"Speak to me, Muse, of the adventurous man who wandered long after he sacked the sacred citadel of Troy.Many the men whose towns he saw, whose ways he proved; and many a pang he bore in his own breast at sea while struggling for his life and his men's safe return." ~ Homer, The Odyssey
The pretty young woman took a step toward the microphone. She told us that she wished it wasn’t so hot in the bookstore. Her voice was almost hushed. She said she would read to us the beginning and end of her poem. She would skip the middle for now, since it was a long poem and she didn’t want to take too much time. She riffled through the pages, looked up, and tasered us.
A shot right to the heart. She told a story with her words that hurt to hear, but the words were so beautifully formed that the pain itself was beautiful. We were riveted to our folding chairs. You could have heard a pin drop on the concrete floor. We were there, with the characters as they struggled through the situation she described. Her words, her pages, took the clay of her experience and fashioned something meaningful from it. The vessel she formed held a treasure - her soul, not just on the page but hanging in the air, the essence of her humanness, in her own voice. She did more than tell a story - she breathed her humanity out into the void between us, and it changed me as a listener. Struck with 50,000 volts, barely able to catch my breath. I won’t forget the feeling or the poet - her experience, through her poetry, became my experience. She had taken the events of her life and out of it, fashioned something exquisite.
Certainly every poem does not connect that way with every reader. When a poem does connect that way, it brings a sudden blast of someone else’s soul so close to your own that they touch for a moment. In a room filled with appreciative listeners, a powerful poem connects us all.
Nigerian poet Chinua Achebe wrote, “The triumph of the written word is often attained when the writer achieves union and trust with the reader, who then becomes ready to be drawn deep into unfamiliar territory, walking in borrowed literary shoes, so to speak, toward a deeper understanding of self or society, or of foreign peoples, cultures, and situations.” Good poetry can do that with just a few words. Whether it is written in chapters or in stanzas, by someone in Nigeria or ancient Greece or midtown Sacramento, good writing draws us deep into unfamiliar territory. And through that process of connecting to someone else’s experience, we are forever changed.
I am very excited about the books that arrived today. Research for two projects upon which I am working simultaneously.
There are some great photos at Blaine Franger's website. He is a photographer in Hood River, Oregon. His photos from the Sea of Cortez (otherwise known as the Sea of Cortés) are amazing. My favorite is the puffer fish.
This is my first blog post. Honestly, I want to blog about the creative process, the publishing process, and the tremendous high that comes from realizing that I have new readers all over the world.
But the fact is, blogging about it would keep me from writing the next book. So I am going to make this one short and sweet, and I promise to write more later.
If you are a writer, my advice to you is KEEP WRITING. Life really does get in the way, and sometimes you have to do things other than write. Put words on the page, and keep going back to add more words. Eventually you get to the words "THE END." And then you begin the rewriting process.
W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."
From where I sit, there is one rule for writing a novel. You must begin, and then you must continue.
That counts as two rules. Two down, one to go. Now, back to that chapter that is still unfinished ...