Archive for the On Writing Category

On writing, words and community…ramble, ramble, ramble.

Posted in On Writing, personal ramble on March 22, 2009 by boychick1

I watched Milk last night and I am going to watch it again – what a powerful, powerful film. But it made me think a lot about anonymity and community — the importance not of gross and self indulgent disclosure (where ever that line is) but about the importance of sharing our queer lives and selves. I have never had any desire to be “normal” but sharing who we are does normalize us and reveal our common humanity.

I don’t want to blog with a password, it would feel like a secret knock on the windowless door…perhaps the only thing I love about the new girl bar in town is that is has windows, lots of them and I find that incredibly liberating. Go ahead and watch, my life is NOT something to be ashamed of in anyway.

Let me assuage any fears that any of you have for my well being – you all have been so supportive both publicly and privately – I am not at all worried for my physical safety.

I have a family full of law enforcement personnel and a client list that contains lawyers and judges — so as far as that goes “bring it” and I will and can bring you down. Fast like in two minutes making one phone call…your little IP addresses will be associated with a real person, at a real address, in a real town.

The internet is not that anonymous.

What troubles me is that an individual can and will send comments that are clearly highly personal, contain details never (I repeat yet again NEVER) shared here — if you have taken that much time, made that much investigation and inquiry into my life get your lily white ass out of the rosebushes and tell me who in the hell you are. If you are already in my life (and I am almost beginning to suspect you might be – well there is a mighty ouch – tap me on the shoulder and talk to me like a friend would).

Because frankly until you do – you are a coward and I don’t associate with cowards. I do not associate with people whose language is cruel to me, to my friends or family and who will not identify themselves. Grow up – the only thing I need protection from is you.

So no one is taking anything away from me –not my joy, not my identity or who I am, not my freedom to write, to write about my life and my experiences. I’m a writer and it doesn’t matter if I have been published (and I have been published a little) writers will write. Writers will draw on their life experiences.

But I have had and will continue to do some editing as my privacy has been violated – and I suspect there is a queer/lesbian girl somewhere with very poor boundaries. (yeah how shocking right?!)

Let me share this yet again — it’s from one of my favorite, favorite non-fiction writers Terry Tempest Williams…

I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to the music that opens my heart. I write to quell the pain. I write to migrating birds with the hubris of language. I write as a form of translation. I write with the patience of melancholy in winter. I write because it allows me to confront that which I do not know. I write as an act of faith. I write as an act of slowness. I write to record what I love in the face of loss. I write because it makes me less fearful of death. I write as an exercise in pure joy. I write as one who walks on the surface of a frozen river beginning to melt. I write out of anger and into my passion. I write from stillness of night anticipating- always anticipating. I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around. I write because of the humor of our condition as humans. I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in the sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it the way I talk long walks. I write to bow to the wilderness. I write because it can create a path in darkness. I write because as a child I spoke a different language. I write with a knife carving each word through the generosity of trees, I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine. I write by grace and grit. I write out of indigestion. I write when I am starving. I write when I am full. I write to the dead. I write out of the body. I write to put food on the table. I write on the other side of procrastination. I write for children we never had. I write for a love of ideas. I write for the surprise of a beautiful sentence. I write with the belief of alchemists. I write knowing I will always fail. I write knowing words will always fall short. I write knowing I can be killed by my own words, stabbed by syntax, crucified by both understanding and misunderstanding. I write out of ignorance. I write by accident. I write past the embarrassment of exposure. I keep writing and suddenly, I am overcome by sheer indulgence, the madness, the meaninglessness, the ridiculousness of this list. I trust nothing, especially myself, and slide headfirst into the familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper and rip it to shreds -and then I realize, it doesn’t matter, words are always a gamble, words are splinters of cut glass. I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.

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Why I Write…

Posted in On Writing on December 1, 2008 by boychick1

I have shared this excerpt before it’s from Terry Tempest Williams one of the countries best writers of creative non-fiction. My greedy brain has consumed her every printed word, over and over again. My favorite books by Terry are “Leap” and “Refuge”.

I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to the music that opens my heart. I write to quell the pain. I write to migrating birds with the hubris of language. I write as a form of translation. I write with the patience of melancholy in winter. I write because it allows me to confront that which I do not know. I write as an act of faith. I write as an act of slowness. I write to record what I love in the face of loss. I write because it makes me less fearful of death. I write as an exercise in pure joy. I write as one who walks on the surface of a frozen river beginning to melt. I write out of anger and into my passion. I write from stillness of night anticipating- always anticipating. I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around. I write because of the humor of our condition as humans. I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in the sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it the way I talk long walks. I write to bow to the wilderness. I write because it can create a path in darkness. I write because as a child I spoke a different language. I write with a knife carving each word through the generosity of trees, I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine. I write by grace and grit. I write out of indigestion. I write when I am starving. I write when I am full. I write to the dead. I write out of the body. I write to put food on the table. I write on the other side of procrastination. I write for children we never had. I write for a love of ideas. I write for the surprise of a beautiful sentence. I write with the belief of alchemists. I write knowing I will always fail. I write knowing words will always fall short. I write knowing I can be killed by my own words, stabbed by syntax, crucified by both understanding and misunderstanding. I write out of ignorance. I write by accident. I write past the embarrassment of exposure. I keep writing and suddenly, I am overcome by sheer indulgence, the madness, the meaninglessness, the ridiculousness of this list. I trust nothing, especially myself, and slide headfirst into the familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper and rip it to shreds -and then I realize, it doesn’t matter, words are always a gamble, words are splinters of cut glass. I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.


