What are you waiting for–– divine inspiration? Do you think Shakespeare waited for his muse? And if your muse came, would you even recognize her? Will she wear long white flowing robes? Will she play a lute or will your voice be her instrument? Will she whisper in your ear or speak to you though your mind? And will she be beautiful or will that even matter? As you age will your muse age with you or is she perpetually young? And what about wisdom? Will it be your own acquired wisdom or hers that will make your words cut like a knife though the soft texture of days, that will give them purpose when those around you fail and fall into the magnetic cloud of forgetfulness or boredom? What if as you sit there waiting for your muse, watching reality TV or doing crossword puzzles, your muse is waiting for you in the keys of your computer or in your pen point? What if she has been lolling all these years in the pages of that lined notebook sitting empty on your shelf? I keep telling you that every day I see her pass behind you as you pine for her, always looking in the opposite direction.
Silence has a language unique to every ear. Anyone can hear it if they choose to hear. Do you listen to your silences? The various tales they tell? I’ve listened to them my whole life. I know them very well. Their insistent voices burrow through my thoughts, trail their separate stories and tie them into knots.
Some seek out yarns in chaos: carnivals and bars, rodeos and festivals, parades and speeding cars. But there’s drama in the silence as it gathers round— stories waiting patiently for you to hear the sound of voices in the quiet. Hush now. Do you hear?
They’ll settle on your shoulder and whisper in your ear.
Silence owns no copyrights. It’s there for you to steal. Unsort its separate strands and then spin them on your wheel. The fiber of your silence can be woven into tomes.
Weave them into novels, storybooks and poems.
Stories are out there waiting. Hush and you might hear them. Reach out and grab one for yourself when you venture near them.
And looks like I’ve changed my mind about not writing about this.
We write to share that part of us that might not otherwise be shared. The page is like a Fibber Magee and Molly closet where we store all those leftover parts of ourselves. Open the page and everything comes spilling out: organized, disorganized, jovial, sad, rational or irrational. Everything gets crammed into the page. We may not be lionized for it. Our words may be stolen and presented as someone else’s, but the important thing is to write them. Words are like a pressure valve, freeing pent-up emotions. They furnish a release that is somehow part of the solution to the problems they describe.
ForgottenMan gave me permissioninstructed megave me his blessing said it might be a good idea … to inform you about the project I’m working on. He added this photo of me in Ethiopia in 1973. The book I’m writing is about this period during which the Ethiopian Marxist revolution was brewing. My friend Leslie offered to come over for a three day intensive where we would both work only on our books. It worked so well that we’re doing it again for four days, starting tomorrow. Here are a few shots of last week’s session. I’ll see you on Monday! (Click on first photo to enlarge all and read captions.)
My work station
Annie guarding my files
Leslie hard at work at her chosen work station
Kukla reserved my chair for me on the rare occasions that I left it
Isidro and I met at Viva Mexico to discuss illustrations for our next book. He now has three of my children’s books stacked up to illustrate. This one is entitled “I Really Want A Puppy.” It’s quite a job as he needs to come up with at least 7 different puppy characters as well as a family of six: two children, Mom, Pop and grandparents as well as friends. (Click on the first photo to enlarge photos and see captions.)
First came the story conference over the present book, plus the Spanish translations of the next two. I did the translating. No word on how I did. Hopefully, the two books after this one will be bilingual.
I forgot to take photos of the new colored sketches but here is one of the early prototypes,
and another. (You’ve seen these sketches before when you voted on which ones to use.) These two made it through to the final cut, with some changes.
I have to pick one for the main dog character, Isidro instructs.
Meanwhile, I had to leave to inspect something of interest on the back wall. I thought from a distance it was two mounted wall pieces,
Then Isidro had pork shank
and I had my usual chiles en nogada.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, others were waiting patiently to be fed. The End. (For now.)
Yesterday I talked about writing the Tin Man poem in my hot tub. Today I showed Forgottenman my originals, scrawled in the drink. He urges that I should show y’all and although at first it seemed pretentious, it occurred to me that I loved looking at original drafts, with corrections, back when we all wrote by hand. So, I’m showing them to you, water drips and all. It actually shows my process pretty well. Line-by-line, making lists of rhyming words, choosing one and working toward it in the next line. Crossing out, moving lines. If you enjoy this, why not show me yours? You can see the finished poem HERE.
There is a reason and a rhyme to the word they chose this time. For though I am not in my prime and don’t play tennis, do not climb or stoop too low to conquer grime, In any terrain, any clime, my mind spins like a twirling dime. If over-rhyming were a crime, I’d probably be doing time.
(If you are a glutton for punishment, yes, you can click on these to enlarge them.)
New words fly at me in a swarm. They do not mean to do me harm, but still I feel beaten and battered. They might feel they haven’t mattered if I do not use them all, and yet I feel the beach’s call. The dog is clamoring to be fed while I am writing this instead.
The guilt of it cuts like a knife. I’ve got to go and have a life! I save the words already used, and lest the others feel abused, I leave them on the page as well to tell the stories they might tell If I had the time to use them. I hope you’ll take time to peruse them:
When she enters, I’m in her thrall,
and I have no control at all.
Sometimes she carries a riding crop
and drives me on so I can’t stop.
She rides in smoothly from my dreams
inspiring reams and reams and reams
that must be written when I wake.
I’m driven onward for her sake.
If my muse should feel abused,
believe me, she is not amused.
She mounts my back and spurs me on
until all her words are gone––
released upon the teeming pages
while she rides off to join the sages
sitting there upon the shelf,
and I am left with just myself.
About “photopainting”: the photo above was created using only iPhoto tools from this original taken at my favorite crazy story (Galeria El Triunfo) in Guadalajara yesterday :