Tag Archives: poetry

a few thoughts on the muse

29 May

“Every time I hear writers talk about ‘the muse,’ I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job.” -Nora Roberts

She has a point. And I get it. It’s easy for writers, who tend to be imaginative, and whimsical, and, well… whiny, to dwell too much on fantastic mythical creatures who could come along at any moment and finish all of their work for them.

It’s a job. Do your job.

But I’ve felt that other thing too. Those moments when the ideas and words are flowing so brightly and easily, and you feel like you can hardly take credit for any of it. It’s being given to you somehow, made without your even trying. You’re shocked, surprised, running for a pen, and feeling a little bit like your mind has been invaded. And you wouldn’t mind if it were invaded again.

There’s something poetic about it which, of course, attracts the writer’s mind. A muse. Wouldn’t that be lovely.

I think Nora’s point is that thoughts of a muse could be unhealthy for a writer. Cause you to leave work undone simply because you weren’t feeling inspired enough. It’s a good topic to address.

But Elizabeth Gilbert argues that the opposite is true as well in her wildly popular TED Talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius”. She discusses artists of all kinds, their often self-destructive lives, and the pressures creators face at the hands of their critics. Our common thinking has a way of pushing artists to the brink (in case you didn’t notice), and she suggests a new way of thinking, one in which artists are free to succeed or fail, both of which are inevitable if you lead a creative life, then move on to the next project.

I like the idea of a muse. A friend in your head whose both a little manic and a little depressive and who you get to put up with if you want to harness your creative side. But here’s the trick: when she’s off getting into trouble, and she will, you better buckle down and get your writing done anyway. Because it is, after all, your job. Do your job

I have more to say, but I’ll leave it for another post. In parting, here is Elizabeth’s TED talk. I hope you’ll find the 20 minutes to watch it. It’s not one to miss.



storytelling through haikus

10 Feb

Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds issued a little haiku competition last week that I had to get in on. You know I love my haikus. The challenge was to tell a story weaving three haikus together.

Normally when I write a haiku I stay flexible with the syllables, not getting religious about the 5-7-5 pattern, but Chuck wanted us to keep to it, so I did. Supposing I can count.

Here’s my story:

Evil moves eastward
And the farmers who love peace
Become warriors

She hides among them
A girl with the heart of ten
To fight alongside

And though she dies, pierced,
On a field green and crimson
Her nation lives on

*Side note : this haiku says nothing about the book I’m working on. It’s a different story entirely.*

on the eve of the new year

31 Dec

Tomorrow starts a new year. For me, it will be a year of a lot of things. Things one: poetry. I’m going to write a poem each day, mostly haikus, but I’ll venture out a bit.

I love haikus because they force the writer, who is prone to blabbing on and on, take what it is they want to say and condense it until it’s bare. No fluff. No useless bits. Each word is chosen carefully because you don’t get many of them. It causes the writer to focus, simplify, and reduce ‘word waste’.

I’ll share my haikus on Twitter each day. Here’s my Twitter page if you want to follow me there: https://twitter.com/clayanddus

2013 will also be a year of wrapping up my story and sending it out to agents. LOTS to do still. More to come on that later.

I’ve been reading a chapter from my Bible each day which I’ll be continuing, and I’m not only picking up the violin, BUT I’m also allowing myself to stay crappy at it… indefinitely. Like Anne Lamott says, you have to let yourself do things badly. That will be violin playing for me 🙂

This is a very rambling kind of post.

Maybe I should have tried fitting it all into a haiku…


haiku – sanctuary for the weary wordsmith

14 Jun

With my pocket knife / I cut a haiku open / and shake out the words   (Roary at CoyoteSings)

Maybe it’s because I’m in the middle of a novel. A fat, sloppy, greasy novel that boasts of 236 pages in desperate need of fixing, rewriting, hacking back, and filling in. And I feel like I’ve been working on it forever. And the end is no where in sight…

Maybe that’s why I’ve taken such a liking to haikus.