What about you — why do you write?

Terry Tempest Williams New Book!

Posted in On Writing on October 5, 2008 by boychick1

Terry Tempest Williams in an amazing woman and one of my favorite authors – her writing is non-fiction. She has a new book out and of course it’s on the way to me from Amazon.com.

Because you know if I love someone or something …I love her passionately and have to know everything about her, have all her work – (are you there Melissa?!) and read, see, or listen all over again, and again, and again.

This is the description from Amazon…

In her most original, provocative, and eloquently moving book since Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams gives us a luminous chronicle of finding beauty in a broken world. Always an impassioned and far-sighted advocate for a just relationship between the natural world and humankind, Williams has broadened her concerns over the past several years to include a reconfiguration of family and community in her search for a deeper understanding of what it means to be human in an era of physical and spiritual fragmentation.

Williams begins in Ravenna, Italy, where “jeweled ceilings became lavish tales” through the art of mosaic. She discovers that mosaic is not just an art form but a form of integration, and when she returns to the American Southwest, her physical and spiritual home, and observes a clan of prairie dogs on the brink of extinction, she apprehends an ecological mosaic created by a remarkable species in the sagebrush steppes of the Colorado Plateau. And, finally, Williams travels to a small village in Rwanda, where, along with fellow artists, she joins survivors of the 1994 genocide and builds a memorial literally from the rubble of war, an act that becomes a spark for social change and healing.

A singular meditation on how the natural and human worlds both collide and connect in violence and beauty, this is a work of uncommon perceptions that dares to find intersections between arrogance and empathy, tumult and peace, constructing a narrative of hopeful acts by taking that which is broken and creating something whole.

And this is an exerpt from her book “Unspoken Hunger” – which is a book of stories and a fantastic introduction to her writing.

The next morning, I walked to the edge of the wash, shed my clothes, and bathed in the pumpkin -colored water. It was to be one of the last warn days of autumn. Standing naked in the sand, I noticed bear tracks. Bending down, I gently placed my right hand inside the fresh paw print.
Women and bears.
Marian Engel in her novel Bear, portrays a woman and bear in an erotics of place. It doesn’t matter whether the bear is seen as male or female. The relationship between the two is sensual, wild.

The woman says, “Bear, take me to the bottom of the ocean with you, Bear, swim with me, Bear, put your arms around me, enclose me, swim, down, down, down, with me.”
“Bear,” she says suddenly, “come dance with me.”

They make love. Afterward, “She felt pain, but it was a dear sweet pain that belonged not to mental suffering, but to the earth.”

I have felt pain that arises from a recognition of beauty, pain we hold when we remember what we are connected to and the delicacy of our relations. It is this tenderness born out of connection to place that fuels my writing. Writing becomes an act of compassion toward life, the life we so often refuse to see because if we look too closely or feel too deeply, there may be no end to our suffering. But words empower us, move us beyond our suffering, and set us free. This is the sorcery of literature. We are healed by our stories.
By undressing, exposing, and embracing the bear, we undress, expose, and embrace our authentic selves. Stripped free from society’s oughts and shoulds, we emerge as emancipated beings. The bear is free to roam.

If we choose to follow the bear, we will be saved from a distractive and domesticated life. The bear becomes our mentor. We must journey out, so that we might journey in. The bear mother enters the earth before snowfall and dreams herself through winter, emerging in the spring with young by her side. She not only survives the barren months, she gives birth. She is the caretaker of the unseen world. As a writer and a woman with obligations to both family and community, I have tried to adopt this ritual in the balancing of a public and private life. We are at home in the deserts and mountains, as well as in our dens. Above ground in the abundance of spring and summer, I am available. Below ground in the deepening of autumn and winter, I am not. I need hibernation in order to create.
We are creatures of paradox, women and bears, two animals that are enormously unpredictable, hence our mystery. Perhaps the fear of bears and the fear of women lies in our refusal to be tamed, the impulses we arouse and the forces we represent.

Life Is A Verb.

Posted in On Writing, Personal ramblings on August 22, 2008 by boychick1

I am really crazy about Patti Digh’s book and blog — so I sent a submission to her and she published it! So if you follow this LINK you can see what I submitted to her wonderful blog called 37 days.

Was really hoping she’d publish my submission as I wanted to make a gift of her book to an important person in my life, and now I can as another copy is on the way.

All you got was a mud ball Charlie Brown.

