Gray City

NaNoWriMo has been consuming all of my writing time. Luckily for me, I have a reserve that I can post from. Like I’ve said before though, I like to post what I am feeling at the time. Since I have nothing readily available that reflects what I’m feeling — an ambitious drive to rearranged the alphabet into a glorious translation for readers to enjoy all over the world — I’ll just share a poem that I wrote to describe a day such as this one.Read More »

Complimenting Arts

I believe undoubtedly in the concept and ability of creation; the notion that humans can take nothing but a thought and manifest it into a beautiful physical something. The creative ability to do such things are usually summed up into the arts. The people who indulge in these arts or called artists. Artists are normally quite creative; and an individual’s creativity is rarely bound to the limits of one art.

Well, over the last weeks, I have gone on a binge to access what would I like to contribute to the arts through my writing. I started with the widest view that I could possibly start with, which was to look at all of the arts together — literary, performance and visual. What I quickly realized, is something that I already knew but did not have an explanation for.

“Sometimes you cannot completely express what you feel or see internally through just one art form; no matter how talented you are.”

Is this true? Maybe; maybe not. It is my perspective on it though. As always, I’m open to different opinions, so please provide feedback if you disagree.

So since is the way I feel about it, I set myself out on a mission to find another art form to practice to compliment my writing. Or if not to compliment, at least to give me another avenue of expression. Words do not resonate with everyone like they do with the people who read and write as hobbies. Even myself for example, I find it extremely difficult to express love for particular person in words. Even as poetry, I feel as though something has been lost in the written translation. I tried to explain this to a friend before:

Me: It’s easy for me to write about love in general; but I can’t do it when it’s about someone.

Friend: Maybe it’s because you don’t love them.

Me: Maybe you should hang yourself.

Some levels of intimacy have to be seen (my perspective). I am a very visual person. Sometimes when any emotion, not just love, reaches a high point, words can only scratch the surface of what is felt. With that being said, even though I cannot always get the words out in what seems to be in the correct order, I have an image in my head that seems to embody all that I feel. That is why I will be making an effort to extend some of my creativity to the visual arts. I have always had a love for paintings and drawing, but primarily from a viewing standpoint; not creating. It maybe long and difficult, but I believe the results will be rewarding.

Classical writer/painters include the popular e.e. cummings, Henry Miller, and William Blake. They all worked from both sides and did exceptional in each of the crafts. Even though they are known predominately for their writings, those paintings came from somewhere within them and reached people that there words might not have reached. Those painting provoked thoughts that the words would not have, and gave depth to what might have been shallow if only written. On the other hand, Pablo Picasso wrote poetry heavily after years of perfecting his painting styles, but to me, most of that which I read was just as confusing as his cubism. That is just my opinion though; I like early Picasso.

I will probably dabble in a bit of a few the arts though, including classic dance, sculpting and a return to spoken word. Considering I haven’t done spoken word successfully in seven years, is more intimidating than the uncharted arts. Either way, I conclude that in every creative mind there are multiple routes to get to the same point. In exploring what I do, I look forward to exploring how I do them.

Leave feedback. Tell me if there are hobbies/arts that you join together to express your ideas.

Week 14 Recap

It’s four days until Christmas and about ten days until the New Year — which I am very excited about. For now though, I will just focus on what I wrote this week.

On Monday, December 15, I actually wrote a piece of poetry. I didn’t intend to though. I was in a bit of a creative mood while writing something else. So when my pen ran out of ink, it gave me an excuse to stop what I was originally writing and do something a bit more… useless. I enjoyed it though. “Words” was just an expansion on what could have happened if I had tried forced my pen to write. Even though it is kind of farfetched that a splotch of ink could spell out anything, you can’t judge my imagination (maybe my style; but not my imagination). It also released a bit of pressure off the poetry valve. Since I have been blogging, I have complained about my discontentment with my poetic skills, even though I write a great deal of it. Maybe next year I will exhibit more personal writing in that area.

