Wednesday, January 27, 2010

why we write

There's nothing like writing regularly at a minor blog to convince oneself that one has not much worth writing (nor skills, nor reason to continue even).  That one is, in fact, headed the wrong way in the paper bag and not showing much promise of escape.  The Muse gives up in disgust.  The Anti-Muse snickers triumphantly.

Not that the Anti-Muse needs much evidentiary material to work from. The creative ingenuity of Auntie Anti's discouragement & paralysis campaign never ceases to amaze me.  Everything is evidence of reasons not to write anything.

And so a month that was supposed to be dedicated to revising has rolled past without my even opening the files - for fear that I'll find only sawdust and cobwebs. And also because, with Fritz's parents moving out here, it's been easier to spend the waking hours buying towels and mattresses, choosing curtains, cleaning the apartment's bathroom, stocking the pantry for them.  (Just pat me on the head and say, Good girl.  Good girl.)

Except it's not good.  Not good to let myself get all twisted up like I do when I don't write my real writing.

I would like to be writing to satisfy a demanding and breathlessly awaiting public. 

That is, on the days I would like to be writing.  Most days lately I think I would rather go back to work full-time so that I had an excuse to not try to write.

And then -

YoungSon has been writing a poem.  He brings it to me to edit. 

Its pace is full of grace, its scales soft as lace,
Its dark blue eyes have no lies even deep beneath them

He brings it not for applause.  When I say, "I like it.  About a dragon, right?" - he says, "But does everything work?"  The crucial question.  And that sizzle of recognition rises up my spine.  So I tell him which parts work best, which parts are weaker.

He goes back to work.  He is not offended but pleased to have areas for more work pointed out.  He works over his poem for two days.  "You know what's so great about writing?"  he asks me the second day, printing out the latest version.


"I started out with four lines and now it's like . . . (he counts lines) . . . 16!  Sixteen lines!"
Its lair could be hidden any where deep
Within the mountains yet nowhere to be found
"How hard is it to write a children's book?"  he asks.

"It probably depends.  Sometimes it's probably easier than others.  Sometimes it's harder."

"Because some of them are not very long."

"No.  Some of them aren't," I agree.

"Because," he smiles a half-embarrassed, half-proud smile, "you know when I sometimes get a nightmare and and can't wake up and want to run around the house?"


"Well, I know where that place is that I go."

"Do you?"

"Yeah, and it doesn't  sound like it would be a nightmare.  Some people wouldn't think it's even scary.  It's just a grassy place in the middle of the trees by a big rock."

"What happens there?"

"Nothing happens."

"It's just scary?"

He nods, looking over the poem he's just lifted from the printer.

"Well," I say, "maybe you should write a story there in that place."

"What!" he glances up with dark blue eyes, "in the place of Despair?" He snorts with surprise, at the audacity of the idea.  But is also strangely pleased.  Taken with the idea -- that did, after all, originate with him.

"Why not?  That would be a good place to make a story."

"No," he shakes himself, "I don't think so."

"Okay," I say.


But when I come back late in the evening he offers me a staple-bound book with two poems now, including a re-polished and extended dragon poem:
They used to be so mild but now they're gone and wild
They move by wing, they are king and they always will be
There is but one in all the worlds it is quite vicious and perhaps malicious
but it is our only hope to summon back the dragons wild though they are

and two new stories, one of a boy who saddles a dragon and flies all over the town, the other entitled in large bold font: THE WAR OF MAYHEM THE DESPAIRING AND ZARHAN THE HOPEFUL

A grassy place with non-stop trees with boulders towering above where all the brutes of all the world hide.  There's hags and boars, giants, vultures all the destructive kind and they all shall die soon hopefully if we're fortunate.  'Cause there soon is going to be a war between brutes and the people under rule of good king Zarhan.  They're dressing in their armor ready for a battle.  Ready for an ambush from the other side.  Well, king Zarhan was smart enough to know that the brutes would have the advantage if his soldiers did an ambush.  For the brutes knew battle better than king Zarhan, they had come up with it, they're the reason there is such a thing.  But then there was a frightful yell THE BRUTES ARE COMING, ADVANCE O' ARMY OF GOOD KING ZARHAN!  Then seconds later it was yells and metal against metal and the soft thwing of arrows released from bows then the people saw king Zarhan slay the horrible king Mayhem who fell onto the ground and whispered his last words "I never thought we'd be enemies for we are brothers now I see the truth."  Then the people of good king Zarhan got a feeling of victory and got so determined they fought right through the fearful brutes.  But they would never cease even if there was an army against one brute.  But eventually the brutes could see they were hopeless and did something never done before by them and they that day surrendered so they could still survive.  They then became the servants of good king Zarhan to always pay off their debt.

Because you would never want to kill off all your brutes.  We need our brutes and dragons, wild though they are.

And still we need them tamed, willing to be servants to the good king.

And that's why we write.



Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Good girl, Emma. Good girl.

I wondered where you were in your book.

Lisa B. said...

Glad to hear this. I could have written these words:

>> There's nothing like writing regularly at a minor blog to convince Oneself that One has not much worth writing (nor skillz, nor reason to continue even).

Gaaa. Also, one could substitute "one's minor poems" for "a minor blog." I am pretty tired of having to talk myself into believing I should be allowed to write. But, maybe you have to do it--talk yourself into it. Maybe fighting your way back is what makes you write at all. I don't know. But I'm glad to know that it's not just me.

Do we get to see a picture of your Dutch bike? Please, oh please?

Mrs. Organic said...

Am adding my own Good girl, good girl.

Please tell youngest I love the parts of his poem that you shared. My 10 year old has just started writing her own story about stars and the field nursery where they are born. It's fun to see their minds poured out onto paper.

Emma J said...

Neighbor Jane & Mrs. O - I don't feel good-girl. I feel inadequate. But I appreciate the pats on the head :)

Oh, and Mrs.O - I'll pass your kind words along. I do love to see what they come up with on their own devices. It's like getting a little window into what's inside, isn't it?

Lisa B - It's the Anti-Muse and yes, I think you have to (I have to) keep giving permission to continue. As for Dutch bikes . . .

suzanne said...

Yeah. Why? Talking to myself. Thank you for your words here and on my own space. You are the first person who made me feel like it mattered.

Lorenza said...

How lovely to read your blog! This post is beautifully written :) I am really glad we came across each other via LGRB, thank you very much for popping by my blog! Do have a go at the no-knead bread, so easy and effortless... perfect for the week end when one has a bit more time to keep an eye on it...

Emma J said...

Suzanne - I look forward to reading many more of your words and many more stories.

Lorenza - Thanks! I'll let you know how the bread turns out.

suzanne said...

Emma- answer to you last note on my blog.

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