Thoughts on Writing

Blogging is a lucrative undertaking for many people, but it is also a field that is somewhat…swamped!
(It saddens me that while I know what “lucre” is, and am familiar with the named Lucretius and Lucretia, I seem to have forgotten how to spell “lucrative.”)
The blogging field is so vast with so many sites, blogs, Zines, Mags, and, you know, mag-a-zines, there is a flood of potential work, but also an Aegean Stable of work to find it (If you’re not familiar with the 12 tasks of Hercules, please look them up & be enriched by the allusion). 😉
I think the most grueling work I have done to date is not, as many writers say, sitting in front of the blinking cursor and blank page willing the words to come, it’s

A) my own perfectionism (nothing on my personal blog makes my grade, FYI)

B) The research, reading, and tampering trying to find the right “fit”

C) The submissions process

D) The waiting for a response, many of which simply do not come. Rejection implied.

What amazes me is that writers keep at it, even when it’s discouraging. I think we have to be very determined or a little obsessive, or maybe both.

The silver lining is that, there always seem to be more submission calls…

The Blog Journeys On…

My children went to bed early tonight, thanks to their fascination with the Redwall animated series and the wonder of glow sticks. Time for writing…

And researching.

Blogs, blogs, blogs–they’re everywhere! And so many of them are paid opportunities, which look so good as the bank account trickles lower…

I still have about 50 tabs open on my laptop. At least half of those are submission requirements. The rest are health, nutrition, educational stuff for kids, podcasts on my faith…

I have two optimistically loaded literary journals. I’ve been told my writing is good enough, but the fit–the f___ng fit is so hard to find…

Everything I read on writing and blogging is so relatable. “Don’t write for free–unless you really need to get your work out there.” “Don’t give up on submitting just because you’ve been rejected…but don’t keep querying/submitting the same place.” Aw, phooey, I thought I had such a good niche all mapped out…

I’m actually finding it fun. More lists to go through…

At Night

It’s a stormy night. The wind is howling outside, and a windchime tinkles softly, a bit brokenly. My children have been asleep for hours now, but I cannot sleep. It’s after 5:30 a.m., and I still feel agitated. I have paperwork to do, healing to do…I want to avoid taking any more medication tonight, but my slow-healing knee is aching sharply. A pair of crutches leans against the wall by my bed. Pain twinges through my leg. Weather changes have always affected that old injury, and it would seem that surgery hasn’t changed that. One more thing the doctor can’t explain.
I wonder if it will be a rainy day tomorrow. I wonder what my children will be interested in doing. They’ve been asking to go to the library and the park, but it is almost impossible for me to get out of the house on my crutches. I hate to ask my overworked husband if he would like to take them. He is already so tired.

I try not to resent my situation. Resentment won’t make me heal any faster, it won’t help my husband get any more rest. I hate that he has to take all the extra work on. There is so little I can do right now, and so much that I want to do….

I finally become sleepy, but the rush I feel as I unintentionally pull myself out of sleep is an exhilarating one. A draft in the house intensifies the chill I feel. The medication I take makes me shiver easily.
The windchime sounds brokenly again, beautifully broken. I hear a tree branch crackle in the wind, and hope that doesn’t mean a power outage is coming.
I reach for a sweatshirt from a pile of clean laundry my husband brought me. Now, like a quiet butler, he is nowhere to be seen. I wish he would stay in our room with me. He’s afraid of bumping me in the night–hurting me. I am tired of being fragile. It’s been four months since I’ve picked up one of my children without being seated. I haven’t gone on a walk for more than six months.
I have to recover, we have to get our lives back.
I hear a branch fall outside and the wind picks up even more. I want to check on my children and make sure they’re covered up warmly. I’m so tired that moving at all is an effort. A glance at the crutches exhausts me. I remind myself that the kids are old enough to pull their blankets back on. I still feel remiss.
The windchime sings in the gusts that sweep our porch now.
I wonder what tomorrow will be like.

Ravens of Thought

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“There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat”
–W.B. Yeats

A few nights ago I was musing, and my WiFi was in and out–actually, the neighbor’s WiFi was–I recalled The Two Trees, a favorite poem by William Butler Yeats, and one line in particular, “The Ravens of unresting thought.” And since I was being kept awake by restless thoughts, it was great fuel for pondering.

This is also a favorite song, as adapted and performed by Loreena McKennitt, another of my out-of-the-way artists I like so much (I have realized most of them are classified under “New Age” or with slight confusion under “Celtic/World,” which might be a bit more accurate).

To me ravens hearken back to old Norse stories, especially the ravens of Odin: Hugin and Munin (Thought and Memory). These thought-ravens are echoed in the poem of Yeats, as is the tree imagery which is ominous in Odin’s case, as he suffered hanging on the tree Yggdrasil to gain knowledge.

