Friday, August 26, 2016

Moonlight Musings
















By Helen Patrice



That's right, we have a guest writer today. 

Helen Patrice is a poet, fiction writer, and author of feature articles for various magazines – and my friend. (You may recall seeing her poetry here in 'I Wish I'd Written This'. If not, look here and scroll down.) I read Helen's Live Journal blog and thought this recent post too good not to share with you all. She kindly gave permission.


Writing in Puddles
Copyright © Helen Patrice 2016


Lately, my morning pages (thank you Julia Cameron, and THE ARTIST'S WAY) have been about critical awareness, I think. I've been listening to books by Brené Brown, and in I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ME, she talks about critical awareness, critical thinking, and shame.
So, I've been exploring, in tiny doses, how I talk to myself about writing, and how I treat myself.
What a harsh task master I am. I may as well be that asshat on the Roman warship in 'Ben Hur', the one who says to Hur: "Row well, and live, 41." The one who, to test Hur, orders battle speed, and ramming speed, as rower slaves die, have heart attacks, and fall from their oars in exhaustion, all while Charlton Heston gives the Roman general filthy looks, and keeps rowing.
"Write well, and live, Helen."
That's how I've treated myself from age 10-52.

Just this morning, I was nagging myself about 'writing to do', and bemoaning that I thought of something I formerly loved unto ramming speed as 'work'. A self-pompous thing. Oh yes, I WORK at my writing. My writing is my life's WORK. I put my bum on seat, and do the WORK.
You know what, I don't even like work that much. Never have, never will. In my early twenties, my only-half-joking goal was to be a kept woman. Now that I'm a kept woman, I tell everyone, and most especially myself that my writing is my work. Just so I can justify not working at anything else while my friends are still employed.

So, I asked myself to reframe the image of being chained to the oars, of trudging off in a grey suit to an office.
I came up with jumping in puddles. Each of my writing projects and ideas is a puddle, and I can choose on any given day which one to leap into and splash about.
That immediately made it feel light, and like play.
I remember being six years old, and being the only one to dare jumping in puddles at school during afternoon playlunch. Sure, the teacher cracked the shits when she saw that I had soaked shoes and socks. I didn't care. My shoes and socks didn't feel wet, I wasn't cold.
And while everyone else had stood on the sidelines, I'd jumped and splashed, dared on by all of them.
We'd been told to keep out of the puddles, like good little children.
But those puddles were deliciously dark, and splashy, and clean, just after rain. 

I am also reminded of the book 'The Magicians'. In it, the protagonist gets to his version of Narnia through an enchanted pool of water. Other pools lead to other worlds. There is an inbetween place where the pools are.
Daily, I go to the inbetween place, choose my pool, and jump in. I rise in the land of memoir, short story, flash fiction, autobiography, blog, poetry, travel writing, or something else entirely.
I'm learning to obey those tiny urges that crop up in morning pages. The small little 'oh, I should write about that', as I grumble my way through three pages of dumping out my brain.
Sometimes, the urge comes to nothing, but sometimes, just sometimes, there's the splash of something, the single drop of water that will become a puddle I can jump into.


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I hope you enjoyed Helen's musings.

How do you approach your poetry? As work, play or a mixture of both? I veer between the two. I think I do better, though, when I am playing.

Do you write 'morning pages'? I read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way a long time ago. I worked my way through it – it is designed as a 12-week course – and from time to time I return to the practice of morning pages, which is one of its key components. The idea is 'brain drain' – to get rid of the crowd of surface thoughts, and to bypass our internal Censors while we're at it, so as to bring us into our creative space. 

Inspired by this post of Helen's, I recently took up the habit again. I do it sitting in the garden after breakfast, with my cat nearby. I follow the morning pages with a 'small stone' (a short piece of mindful writing focused on the external world). It all makes a lovely way to start my day.

16 comments:

  1. I love it! Jumping in puddles! I'm going to do it right now--playing and daring all in one. Thank you, Rosemary. I too worked through "The Artist's Way" decades ago--and Cameron's second book, too. But I forget and need constant renewal not to be under the whip and lash of my "oughts" but to get wet and even dirty at play.

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    1. Yes, I loved the jumping in puddles idea too. We can definitely get too darn serious, and I think our art can suffer for it.