I also found out that the editing functions in WordPress did not allow me to double-space between stanzas. That was kind of a bummer, because I wanted it to be clear that there were five three-line stanzas in front of you instead of whatever else it could have been interpreted as. I am still unsure if it is the theme that I am using or not, but I am soon to find out.

On Wednesday, December 17, I wrote about the pros and cons of city life versus the lifestyle offered by my hometown in Alabama. Having grown up in Atlanta, I never thought that I would see the day when I would even fathom of wanting to permanently reside somewhere else. Maybe that is a change that comes with age, familiarity, or simply wanting to explore more. Nonetheless, the rural quiet ways and family accessibility is drawing a distinct line between what I thought I wanted and what I may really want — even if it is just for a temporary change of speeds.

No matter what city you live in, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases this week. Remember that this is a season for giving just as well as receiving. No matter what happens, keep and open perspective and show compassion during this holiday season, and I guarantee it will brighten the spirits.

Words

My pen stopped working on me.

I don’t think it was out of ink;

It just stopped working.

I had a pink colored pencil

And an elusive thought.

So I did what I had to do.

I started banging away at my pen.

I can’t take pink pencil seriously.

Even if the words are my own.

Shake, bang, scribble — nothing.

Shake, bang, scribble — nothing.

Shake, bang, bang, bang — splat!

All I wanted was to get out a few words,

But I could be happy with this.

Besides, I forgot what the others were.

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Week 13 Recap

It’s nearing Christmas… Excited, right?

I am too.

I will be working extremely hard to make sure I get out a decent number of weekly posts. I think in week 11 I only did one and last week, I only did two. I had an idea to write predated material and post when I didn’t have the time to actually write, but for some reason that doesn’t work for me. By the time I get to use something in a stockpile, I rarely find something that fits what I’m feeling like at the time and would rather just write something completely new. Even so, going forward, I’m going to get it back to at least three per week; even through the holidays. If I worked 40 hours a week doing this though, you guys would be tired of me. 🙂

So on Tuesday, December 9th, I wrote complications of writing despite your emotions and what you may feel like… writing against the grain. I’m sure it is a common occurrence for 99% of writers, but for me, it is so common that I have different methods around the barricades of sentiment based on the degree of the oppression. The first and easiest is to sidetrack to some poetry just to release and put in on the paper. My biggest thing these days is all about productivity, so I try not to let any emotion block any production. I will settle for a different product, but something will be created. No time for down time. If I’m working a story, I will fast forward to a part to write something that fits what I’m feeling. Now that method is a bit tricky and can result in a lot of wasted time. So which is why I tend to end up writing a short short story of some sort. This is my favorite because with less than a thousand words, I instantly change how I feel and my outlook on whatever it is that I’m facing. With poetry, you tend to submerse yourself into the situation. In a short short story though, you can fantastically create something, read it, and tell yourself, “Oh yeah, I’m a writer! It’s all good!”

On Friday, December 12th, I wrote about my selfish ways of traveling alone. It’s not a bad selfish though; if a good selfish even exists. It’s more of the fact that I would rather do things alone, rather than do things with groups sometimes. I’m one of those people who like for everything to go as planned. Even when the unexpected happens, if things are properly planned, we can still continue on the trip without it being a major disaster. But I cannot tolerate having to stop 45 minutes into the trip because the gas light just came on. That will leave me quietly doing breathing exercises to calm whatever ulcers that might try to develop on what is sure to be an aggravating drive into Crazyville. Just the thought of it now gives me the heebee jeebees. So when I want to get up and go somewhere, I just do. I can go to the same place and do the same thing with family and friends and still have the same fun; but not if it prohibits me from enjoying what we went to do or see. Geesh!

So with that being said, enjoy your week ahead. I hope that at any level, you gain a new perspective from reading and I always look forward to the feedback; whether it be negative or positive. You can’t go through life always thinking you’re right. Someone will eventually disagree and you will eventually have to be corrected. The best thing to do is it take it and grow from it. Perspective is key to learning and growth and we should all welcome and embrace it.

P.S. – I believe you’ll be hearing from me tonight. This feels like a two post kind of day.

Moody Writer?

Unless you are writing poetry, emotions will often betray the point of whatever it is that you are writing. It is a problem that writers often go through during the creative process. One minute you could be in an upbeat mood and pressing your story through a cheery line of events. If for whatever reason your mood changes though, it can be difficult to keep that story on the same pace. So what do you do when you don’t feel what it is that you want to portray?

Personally, if my mood takes a dive for whatever reason, I use that energy to practice poetry. However, while in such a mood, editing and rewording is not a priority! So if there is any display of skill that is presented as “above average”, it is simply luck, or raw talent; either way, I am still not interested enough to invest my good moods in honing the craft.

Hypocritically of me, I am not a fan of sad poetry. I do enjoy heartbroken verses from time to time though; as long as though they stay within the bounds of staying alive. (Say no to suicide!) With an art as diverse and boundless as poetry, it is hard to legitimately critique a poem. But if your poems can provoke an internal fear of being alone, I will probably avoid reading it. It was years ago when I first read Langston Hughes’ “Suicide’s Note”:

The calm,

Cool face of the river

Asked me for a kiss.

It still creeps me out. I mean, it’s cool. I guess it’s good. I just don’t like the feeling that I got after I read it. I remember thinking, “He must have been in a really bad mood.”

Another method that I try when when my mood isn’t up to par is skipping forward in the story that I’m working on. I will fast forward to where I think the story could go, and write a whole scene or chapter based solely on how I feel at the time. Then when I am back to myself, I will start back writing at the original stopping point and hope that the two sections will connect. If you are a writer, you know that everything is subject to change; so either the part written preemptively can be a checkpoint or it will be scrapped and that will be time wasted. So I try not to practice that route and use that energy editing — if I must work on the same project.

What I often turn to though, is the short story. I may write something that reflects solitude. In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, I felt a sense of loneliness in his writing. I’m not saying that this is the case, but it is definitely the vibe that I picked up from it. As I got older and began to read more about Hemingway as a man rather than just an author, I can just about be sure that he was not a very “happy” man when he wrote that. Writing in a wishful state of desire can also be method of cheering myself up. So it may be rather difficult to distinguish what was being felt by the author when he or she wrote it. The feeling of my reader takes precedence over my own when writing. If I think too much emotional is bleeding into the work and could possibly deter what I want the read to get, I will scrap it altogether; or journal it.

I’m sure the methodologies for moody writing are infinite, but those are the three that I use. Whatever method you use is just fine as long as you push through and produce something. Writer’s block can only beat you if you let it. 🙂

Daniel and The Romantic (Part 1)

“So, if you don’t mind me asking, what exactly did you learn from all of this?” The stubble-faced man had his eyes intently trained on his colleague as he awaited an answer. The two had been sitting here for a while; one obviously going through relationship problems, and the other just lending an ear. I was being entertained by their randomness and mood changes. They were two decent fellows, both kind of reserved but comically witty – even in their state of melancholy.

“What do you mean, Daniel?” He knew exactly what his colleague meant. He just wasn’t prepared to answer such a question. He also seemed to be a bit offended by the question and the look he gave him as he asked it. I had to admit though, he had a right to ask; he had been listening to him vent, ramble, and gripe for the last hour at least.

“I mean, like… None of this really means anything if you didn’t learn anything,” the guy named Daniel said. He seemed to be very reasonable and was making it his business to make sense of everything. “Like, you’re a really smart guy, and confusion doesn’t suit you well.”

“Hmm… What did I learn from it?” The romantic pondered on this question for a few seconds. Then he smiled and started with…

“I learned that night can be as bright as the day.” 

He then sipped from his glass and gave his friend a crooked smile.  Daniel grimaced at the romantic’s poetic tenderness. “Please just stop! Forget I asked!” Nonetheless, the romantic continued on.

“I learned that great pain is only a loss of great gain.

I learned that simply holding hands can change lifelong plans. 

Shadows only lie where her smile doesn’t shine,

And sleep is merely to be with her in another place and time.

