Archive for August, 2008

Further On Down the Road

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

gravelroad
Mood: Pensive
Drinking: Liquids only

Sometimes I don’t know what to write.

I’ve been at it far too long to put pen to paper only when the muse shows up, only when the kettle is hot and inspiration feverish. If I always waited for those blistering moments, I’d have far fewer words to show for myself.

Writing, no matter how you love it, is work. Like any sport or discipline, it takes commitment. Time set aside at the keyboard or desk. Hours laboring over paper, in front of screens, battling the smooth white blankness, the insistent flashing cursor.

Perhaps that’s why I have no novels to my credit. I have not bent myself to the task like an Olympic athlete, have not roused myself repeatedly before dawn to make my rounds in sweat and ink. I have not focused with entirely single-minded purpose on a bright shining goal. Hell, I don’t even write every day — at least not “real” writing.

I have crafted a life around words, but they are not always words written for myself (which is what I define as “real”). I make my living writing pretty sentences for other people. My clever lines make these people money, and they break me off a piece of it, and with that piece I make room for what is “real”, what is my own.

Just this week someone asked me how I came to make a living by writing poetry, and I laughed. Poetry doesn’t pay the bills. Poetry is a necessary luxury. I do it because I love it, I need it, I want it. It is a habit that incurs its own expenses and very rarely pays its own way. But I could never hold that against it. I never expected to make a living by writing poetry.

Perhaps that’s the difference between me and the elite-athlete-writers. The gold medal winners. They expected to make a living at this. They bring all their determination and drive to bear on the single purpose of “succeeding” at poetry. And so they write faster-higher-stronger than I do. And they win shiny accolades and coveted places on printed pages. And more people know their names.

But I am happy just to be writing poetry at all. I work hard to improve my work, yes, and I occasionally strive for a prize. But I am not remarkable, really. I’m not among the elite.

Most of the time, I’m okay with that. The compromise allows me to have a broader life.

I’m not sure, at this point on the page, where I’m going with this. I intended to write a post about a memorial service I attended last week for the brother of a dear friend of mine. I intended to write about how it was the first memorial service I’ve been to at which there was no mention of God or heaven or a “better place” from which the deceased wisely looks down upon us all. I intended to write about how the man who died believed that all life is meaningless, therefore, he should try his best to make other people happy.

Instead my head and my screen are full of images of Phelpsian athletes out-stroking me on the keyboard, writing far beyond my own capabilities and draping themselves in golden satisfaction.

Are they better than me because of all their accomplishment and need? Am I less because I’ve chosen a less resistant road of family and friends and travel and work, or am I better because I have found a way to fit my craft around all the many pieces of my life, instead of starving myself for art’s sake and squeezing actual living into what space remains in the corners not occupied by my fierce ambition?

I suppose it depends on who you’re talking to.

If you’re talking to me, I would tell you I do not regret the path I’ve taken, and I do not feel lessened because of it.

At a writing conference I attended last August, the majority of the poets in my workshop sessions were older — retired, gray haired, wide-girthed. The more successful, better published poet leading the workshop asked us to go around the room and describe our daily writing process. Person after person talked about the hours they set aside during their day to write poetry, hours between dawn and the leisurely mall-walking expedition, hours between grandchildren and cribbage — hours and hours and hours with nothing else to fill them except pen and paper.

When my turn came, I shrugged and said — “I don’t have a daily process. I’m too busy. I just write when I can.”

Perhaps someday, when I am grayer and wider, I’ll write every day from 8 ’til noon, and then go weed my garden.

But for now, my writing will remain just one of the moving parts of my life. That way I’ll still have stories to tell when the bulk of years is behind me.

-Lo, feeling older already.

Big Pimpin’

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

greenapple_book
Mood: Slick
Drinking: Soon

True to form, time has put on its racing shoes and flown right past me — it’s already been a year since The Secrets of Falling came out.

Hopefully that’s been plenty of time for you to get your copy, take a read, and find a place for it on your poetry shelf.

So given all that, I hope my request comes as the slightest of inconveniences… If you’ve read Secrets, would you like to help me sell a few more copies?

Some of you have already been so kind as to write reviews on various websites, and I thank you. I’d just like to pimp it out a little bit more.

You can write reviews on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, Shelfari.com, and on various facebook and myspace forums, too.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can get your copy here or buy it from Amazon, Powell’s, or Etsy.

Of course, if you read it and hated it, let’s just keep that a secret, yeah? 😉

-Lo, much obliged.

The Cone of Shame

Monday, August 18th, 2008

sadconehead
Mood: Tired
Drinking: Whatever I can reach…

As Ms. LeeLoo here can attest, there are few things more pitiful than a pooch wearing the dreaded Cone of Shame.

The Loo had some dog drama a week or so ago and some stitching up was required. Now she must wander about wearing the Cone, so as to provoke pity from everyone she meets and obligate them to ply her with treats and luvin’.

Well, really, she has to wear the “E-Collar”, as the vet calls it, to prevent her from lick-lick-licking at her stitches and making them all wonky. But LeeLoo is beginning to think this all could come in handy as she learns that sometimes people feeling sorry for you is a really good thing.

I have been playing Florence Nightingale to LeeLoo’s wounded soldier, and have not had time for much of anything other than answering the call every time the Loo needs a hot compress! Clean sheets! More jello! Another backrub! Change the channel! Read me a story! Hold my paw! Help me down the stairs! Serve me some tasty dinner! Sit closer in case I think of something else I might need you to do!

Now that she’s a week or so into the healing stage, the old girl is feeling much better and workin’ the sympathy angle for all she’s worth. But the first few days she was really a sight to behold, all hopped up on painkillers with her tongue going all flopsy out the side of her mouth.

The main consequence of all of this is that I’m oh-so-sleepy and fallen behind on my list of things to do. Although I can blame some of that on the Olympics and their late-night coverage of the events I actually want to see .

Nonetheless, a few things have happened. I met the lovely Caitlin of Caitlin Bellah Photography for a photo shoot this weekend at an abandoned hospital out on Angel Island, the results of which will be seen here on this website in future months.

Meanwhile, there’s a cinepoem waiting to be edited and new poems cropping up when I least expect them, so I’ll be back on track soon. Just let me get a few snoozes in and I’ll be right with you…

-Lo, who has never been known to snore.

Teeter

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

teeter_red
Mood: Fair to Middling
Drinking: Sweet Tea

Teeter

There are more days now
when I know what I want

and even the threat of your
teenage years cannot dissuade me.

All that stands between us
are pink pills and a precipice.

Last week a transvestite named Erika
stole my bicycle right out of the garage
at three in the afternoon.

And I keep thinking he is lucky
she is lucky
they are lucky
you aren’t yet around.

Already I have begun
to brandish a taser
on trips to the laundry room

but if you were here
I’d be packing more heat –

blades, bullets and brass knuckles.
If you were here

I’d be willing to kill.

-Lo, who’s not afraid to use it.