When my brain is mush, and I feel like all my endless word spinning may be in vain, and what am I even doing working with words? Maybe words aren’t even my thing! Maybe I suck at words! – That’s when it’s nice to take a break. Clear my mind. And focus on 17 syllables.

17 syllables, and I’m done. Finished. One whole piece. Born. Completed. Something that wasn’t there before, now created.

It’s a breath of fresh air.

To my husband, it’s a crock of crap. He thinks they suck. Not just mine. All of them. He thinks they’re stupid. Still, I made him write one, and he doesn’t know it, but I’m going to share it here:


Heat is sweltering

The soft flesh is now melting

My mind is at sea


I think it’s pretty great. He says it’s total BS and means nothing at all.

Now it’s my turn:



Black sky, quiet house.

I ignore the day’s messes.

My mind wants to roam.




Small seed, it seems dead.

Pushed into vast earth, swallowed-

This must be it’s end…




I’m a butterfly-

Wings like paper, yet strong to fly

Thousands of miles.



I really like those last two. Okay, your turn. Leave a haiku in the comments! 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the next, then 5 again in the last. And you can give or take a few if you’re writing in English. For some reason, this is okay. But if you’re going to put it down in Japanese, sorry, you’ve got to stick to the rules.

Dad, you’re gonna take me up on this, right?


weave for me a dandelion ring – haikus

6 Jun

I wore a wedding ring once.

It wasn’t something Clayton gave me when we said our vows. No, instead we had exchanged hemp bracelets we made for each other the night before our wedding. Wait, that’s not right. I wanted to make my own bracelet, so he made his. Either way, they rotted off our wrists within a month. I wonder where the remnants are? You would think I would have saved something like that…

About a year after we were married, still brimming with love and affection for one another, we walked into a mall and came out an hour later wearing matching sterling silver bands. Each had cost around seventy five dollars.

I know, I know. I’m one classy girl, what can I say.

Four years later, I lost mine. It’s somewhere down at the park, maybe in the lake or under the sands of the volleyball court. That had been a fun day…

My finger has been bare for a year now. I have no wedding band to symbolize my love and commitment for my husband.

But, the thing is, you don’t need a band to symbolize that, when you wear it on you, like a permanent-marker-message to the forehead, everywhere you go.

My five-year-old daughter was wondering about dandelion necklaces today. She had seen the idea in a book and asked me if I knew how to make them. I told her that of course I did, and sat down with a fresh pile of dandelions to prove it to her. Our yard is generous in her production of them. I could try to my hearts content. But I failed. It was harder than I remembered. Finally I asked her if a ring would do, and I wrapped it around her little finger and tucked in the end so that it stayed.

Beautiful. I kept looking at it. That dandelion made a gorgeous ring.

And I thought about my lost wedding ring. And I thought about my bare finger. And I thought about the gold and the white gold and the karats and the princess cuts and the blue diamonds. And I found in my mind a young couple, something like the lovers in Braveheart, poor in wealth, but rich in love, and I saw him weaving her a ring from a dandelion and her cherishing it because she cherished him. And even after it was rotted and gone, she still cherished it, because she still cherished him, ring or no ring.

And I realized I had to write about it. Because some things just need to get out.

I’m hoping to write a lot of poetry about dandelion rings, but today I started with haikus. I’ve never written any before today, but I’ve been seeing them around and thought it would be a good place to start. They keep a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, like the traditional japanese haikus, but I slipped in a 6 syllable line on one. From what I understand, haikus don’t work in the English language the same way they do in Japanese, so it’s okay to bend the rules a little.


A gold band means this-

Not a single thing to me.

I only want love.



Gold band, I need not.

Give me all your love and a

dandelion ring.



I lost my wedding ring

but not my love for my groom,

so I have it all.



Money, no, but love abounds,

and so let my ring be a

dandelion ring.



I love you, but you

are poor, so weave for me a

dandelion ring.


Which one is your favorite? Do you think they are all ridiculous and haikus are stupid? You wouldn’t be alone!

I like 2, 4 and 5 the best. If I had to pick one, I’d pick… 2? I’ll try to post more dandelion ring poems as I come up with them.