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  2. Rosemary and Helen, how I enjoyed this post! LOVE the idea of writing being like jumping in puddles. In the blogosphere, there is so much Keeping Up to do, that it does turn what was a joy more into work. I sit at my desk, it feels like, forever, doing the work of keeping up. Only when I actually write a poem do I feel the joy........the rest is good work, meaningful and purposeful. But I need more puddles in my life and will keep this happy thought in mind. Rosemary, I love the thought of you and Selene in your garden, writing in the morning.........thank you to both of you for this uplifting post. Loved it.

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    1. Well, reading poetry can be a joy too, as well as writing it. I am sometimes late getting to reading the poems in groups I participate in, because I wait until I am not going to be rushed – at the risk of disappointing people by taking so long. But I think it's better if I can really read and not dash through them. More fun for me anyway!

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  3. What a wonderful post....thank you! I too have read Brene's books and have shifted how I treat myself and my writing. Since I have been sidelined, I have been rethinking how I want to approach it so lots of food for thought here. I usually liked to write poetry once a week in silence....to find those quiet, uninterrupted times to reach into my heart and soul and let it flow. But I am thinking I want to set up more of a practice as I am about to embark on a big project.

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    1. You make those silent times sound wonderful! Perhaps there is not only one way to do it – you could maybe keep them alongside the more frequent practice, or incorporate them into it.

      I am thinking I might need to get hold of these Brené books!

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  4. Early in my retirement i did the morning write ritual, Now i'm scattered, i write any time, anywhere, and in addition sourcing my pieces, well thats another trip of madness. I have to go pulling old stuff out of this file that device such and such site. Oh but this too is a good phase

    much love...

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    1. As long as writing is happening! As I know it is, because I enjoy the results. It sounds as if you are being quite playful with it.

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  5. i enjoyed this week's musings, yeah.
    puddles. i cannot imagined writing is like puddles, but it does make sense, and it sounds like fun.

    thank you, Rosemary, for sharing Helen's works.

    for a person needing to work to put food on the table, writing seems like a secondary , even unnecessary thing. but to me it can be cathartic, even liberating. for without it, what would i be doing, nodding off in front of the telly, getting drunk in a pub? i used to write most of the poetry at night, sometimes very late at night when it is quieter, but now i write at most times of the day and night, and only occasionally. i really must find more of those puddles. :)

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    1. When I was working, studying, and raising young kids (sometimes all at the same time) I used to write my poetry late at night too. Now it's mostly mornings, but can be any time. I've never regarded it as secondary either (even when it may have appeared that way) but always essential. Happy puddle-hunting!

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  6. I enjoyed Helen's musing very much, especially the reference to Ben Hur because I can relate to that .I deal with matters of survival like that,always imagining myself as the chief protagonist in scenes from literature, history or movies.

    If writing poetry was in any way related to " work" I would not do it.It is my luxury, joy and catharsis... a wonderful way of getting to meet like minds that you would never do in normal social situations.Social encounters do not allow for such intimate thoughts... the reason why these international poetry communities are such a grand idea.

    I write mainly in the early hours of the morning because of the quiet and the forbidden element, knowing everyone else is asleep and I should be too, no doubt a leftover from childhood, reading under the covers by torchlight... will always be that naughty child I'm afraid. Thank you for this enjoyable post Rosemary.

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    1. I love what you say about writing poetry! I so agree!

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  7. such a sense of enticing freedom is in the lines..one just needs to jump in and splash about..ha being chained to the oars and trudging off to the office in a grey suit is so degrading for a Soul..i feel we are born to love..whatever it is and we are born free...love, love & love this 'moonlight musings'....

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    1. Thank you, Sumana. Yes, I actually think artistic expression is essential for every human being – and that we are more likely to find it in a spirit of play.

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  8. Enjoyed this musing. Yes, I think I've been thinking of my writing as work and that makes it less fun. I must incorporate the idea of play and balance this out. For several years I wrote morning pages. It's a wonderful practice that I must consider resuming.
    So nice to read Helen's musing. Thanks for sharing her Rosemary.

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  9. Ah, I think many of us have gone through the 'morning pages' routine. It definitely IS good practice & mind cleansing, but so hard to keep the routine going. Yes, I did enjoy Helen's musings & love the idea of writing projects as 'puddles.'

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