Not much of a title because there is no answer. You just notice it is almost two years since your last chapbook. Five ideas are buried on your laptop, five chapbooks waiting patiently for focus. So, you decide to ignore them a bit longer.
No, I am not suffering from writer’s block–or chapbook completion. OK, maybe a bit of the latter. Some recent turn of the moon opened my eyes, or my mind. A mini-chapbook. Perfect summer project. Have I mentioned my summer challenges lately? It boils down to sun and heat. I need to talk to my publisher. That might be first.
Instead, I decide the cover art should be first. (Wait until you see the awesome cover art for “Chaos & Peace”, coming soon after I complete this project. “Soon” being one of those undefinable words that floats forward, allowing breathing time.)
The chapbook is “Blonde Noir”, a single poem I wrote in 2013 and have revised and performed and edited and played with. More about the poem later. My focus is on the cover art. Here are some of the rejected pieces I’ve drawn lately.
Yes, she’s scared. 1940s-ish. But she’s more complex than that.
Perhaps she’s conning or cunning. Breathless and afraid.
She does wear pearls but she is not this self assured.
Stay tuned. I may actually tell you how long a chapbook takes by summer’s end.
Words and spelling catch my eye. What am I? What words do I use to express current feelings and explorations? I see the word “resistor” on social media and it looks wrong. I went to several dictionaries.
What are you?
Big leaf maple, Acer macrophyllum,
leaves shine sugar coated.
Alive in a hundred shades of green,
I am the Northwest, soul of the planet.
Catch a raindrop.
Tip your chin up.
Drink sky water.
Splash into the lake.
Mystery lies in downward clouds.
Wait for the midnight owl.
Summer Sister dances,
a flighty faerie step, arms
outstretched to the universes.
She pulls down spiral threads
to honor Lugh’s mother,
connects webs from her fingertips
along the wheel of the year,
Lughnassahd to Equinox,
Samhain to Yule.
We are the amusement park
of watching stars.
What entices your Muse?
I think of her constantly, sometimes with irritation, sometimes, pleading, most often accepting her wily ways and sense of timelessness. She will wake me in the middle of the night with a string of words that will never be available again. She lurks in writing groups, surprises when I’m driving. She is ubiquitous, as fragrant as a stargazer lily and illusive as stars on a cloudy night.
I take every advantage to be alert to her omniscience. It is I who am forgetful, ignore that little tug of an image, get monkey mind when all I should be is mindful. So, the invitation to participate in Postcard Poetry Month in August reeled me in.
For the seventh year poets have written a poem a day and sent it out to a list of 31 other Muse chasers. As I pondered the delight of a postcard in my mailbox, I also realized that my quirky little off the cuff poem would have only one reader.
SO, I decided to share with you, that which flashes through on a poem that cannot be studied, revised, re-re-written and critiqued. Write it. Mail it. So, here goes.
At the Post Office
Blonde pony tail flips back and forth—
a tidy coif to suit her summer chic tan,
a skimpy tank top and yellow skort.
Rhinestone ear studs dot her small lobes.
With both hands she jerks open the battered car door,
that matches the rumpled front end
after mailing off the final divorce papers.
A raven squawks a celebration
from the flag pole.
©2013 C.J. Prince
Words, odd combinations of letters, inviting the imagination, the connection between me and thee. I lost them somewhere.
They bury themselves in sand, tickle my bare feet as the tide washes out. I miss them but the rain washes them all away. I do not write for two weeks.
Wordless as I walk the shoreline, peer into tide pools, watch puffins settle on the great Mother Rock. Seagulls swoop the gray skies. At 8:36 PM, a shimmer of brightness just above the horizon, a splash of light touching clouds, a shimmer in the skim of water remaining as the tide recedes.
Like the turning of the moon, words return when I least expect them, crowd into dreamtime and waken me with the unexpected. Starving for words, I drink them down in a scribble.
From this two projects erupt, not one but two, seeming appropriate in the Light of Gemini.
Today, an unexpected confirmation that perhaps other writers also covet but do not even know they wish. A juxtaposition. I walk into the dark Pickford Film Center to find my favorite middle seat. A woman passes, turns and comes back. “Are you the one who wrote the Noir Poem,” she asks.
“Yes.” I am so surprised that I don’t even register what she’s saying. But she liked it, has seen me read in several places. I am delighted. Not as an ego bump, but as recognition that my words have touched someone’s memory, that there was resonance and understanding.
I am glad the words have returned. Now, those two projects call.
Observe. Accept. Those are the two words I gleaned from my years as a Buddhist.
Observe myself. Ah, hah. Therein lies the challenge. I see the flaw of mirror, the patterns backward, playing my Fool with false promises.
I know better than to follow the cow trail and slap down some highfalutin resolutions that will take me right into the bog of failure.
Instead, I consider carefully my intentions. Dare I commit (yes, please note the difference between “intend” and “commit”), to blog more. (Oh, heavens, I have a vast array of untended blogs out there mumbling on their own. I only maintain two.) And if I do blog more, what time will shift on the scale of my day? How much of it will fall into the well of self indulgence?
Write more poetry? I open my heart to the Muse but I cannot force her. Whenever she comes, I drink her tea and take rapid notes, losing sometimes the very essence of some glimmering wisdom. To that, there is not intention or commitment or resolution. To the Muse, I listen as I must breathe to live.
Finish my novel. Yes. Ever onward my character takes me on her unexpected journey. I’d say we’re about 85,000 words at present. Time to wrap it up, eh? Not until she has her say. Then will come the hard work of revision, of endless re-writes. I get smarter with each writing but always there is work to be done. This novel writing is essential, walks parallel to poetry, will take me away from a conversation, wlll insist I make a note while driving, knocks on my dreamtime. This is not resolution or even intention. This is essential.
So, I consider a blank calendar, a whole year of possibility ahead. However, there are very few blank days already in January. I celebrate the connection with you and the opportunities that will unravel this year.
Bright blessings in all ways to your greatest and highest good.
Khepera pushs up the Sun this morning,
Rolls it right over Stewart Mountain,
Light blasts into the new year.
If I left it to whim–and I sometimes do–there would be long dry spells. And sometimes there are. I write when the Muse bonks me on the head. She tells me to pay attention. She insists that I grab a pencil, a pen a stick to imprint the earth or sand. She doesn’t command me to write. She puts words at the end of the pen. I watch to see what they say. Sometimes I am delighted, other times, dismayed.
When I was a kid, writing was a school activity plus homework. I wrote my first novel in sixth grade. Really. How presumptuous. I’d win at mumbly peg, shoot hard and straight with a steelie and take all the marbles from the boys for my collection and I’d flop on the bed with Daisy my cat who wasn’t allowed in the house, and I’d write.
In college creativity and writing seem at distant ends of opposing universes. Just meet the deadline. I became quite good at that so it was natural to fall into newspaper writing.
All of those years, whether creativity seemed engaged or not, I wrote as a matter of fact. Of necessity. Give me a deadline and I’m on it. No prob. No regrets. In newspaper writing you can’t go back to correct a prepositional phrase. Of course, if it is a factual error, there is no question about correction. It will be corrected and so will you.
When I moved to the Northwest, I looked for a newspaper to write a weekly column. It did not manifest. And I had a couple of blogs by then anyway. But a blog only has a self imposed deadline. Five years ago I started writing with some friends from Tai Chi. The Muse-icians. We write every Monday morning at my kitchen table, practice writing.
Words are like a good meal, they must be served when hot and savored for spice. It is better than a deadline.
What keeps you writing when the Muse is on vacation?