In Yeats’ poem the ravens circle through the broken branches of trees, stirring the observer to bitterness and despair evoked by a magic (cursed?) “glass” or mirror…

I likened the thought-ravens to the thoughts we have when we are agitated, eating away at ourselves, letting our thoughts pick at our confidence or our certainty like mischievous, even cruel, scavenger birds. The logical conclusion is that we may be short-lived, if they are circling and pecking already. At the time it seemed particularly applicable to writers. In my research and queries and reading and blogger-advice seeking, and reading the struggles of other writers and bloggers, I began to see common trends, pitfalls, hindrances. It seems most writers struggle, whether it is to find time to write, to know where to pitch, to select only one topic, but the more I read, the more it seemed their struggles came down to one thing: their thoughts. It was as if a curious sort of overwhelm was their real obstacle to writing as they wanted to do. I was right on board with them. I was hobbled by my lack of confidence in my own writing. I made excuses that I needed to “shake off the rust,” since i hadn’t written for publication in years, much less for pay. It is a daunting world of editors, submissions teams, cover letters and queries, and gnawing self-doubt is perhaps the worst of all. There are our thought-ravens. And I think all of us who are pestered by them, writers and others, need to find ways of dealing with them. Otherwise we may end up frantic as Poe’s character in The Raven: tormented by thoughts (of loss, in his case), and unable to rid ourselves of our pesky harbinger, who ends up lurking forever, casting a shadow we cannot lift ourselves out of. We would be far better to follow Odin’s example, who (perhaps stemming from his wisdom gained on Yggdrasil), made allies of his ravens, who did his biing and brought him news of the world, sitting contentedly and helpfully on his shoulders, no trouble at all.

Though they say Odin was sometimes worried Hugin and Munin would not come back…

 

Writing to Music

When I really delved back into writing like I meant it, I happened to come across some music I liked–way back when. It’s a way back when that feels like yesterday, anyway, so I assume that means I either haven’t matured or I’ve been in some kind of time bubble wondering why the world has changed and why people around me have gotten older and started having kids. Then there are these two adorable but feisty little goblins who keep flinging themselves on me and calling me Mama. They’re kinda cute, so I accept it. I feed them, and play silly games with them and cuddle them and stuff. And then there’s this amazing guy they call Dad. I think I’ll keep him too. He’s kinda nice to have around–indispensable, in fact.

So, here I am in my time bubble. The ’80s going retro has been terribly confusing. But at least the music I loved in college is still as un-retro as ever. Garmarna’s remix of Hildegard Von Bingen’s ethereal chants, miscellaneous classical pieces I love because they are still and uplifting at the same time, and let’s face it, when I was a snob I listened to classical music simply because it was classical. Nostalgia is a big factor, lifting me out of present-day frustrations and stresses to reminisce about I time I no longer remember as difficult or stressful, though it was more so.

The music is timeless, anyway, and soothing. A few tracks stand out, if I can remember composer’s names (another trait that went by the wayside with snobbery). Delibes’ Song to the Moon,  Alhambra by somebody else, Lascia Chi’o Piangia  by someone I certainly should remember, but don’t. I wouldn’t remember Delibes if my students hadn’t done a simplified dance from Coppelia last year. If I mutilate spelling, please comment and correct me. None deserve it better than I, believe me.

Well, point being, the music helps me write. I wrote better in college–I think. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve found laying around. Sometimes things I can’t believe I wrote. Some I’m pissed because I can’t remember how it was supposed to end and it was never finished.

I think I’ve finally, after far too many years, gotten to the point I am done messing around. I’m writing almost every day now, or rather every night. Short on sleep, but at least I feel like I’m accomplishing something for this family that seems to be mine…I’m entering my fourth month of Invalidship, and I don’t like it. So while I bust my britches to get walking again, I might as well be productive while applying ice packs.

One of these days, a blog will accept my writing. One of these days, I will finish one of many stories and find some way to publish it–and I think blogging will at least open up that thought realm for me. I have to watch my idealism, I may find myself trying to puff thought bubbles into the ethers, hoping a book will materialize.

Writers, honestly….

So Far Past Midnight

It’s harder to pull all-nighters lately, because my children are set like an alarm clock. But then, night is the only time I really have when it’s quiet. And dark. And there’s time to write, and think, and maybe read or sketch. But then there aren’t many hours left to sleep…I better make them count!

I’ve lost count of how many writing projects I have going on–how many projects of any kind! When I close or minimize a window, I forget almost immediately what I was doing. It’s like the ultimate form of ADD. But I’m desperately trying to get two or three pieces ready for submission to blogs. It’s my mission right now, to get something accepted and get paid for it. I’ve got to start making progress after all the time I’ve invested in writing.

Here’s to the dark hours, may they be productive.