though my memory rusts, I will always see the icicle tusk.

So we were supposed to have this life-threatening winter snowstorm deep freeze thing today… but at the moment, it’s just extremely cold. Which is bad enough, okay, but seriously….?

People’s obsessions with weather used to annoy me, but then I got obsessed too. Or at least mildly interested, maybe because of my interest, always, in the atmosphere of everything. Some of the most lovely and interesting weather I have seen happens very late at night when Oliver has to drive me home and try not to crash. Fog, mist, rain, sleet, snow– movie-set snow, snow like moon dust or sand, and last night’s snow that seemed to hang in the air like fog, casting everything mysterious and white.

I don’t very much appreciate the atmosphere of danger that ice imparts, though.

Darn! I wanted a snow day, an excuse to drink excessive hot chocolate and lie around listening to records and reading books and maybe finally topping off the candles I made with Bug and Marie, which have been sitting in a box waiting patiently while I gallivant around in everyone’s Christmas break. “Yeah, you really need a break from… nothing,” Oliver said.

But it wasn’t a break! Actually, I think my brain has been more active lately than it’s been in ages. I’ve been reading every day, chewing my way through alleged classics and The Secret History (yum); I’ve been researching and gathering materials constantly for my current “Robots” story; I’ve been absorbing my surroundings better than ever, remembering more conversations, getting better at character sketches.

This probably still sounds like a break, actually, and I’m not saying that this was super difficult for me, or that any of this felt like work. But lately I keep remembering what someone in my writer’s group once said to me. She was talking about the advantages of keeping a journal as a writer, and she said that you start out just writing things down when you’re looking for inspiration, or when you’re waiting for the “grist”, as she called it. But then after a while you realize that you’re not writing stuff down while you’re waiting for the grist anymore; that stuff has become the grist. For me this isn’t all totally intentional, gathering grist– but thinking about that advice, I have become more aware of (and hopefully better at) the practice.

This probably also sounds like I’m all, “I’m taking time to focus on my Art” [*adjusts tortoiseshell glasses*], but… I did lie around a lot, too. Whatever.

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started early, took my blog

Yesterday I thought to myself that I should once again try sending some poetry out to different magazines and such. So I got out the old Poet’s Market (well, actually, it wasn’t the old one– my library is very up to date, you know) and started going through.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

In the descriptions of what the magazines want, it’s always “we want the edgy, the avant-garde, the weird, bizarre, disturbing–” And then I skiiiiiip….

Or it’s “we want pieces that will make the reader _________.” Well, I can’t control other people’s actions or emotions. This is Basic Life 101. I mean, I can write something with a certain vibe, but how am I supposed to be certain that it will resonate in a certain specific way with someone? And isn’t part of the awesomeness of art that everyone can interpret things in their own way, that the same piece can be important to someone for totally different reasons than it’s important to someone else? (Or unimportant to someone else, as the case may be.) (“Important… Unimportant….” as the King of Hearts would say.)

And then they give tips like: “Send only your best work.” Seriously? I guess these people must have gotten submissions that were hand-written in pencil on a greasy napkin. Because they also say things like, “We want works of great literary and artistic value”. It seems to me that writers are constantly doubting themselves (I certainly am), so of course we don’t think of our stuff as being Literature. We don’t picture ourselves as marble busts in splendorous libraries with those rolly-ladder things. (Especially because how would we write anything, seeing as we’d lack hands?) So when you say that, magazines, you’re going to discourage the down-to-earth writers who just write, and get submissions from Poets who Write Poetry. 

But I think the problem is not just with literary magazines. The problem isn’t even just with people’s current attitude toward art, like you have to be a breathy, bespectacled Artist and create things that no one can understand but that people in the know will pick apart and interpret into something meaningful. I think the problem lies with poetry itself, with art itself these days. I’m not going to cry about bygone eras (except when I think of all the lovely frocks I could wear if I had a time machine). And I’m all for new stlyes and being less rigid (Lord knows I never could write a decent haiku). But I feel like we’ve gotten to a point where not only would Tennyson or Frost or Yeats or Dickinson or Thomas never be published– they rhyme, how trite!– but no one with anything new will be, either. People think poetry is either this:

I like birds
and I rhyme words
cuz I’m a poet
and now you’ll know it!

Or this:

the
tomato
rots
on the window-
                              sill.

Which, yeah, rhymey-rhymey poetry is dumb, and the second one sounds poetic or metaphorical. But where’s the imagery? Where’s the… Where is this windowsill anyway? What are you doing while the tomato’s rotting? And why should I care?

And what’s wrong with rhyming, anyway, when it’s done well? Anyone ever heard one of the million examples I could pull out of my brain/the interwebs if I had more time? Rhymes are, in my opinion, more fabulous than non-rhyming when the rhyming makes it sound like that’s the only way you could possibly say, well, whatever they say.

And I like them. So there.

Poetry isn’t writing a bunch of Poetic-sounding things and then chopping the lines up so it sounds even more meaningful, okay?

Poetry is…
Um.

I could say, “Poetry is something that moves your soul” or something like that, but I won’t. Sometimes I don’t feel as much soul-moved by poetry as “Well, that was really cool.” And what’s wrong with that?

If “poetry, like bread, is for everyone”, then who cares if I like to eat mine with butter?

~Pen

It’s a School Day

Ah, Monday. Back to school again and all. I’m taking a short break right now, though, (it’s like eleven o clock, a.m. obviously) and then it’s back up there to history. I’m currently studying the Great Depression, which actually doesn’t depress me because I always wanted to study it but we never really got around to it in regular school. So this year it’s all 20th century history for me, hurrah!! :) I can’t wait to do art because Mom got me some acrylic paints and good painting paper and there’s some things I’ve been wanting to draw/paint for a couple days now. There was this great scene on a hike my dad and I took when we were camping. We go to the same camp every year around this time, and he and I always go on this five mile hike to this airfield thingy and then we hike the whole five miles back, so really it’s like a ten mile hike. Well, since we do the hike every year I know the trail pretty well, and one of my favorite parts of it is where you come out of the woods and you walk along these grassy hills, right on top of them, on this thin little path but you’re up pretty high and it’s just cool. This time it snowed, so the grass as all bent over and the hill and the clouds and the sky and the snow and the grass just looked really cool, but of course we didn’t have our camera. That always happens. I see something pretty or cool and then either I don’t have time to stop and take a picture or I forgot my camera entirely. Alas! But I remember the scene pretty well in my head. Also on the hike we saw a coyote! That was really cool because it looked sort of like a wolf and it just stood there, pretty close to us, probably sniffing the air and going, ‘oh great, humans’. Then he turned and sort of sailed off, and I say ‘sailed’ because it wasn’t really like running but it wasn’t really like just loping along either, it was graceful and swift but not super fast. When we got to the part of the trail he’d been standing on, we followed his tracks to the point where his path and ours separated, and then we hand to cross this frozen creek becuase the bridge was down. So yeah, that hike was really good and fun and interesting and… well, cold, of course. And I tripped on some ice and was awarded with a sore rear, but aside from that it was really, really nice to be out walking in the woods with my dad.