I learned that love travels on the winds that carry her scent,

And that there is much more love than time to be spent.” 

I laughed a bit as the love-sick patron annoyed his friend. He then put his arm around the shoulder of his buddy and asked, “You know the feeling, right?” and laughed at his discomfort.

“C’mon, just stop! Go and tell her! Just get off of me!” He threw the arm off of him as he jumped from his stool. “I don’t even want my last wings.” His friendly time of lending an ear had come to an end. His trust in the Guy Code had failed him as he was forced to listen to free versed poetry from who I could now tell was his best friend; and that’s why he wouldn’t leave him. They were close, and one was in need of the other right now.

“I learned that arguing doesn’t fix as well as a kiss,

and apologies are necessities when hearts are at risk.”

As Daniel turned and walked toward the exit, the poetic reject burst into laughter and followed after him. They grabbed their coats from the hangers and continued out into the night.

“The first time I saw her, I knew love was at hand…”

I cleared the tables where they were sitting and wiped the area clean. As I poured the liquid from their abandoned glasses, it occurred to me that they had only drank soda. I said a prayer for their continued sobriety, and went on to wait the next table.

I Suck At Poetry

The worst critic of any literary piece is normally the author. Hardly ever can I, or any other writer I’ve met, complete a piece of any size, and just be done. I understand that editing is a necessary part of the process, but seems to be hard to finish and be completely happy with what you’ve done. The more you read, the more you find better words to fit in place of another word. Even so, changing that word would possibly give a different meaning to that sentence, do you have to decide to keep the original word or remove the sentence.

“But if I keep the original word, does that make it really the better?”

It gets to the point where I have to tell myself, “It clearly gets my point across in the style that I wanted. I can’t find any grammatical errors. I’m happy with it.” At that point, I’m only ninety-nine percent happy at best. I close that essay, chapter or poem and leave it to the rest of the critics.

Now with all of that being said, once I close the case on any project, I have reached a point of overall satisfactory; unless I attempt to write poetry.

I suck at poetry. The realization takes away from the desire to properly convey the feelings of disgust I’m having right now. So I’m settling for, “I suck at poetry” to simply say what I mean and get it over with. Growing up, my dad hated the term “suck” and would have much rather preferred my siblings and I use a substitute with a bit more tact. This only led me to use “suck” when I really felt something could not get any worse than its current state. Therefore, I suck at poetry.

The good thing about this is that I actually enjoy writing poetry. I love translating my emotional stresses and joys into literary coherency that can be felt by others through reading. I love transcribing nature’s scenes into words that attempt to convey what is beheld in the eyes. Unfortunately, poetry is the only form of writing that I feel can make a decent attempt at getting these feelings across. The good thing about poetry is that most of it is first-person based. There is no standard form to my feelings or how I convey them. The fashions, styles, techniques and even grammatical choices are normally left to the writer.

I guess at this point, you may ask, “How then, can one suck at poetry?” My response would be the same way someone can suck at painting. Then there is the argument of abstract art, and that every viewer sees something different, even from what the artist may have portrayed. Is that what poetry is? Abstract? I’m asking as I write.

Literally, I have started to change my argument as I am typing. I read Robert Frost again and again and again. Have I started to compare mine to his and in the process lost my individuality? Or am I really not as good as I think?

Nope. Even when I try standardized forms, it just does not flow as well as I know it should. Even some of my peers write some of the most elegant pieces with ease, whereas I sweat over bumbling lines of trash before labeling it “100% Effort”.

I feel as though I have poetic thoughts. I can write poetic lines. I can say a poetic phrase. I do not think I’m good at poetry as a genre though. The realization that you may not be good at something that you love, can really put a damper on your mood. However, I love it to the point where I’ll continue writing it and sharing it as though it’s the best in the world.

It’s the equivalent of knowing that I lack the looks of Denzel Washington, the physique of Idris Elba and the charm of Will Smith; but I still feel like their little brother and will eventually grow into my own. I may not be the very best at it, but I’m the best I can be at it right now. I’ll get better.