The Poet Looks Out the Window

The Poet Looks Out the Window
Minute Poetry

Oh, bless this tree outside my room—
a home, a womb
where words are born,
a page adorned—
poet’s enclave,
creative cave.

These branches beckon many birds
with songs sans words.
They bring us joy,
distress destroy,
plaintive cries, too,
to mourn with you.

And there above, I spy a nest.
Robin Redbreast?
Perhaps a Jay?
Oh look! Today,
sweet finch I see.
Inspire me!

Photo: Victoria Slotto
View from My Office “Treehouse”

Today at dVerse MTB Frank Hubeny invites us to try Minute Poetry. Don’t be afraid of this very fun form. It seemed daunting to me at first, but when I diagrammed it, I found it to be easy enough with the help of Rhymezone.com. My ornamental pear tree looks a bit shabby right now because the harsh winter and severe winds was causing it to damage our house and we had to have it pruned. But when it’s at it best, in autumn, it is truly a delight and the migrating birds love the tiny pears that are just for them, not humans.

Please join us–give it a whirl. BTW, this poem is also inspired by Lillian’s window prompt from Tuesday Poetics.

 

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Wordsmith Wednesday–Show Up and Write!

Writing journal

Showing Up
A Poem

Meditation is like
writing.
You have to show up
or nothing happens.

I thought I’d start out with this short poem I wrote a while back. It’s a bit of advice I need to remind myself of often–both for meditation and for writing.

If we are going to succeed in any area of life, we have to be willing to devote time to perfecting our skill.

I’d like to entertain a dialogue on this subject, if you will indulge me.

  • Do you have any techniques to assure that you are dedicating time to writing?
  • Do you have proven cures to overcome laziness, avoidance, all those things we sometimes refer to in the mythical euphemism writer’s block?

These are a few of my thoughts:

  • Dedicate a space for your writing. Create an ambience that will inspire–add music, candles, privacy, order (or chaos if you prefer). Try out coffee shops, libraries, nature or other venues that attract you, without distracting you.
  • Schedule writing time that fits your lifestyle. For some this may be a daily affair, for others weekends, early mornings or late nights.
  • Get the support you need from family members whether baby-sitting, assisting with household needs or privacy.
  • Write an Rx for writer’s block. Here are a few of my favorite remedies:
    • Take a walk in nature
    • Grab a dictionary and randomly choose a dozen or so words. Use those words in a poem or flash fiction.
    • Review and revise your work from your previous writing session.That often propels you forward.
    • Retrieve work that you’ve edited out or rejected and use it to produce a new poem or short fiction piece.
    • Visit a blog that offers prompts and go with it.
    • Browse a newspaper for a potential story line

Okay, now it’s your turn. I’m asking you to help write this short article. In the comments section, please add some of your proven cures for writer’s block and what it is that makes you show up and write.

 

The Right Location to Write: A Short, Short Story

Here’s a short, short story I wrote years ago when I first started writing: “Location, Location, Location.” Just for writers…especially those just starting out.

Location, Location, Location

Becca grasped the aquamarine notebook in trembling hands, reached for the pen with its padded surface and took in a deep breath. “I’m ready,” she announced to Nimble, her rough-coated Jack Russell Terrier. “Where’re we going?”

She’d prepared for this moment for days—no, years. The time had come to embark on her life’s quest. After all, she was about to turn fifty.

Longhand would flow through her fingertips, unfolding onto the paper. True, there’d be the drudgery of transcription, but writing is an art form and like the sculptor with clay, she longed to touch the medium of her creation.

After she hooked Nimble to his leash, Becca hopped in her Neon and headed off into her future. “You’re my lucky totem, boy, my muse.” The dog cocked his head, nipping at her words.

When she arrived at Rancho San Rafael, Becca spotted a picnic bench beneath the boughs of a spreading Oak. She stopped, unloaded and retrieved the virgin journal from her backpack and opened it. She closed her eyes and strained to conjure up the brilliant storyline that had visited her at two in the morning. Before she’d put her pen to paper, a pigeon in the tree above her delivered an enormous pea green dropping that splattered on the pristine page. Becca yelped and tore the first few sheets from her tablet, crumpled them and slam-dunked the wad into the waste receptacle nearby. She stomped back to her car, Nimble in tow and didn’t write that day.

Nimble nudged Becca before seven the following morning. She awakened slowly. The story-line had reappeared and hovered just below the surface of her consciousness. She grabbed her pen and diary in a desperate move to recover her thoughts, but the canine whined to go outside and pee. Becca hauled herself from bed and opened the door for her dog. The tale scampered out with Nimble so she returned to bed and ensconced herself beneath the downy comforter. If I don’t stir too much, maybe it’ll come back. But nothing happened.

She grabbed her pen and paper, propped she up in bed and began to write, just for the sake of writing but Nimble’s whining pierced her concentration. Becca set aside her work and peeled back the covers to let the dog back in the house. A relentless cramping gripped her trapezius and she had to admit that writing in bed didn’t work either. Another day passed without a written word.

