“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
The morning is frosty; the air so chill.
But, ’tisn’t winter that makes my heart still.
As I lay warming in blankets’ embrace,
One thing will get me to leave this soft place.
Hark! Hear the fragrant beau’s noisy approach:
He squeaks as he rolls his big, stinky coach!
I rush down the stairs; I dress for outside.
I must get there soon! I lengthen my stride.
Quickly now! Line up the cans by the road!
They ought to be decent, for their bethrothed.
He’s nearly here -at the end of the street.
I’ve made my offer and now must retreat.
Back inside for me, still in my p.j.’s
Till we meet, my love, in seven more days.
He took a short drag at his fingers, feeling the sweet, damning calm of the cigarette’s smoke.
“I gotta shake this thing,” he said. The brusque, bass voice lisped slightly at the “s’s.” Stocky, muscled arms shifted in their sleeves. Empathetically, the other man near him nodded, cleared his throat.
“Just impossible to breathe, with the air quality like this,” the friend answered. They both paused, cigarettes dangling and steaming, to appreciate the smog-fog condensing everywhere. Passing traffic was oddly muted and amplified; ghost cars invisible till they drew within twenty feet of the parking lot where the two stood.
The first coughed deeply, the sort that causes any happenstance listener to wince in commiseration.
“Ye-ep,” the second observed. “We gotta fix that, Dave.” He took another inhale of nicotined fumes.
Dave finished coughing, breathed a shaky, careful intake, and gave his friend a look. He wiped his thick, mustard sleeve across his mouth. Inherent condensation accompanied the gesture, irritating his lips further.
“Damn fog,” Dave quietly noted. He drew a final breath from his cigarette, watching his friend do the same. “‘Bout done, Nate?”
Nate drew his gaze back from the woman who had just exited her SUV, back from the building she’d entered. Meeting Dave’s questioning eyes, he exhaled. “Ye-ep.”
Nodding, they each dropped their burned-up, paper hulls and ground them under steel-toed work boots.
Wiping slightly sweaty hands on mist-moist pant legs, they strode toward the Health Clinic. It was time for Dave’s appointment with the naturopath.
“Me llamo Señor Carrrrrl,” Sr. Carl (who else?) intoned. He had a deep voice forever tainted by New Jersey influence. “Me tengo dos perros. Me gusto rrrojo.” His black, heavy brows seemed to droop further over his deepset, dark eyes as he read the words he’d written on the whiteboard.
Turning an ever-tired, middle-aged face to the class, he sighed. “Ahorrrra, escrrrriba sus prroprrrias rrespuestas,” he over-accentuated slowly. Blank looks returned his droopy half-gaze.
He sighed again. “Take these sentences. Write your responses,” he translated. Still blank. Wil stifled a yawn, and she wasn’t the only one to do so.
Sr. C. blinked a few times. He’d been told teaching junior high was difficult, but he’d also been told his Spanish wasn’t good enough for a job at his own brother’s family business.
“Get a paper, you guys,” Sr. C. directed. “Then, write some sentences about you.” His eyes shifted to the left as he thought of another necessary direction to pass on. “In Spanish!”
His young pupils slowly began pulling out papers and pencils, squinting at his example up front as if it were foreign to them. They opened Spanish/English dictionaries, their textbooks, or spied over their more responsible friend’s shoulder at common vocabulary.
Wil rose and grabbed a student dictionary off the shelf. She picked the largest one, to double as a cover for solving her secret puzzle. Sr. C. wouldn’t bother them while they worked, but she worried about classmates spying.
Meanwhile, Sr. C. had turned his desk radio on. As usual, he tuned it from AM Sports News to the first Spanish station that came through. An excited radio advertisement rapidly babbled about some product or service no one in the room could understand. Sr. C. sat heavily in his desk chair and tiredly extracted a pile of last period’s assignments from the mess on his desk.
“Me llamo Wil,” Wil said under her breath as she wrote. She stopped to chew on the end of her pen. She couldn’t think what else to write, since her Spanish was slightly less rudimentary than the teacher’s. She glanced at the example sentences, but she owned no pets and didn’t have a favorite color.
Carefully, she slid her newest note discreetly from under the dictionary. She would fill in a clue, then write a sentence in Spanish.”Two birds with one stone,” she told herself. Then, “I wonder how they say that in Spanish?”
