Your Brain On Words.
February 7, 2012


Magical, delightful, surprising, where are the tissues? That’s your brain on words. Emotional scrape? Words dangle the band-aid. Mental gash? Cry for story person, cry for self. 

Writing is the wing-span, the leap, the soar. The concentration, the distraction, the light, the dark. It’s the sky a writer circles for a landing, the place words return to every winter, the x-marks-the-spot to the centering dot, the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning, world without end, huzzah.

In the middle, in the writing, are possibilities. Mental expansion. Freedom. The birth of ideas into a whole nest of amazing.

Life. With all its rosy petals and dark, unsuspecting thorns. Words. The math of the emotions, the map of the heart.

Writers. We weave words into stringy sentences, braid meaning into ropes for those drowning in their own songs. Words that save, arrange, rearrange, turn on lights, make us smile, make us gasp. Little symbols hatched together, the birdsong of inner worlds so the outer world has a song, a chance.

Creative Courage.
April 12, 2011

The thing about publishing is that it’s like a reallllly long ladder with neverending rungs. Just when one rung is reached, the next comes into view, then the next. Just like a poem or a novel, it seems we’re never finished.

Sometimes the writer’s journey hurts so much it aches — a physical sensation I’d liken to a punch in the gut, and which, from time to time, can extract a low groan which causes dogs’ heads to turn and husbands to pause the television to inquire.

Some days there is over-confidence, not necessarily because a writer thinks they’re oh-so-great, but as a stop-gap measure against the waves of doubt that threaten to drown the hope, occurring mostly on the days we feel especially discouraged, stressed or unsure.

Other days we can lose all confidence because it’s easier to give up for a day (or month or week) than to continue to remain confident (takes much more energy) and withstand the aching assault on our writing hopes and dreams.

That’s where creative courage comes in.

It takes courage to create art, and not only to create it, but to risk the criticism and exposure that accompany the act of putting our work (our heart) out there.

Courage will falter from time to time. That’s normal. Those are the times it behooves us to follow our dreams back to their roots, to the childlike magic that precedes our words, brushstrokes, camera flashes, musical notes, pirouettes …

At it’s heart-shaped core, the act of art is an act of bravejoy. If an artist can reconnect to the joy, the doubt subsides and the hope and fortitude return.   

Writing is tough, getting agented is tough, going out on sub is tough — creative courage is tough, but if you’re creating art, if you’re putting yourself out there, if you’re picking yourself back up after a rejectional fall, please consider this post a candle in the window, pages and pages of belief in you, a full-out sentence parade with a marching band, flashy floats and paragraphs and paragraphs of confetti in your honor.

More and more, I admire the artists of the world. I believe artists change the world, both within and without. 

So thank you, artists who come before us, for your creative courage. Thank you for lighting our candles with yours. We hope and dream and leave the belief-light on in the jules (and jewels) of your example.

Tomorow is a new day of words.

Tomorrow is art waiting to happen.

Creative Courage.
July 13, 2008

“I’m sure that writing isn’t a craft, that is, something for which you learn the skills and go on turning out. It must come from some deep impulse, deep inspiration. That can’t be taught … “

Robert Lowell

What gives us the power to create? Do we need courage to create? What is creative courage?

I’m offering the posit that it takes two kinds of courage to write: creative courage, and the courage to face large amounts of resistance and rejection.

I used to hear it, and wave it off, naively: no one cares about the work you’re doing; not in general, and not out in the world. Radiating the loudest silence ever from where it reclines longhand in a notebook, or dormant on your laptop, the world doesn’t care about your work.

At least, not yet.  

Sure, your significant other cares (or should), your mom, dad, sister, brother … of course these people care, but I’m talking about the world at large; the place where creativity meets business, and the more important bottom line.

THAT’s the courage I’m talking about  — and then, to write and rhyme, anyway. That’s courage.

The possibility of not being good enough, making no money, getting no recognition, no audience, the rejection letters piling up so that you’re left doubting, for a moment, whether your dream of being a writer is anything more than a nightmare, mislabeled — and then, even then, CREATING. Creating anyway.    

I think about all these things as I finish building my website and blog page, working on getting everything straightened and dusted and ready for scrutiny. These addresses will be added to the contact information on my query letters, so that I may appear most professional and most serious about my writing career. (This, as advised by a “cutiepatootie” young agent on his wonderful agent blog.)

And, this agency will actually get back to you with a rejection letter, instead of the trend of some literary agencies to offer their silence as rejection.

This time, I promise myself, (which is akin to promising not to eat chocolate, but what the hell), that no matter how juicy the name and how awesome the “client” daydream, I will not query agencies with the policy of not replying as a form of rejection.

I will not query agencies with the policy of not replying as a form of rejection. I will not query agencies with the policy of not replying as a form of rejection. I will not …

I look around, as if I just uttered a demon’s name aloud — did I really say that? Something about agents, ANY agent, and out loud, and publically? Especially when I’m searching for an agent, myself?

In my defense, someone had to say something. Writers deserve at least that much respect.