The Perfectionism Monster.
July 8, 2011

Perfectionism. I’d say it’s normal writer stuff.

Of course we want to write the best words, the best passages, the best ideas. And, of course we may sometimes find ourselves intimidated by the pressure of wanting/trying/hoping we’ll write just that. On the first draft, of course. God forbid we aspire to less.

Perfectionism is like a so-ugly-it’s-back-to-cute monster we feed with a pound of our writing flesh. Daily. Hourly. Perfect sentence by perfect sentence.

How to handle this monstrosity? Embrace it. Celebrate its existence. Make it your pet, give it a pat on its hairy head, then get to work: butt in chair. Churning out words. Let it snore and drool and twitch its plate-sized paws in your lap. After awhile, it’ll grow on you. You won’t be able to imagine writing without it.

Perfectionism can be a savior: saving you from submitting half-baked garbage, keeping you on your perfect toes and goading you to aim higher than you ever thought possible.

Perfectionism likes literary company. Read in your genre, read for pleasure, read to learn how other writers harness craft, read for an idea of what the market supports. This blog post came from just that; reading of another writer’s struggle with perfectionism. So, also read to discover you’re not alone.

And then, get writing. You’re a writer, after all, and you have mouths a monster to feed.

Monster art by Tom Friedman, from his Monsters And Stuff exhibition.

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Paint The Sky.
October 9, 2009

God is a painter.

 

Marshmallow Skies

 

Sky like a kaleidoscope.

 

Peaceful Afternoon

 

Here and There

 

Peaceful in Pink

 

In the Pink

 

The Evening Show

 

Day is Done.

 

O beautiful, for spacious skies ...

 

An Early Moon.

 

Peek-a-boo Moon

 

Sunset Tangle

 

Photos by Emily Murdoch.

The Muse’s Fire
September 12, 2009

Sunrise in the Sonoran desert.

Morning:

The simple facts are naked and pink;

a reviving number of sun-lit breaths,

a second helping of morning,

golden opportunities to make time fly  

or scratch the dog’s back in lazy circles.

 

Noon:

Coffee rising. A non-option, really,

those stale afternoons littered with yesterday’s prayers

that smell like old rain and stomp the stairs

going nowhere fast. Waiting for the churlish skies

scrubbed childlike and new, waiting for the newborn worlds

to cry a fateful tune. No need to fret —

the Universal antennae adjusts itself,

the frequency frequent enough,

the bright, cellophane words busting out

of pinata souls written in half.

 

Night:

Rushing Saturday off to endless destinations,

coated in foreign scents chasing dog-eared adventures

while trees typed on windowpanes that weren’t your own,

voyeuristic roots exploring uncharted, fecund soils,

time unbridled and galloping off as time is wont to do,

shadows growing older in the solitude,

crock pot seething on the counter, forgotten,

dogs fogging up the windowglass to see what you’ve begotten

while the evening grows colder as you grow braver,

tossing extra logs upon the Muse’s fire.

Sonoran sunset over the mountains.

 

Poem and photos by Emily Murdoch.

Ouroboros
September 9, 2009

Oleander Sunset 

Knock knock (on the stars).

Who’s there? Some form of God —

The wise old man who paces the sky as his floor.

The merciful mother who etches her face into tortillas

and cries down the cheeks of statues for her true believers —

 

How can you tell it’s real?

How can you say it’s not?

When the moon foreshadows the weeping days

and the sun breaks all night long.

Because the heart quickens when it sees it,

the face of its beloved flickering with hope.

Because where else does love come from, my dearies,

before its sprinkled upon the earth?

 

Calm in the Storm

 

Poem and photos by Emily Murdoch.

A Bird’s Eye View … Part One.
June 9, 2009

The Ponies Shedding Moon

The photo above is the full moon of May, often called the Full Flower Moon by Native Americans, although my favorite name comes from the Sioux: the Ponies Shedding Moon.

And do they ever. There’s nothing quite like being outside at midnight brushing shedding winter coats under a moon so bright the horses throw shadows. It’s so relaxing; I have to keep reminding myself to stay alert so I don’t get stepped on. 

With the geldings munching hay, however, they barely notice my presence unless the bristles locate an especially itchy spot.  

When I’m done grooming, I’m covered in horse hair of all different colors, and left to chase little clouds of hair (stripped from the brush as I go along) around the corral. Those I miss, the birds will incorporate into their nests. Nothing in the desert gets wasted. 

 The Sky is A Painter.

The Spring sky.

Saguaros In Fruit.

Saguaros in silhouette (and throwing fruit. Seriously. One bonked me on the head while I was setting up the photographs. Roll your cursor over the photographs for captions).

Birds heart fruit!

 

Four servings of fruit a day, or is it five?

 

Ripened fruit.

 

Fruit close-up

I especially love Spring in the desert. Everything that flies, creeps or crawls appears with mini-carbon copies of themselves, the mothers showing off their babies like proud humans. Even the scorpion, usually an object of fear and aversion, looks sweet carrying her babies on her back. (Although she isn’t sweet at all, of course. Any babies that overstay their welcome are destined to be killed and eaten by the cantankerous female scorpion. And she’s quick; before I could snap her photo, she was gone. )

However, here’s a photo of another scorpion that climbs the rafters of our covered porch. Freak-out factor? A solid TEN.

 Equal to one thousand words on why we shake out our boots before putting them on.

From the porch, life that usually goes on behind the scenes is actively renewing itself — flowers blooming and fading, followed by the swell of fruit that feeds everything from insects to coyotes to birds. Lightening-fast lizards with speed-of-light babies scurry through the yuccas or cling to the garden walls, high up toward the top and quite out of reach of our overly-excited terriers, who find it high treason.

There are so many birds that I keep the radio off to listen to their songs and chatter, a world of their own going on above our heads until they touch down to peck at tiny hay seeds in the sand, steal kibbles from the dogs’ bowls, or share a drink at the horses’ water buckets. 

Camera in hand, and hot on the trail of interesting sights, I’ve come across birds’ nests in the most ingenious places:

Bird's nest.

This nest remains intact inside the skeleton of a saguaro. Usually, all you can see to indicate a nest are these holes:

Birds' nests inside each hole.

 

Old Saguaro.

 There was another interesting nest I found quite by accident, as I was preparing to open a new bale of hay. Nestled in the back and ringed with newborn, fuzzy feathers was a nest of:

Empty nest syndrome.

Gambel’s Quail eggs. (Callipepla gambelii)

The baby quail are the cutest things around. No larger than gumballs, they follow behind their mother in a single-file line, looking  like a string of pearls snaking left and right.  

And there are more nests — come join me for A Bird’s Eye View … Part Two, or, Cooped In The Hen House By A Thirsty Javelina.  

In the meantime, may the Muse of Creativity be kind to you.

(Photos by Emily Murdoch)