We Write Poems has released their first prompted poem anthology. You may download a copy here:
One of my pieces appears within it.
Thank you to We Write Poems
One of my pieces appears within it.
Thank you to We Write Poems
December 1, 1994
Autumn as a metaphor for a season in the life process is an excellent one. Autumn is far from a waiting time, as a matter of fact it is one of the very busiest seasons of the year. It is harvest time. It is the time for gathering in, for counting, collecting and cataloguing the fruits and vegetables of summer’s fullness of labors. It is the time for preserving and preparing for winter’s reality.
For the individual it is the time for preparing for self-actualization. The picking up and gathering in of a lifetime of learning. The time for sorting out and defining what the activity and purpose of old age will be. What is the thing that will be given back to the community? What will I bring to the harvest feast, prepared by my own hands, delicious to the tongue, nourishing to the body and allowing it to enter winter with warmth and the strength to endure?
What is my gift? The thing I can share in these coming months which will ease us through winter’s harshness and deprivation? What is the song I will bring before the fire of a cold winter’s evening? What are the words which will enhance hope, and build dreams of a future better than the present? Will I sing it with my own voice or use an instrument I have spent years making in my spare moments? What is the knowledge I have gathered through my growing and can now harvest and preserve in all of its diversity?
Is this what I will share from my rocking chair? Or will there only be silence as others bustle about me in no need of my assistance? Will I share stories with my grandchildren? Stories that build character or laughter and will be remembered and used in a far distant moment when I am no longer able to put my hand on a shoulder and pat reassurance into bones which are sagging in momentary sadness or defeat? Have I practiced my story telling so that it is a polished jewel able to be presented and worthy of preservation?
Autumn is a time of slowing down as well. Taking time to see the beauty of nature’s self-actualization. Will my wisdom, on those cold winter evenings express the multi-layered color and diversity of subtle hues which abound in autumn? Or, because I haven’t allowed the time for gathering in, will my wisdom fall flat and browned around its edges? Wisdom is knowledge applied. Old-age is a time of application, if we have done the necessary homework. Old age may have its limitations, but we have spirit to help us rise above any limitation.
Found this a few days ago, in those old morning pages. The woman who wrote them was just entering into the Autumn of her life. Now, I am reading her words, here, at the beginning of old age. She decided to write back then, to preserve, collect, and create what I need now. She has created a feast, just for me. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
Okay, what’s the problem?
I’m not sure if there is a problem. Well, that’s not true. There is a problem. I want to create a post here, but I seem to be making nothing but mud.
Is there something wrong with mud?
Yah, it isn’t clear, it’s bits of dirt, some water, all mixed up together and doesn’t make sense.
So, go back to the beginning.
I think that would be the Rilke quote, the one about not going outside, but going inside to listen to yourself, to hear your own truth.
So again, what’s the problem?
Well, I started out looking for a quote, you know, to use at the beginning of the post, but it all got confusing really quickly. Couldn’t find the exact quote I was looking for and found myself reading all kinds of different things, and none of them fit. They sort of did, but not exactly.
Why do you need a quote, why can’t you just begin?
I thought about that, but I really liked the idea of a quote, you know, sounds more concrete, has more authority than just my words alone. This is prose. It’s not like a poem. You can use a quote for a poem, but most times a poem is just you, saying whatever you think and feel.
And that’s different than prose?
Well sort of. In prose, I was taught that you need to support whatever thesis you are attempting, with arguments that firm up whatever stand you have chosen.
And you can’t do that with your own words?
Well, yes I can. But, if I start out by using the words of a well known and respected author, or expert in the field, it lends more authority to what I am saying. I guess.
So, you must go outside yourself to somehow get permission to say what you know and hold to be true?
Ouch! When you put it that way, no. It’s just one of the ways I was taught how to write prose, especially essays. Even though what I write on this blog is mostly personal essays and those don’t need quotes as much as the other types of essays do.
But, isn’t most of what you write personal?
Yes, it is. I just wanted to continue with the quotes because I think Rilke’s quote is so very important. Not just to writers, but to anyone who decides to create anything. Oh shit! I just did what Rilke says not to do. I went looking for approval outside, instead of trusting what I’ve spent all these years learning how to do from the inside (in imagination, sees self smacking herself upside the head). Crap!
Okay, nuff with the dramatics. Let’s go back to the beginning. What was it you wanted to say to begin with?
I wanted to write about how incredibly important it was for me to find that story about Genie. How it resonated throughout my being and became the cornerstone of my understanding of so many other things.
Like? And what exactly do you mean by ‘resonate’?
