To Write or Not to Write…

I think sometimes writing is especially hard because you want to say things that you’re not sure anyone else wants to hear.  And I don’t mean wondering things like, “maybe people don’t care about my dead cat…” or “maybe people aren’t interested in hearing me complain about how horrible my life is right now…” (shocker there).  No, what I’m talking about are small, snapshot instances, the fleeting, nitty-gritty details that somehow manage to make our lives profound.

It’s that moment when you realize your mother really did know what she was talking about when she told you growing up is hard.

Or that instant you finally understand something somebody said to you when you were eight.

Or that amazing epiphany when you get the “perfect” idea for something.

Or the lovely moment when you realize someone is going to become a new close friend.

Feeding readers the stories behind each of these situations feels wrong somehow… like we’re pulling the screen of privacy a little too far aside.  Or like we’ve finally crossed the line between putting ourselves into our writing, and becoming the writing.

Because in some ways, it’s good to “become” your writing – at least, in the sense that you put some of yourself into every piece that you write.  But here’s the question: how far do you go?  How far can you go?  Where is that line?

It’s so irresistible – that urge to tell someone every detail of an experience you’re passionate about.  It’s an urge that stems from a desire to share a special moment with someone who is also willing to share those moments with you.  But can we ever successfully project those desires onto our readers?  I mean, can we ever write that kind of piece successfully, without regrets?

I think I’m going to argue (for the most part, anyway) no.  Because no matter how many of our readers might know us personally, no matter how much our readers may enjoy our writing, and no matter how comfortable we may feel exposing our private lives to complete strangers, the fact still remains: some moments are all the sweeter savored in silence.

Visual and Found Poetry – Do They Count?

One thing I’ve often wondered in all the time I’ve been writing poetry is whether Visual and Found Poetry count as legitimate forms of writing…  I don’t deny that these pieces of art are both beautiful and artistic, but do they qualify as poetry, or should they be defined as a type of visual art instead of a form of writing?  Visual poetry (similar to “concrete poetry”) is when an artist (for lack of a better term) uses other artistic means to augment the meaning and impact of his words:

phantoms_by_adorkablexbabyxwhale-d5920oz (http://www.deviantart.com/art/Phantoms-317541635)

Found poetry is a little different: it’s when an artist takes a piece of writing by someone else and picks choice words out of the text to make a new poem.  In essence, they’re using the words of someone else to create their own art:

the_wind_by_mel_face-d3iqkt9

(http://www.deviantart.com/art/The-Wind-212871645)

One specific form of Found Poetry that I find particularly intriguing is called “Title Poetry.”  The artist takes the titles of a number of pieces of artwork (usually but not necessarily pieces of writing) and arranges them in a particular order so that the author creates their own meaning (usually adding small words here and there to make it flow better, such as “and,” “or,” “the,” or “but,” etc.).  I’ve never written any of these forms of poetry, but I’ve read quite a lot of them; I’ve found that while some artists can structure these kinds of pieces so that it really sounds as if they composed the whole thing themselves, many others only succeed in gathering a collection of poetic vocabulary and fail to actually compose a meaningful poem with them:

Destiny bought me a drink

(http://ninquetari.deviantart.com/art/Destiny-bought-me-a-drink-364666837)

Should such pieces of art be classified as poetry?  Certainly they are both forms of art that use more than raw words to create meaning and make their point, so can they really be defined as writing?  I think some writers (James Joyce being a prime example) would argue that the aesthetics of a text matter a great deal – that they enhance the meaning behind what was written and help the author to communicate his intent.  But is this what they meant by “the aesthetics of the text”?

run_away_with_me__by_dearpoetry-d5d1sxy

(http://dearpoetry.deviantart.com/art/Promises-to-Monsters-324250054)

I think many other writers would argue that Visual and Found Poetry are not forms of true literature because they use too much visual help to augment the meaning of their words.  It can be argued, then, that “true literature” is writing that can stand on its own without the help of any extra visual aid.  Oh, and “found poetry” is just plagiarism.

reality_by_jay_cougar-d54ef2t

(http://www.deviantart.com/art/Reality-309722069)

But what do you think?  Can you “pick a side,” or do you have your own perspective on the subject?  I would love to hear about all your thoughts in the comments!

(fleeting) Inspiration.

One problem that every single writer who has ever lived (or ever will live) has come across is the problem of writer’s block – a period of time where inspiration decides to leave us in the dry, cold, colorless dust.  It’s an incredibly frustrating feeling: wanting to write, knowing you should be writing because you haven’t for far too long, but unable to conceive of a worthy topic or just unable to put anything you think and feel into the right words.  It’s like feeling out of sorts.  Nothing is right or normal or the way it should be, and you feel unsettled and uncomfortable in your own skin until the feeling goes away, or – for writers (and other artists) – until inspiration returns.  Which usually happens in long-anticipated floods of emotion and epiphany and color.

But how does this ebb and flow of inspiration work?  What makes it flutter away on disdainful wings like the spiteful Muses of old, and what makes it return in such productive floods and overwhelming relief?  (I think the Muses had/have Bi-Polar Disorder.  It would explain a LOT.)

Some writers turn to alcohol and/or drugs to prolong (or induce) their surges of inspiration.  Others feed off the emotional roller-coasters that dominate their lives – and sometimes those in the lives of others, too.  Sometimes it’s a combination of both those things that provides the impetus for new pieces to be created.

Not long ago, I wrote a journal entry about my current (at the time) state of mind and related it to the descriptions of how other writers get their artificially-induced periods of inspiration, and I think it does a pretty good job of describing my position on the issue of inspiration and how it comes to a writer.  Following is a section taken from that journal entry:

“I assure you, I am NOT saying that I’m “under the influence” right now, but I think I can begin to understand why [the writers doing drugs] did that… for the last few days now, I’ve been hovering in this state of mind where it’s as if I’m in some sort of detached unreality.  It’s like I’m still living my life, but I’m also observing it from a perspective that lets me see more – perceive more – than my normal outlook would usually allow me.  It’s giving me so much inspiration that I’m hardly finishing the first draft of one poem before the words of the next get shoved through my mind and out my fingers…

I am not a sadist or a masochist, nor am I the type to think of the glass as either half empty or half full (actually, I tend to really dislike that metaphor), but the pain that I’m going through has been a blessing as well as a curse.  I won’t be sorry when it’s gone, but I also won’t be sorry that I went through it.  Make of that what you will, but I can understand why those writers might have tried to prolong the time they were in the state of inspiration.

Nothing good (usually) comes of writing without inspiration, so they tried to figure out how to bring it on at will.  Granted, it was very often through using illegal substances or being irresponsible drinkers, but you see my point, right?  I tend to not call myself an optimist or a pessimist because there is truth in both of those labels for me, but I like what’s coming out of my pen right now.  It’s a slightly new style than my norm, but I’m letting it take me where it will, and I’m just fine with going along for the ride…

As long as the ride ends happily.  If not, then I’d be ok with it continuing for a while longer…”

My point in sharing this excerpt is that life gives us every reason we need to write.  It provides too many topics for us to ever explore thoroughly enough, and its ups and downs leave no time – or reason – to use anything else to augment the flow of that vital inspiration.

My Creative Writing: Poetry

Finally I’m getting to show you some poetry that isn’t ancient history!  I feel like I’ve come a long way in improving my poetry since I started writing it regularly, so it’s nice to look not-so-far-back and feel good about the quality of these pieces.  Today’s poem is one that I wrote in March, called “I Never Said I Was Ordinary.”  As always, I would really appreciate comments about the poem’s quality – what works and what doesn’t?  Does the meter flow well?  Do the images make sense/ are they clear to you?  Do the rhymes work?  Is it too long/ are there parts you think are unnecessary?  Thanks for reading!

 

I Never Said I Was Ordinary

you look at me as if there are stars in my eyes
blinding you with an unknown brilliance~
at least, unknown to me.

you say I don’t know it, but that I am wise
and I push you to the limits of resilience,
though I am too far gone to see.

you say the glimmer in my heart
shows itself in my written art,
yet I can’t see what it is I write,
as though my mind takes flight.

for though you see an innate beauty in me,
I only see what my eyes perceive~
if that is truth, then so be it.

I only see the world in its reality
with all the pain of humanity it can conceive
and the fleeting beauty within it.

my mind roams amongst the sea mist,
floating like a bird o’er the water, sun kissed
so yes, my eyes take on the absence
and glimmer with the reflection hence.

you say I am noble, radiating poise,
that I show a dignity born of confidence –
if I do, it was born of a once profound disquiet.

you say my voice is light and lilting, a sweet noise,
that my words leave you listening in suspense,
but I only hear the beauty of the still and quiet.

my dear, I am simply crying to the moon,
aching to sigh and sing and croon,
my voice rising with the song of a faery –
for, my love, I never said I was ordinary.

Creative Writing and the New Adventures of Magazine and Feature Writing

Well, I think it’s been a sufficiently long time since I last posted an entry here that I can say, “I’m back!”  The summer is officially over and I am back in school with a new Writing class in my schedule: Writing 300 – Magazine and Feature Writing.  One very exciting feature of this class is that I’ll get a few different chances to send off the pieces I write to (hopefully) get published!  Obviously there’s no guarantee that they will get published, but it’s still an opportunity that I don’t intend to waste!

As a result, we’re back to regular, weekly posts again!  I still fully intend to post about my creative writing, but once a week I’ll post about other various topics too, and these posts will often have something to do with a concept we learned in class that week.

In class this week, the point my Professor made over and over again is that the material you need to write a feature is everywhere – in the seemingly mundane events of your everyday life, in your conversations, the interactions you have with acquaintances, friends and family members, the effect something you read or watch has on you, etc.  I thought this was an interesting (and very important) point to encounter in a Magazine and Feature Writing class because as a creative writer, I get my inspiration from everything around me, too.  Inspiration for both my poetry and creative prose often come from the music I listen to, the artwork and photography I see, the weather, the events of my past, my hopes for the future, the ideas and opinions I form from what I hear and read on a day-by-day basis, dreams I have, and even my various moods throughout the day.

I must admit, though, that when I first signed up for this class, I didn’t really wanted to take it.  Why?  Well… now I know it’s because I was simply ignorant of what this class is about.  At the time, though, I thought I didn’t want to take it because it didn’t fit my definition of “creative writing” – it wasn’t a “Writing Short Stories” class or a “How to Write a Novel” class.  Therefore, I decided it wasn’t a class I wanted to… well, waste my time with.  Now that I’ve attended class for a full week now, however, I am very, very excited to continue the class because I learned that there is an element of creative writing here.  There may be some instances when I need to do some research and conduct a few interviews, but I’ll still be writing stories – just not the kind that I’m so used to considering “real” stories.  If I want to hold my own in the competitive writing industry, I need to learn all kinds of different forms of writing, and this is one of them.  Of course, it’s a plus that this discipline counts as creative writing!

In short, I’ve learned a lot more this week than just the definition of a “feature” and the difference between a commentary piece and a short feature piece; I’ve come to understand my position in my field a lot better, and I have a clearer vision of where my future is headed and what I need to do to get there.  Now on to the hard stuff!

SoundCloud – Reading My Poetry

Hello all!

I’ve recently been doing something new with my poetry – something that has been picking up in popularity within the literature community on deviantART (my most active site).  Usually the words of a writer are confined to the page on which they were written and the hearts and minds of the readers, but recently I’ve been experimenting with recording myself reading my own poetry and then posting the tracks online for my readers to listen to.  I’m using a site called SoundCloud to do this, and I think it’s proven to be a success so far.  My deviantART readers were thrilled to hear their favourite pieces read aloud, especially by me, the author, so I’m hoping my readers on this site will like it too!

The first recording I did was of my poem “Untitled.”  I’ve posted that piece here before, but I’ll re-post it below for those of you who like to follow along as something is read aloud to you!  The link for the sound recording will be right above the poem.

Thank you for reading, and please let me know what you think of this idea!  I’ve done several other recordings so far too, so those will be posted sometime in the near future!

 

https://soundcloud.com/mistressofquills/untitled

 

Untitled

1.
inexplicable things
that we sense
like wings fluttering
in the shadows

or chest rising with the effort
of feeling

crystal chandeliers
so fragile in the wind

shards of memory
piercing the stillness
and screams silenced
with agony

the lashes to our eyes
hurt and bleed

come again
and wound me

so close to breaking
I can see the cracks.
they widen
and begin to disintegrate

the holes patched
the pain “forgotten”
(as if things
like that can just go away)

I see light
cold and clear through dry eyelashes
whispers in the ink
and music that sings

2.
inexplicable things
darling and sweet
unmistakable
…and there

I see the light in your eyes
I hear your warm heart

I know your thoughts
…I feel you here

there it is
on the raven’s wings:
happiness…
on the feathers of pain

I can see the black
far away

but always close
as a dream (nightmare)

I am not lost
I can see beauty
light is fun to watch…
dancing in the eddies

hands are warm
inviting and open
new for me and my still heart
who are you?

a new word is mine
never mine before
glass – fragile with color prisms:
happy.

3.
inexplicable things
so incomprehensible
and wrong
opposite and backwards

impossible to understand
I don’t…

a paradox
brows furrowed

flashes and color
exploding
rampant, run wild
and be beautiful

yes or no?
stutter in silence

numb and trapped
words with no explanation

behind the scenes
a fairy (or elf?)
pulls the strings
marionette or voodoo doll?

highs and lows
intense beyond measure
tears and smiles
either or, or even together

what is this creature?
the piano plays on
rising notes
in question

My Creative Writing: Poetry

Hey guys!  I think one of the best things about learning is that you also improve in whatever you’re learning about. I love looking back at my writing and seeing how far I’ve come! I used to write all fixed-form poetry, stuff that has fixed lines and syllable counts, as well as specific rhyme schemes, but now that I’ve grown more in my writing style and skill set, I’ve taken to writing a LOT more free verse poetry. So! Flash from the past, this is a poem I wrote almost a year ago, and it’s from that time when I almost exclusively wrote fixed-form poetry. I hope you like it! Tell me what you think, and, as always, thanks for reading!(:

 

Poison

There’s ice in my blood, in the blue veins,
and Pain whips its scorching-hot reigns,
yanking and tightening its cruel hold
until my whole body grows very cold…

Licking crimson fire and creeping cobalt ice –
they clasp my limp body in an iron vice
so steel-strong and diamond-hard
that the black cords leave me scarred…

The fire drags me into the deep black,
the ice shows me memories of way back.
Colors dance before my feverish eyes
and images roam with deafening cries…

Voices softly whisper and gently plead,
but I can’t hear that they and their words bleed.
They don’t realize that this mortal disease
isn’t visible, nor recognized with ease…

Painful? Certainly. Serious? Yes. Deadly? Aye.
But completely hidden from the human eye.
Outside I’m calm, composed, but fake,
the true illness lying buried but awake…

A toxic poison slowly spreading to its goal,
eating, chipping away at my blackening soul,
and my weak, fluttering excuse for a heart,
malady oh so stubborn, refusing to depart…

Thoughts and dreams of just one image:
a face – dragged from the past’s muddy dredge –
once sweet and dear, now loathed and despised,
a face which hid a black heart well-disguised…

He fills my head, my heart and my soul,
for my ignorance, my innocence he stole,
leaving me empty, alone and searching…
seeking, questing, looking, but never finding…

I fear my heart will remain vacant and closed
until the One, my doctor, calm and composed,
can come to drive the poison away forever,
replacing deadly disease with loving care.