Saturday, April 15, 2006

Courage

I've wanted to write something serious about Easter and Holy Week and just haven't been able to, so instead of forcing it, I'm just not going to try. If it comes, I'll write about it. If not, then I won't.

I rarely have much luck when I try to intentionally write about a subject. I usually start with just a hunch and a hint of a direction and see where it leads me. So instead I'll ramble, and since I'm down two Xanax and about half a bottle of Tylenol, that might be the best idea.

The reason for the drugs: After going without the cane outside of the house for the first time since I picked it up, the knee decided to bend backwards in the Wal-Mart parking lot. As if a trip to Wal-Mart isn't punishment enough. It wasn't fun to feel, and my image as a proper lady was blown when I pretty much shouted an extreme expletive right at the time one of my daughter's friends and her very Mormon family passed us on the way to find their parking space. This may sound strange, but seeing it bend backwards was almost worse than the pain. I'd been hoping to wear something resembling a cute shoe tomorrow for church, but it looks like I'll be back in Keds.

If the last week has been any indication, I'm going to be a delicious terror if I ever get to the nursing home. Canes are very good for thumping the ground when you want to make a point, and I did offer to smack a good friend if her daughter thought she really needed it. The family has also gotten very used to me pointing the cane at something I want them to take care of. I figure as long as I'm stuck with it, I might as well milk it for all its worth.

My impaired mobility has given me more time to read than I've had in a few weeks, and I've gotten a little word drunk. I consumed Rilke's Book of Hours in one evening. I've been transported by Marquez' A Hundred Years of Solitude and, I find myself highlighting and taking notes in Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing. Though I'm skipping about, the main lesson has been one I've known but sometimes feared. Pour my passion, my loves, my hates, my fears into my writing. Basically, it's been a more detailed version of Hemingway's "Write the truest sentence you know."

I've been thinking a lot about where I really want to go in my writing. In all honesty, I love writing poetry more than writing anything else, but I've never developed a discipline of poetry. I immerse myself in it when it comes, but I just don't sit down with the idea of writing poetry unless it's already forming itself in my mind. I read my fiction, and I find some good turns of phrase, and some good sections, but I generally just don't like my fiction. Maybe I'm just a lazy editor who's lacked the courage to go back and edit coldly and ruthlessly, refining what I've written into what I want it to be. I have neither one of those problems with non-fiction. Maybe it's the remnants of my undergraduate education in journalism. Take real facts, present them with honesty and do it quickly. Maybe I need to find some writing classes for fiction or poetry, even though the poetry class I also took as an undergraduate hurt more than it helped. As a sorority girl, I just simply wasn't artsy enough to be taken seriously by either the professor or my classmates, and that class planted a fear in me that I've only recently realized remains to this day -- that I'm basically a pretentious dilettante of minimal talent. Despite that fear, I know this, I can't imagine spending my life without writing. Underneath everything else is the feeling that there are things that only I can say, that my truth matters. Well, cutting through the bs to the heart of the matter is a good thing, even if it does leave me feeling very exposed. In The Artist's Way, one of the exercises is to remember the people who've damaged the way you see yourself as an artist. I chickened out on this one and didn't include that poetry class. Even back then I knew that some sexism was at play and blamed my negative feelings on that, but tonight (especially since the drugs are really starting to kick in), my gut is screaming Fuck You to those twits who didn't take me seriously. I can, I will take myself seriously as a writer, and it's time that I started looking around for some places where some of my non-fiction and poetry could be published.

It's been over twenty years since I tried to get anything other than business marketing materials published. I enjoy being read too much not to do this, and I'm just going to have to believe that I can keep this courage without the pharmaceutical assistance.

5 Comments:

Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I need to come back and read this again, and then I'll make a real comment... :-]

April 15, 2006 10:46 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Cynthia, I am sorry for the pain you are going through with your knee; I really am. But at the same time, it seems you've heard the trumpet and you are answering the call. Two great books are: Poet's Market and Novel and Short Story Writer's Market. [I don't recommend "Writer's Market" because it is too commercial]. These books will give you hundreds of markets for what you write. I think poetry comes naturally for you, but story is what feeds you best. Poetry and story work together to create narratives that heal and amaze. I am so happy when I see an entry like this from you.

April 15, 2006 11:48 PM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Isn't it amazing how quickly and deeply little carelessnesses (word?) by others can so thoroughly damage our confidence as writers?

April 16, 2006 8:43 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

To me, anyone who would question the talent, passion, or worthiness of another writer's muse is a pretentious dilettante. We do so much damage to one another when we take our talents and arrange ourselves into "clubs." Which naturally, then, produce the concepts of "insiders" and "outsiders." Why is it that when we decide we are good at something, we have to ceate a culture where we are not only good, but better than everyone else?

I also scream "Fuck You" to those twits...

April 16, 2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I have read a number of your poems. They are remarkable, certainly worthy of inclusion in esteemed publications. I'm never wrong about these things, you know.

April 27, 2006 12:14 PM  

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