Posted in On Writing, Personal ramblings on August 19, 2008 by boychick1

I am up sitting with a cup of coffee, splashed with soy milk – I’ve just finished my favorite German muesli covered with fresh raspberries. Listening to Katie Sawicki and waiting for it to rain. A slow awakening to the day — life is so grand, so lovely and precious in even the most simple of moments…I often think I will implode.

When I’ve made personal time over the weekend I have been reading Patti Digh’s book “Life Is A Verb”, 37 days to wake up, be mindful and live intentionally. She blogs at 37 days.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4 “Inclusion Be Generous” – the story she shares has to do with mud balls. And I am sure when one thinks of a ball of mud, one does not think of beauty but hikaru dorodango is just that making something exquisite when you have nothing to work with but literally the detritus of your life, the dirt at your feet.

From Life Is A Verb, “The joy of hikaru dorodango is twofold: the sheer pleasure that comes with creating, that meditative and wondrous place we go sometimes in the creative moment-coupled with the desire to create the shiniest ball.

And so we polish our own lives, creating landscapes and canyons and peaks with the very silt we try to avoid, the dirt we disavow or hide or deny. It is the dirt of our lives-the depressions, the losses, the inequities, the failing grades in trigonometry, the e-mails sent in fear or hate or haste, the ways in which we encounter people different from us-that shape us, polish us to a heady sheen, make us in fact more beautiful, more elemental, more artful and lasting. What if we considered our lives hikaru dorodango by showering in the silt and gently turning to let it fall evenly around us, realizing that we need it complete the work that is us? Its granules hold polish and the very possibility of art.”

Balls of mud – shown in the Shelby Fleetwood Gallery in Sante Fe. And through the miracle of the internet I traveled there, and paused to look at all the amazing art, the artists that look – life and how they see it.

All you got was a mud ball Charlie Brown – now what are you going to do with it? I am learning patience when I reflect on the dirt in our lives, I am reflecting on faith, on action and patience and seeing what can develop from very humble beginnings.

Namaste-
j.

Poetic Sunday

Posted in On Poetry, On Writing, Personal ramblings on August 17, 2008 by boychick1

I ran across this poem in Patti Digh’s wonderful little book “Life Is A Verb”.

i
you
us
them
those people
wouldn’t it be lovely
if one could
live
in a constant state
of we?
some of the most
commonplace
words
can be some of the biggest
dividers
they
what if there was
no they?
what if there
was only
us?
if words could be seen
as they floated out
of our mouths
would we feel no
shame
as they passed beyond
our lips?
if we were to string
our words
on a communal clothesline
would we feel proud
as our thoughts
flapped in the breeze?

-Marilyn Maciel, “clotheline”

The author of “Life Is A Verb” shared a story of someone who went into a kindergarten classroom and asked “How many of you can dance”? All hands went up. “How many of you can sing”? All hands went up. “How many of you can paint”? All hands went up. Then the same person went into a roomful of 18 year olds and asked the same question – you know what happened.

When do we loose ourselves, our talents, our innate confidence…who are the soldiers we let shoot us down.

Today I can sing, dance and paint (even if someone is watching).

To digress to another topic (one I’ll write about more later) – I received a very precious gift yesterday, my mother’s wedding ring. On my finger is a shiny gold ring with three very large diamonds…this does not fit my life, my soul, my spirit on so many levels. I feel grateful but also changed – and what do I do? Do I wear it – it’s obviously valuable, it was an important part of someone’s life, of mine but somehow too it doesn’t feel right. It’s a love(ely) that doesn’t fit.

How much of our lives do we cling to because they have a value, a preciousness but those things don’t fit us anymore, or at all, or never did? I’m thinking about the stuff of our lives – the physical and emotional things we carry…thoughts about ourselves that don’t fit, objects – even relationships. I am thinking of you my new friend and I hope you can find something that fits and feels lovely (and loving).

peace-
janet

Authors & Books…Amy Hempel

Posted in On Writing on June 27, 2008 by boychick1

Amy Hempel is a fabulous writer – her work moves you in ways obvious and subtle. You should read a story or a line and live with it. Sparse and yet rich with meaning – she writes some of the most lovely sentences I have ever read. Concise and precise.

You can read a review of her book “The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel” that appeared in the New York Times here.

Right now I am listening to her read some of her stories here on Wired For Books.

And this is one of her short stories, in it’s entirety. Lovesome what a beautiful word she created, what an image.

IN THE ANIMAL SHELTER

By Amy Hempel

Every time you see a beautiful woman, someone is tired of her, so the men say. And I know where they go, these women, with their tired beauty that someone doesn’t want-these women who must live like the high Sierra white pine, there since before the birth of Christ, fed somehow by the alpine wind.
They reach out to the animals, day after day smoothing fur inside a cage, saying, “How is Mama’s baby? Is Mama’s baby lonesome?”
The women leave at the end of the day, stopping to ask an attendant, “Will they go to good homes?” And come back in a day or so, stooping to examine a one-eyed cat, asking, as though they intend to adopt, “How would I introduce a new cat to my dog?”
But there is seldom an adoption; it matters that the women have someone to leave, leaving behind the lovesome creatures who would never leave them, had they once given them their hearts.