Shrugging, she looked at One Across. “Name of school: C-E-N-T-R-A-L.” Wil carefully penned her response.
She thumbed randomly through Spanish phrases, then wrote under the sentence about what she called herself, “Me gusto limonada.”
“Plant starter: seed.”
“No tengo un perro.”
“Tengo pelo castaño.”
An upbeat mariachi pop song played in the background as both of her assignments slowly took shape.
A few years back, I wanted to start writing in earnest. My only outlet was a strange social website involving faces and books, so I thought to start there. I definitely could not start a blog. Those things were going out of style; were old news. No one would read what I wrote on a blog.
That’s not to say that Facebook didn’t have problems, too. I know! I thought. I’ll make it what I want to read. Others will follow suit and I’ll have a veritable salon of thinkers, writers, and readers. I’ll post whimsical brilliance that will be loved and shared the world over.
I knew my writing was better than what my “friends” posted. And, re-posted. And, re-posted.
I began writing daily. I tried funny; well-written; poetry; observations. I imagined my audience to be thrilled with this departure from the mundane. Surely, everyone would flock to me and what I offered, instead of to the flashing, dancing cat gifs.
Sadly, ’twas not so.
After about two years, I had to admit defeat. Besides a general dropping-off of readership, I had personally developed impulse-driven tendencies and depressive conclusions about my popularity.
What really got me? Facebook notified me that my friends, even the ones who really were friends, were commenting and re-posting GARBAGE -while leaving my posts silent.
As most artists can attest, my writings were so much a piece of my soul at times that I felt personally disliked.
At the suggestion of a real-life friend; in real life; with real, spoken words -I moved my writing over here to blogworld.
Facebook, meanwhile, can continue its downward spiral to an advertising cesspool. I tried, but all its users want it to be what it is. Nothing more; continually, much less.
As for us, keep reading. Keep writing. Keep expressing.
“So, who’s the guy?”
“Girl, Mikey. Girl.”
“The broad, then.”
“She’s only eight. Jeez!”
“Well, I can’t see. Someone’s bright, pulsing keister’s in front of me! Ya mind turnin’ it down a bit, Eve?”
“Right, right. Just give me a billion more years.”
“She wants a pony. That’s it. Just a pony, is all.”
“Ha! Ha! Well, go on, Mrs. I’m-so-much-older than you.”
“That’s what you get, ya know.”
“Ya don’t know? You really don’t know what I’m talkin’ about?”
“Well, Mikey; you gonna sit there, smug as eternity -or, ya gonna tell me?”
“It was cuz of that night, Eve.”
“Jeez, Mikey, which night? It’s not like we’ve had a few million up here.”
“That one a few thousand back. When you tried that helium. You don’t remember? You don’t remember -what happened?”
“See? This is why I didn’t wanna tell ya. Now, you’re blushin’. Just like that night.”
“I didn’t blush, Mikey.”
“Yeah, well, that’s what happened and then you-”
“Right, right. Somethin’ happened that we’re not sayin’ and I’m sayin’ that’s why we’re hearing a wish.”
“You think, ’cause part of me lit up that she wants a pony?”
“Yeah. And, I think we’re going to hear more about it before tonight’s done. Your little light show took awhile to get to them.”
“Gee, thanks, Mikey.”
“Hey, you asked. I didn’t ask. I’m just floatin’, here. If you don’t wanna hear some hundred wishes a night, just wait till you run out of fuel in a few thousand more.”
“Oh, nothin’ really. I just heard from Tony who said Buster told Suzie-”
“The point, Mikey?”
“Something about falling, that’s all.”
“Yeah, and then whoever’s watching down there thinks it’s like that time we was talking about when they saw light all sudden-like, and then we’ll hear all this noise again.”
“You know that means you’ll be front and center, right?”
“What’s the matter, Mikey? You don’t look so hot anymore.”
“I think I just dropped a level.”
“C’mon, Mikey. Like you said, who wouldn’t want to hear wishes all night, huh?”
Go ahead, Dear, cry it out. Spend your tears to pay off sadness. Think through all your sorrows, and tell me every pain.
I’m here, and I’m not leaving. I want to stay with you. I love you more than anything, and I’ll not move till I convince you.
