Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Soft Hue of Words


I milk the warm day for all its worth, entranced by the room backlit in soft hues of sunlight. The gentle breeze breaks against the screen into tendrils of whispers against my skin. This baby blue sky is better suited for a newborn nursery than a New York March day. Nature’s kiss of spring? What of winter I wonder, he never had a chance to unfurl and stretch his muscles. His blanket covering of white was nothing but shredded effusions, thin transparent foam tapped off a brew that disappeared as quickly as it formed.

I’m not the only one confused…trees stand naked of foliage, withstanding the prodding strokes of airstream exuberance, refusing to bud in light of the impassioned warmth of the day. Mother Nature could use a few lessons in foreplay. Then again, she might have overplayed her hand wrestling with old man winter all last season.

My mind contains seasons of fodder; enough to tire of winter’s spent sorrow. He lost days, more like months to his adversary, while hard ground gave way to loam earth.

I wonder how many rows you can plow through a fertile mind, before enough wordage is planted and sown early by a torrent of doubt. Will we drown in word vomit - the overgrown algae choking off ponds of thought, reflections strangled by vines’ before they know the sun’s delirious rays? Spring may be clawing at the door, but there is still a winter storm brewing inside locked doors.

In this farmstead reality, words are hard jagged edges tearing skin, down to bone. I don’t have enough language, enough vocabulary to swab up the liquid life that drains from every pore. How is it something so painful and elusive can leave me breathless and wanting. Why not find an easier path to tread, one that soothes my empty psyche and wraps the soles of my feet with eloquence – gentle grass stained moccasins of verbiage. Some days I don’t think I have the tools to work the plantation of my mind or to climb these mountains of sentence structure, paragraphs and pages.

Boulders of doubt push me over the edge, but I can’t let go of the ledge, the valley doesn’t hold enough words to break my fall. I’m digging furrowed welts deep in the mountains face down to split nails and bloody fingers searching for gems of sanity to hang onto. I lose my grip (on sanity) and tumble head over heels down to a pussy willow tundra of open books.

My eyes flutter against the brilliant light as sunlight dances over nap swollen eyelids. The wind blows against the screen and chill air pinpricks my skin. I smile. Nothing but a dream about the soft hues of words floating around a writer’s mind on a faux spring day.

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” ~ Vita Sackville-West

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Obsession: The Dream Killer

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” Edgar Allan Poe


I lost track of how long the stare contest had been going on. Liquid charcoal eyes stared unblinking into mine. Occasionally her eyebrow would arch knowingly. In jest, I threw up my hands. No hair off her brow, of course the blind dog won the stare contest, which started with me asking her what I should write. Shrugs; She’s my muse and no she doesn't play fair, but I get lost in those eyes where a world of wonder takes place – enough to clear my mind and shift gears.

Pickles cocks her head slightly still with that sarcastic eyebrow arch and grins like a lunatic.

“Knock it off you maniac, you still haven’t answered the question.” I scold playfully, while thumbing through a notebook of miscellaneous thought vomit I had written.

Words are like this secret elixir only I can partake of – my personal stash.

When was the last time writing felt like that? I wondered. Pickles continues to stare at me, waiting like a hungry vulture for me to answer my own dilemma. “Want to hear a story on how I lost my words? I ask. Those long toes of hers resemble monkey paws as they curl around my knee in answer. I pat the couch beside me and wait for her to get comfortable.

“Once upon a time (because all our earlier stories start that way), a woman had piles of words emulating every emotion she had ever experienced in handwritten journals, typed pages, and scraps of whatever was handy when the words overtook her. Words bandaged pain, soothed sorrow, and built bridges to hope and dreams. Then one day a horrible man shredded all her words and left her with a sea of mulched batting in its place.”

Pickles buries her nose beneath my elbow as I continue, “The woman swore off words and buried their likeness so deep within she forgot where she hid them. Years and years would go by while the words pushed and shoved against her breastbone, vying to escape. They wrapped around her heart becoming a fist full of memories squeezed dry. Until her psyche began to rot intellect like a rusted hinge exposed too long to the elements.” At this point in my storytelling, I glance at Pickles with her nose tucked between her paws as if to hide from a scary scene in a movie.

“The pile of words inside the woman grew and grew, threatening to engorge her lungs until she couldn’t breathe. Still she strangled the words and swallowed them deep to rot in her gut, until she became a numb caricature of a human being. Then one day, along came a pup, a pushy creature with a pickled attitude who demanded to be heard, just like the words she once knew.”

A wet nose nudges my elbow, encouraging me to go on. “Slowly but surely, the woman learned to purge the words which had been buried for so very long in the depths of her psyche and heart. For the first time in a long time, she could breathe. The woman realized she had never truly lost the words; they had been the driving force within her all along. Not unlike her dog, she wanted to be heard.”

I wink at Pickles and whisper, “The End.”

I remember fanatical sessions of writing for hours on end, to the point of a losing a year and a half in the creation of my books. Lately I’ve been wondering where that obsessive writer disappeared to. With no doubt, words still flow in their own stream of consciousness from my fingertips; although, nothing like those first few years of discovering my lost cache inside. Are my goals as a writer still something I am capable of accomplishing? More than ever…

I’ve learned something along the way though, obsession kills dreams. If you become so obsessed you forget to live or to enjoy the small moments in life, you’re strangling any hope of fulfilling those dreams. Everything in life needs time to develop to its full potential. In my case, my writing needed days to breathe, time to marinate into something credible. Besides, I still need those stare sessions with my perquisite pup (even though she cheats).

I’m not saying give up by any means, what I am saying (more so for me) is enjoy the journey. Don’t overwhelm yourself and lose touch with the enchanting beauty of why or when your dreams first began to hold sway over you.

“All we see or seem is, but a dream within a dream.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe