Spring Survivor

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The Robert Frost Trail
Amherst, MA

ROBERT FROST TRAIL

Ok, this is awesome:

I’m in the middle of the world.

Water moves by slowly.

Straight, tall trees march up the hill

And cling to rocks.

A few trees have fallen across the water

Casualties of winter

But I won’t be one.

I have my face to the sun for the first time in months.

I am blown away by love

But I’m in love with nothing so petty

As a person:

The whole universe.

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Home Town Inspiration

Atkins ResevoirThe other day I was told, “You are lucky to have grown up in a place that people will always want to come back to.” 

In the spring months since my homecoming, I’ve enjoyed bringing my notebook with me out in the woods and doing free writes. I’ve been turning these into poems, which I am looking forward to sharing. Here is one:

ATKINS RESEVOIR

I’m writing from the spot of so many firsts

Far from cities and nightclubs and bathrooms.

The mountains are dark blue

The sky is grey.

Driving here I passed a sign:

Your community farm.”

Whose community?

Whose farm?

Send me back to the city

Where I belong

Or at least where I can disappear.

I always go to Target when it’s raining

And try to forget about the world outside.

Writing letters to you is my new poetry.

I miss the tortured city days.

I miss the destructive side of myself.

It gave me an edge.

Now the wind blows the pine trees and little else.

I am dying to be swept away but then why on earth are my feet planted on this ground?

This ground that is so much my own.

I can’t share.

I’m selfish as an only child.

This is my turf and no one can possible know it like I do.

In the summer I will walk on the other side of the reservoir.

Maybe I will be alone

Through the woods

Until I reach the rock.

There I will hang my belongings on the knob of a tree

Remove my clothes

Climb the rock

And dive in.

I’ll swim across the expanse on my back

Till I reach the island

Emerging on land like the first dinosaurs

Gasping

Eyes wide open.

I’ll sun myself

Pine needles sticking to my wet skin.

The sun shining red behind eyelids.

But today is just a rainy spring day

And I am eternally waiting.

 

A Stab at Poetry

Cover of "Writing down the Bones"

Writing Down the Bones

Fiction has always been my forte. I usually stick to what I know. But recently I have gotten into the practice of doing free writes in a journal. This was a suggestion I picked up from the great book, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

The act of putting pen to paper is so different than writing on a computer. I found it refreshing, tapping into a different part of my creative brain. I would like to share a free write that I did on the bus home from New York City last weekend. I decided to type it up in the form of a poem.

This is something vastly different from the work I usually do and I am looking forward to any comments or suggestions that my fellow bloggers would like to share. As always, and in any capacity, Happy Writing.

4/14/2013

I dreamt of the terrifying fear of jumping off the high dive.

I swore I was in love.

I was so happy

And woke up feeling so sad.

I am powerless in your presence.

I feel pain and hurt and I haven’t seen you for years.

Does this make me weak or does this make me a butterfly?

Am I transforming?

I no longer know if I have wings or if I have toes.

I apologize for my inadequacies.

I apologize for my restless, ruthless emotions.

Why should I shun my failures?

Why shouldn’t I sit on a park bench with nothing but an empty coffee cup?

I like to feel the subway rattling below me.

Last night in bed I felt it again, but further removed

No physical shaking, just a soft noise

Like a moan or a creak of the bed.

Was that it?

Is that all he has for you?

Maybe there is more, but I won’t stay around long enough to find out.

I want to feel the bones under my skin.

How does the sun look in your eyes when you wake?

Will I ever get the chance to know that beautiful secret?

There are so many cars.

But are there as many cars as gravestones?

I would count but I don’t have the time.

My time is more important than money.

I want to lick a penny.

I want to write until the bones in my hand turn to jelly.

New York is there-

On the other side of that hill.

The wind blows all the reeds in the same direction

Except one.

A Canadian Goose stands alone by the side of the highway.

The Turkey Vulture makes fun of its long neck.

I love your long neck.

I want to bite till I draw blood.

I want you to remember me forever.

Why are people biking?

Why is everyone exercising and smoking cigarettes?

I see your face everywhere I look

But it’s only a memory and you are a stranger.

Billboards ask me questions that make me self-conscious.

I always make the wrong decisions.

Where am I going now?

Best not to ask.

It’s strange to see green again, like I don’t believe in Spring.

Soccer fields show their wear with bare patches of dirt.

How does mine show?

I am transparent.

I am a dandelion in a hurricane:

Blown Away.

I am a circle and you are a square.

I hate your corners.

I want to smooth down your edges so we can finally fit together.

I slept until Hartford where I got off to buy a coffee,

To scold my insides back to life.

Remember me: Life?

No, give me more death.

Please, I’m not ready for this shit.

I’m not ready to be surrounded by passengers asking me the same question fifty different ways.

I’m not ready to go back into the woods with two people in love

And a bunch of animals who won’t show themselves. 

Joining a Writing Group

At the beginning of the year one of my goals was to join a writing group. It is an important way not only to connect with other people who share similar interests but also to receive important feedback and critique.

