Oh Muse….

Return from your damnable vacation and give me some focus.

I truly feel for Rachel (who I have yet to met, but whose work I enjoy immensely, and would inform her of such if I could leave comments on her blog or knew her e-mail address. Hmrph.) in that she seems to be hitting the same type of “poet’s block” that I almost always suffer from — I can get in a couple of lines, sometimes even a stanza, before simply stopping. I have these ideas for little series, even, little clever ideas I want to form out but they just disappear. It feels, to me, exactly like trying to hold onto the remnants of a dream upon waking…and it the same fashion, the more I try to write, the harder I try to let myself mentally travel down roads of ideas, the more vain the attempt feels.

I can’t force it out, yet it doesn’t seem to want to ‘come’ to me either.

I’m laying out an open invitation to anyone who cares to respond: What do you do? How do you write? Some people need quiet reflective time, others want to be in the noisy thick of life, scrawling poems out on bar napkins. I’ve never discovered what I need to ‘do’. I have found, in classic form, and don’t laugh, that a bit of alcohol seems to help. Was this not the trick for so many? How many ‘old school’ poets drank themselves to death? Absinthe? Poe? Bueller? Bueller? But yes, a little fuzziness helps, it feels like it drops the gates a little…but I really despise the idea of becoming a writer who has to (insert here) in order to write. ‘Invoking the muse’ has always seemed like such a silly notion to me for some reason.

Sometimes I get obsessive over form, because it gives me focus…a way to funnel thought down, to get them going. I feel like I’ve only written anything ‘good’ when in one of my classes with David, where he was always throwing prompts at us by way of word banks, opening lines, etc…maybe I need to do more of that. Maybe not. I’m truly at a loss. So many writers speak of not being able to stop writing…I physically write very seldom but I think I do accomplish this same action mentally a great deal. Many of this little blips of poems appear to me constantly, but so often end up as nothing..whether because they go unwritten and then forgotten later, or they’re dropped because they’re garbage.

I’ve also wanted to do some prose poetry work….but it’s a hard concept for me. Every time I try, it ends up either becoming full prose or I break it apart until it’s a poem. I think my inability to really grasp it as a form is what makes it fascinating to me.

Alright, enough of that. See? When I can’t write a poem, I ramble about not being able to write a poem. Sorry you had to suffer that.

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2 thoughts on “Oh Muse….”

  1. Ryan,

    I don’t think there is anything you mentioned that I haven’t been through. I think the thing to do is keep searching for whatever it takes to get you to write. Something will work for awhile and then won’t work anymore, then you have to do something else. Here are some of the things I do, none too original:
    *I keep a notebook for my poetry notes, and if I don’t have my notebook with me I use the little “notes” section in the back of my planner. Napkins and things like that get thrown away too easily. That notebook is there for a source for when I do start to write, for when I’m stuck on something, or I only have a stanza and need something to stir me up a bit more.
    * I have my notebook nearby when I’m reading poetry, I copy down phrases, words that are interesting. Sometimes I write things in there like “read poem so-and-so on page 43 again” and I do. And I can use that as a “prompt.”
    *I always write, underline, circle, and make notes in my poetry books, as if the poem belonged to a fellow workshopper, and I can steal or avoid whatever it is they’re doing. It sort of helps me to keep the poems “closer” and not so far away in the world of “Published.”
    *I often take notes in church or when I’m reading the bible and always when I’m reading the news. News headlines are my favorite source for inspiration…so much crazy stuff going on all the time! Copy and paste into a document called “Brainstorm.”
    * And then make myself find time to write. This is the hardest thing to do, because there is always something more pressing like homework, bills, laundry, etc. Oftentimes I wake up in the middle of the night to write, and that is usually when I do my best because I’m all alone, the world around me is quiet, and I feel like I’m doing something “wrong” just for being up so late. Sort of adds to the sorry state of mystery my life seriously lacks.

  2. I drive and I walk and I find places where I can be alone, but nothing seems to be working for me lately. I’m stuck, too. My best work isn’t work at all, it just comes. Reading sometimes helps. I’m not as helpful as Talia. Sorry.

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