My offering for Day 3:
Writing gives me voice
Parses my wilderness
Shatters my loneliness
Written words are audible
They are heard.
My offering for Day 3:
Writing gives me voice
Parses my wilderness
Shatters my loneliness
Written words are audible
They are heard.
Reading and writing
Forever entwined; tangled ~
This is my first offering for April–the month of poets. A poem a day is like a vitamin a day – life enhancing.
This week’s newspaper column:
We are now entering into a sacred time—attention must be paid. It is now April and it is my birthday month. Just kidding—but seriously folks, we should pay more attention to ourselves—but not in a “selfie” gratuitous way, but in a way wherein we appreciate that we are still here with all the good, bad, and ugly life has to offer.
Sometimes I regret the fact that I am, in some circles, considered a “senior”. I do not feel quite up to the designation yet—nor do I feel wiser or older. I am not yet up to the task of being looked upon as someone who should be valued and honoured and respected because of my age. I do not deserve it yet, as I do not feel as if I have “arrived”.
What does that mean? I have not fulfilled what I believe is my mission: to rule the world. No, no—that was Brain’s mission (as in the cartoon Pinky and the Brain. If you have never viewed this iconic Warner Brothers offering—Brain and Pinky are mice, and Brain wants to take over the world. He has a huge head and is really quite intelligent. Pinky is a bit of a simpleton, but in the end he is the wise one—but I think I may be getting off topic here…)
I do not have a bucket list—or a list of all those things I want to accomplish before I die, as I do not relish the thought of kicking the bucket, so instead I have a life list—which if I want to put any dent in, I should get busy. Everyone should have a life list—a list of things which contains the obtainable but also the impossible; the practical as well as the whimsical; the necessary and those things of which dreams are made of.
So here is my life list—it does not take into account the things I have already obtained or experienced, but it is my wish list of things to continue to reach for. (I was feeling a bit low today and my husband reminded me of some of the things that I have already that no one can take away from me—this list is a complement to those things). Though I have numbered my list—the first is no more important than the last:
1. Have my words spread over all continents so that my wisdom will live on forever. Get published in a wider forum. Have my fractured attempts at writing haiku shared; my scattered thoughts put in book form; and Margaret Atwood finally invite me to tea (with ten of my friends) on Pelee Island.
2. Travel to the ends of the earth. The length and breadth of the world. Okay, I would be satisfied with seeing more of Canada and the States, visiting wine country in France and Italy (I have done my best in visiting the wine offerings locally), dropping in on the Queen (who shares my birthday), and…well, really why limit it—travelling to the ends of the earth (except the really cold parts).
3. Experience what I call “woo-woo” stuff—but not scary “woo woo” stuff. I like the idea of the ethereal but I seem to be stuck in the muck and mire of reality—then again, who says reality does not include these things?
4. Win the lottery. A big lottery. And then share it.
5. Clean up my bedroom. (In the scheme of things this seems inconsequential, but really if you saw my room—you would understand.)
6. Channel a little more of Martha Stewart and a little less of Erma Bombeck. (That is not true—I take that back—though I would love to be made up of the sterner stuff that is Martha, my beliefs are Erma all the way.)
7. Do whatever I can to help my kids have successful lives, but not do so much that it is not of their own volition and creativity.
8. Stay married for 50 years at least—that means I will have to live to at least 79. See you all at my golden anniversary—I will be having a big party—Led Zepplin (if they are still alive) will be making an appearance. It will be catered by Bobby Flay and Lynn Crawford. Dressy jeans will be the attire; and champagne with (local) ice wine the only elixir.
9. I will cook gourmet meals, have friends and family over to enjoy, and not have to clean up the kitchen. That will be putting to good use all those hours I have spent reading cookbooks and watching the Food Network.
10. Read to my heart’s content.
I implore you to make up your own “life list” while kicking the proverbial bucket aside—you may be surprised at what you come up with.
“The word ‘listen’ has the same letters as the word ‘silent’.” ~ Alfred Brendel
How many times have we barked the word “Listen!” in a plea to be heard, silencing the chaos that supposedly serves as conversation, but is really a soliloquy? And how many times have we delivered our own monologues with little thought of the person listening?
Austrian pianist, poet, and author, Alfred Brendel’s observation that the word ‘listen’ has the same letters as the word ‘silent’” says volumes. In order to listen we have to be silent. Not waiting our turn to talk and take centre stage but giving the rostrum to another, and actually hearing what they have to say. In silence we can hear, but the silence has to be one that not only silences the tongue but quiets the mind.
I practice listening. It is not easy. Ernest Hemmingway’s advice to “listen completely when people talk” sounds simple—but his addition that “most people never listen” is unfortunately not merely the surveillance of a curmudgeon, but the truth of a scribe. Practicing listening takes patience but it is rewarded ten-fold. I am starting to get beyond just practicing and incorporating “listening” as a something that comes naturally, something I do not have to think about, and something that adds to my body of knowledge.
As a writer, I have at my fingertips (quite literally) the ability to be heard, and that is why I write. I am not a particularly effective speaker—one liners are my speciality, but scratch the surface and you will find a tongue-tied scribbler. I have on occasion tried and failed to enter conversations—perhaps my entry into the fray is not passionate enough, loud enough, or, and this could be the whole crux of the problem, interesting enough.
Writing gives one the chance to silent conversation and finally be heard (to an extent—I realize you can always stop reading me in mid-sentence, mid-paragraph, or even after the very first sentence—but I try not to think about that). I can focus when I write about a topic—my mind is organized in such a way that saying what I mean, sharing what I know, and sharing the knowledge of others is not difficult when I put words on a page. But when I open my mouth, many times my brain shuts down—it seems to me I have a flap that opens when I write and closes when I talk. So it behooves me to be a good listener as I am not a good verbal storyteller.
Silence is also something I cherish. I have never been able to understand news writers who work in a noisy environment—the few times I have worked at the newspaper office have been enlightening but certainly not my creative best. Even when I worked as a full time reporter, I wrote my articles in a corner of my home office (also known as my dining room), sometimes with a toddler at my side—but mostly when the rest of the household was asleep or out. As I write this, my youngest son is asleep upstairs and my husband is out—there is no radio or television on, and all I hear is the reassuring hum of my refrigerator (reassuring, because if there is no hum, it is not working—and that is not conducive to writing).
Chaos reigns in all of our lives. Silence is the cure. Listening is also an antidote to chaos, because by listening, you are silencing your demons and opening yourself up to something new, something worthwhile, and something you might not have discovered with your mouth open.
Listen. Silent. They both have the same letters. Listening to silence, a/k/a meditation is another way to “get in touch with ourselves”—certainly a mantra of the 21st century. But think about it—in silence you get to listen to yourself, and though sometimes I bore myself silly—other times I figure out a new way of looking at things. A way I would not have discovered if I had not stopped to listen in silence.
I will end with this quote attributed to that sage of all wisdom, wearer of red suspenders, and really old guy, Larry King: “I’ve never learned a thing while my mouth was moving.”
“What is a quote? A quote…. is a cut, a section, a slice of someone else’s orange. You suck the slice, toss the rind, skate away…..To loot someone else’s life or sentences and make off with a point of view.” ~ Anne Carson, “Foam (Essay with Rhapsody)” (from Decreation)
I love quotes. I looted this one from David Kanigan, but in the true spirit of the quote, I only took the parts that I wanted to illuminate, and left out some of the original quote, hence the dot dot dots……..
You can take quotes out of context and use them for whatever purpose you choose. The Bible, Shakespeare, and Hemingway all come to mind (those three in the same sentence is almost barbaric…)
As a journalist of sorts, I report on all manner of things, and know very well how to make someone sound stupid and mean, or intelligent and trustworthy—yet I do not use my powers, at least not consciously. I try to be objective—and have to admit that in being objective, sometimes I am not subjective enough. Sometimes people deserve to see their words highlighted so they can see how others see them, to see the effect their words have, to see that sometimes they assess a situation incorrectly, callously, with no compassion to their fellow man or woman.
I will never stop using quotes—but when I do use them, I keep in mind that I generally use words frozen out of their original context and moulded to meet my circumstances and put forth my perspective. What did Marie Antoinette really mean when she said “Let them eat cake”? In a cursory search of this phrase I found out that she never really said it. According to Wikipedia: “Let them eat cakes was said 100 years before her by Marie-Therese, the wife of Louis XIV. It was a callous and ignorant statement and she, Marie Antoinette, was neither.” This was from the 2002 writings of the Queen’s best-selling English language biographer, Lady Antonia Fraser.
Let that be a lesson to me. I will be careful not to “skate away” without forethought when I deign to quote other’s words in an attempt to “make off with a point of view”.
Do you ever think about the fact that in quoting someone, you are putting your mark on their words?
“Who *are* you behind your online words?” is a question asked by blogger extraordinaire bottledworder today in her post. Her byline is “easy reading is damn hard writing”.
That is a good question. Tell me, who do you think I am behind the posts I write and the things I reveal on my blog? I have a good idea who many of you are: courageous, smart, excellent photographers, funny, well-read, thoughtful and kind; some of you are my good real life friends; many of you I have met here in this blog space, and I consider you good real life friends too.
As many of you know, I have been putting together a book on “Bliss” from my posts and your comments from the first half of this year. Consider any comments you make some more fodder for my book—so comment away—and be sort of honest (lol).
And remember, bottledworder is right, when she says “easy reading is damn hard writing”. Sometimes I get it right; sometimes I don’t.
(Yes—I know this is a self-serving post—but it really will help with my book. You will be doing a girl a favour. And any of you who know me in real life are exempt from this exercise.)
“…a story possesses verisimilitude when it gives readers the sense that it has captured the situation with total authenticity.” ~ Fred White from the July 24th entry of The Daily Writer
This is my new word of the day. I love this word. I love trying to say it aloud. I am at times awkward in my pronunciation of words, (room and broom being two that send people into fits of laughter when I say them) but I try anyway.
I belong to a very forgiving Writers’ Group and when I read my “literary” offerings aloud I find it embarrassing that words I use with abandon in my writing I cannot pronounce correctly. I have either not heard them said or because of a defect with my tongue (which is imagined, not real) I cannot say them properly. Dishevelled is just one, but there are many.
I am fairly well educated and this should not be a problem. But it is my personal albatross or millstone around my neck, which could explain why I have trouble with some words—having such impediments shackling my burdened neck is a hindrance don’t you think?
Anyway, I like my new word. Ve-ri-si-mil-i- tude. And I think I have captured my problem of pronunciation with verisimilitude—it is an authentic problem that does not, as White says: « filter out the disturbing details. »
Do you have any millstones around your neck? Or a favourite new word?
“I feel like I’m not alone,” some of those who wrote me said, and the sentiment changed my life. That’s what’s so wonderful about reading, that poetry and essays make us feel as though we’re connected, as though the thoughts and feelings we believe are singular and sometimes nutty are shared by others, and we are more alike than different.” ~ Anna Quindlen from “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake”
It is exactly this feeling, that you are reaching others, that you are not alone, that we are more alike than different that keeps both Quindlen (who is admittedly a bit more successful than I, being a Pulitzer prize winner and all) and I writing.
The best writing I have read is something that hits a note with me. Something that resonates. Something that says what I have been thinking. Something that make me part of the world, not apart from it. And that is the kind of writing I strive to do. On a much more limited basis, I have had people tell me that they could identify with the words I have written, that my words made them smile and recognize that they are not alone.
I guess on some level, writing gives me power. Power to communicate what I cannot communicate well out loud. I say often that it gives my lonely voice in the wilderness a place to vocalize.
Bliss is feeling a part of something; something that penetrates the aloneness. What do you think?
Michelle’s Prompt: To what extent is your blog a place for your own self-expression and creativity vs. a site designed to attract readers? How do you balance that? If sticking to certain topics and types of posts meant your readership would triple, would you do it?
This is a good prompt for the first of May, as I am rethinking my blog’s raison d’être. I consider this blog both a place for my self-expression and creativity, as well as one that attracts readers ~ as what writer does not want their words read? If you have a blog, opposed to a journal you keep for yourself, then naturally it is open for people to read. The two oppositions that Michelle seems to have set out are not opposites at all—but counterparts that complement each other.
I could not stick to topics that would mean that my readership would triple (though that would be a good thing) because it would be like writing on demand, and I already do that for my day job. Being a journalist means getting the facts, getting them straight, and not putting yourself into your writing. My blog posts put me into my writing—and give me the freedom to voice an opinion or two.
I am a notorious fence-sitter, probably from my years of trying to be – what the heck is that word – unbiased – in my reporting. But I do have the occasional opinion, nay, actually I have lots of opinions—but I keep the controversial ones to myself.
One of the reasons I like my blog is that it is neat and organized and I think kind of pretty. It is how I would like my life to be—neat and organized—so I figure this is a start on getting the rest of my ducks in a row (whatever that means—I hope it does not mean to get them in a row to shoot them!).
Blogging has made me braver—I wrote poems for the whole month of April—who woulda thought? I have completed a number of challenges, and am planning on turning some of the posts into a book on bliss.
Blogging gives me a place to organize some of my thoughts, a place that hopefully produces some smiles in my readers, and a place to visit every day. Blogging is more than just getting my “lonely voice in the wilderness heard”— I have found a community here that loves to share—and is that not what it is all about?
I have found bliss in blogging—what about you? As a blogger or a reader, are you glad to be part of the blog world?