Since I am not living in a big city my options are rather limited. I was surprised to find how few writing groups there are in Western Massachusetts. Here are a few that I’ve found:

Northampton, MA: I was in touch with the leader of this writing group. It is a ten-week course with weekly sessions. Each session includes a writing exercise followed by reading. However, only two people get “positive feedback only” on their writing. The other people just get to read with no feedback (otherwise, in the words of the group leader, we would be there all night). I don’t really see the point in receiving only positive feedback, but maybe some other people out there have had good experiences with this technique. I will go to a trial class in two weeks to check it out.

Amherst, MA: This is another ten-week session with weekly meetings. Writing ranges from fiction to poetry to essays. Sounds pretty interesting, but one of the things that makes me hesitate is that I would be the youngest person there, by at least two decades. I know it is important to make connections with writers of all generations, but I do feel like the age gap may make it a little harder for them to understand my writing. I’m going to a trial class this week to see what it’s like.

Hadley, MA: This is an eight-week workshop whose participants are mostly post-college writers. The spring session is focusing only on fiction, which is great. Participants will get two workshops where they share work with the class, receive line edits as well as a one-page critique of the piece. I think this will be the best group for me to join, due to the age and interest of the participants and what I can expect to receive in terms of feedback.

I am very excited to be joining this group, along with my good friend Halie Mills, whose writing of poetry and prose inspires me. I hope that being surrounded by other young writers will help give me further perspective as I continue working on my manuscript.

If any readers out there have any comments or suggestions about finding a writing group I would love to hear from you!

A Novel Idea

It hit me some time late last year. I knew what my New Years resolution for 2013 would be (and I’m not typically one for resolutions). I would finish my first novel by the end of the year. Brilliant, I thought. What a unique, interesting, admirable goal. I must get started right away.

The problem: the farther I go into this adventure, the more I realize how completely unoriginal this ambition is. I’m almost embarrassed now that I thought this would somehow be innovative, fresh, different. A young woman dropping out of the rat race to pursue her dreams. How romantic; I think I have my next book’s plot line.

It’s blown my mind seeing the community of writers out there. And the amazing thing is, what I’ve seen so far is only a minuscule fraction of what really exists. It’s been inspiring to see so many other young women following their dreams; working hard to pioneer new paths. It’s been intimidating to see so many of them thriving, growing, publishing.

Yes, it gives me hope. People do this, it happens. For some. But for how many? What I can do to give myself the best chance possible is to work hard, be patient and learn something new each day.

So far, thanks to the great online community of writers, it’s been pretty easy to do. I look forward to working with you and being inspired by you for many months to come.

The Inspiration

A comment on my last post brought to light an interesting story which I haven’t yet told. The inspiration for my novel,Club Prism, was a night from many years ago with a group of amazing girlfriends. We were in high school and we were in the habit of driving around in my car, an old Chevy Prism, listening to music, talking, smoking cigarettes.

This was a particular night, we were five in the car, I was driving. We were messed up in the way that only teenagers get messed up. The roads were empty and the words came quickly. None of us can pin point exactly how it started, but we found ourselves creating alter egos for ourselves.

Creating isn’t exactly the right word. One had the feeling that we weren’t creating as much as re-discovering. Details easily fell into place and the connections between the characters became solidified. The center of it all and the bond between them was Club Prism.

So it began. Back then there wasn’t a story, a mystery or a plot. Only a group of stunningly original, complex,  strong women. Years passed, we went off to University. We stayed friends. We all grew in our own ways and pursued our own goals. But we could never quite shake the power and magic of that night and those characters.

We found ourselves, years later, still intrigued by the alter egos. They would come up in conversations over dinner or at a bar. I felt the idea developing in my mind, to tell the story. And just like characters, it was there, without even knowing it.

I asked for my friends’ approval first. I didn’t feel right creating our story without it. When I told my friends that I wanted to turn Club Prism into a story they were both thrilled and enthusiastic.

Immortalize it, they said. And so I try.

Blizzard Blues

I am in Massachusetts in the middle of a 24 hour snow storm. Nowhere to go and nothing to do, it’s the perfect environment for writing. I look out the window and all I see are snow covered trees, snow covered ground.

Inspiration is a strange thing. Is it better to be somewhere quiet, where I can focus on my writing? Or will I find more inspiration being in a big city surrounded by multitudes of different people? What I’m hoping is to achieve the best of both worlds. Spending long weeks in the country with the occasional city binge.

I’ve been writing on and off all day. An interesting observation: I sometimes feel I write my best when I have little to no idea of what I am writing or where it is going. On the other hand, when I have a specific scene in mind, I sometimes feel myself freeze and block.

So how do you complete a novel then? If there are a certain number of scenes I know I need to complete, do I attack them head on, or do I let myself meander and eventually (or maybe not) get to them? I’m curious, how much of a novel does a writer have planned out before it’s written? How much of that plan ends up in the final product?

For the moment, I’m leaving myself open to moving in new and unanticipated directions.