The following morning the phone jolted her from sleep. Becca croaked a drowsy Hello.
“It’s eight thirty,”  her mother’s voice informed her. “Tell me I didn’t wake you up–aren’t you writing? I’m not subsidizing extra sleep!”

Becca hesitated. “I’ve got a problem–I don’t know where to write. Monday, I tried the park and yesterday, in bed. I can’t find the right location and I refuse to be stuck in an office. Any ideas?”

“I’m paying your bills for three months so you can jump start your book, not a minute more. I expect results.”

“That’s only thing I want, Mom. Honest.”

“Then check out that little coffee shop down the street from you—the one with the easy chairs. Maybe that will inspire you—it’s a very artsy location.”

“I’ll go there today–great suggestion!”

Becca arrived at ten o’clock. The smell of coffee assaulted her. The crowd was sparse. She paid for her latte, sprinkled a dash of cinnamon on the froth and made her way to her nest in an overstuffed chair by the unlit hearth. She scrounged for her supplies, opened the notebook and poised to scrawl. The plot remained vague so she titled her work THE NOVEL, printing the letters in upper case. The opening line’s got to grab their attention, she reminded herself. She wrote in cursive script that would’ve done the nuns proud: The morning started out calmly enough. Angela could not fathom the unfortunate turn of events that awaited her on that July afternoon.

A young couple meandered over and sunk into the loveseat opposite Becca. She watched as they ogled one another, oblivious of their surroundings. Sexual tension shimmered and invaded Becca’s space, dissipating her focus. Gathering her belongings, she relocated to a table toward the front where the sun’s glare bounced off the front window, causing her to fumble in her purse for sunglasses. Becca penned a second sentence.
Two women entered the café, choosing seats nearby. “I don’t know how much longer I can stand William,” the younger one stated. “He doesn’t pull his load and nothing I do is good enough for him.” And on she rambled.
Becca attempted to ignore the tirade but couldn’t. She downed the tepid coffee, seized her gear and went home. That day she cleaned out the garage.

In the days that followed Becca continued her hunt. She drove to the library, but couldn’t settle in the lumpy chair. The daily story telling for children, now out of school, distracted her. The reader’s singsong voice and conspicuous pauses grated on her nerves.

Returning home, she arranged a low plastic mesh chair in a corner of her yard. Nimble tormented her with his ball and pull toy. Bees swarmed and mosquitoes buzzed. She spent most of the time swatting.

Next, Becca rearranged a corner of her office and dragged an abandoned rocking chair from storage. She hauled a pail of soapy water and spent the afternoon scrubbing off cobwebs and grit then caressed the ancient pinewood with lemon-scented polish. The cushions were beyond redemption so she shopped the next day to replace them. That night she added two paragraphs of description, but the plot remained fuzzy and she didn’t know where to go next.
“I’ll read a how-to book on novels,” she told her dog. “That ought to get me going.”

Five weeks passed. Baca’s Mom invited her for a stay. “Maybe you can work on the beach—it’s peaceful there.”
Becca booked her flight, packed her duffel bag and left Nimble at the canine hotel. On the plane she studied character development and point-of-view. “Angela’s a Pisces,” she said aloud, startling the overweight man in the middle seat.

Every morning Becca packed a PBJ and hauled her macramé bag to the shore. Ideas flowed like molasses. Her skin crisped and wind fought battle with the pages. Anxiety forced her to observe this ritual with compulsion. At the end of a two-week labor she’d delivered three chapters and returned to Reno. The coast had left her dry.

Nimble greeted his mistress with frenzy. Separation guilt had dampened Becca’s creative energy and she succumbed to his need for walking and swimming in the river. Three weeks evaporated.

“How far have you gotten?” her Mother asked at the end of two months.”

“Six chapters.”

Silence answered Becca, reinforcing her escalating panic.

I’ve got to do something. Becca tossed the wretched notebook on her desk, booted up the computer and began to copy the manuscript. As she transferred the written word onto the keyboard a miracle occurred. She typed the six chapters, accomplishing a first rewrite in the process, but couldn’t stop. Her fingers dashed across the letters of the alphabet, directed by a higher power. The next day she returned and the days after that. Nimble remained psychologically tethered to her side. Each afternoon, at precisely two o’clock, she’d take a break and reward him with a walk along the Truckee, then hurry back to her computer.

Becca shed her concern with location. She dragged her journal to a jazz concert and added pounding music to a passionate love scene. She drove to Tahoe and in her car transported serenity to a moment of intense communication. On a bus she described the blur of buildings as a backdrop to a clandestine encounter then tuned out conversation in a restaurant or Baskin Robbins. Or tuned it in and added it to her story.

“The place for writing is right inside me,” Becca announced to her Mother, towards the end of her sabbatical. “I’m letting my manuscript sit for a few weeks, and then I’ll do my rewrite. In the meantime I’m working on a short story that I started it at a basketball game.