We’ll sit here, by the door. We’re safe; behind it, in the dark. I’ll hold you close as you hold me, till the world is ready for you again.
“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.”
-Jane Austen, in a letter to Cassandra (24 December, 1798)
Sometimes I want to turn to my pallet and flawlessly express the images of my mind. From years of experience and materials-gathering, I would be done painting in a few, fantastic hours.
Instead, the best materials at hand are these very things you are looking at. And, I feel like a young child playing with fist-sized chalks whenever I start typing.
It’s been awhile since I’ve thought to pass on my (very few) gems of writing wisdom.
I’ve been a bit stumped.
So, what better subject that the one I’m sitting under? Let’s explore Some Suggestions for Getting Creativity Flowing.
1. Do all that crap you already know you should.
Do I really have to name them? Okay, okay: go for a walk, read good books, just start writing, be naturally motivated and creative and hard-working, listen to music, and take a short break and come back to it later.
At least go take a bathroom break. You’ll feel better, and avoid nasty infections.
2. Write something.
You may think I listed this as part of Step 1, and you’re right. Good job. I’ve been approaching it a tad differently lately, however, and want to specifically describe that different process.
I often think of it as “word vomiting.”
I’m a very correct, prim, prudish sort who dots my i‘s and punctuates my prose and tries to get the dang span style to look right on WordPress AS I GO ALONG. I’ve realized this anality can impede creative thought.
Nowadays, particularly when I intend to write a poem, I literally “just write.” Or, type. Or, voice-to-text.
No punctuation. No capitals or line breaks or bushy mustaches. I do, admittedly, fix words that were captured incorrectly. I just write the way the words are coming to my mind and I try to think of descriptive passages and words and light glinting from bottomless pools of hazel-green as spanning text scrolls in mirrored right-to-left in infinite white-rimmed ellipses…
I’ve realized that, since I get an odd rise out of correcting grammar, I can please both halves of my conflicting self by freely puking words out, then organizing the mess into something more sensical later.
3. Ask for an assignment.
Back in the days when my “friends” actually responded to my Facebook posts, I asked for writing prompt ideas and received four or five.
Writing prompts are not difficult to come by. Reddit (my favorite garbage heap of the internet) has an entire subreddit for writing prompts.
I give the example of my Facebook query because I was accountable to people I knew for actually coming up with ideas, writing something about a few, and posting a finished product. Someone wanted a story, and was waiting for it.
I’m not personally motivated enough for NaNoWriMo or even GetOutOfBed some days, so the exterior expectation was a good way to go. I may have taken three weeks when I said I’d get them done by the end of one, but I did it.
4. Block out the world.
Now, I never, never, never, sometimes, never encourage extreme measures of numbing, mostly because I’m a teetotaler who considers an entire bag of chocolate candies and an all-nighter to be cutting loose. That, and I have a few mental issues that are exacerbated by really pushing it.
We’re talking about removing all the distractions in healthy ways.
Kids? Pay a babysitter, or fire up the electronic one.
Annoying roommates or houseguests? Go to a café, library, or neighbor with free wifi.
You’re annoying? Read over things you wrote that you thought were great.
Can’t stop distracting? Put the phone, remote, D&D manual, controller, or talkative friend down. Tell yourself you’ll look after five minutes, ten minutes, etc.
Sick? Rest, eat right, sleep, go to the doctor, or take your approved medications.
The BEST way for me to block out and GET WRITING is to put headphones on. We have access to so much music these days. I cycle through my favorites, or suggestions from other bloggers, till something plays that is blocking, beautiful, and yet not distracting in its own way.
Having five steps would really make this entry seem authoritative and mathematically even, but I can sense my creativity is about shot. Even after following my own advice, there are times I am so drained of artistic output that I call the game before someone gets hurt.
That could actually be your Step 5: Give up amicably when it’s just not working out. I DO NOT mean to crumple up your laptop and throw it in the garbage, cry all over your pillow, tell yourself mean things, and NEVER, never return.
Sometimes, there’s a sort of resigned calm one feels at the inevitability of an upcoming event, and an acceptance of its arrival. You may not have felt your Muse, but it’s okay. It’s all right. Go do your other things, especially sleep, and we’ll come back later.