy is content to lie beside me in front of the fire. Limeade green sprouts of grass tease through the leavings of winter melt frozen in mid dance. Blight or temptation of Spring is anyone’s guess. The window belays the truth. A wintry moan gently raps a staccato in assent. Not yet.

I roll my shoulders. The bitter cold is settling bone deep and I desire nothing more than something fresh, alive – a torpor blue injected into a sublime gray sky, a melding of seasonal angst.

“I need you to cut through to where I'm hidden, I'm awkward and I'm too polite and I want two stars for arms like Orion I could breathe in and breathe in and breathe out.”

Breathe in and breathe out through my nostrils, breathe in deep, exhale. The day lies in front of me, a gift of time, minutes, hours, descending into the cerulean hues of evening. Mother Nature will unveil her heather carpet in due time. The longer she allows the earth to rest, to breathe, the more vibrant Spring will arrive in fountains of rainbow irradiance.

She taught me well.

In as much as I wish to rush headlong in my writing, I realize it’s crucial to let the prose breathe and move at her own schedule. To rush will temper the splendor of what may possibly unfold. We sit at opposing ends and distemper: me wanting, desiring more – her defiant perfection, correcting, and a willful rendition of words. Together, writer and prose aficionado will dance between the seasons of a book.

Truth and bone immersed in the depths of wisdom and want, human need and ticking time, all the sinews and muscle of what my writing heralds. Listen to the cadence of words displayed in colorful imagery in-between the seasons of a writer’s life.

“I move through the day in the rhythms that I've known.
I've got this crazy dream of stripping down to truth and bone.”

*This is my interpretation of Heather Nova’s ‘Truth and Bone’. I still get a thrill out of discovering a new to me artist. I still hear the words, even if only in my soul. Enjoy:

Lyrics can be found here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A River of Words

“Some people spend their entire lives reading but never get beyond reading the words on the page, they don't understand that the words are merely stepping stones placed across a fast-flowing river and the reason they're there is so that we can reach the farther shore, it's the other side that matters.” – Jose Saramago


I cry when I read my own writing. Always.

“You need to separate yourself from the characters. You’re not them, you can’t write yourself into every story.” But I do. Why wouldn’t I?

These filaments of life derive from me, my creations, my characters - given a semblance of a soul strewn across the page. It’s almost god-like to breathe life into the voices knocking about in my cranium for attention. I’m not them. Not by the end of the book. Surely, in the beginning they’re fleshed out and given personalities. I couldn’t contain all those personalities in one skull, even if I wanted to. No they’re not me in a fictional sense. In the end, I give something of myself far deeper, cloistered between words in a sentinel march across the computer screen.

Imagining somebody (real in every sense of a fictional context) into existence is all easy enough. However, I can’t discern where the line is drawn when it comes to conveying emotions, not if I want some kind of believability. How does anyone, imagine pain and heartbreak in any great profundity - no, those things I dumpster dive inside my soul for. On the page I’m devoid of skin, flesh, and ropey muscles, withered down to an open vein. The characters become my memory makers; curators to my first love, my anguish, my torment, all those hidden crevasses bound up in a heart.

If these innovations have supped enough on my emotions (soul sucking vortexes), they’ll begin to make their own mistakes and take on a life I never envisioned in the beginning. Some of my handiwork will eat the best parts of who I am - others will devour the broken shards of ugliness easily found in all of us (my hatred, my decayed moral compass). Those last take it from me and shrug into skin-suits devoid of humanity. They mimic life becoming the antagonist.

Words help us explore the places we go inside our minds, our hearts. Those things are the equivalent of what comes out in the stories we write. I’m pulled taut, the needle weaving the thread into the embroidery of a book. I get a glimpse of myself as I truly am between each struggle for the right word to voice what is felt. In the end discovering a way to keep who I am intact enough to bond with the architect of the lives I’ve built within a story.

“You need to separate yourself from the characters. You can’t write yourself into every story.” I must. How can it be any other way? Why do I cry when I read my own writing…the best parts of me, the weaver’s tapestry that’s been woven into a river of words is lapping at the other shore.

Picture from here

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Working Toward a Life

“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” ~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977


The words blur in front of me on the computer screen. My eyes squint - helps but doesn’t solve the problem. Frustrated, I shove my glasses up on my head and massage my temple between thumb and index finger with one hand and absently tug at my earring with the other.

What am I doing wrong? Why do this to yourself, it’s a word – ease up already.

Today’s tough, grueling even. I miss the creative aspect of my writing. Every fiber in me rebels against revising any more grammar mistakes, dialogue tags, or cropping yet another sentence.

I knock on my forehead with a closed fist. This is close but not what you had in mind is it? You know the word you need is right at the tip of your tongue. I knock against my forehead again for good measure in an attempt to shake inspiration from an overworked brain. Aggravated my notes are sent flying off the desk helter skelter.

One lone page floats in the air caught in an invisible draft and dances across the room to land near Pickles’ paws. She stomps the errant page flat and looks up at me questioning if this is a new game. I highlight the inappropriate word, slam my laptop shut, and slip out of the chair like a slinky into a muddled mess on the floor to crawl about picking up stray notes; checking as I go to see if my missing muse is somewhere in the mess. It is and Pickles is standing on it.

You could have done anything, anything at all, but YOU chose to write - something which takes months, years to master with little or no payout to show for all your work. In an ordinary job that would be akin to your boss criticizing everything you worked on in the past year and ordering you to redo the job without reimbursement for your time.

The days flow in like fashion until Saturday’s warmth teases my body into the car and the open road. No words, no laptop, and no manuscript. Doesn’t mean the inn in my head wasn’t overflowing with a no-vacancy sign in the window of my eyes. Johnny Cash is booming from the CD player. Vibrations echo through the car and lyrics heard in another lifetime fill the space between. The sky is a monster creep gray. Storm clouds threaten to pour hell down in buckets.

Wind gust fail to maneuver the car off the road. Out of the corner of my eye pine trees lift their boughs and sway in a multitude of wings ready to take flight. Fresh air creeps up my nostrils with the scent of Earth and wet grass from the open window. And for the first time in over a week I smile. Yes, the work is hard and some day’s words are even harder to come by…but that’s all right – I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Do what you love, and you will find a way to get it out to the world.” – Judy Collins.