To resonate is to resound. To hear it again, like an echo that vibrates through you whole being. Something in me, heard her story and started humming deep inside of me. I know now, that was my own inner child, hearing a piece of her own story and reacting to it. Getting my attention by sounding that echo. And as I wrote about Genie, The Wild Child, through the coming months, I also saw my own inner child, and somehow they blended together and became my Wild Inner Child. Together, they broke through the silence I had been keeping because of my past history. And all of that is what I found on those Morning Pages, I wrote almost twenty years ago. When I began reading those pages, a few weeks ago, that same echo came back loud and clear.
That’s a good thing, isn’t it?
It’s far better than a good thing. I was reading my own words, listening to my own voice, as I had never done before. I was reliving, resounding my own experience of hearing Genie’s story and having it impact on my own, forever changing me and how I saw myself and my place in the world. And the best part was that the me, in this present moment, could see it all more deeply and connect even more of the pieces.
What other pieces?
All the other stories, myths, legends, and songs I have explored and allowed myself to resonate with over the last twenty years. There are so many of them, and each one takes my own story deeper, filling in the map of my awareness in countless ways, all with deeper meanings and fuller understanding.
And that means what?
That I am exploring again, revisiting, resounding, and discovering all sorts of new ways to see and know the only person I can ever truly know: me.
Think that means you are feeling more alive than you have for a while.
Yes, it does. And that comes from reading my own words, listening to my own voice, finding my own heartbeat and truth, deep inside of me.
So, that means you’ve just proven Rilke’s statement true, right?
Yes, I believe you are correct, lol, and I didn’t need a quote to do it.
How about a high five?
You got it, kiddo.
You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself.
__Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters To A Young Poet
Although I had read Rilke’s Letters, I’m not sure I grasped what he was saying, other than on some sort of surface level. Once I started doing the Morning Pages, I understood a bit better, but I was still a long way from real comprehension. Like most individuals, I was uneasy about searching my own inner being, afraid of what I might find, if I were to find anything at all. But, I had committed myself to these pages, and was determined to do them. I even think that back then, I thought I could simply fill those pages with words and somehow avoid that more personal contact (it is only the fool who begins the journey).
In the classic story of the Hero’s Journey, the hero finds, and meets, many different people and beings. The most important of these might be the one called The Companion. That’s the person, most times the hero’s approximate age, or younger, who becomes his stalwart friend, watching his back, willing to give his all, a source of humor and fun, as well as a sounding board and balancing checkpoint in the decision making process. Think Ron Weasly to Harry Potter’s hero role.
I have already said that I found a gold mine in those twenty year old morning pages. I also found a companion who played all of the above roles and more. The story of how I came to know her and the wealth of inspiration she brought to me and that solitary endeavor, may be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/the-wild-child/
Okay, I’ll be honest. I’m forty-eight years old and if there is one thing, more than any other, which I have awakened to think about in some form or another, it’s writing. Not every morning, no. But a lot of them when I add it all up. I have always thought about writing. Not that I ever really thought about it as an actuality for me on any consistent basis until the last few years. And it’s not just when I wake up either. It’s there like a background tapestry in my mind. Always. Can’t think of a time when it wasn’t. Maybe in high school when I thought about being an artist. But I knew very quickly that although I had a little talent in that area, I would never be more than mediocre good. Just didn’t have the passion or the endurance for it. But I’ve been writing, or thinking about it forever. That should speak to me real loudly. It does. It scares me.
When I first began doing this blog, I intended to write about the things I had learned, and taught, about engaging in an ongoing writing regimen, the keeping of a journal. Back then, it was my intention to even occasionally share and post some of my own journal pages. That part, I never truly did, although I have written numerous articles here on writing and journal keeping.
Over the past month, I began thinking about doing a rather large and entailed writing project. Before I could begin, however, I needed to find and create a timeline for what I intended to write. So, I went back into the hard copies I have of my ‘morning pages’, only to discover that they didn’t go back far enough, even though I was certain I had been doing the pages longer than the time span represented in those hand written archives.
Eventually, I remembered that I had first started doing the pages on my Brothers Word Processor. Rummaged around and finally found the hard discs from that time period. Spent a great deal of time figuring out how to convert them into readable material, but was pleased to know I had what I needed, and began reading. Of course, I found a great deal more than I was looking for, I found a gold mine.
Discovered bits of poetry which I had jotted down, but never polished. I used one of them on another blog to complete a poetry prompt called a wordle. Perhaps, most importantly, I found the very beginnings of my own story as a serious writer. Discovered me, making notes about finding my own path for the next twenty years. The things that worked, and the ones that didn’t.
The above quote is taken directly from some of those beginning pages. I intend to continue reading, but also intend to share more of these bits and pieces. Many of them contain the first thoughts and ideas that became the articles on this blog. I believe they contain that first eye opening energy of the beginner, that one who has finally grasped a much wider concept than she has allowed herself in the past. It’s an energy I wish to share.
To that end, I will occasionally point you in the direction of some of those earlier articles, written expressly for this blog, when it seems appropriate to do so. The first one of which may be found here: