It's taken me over a week to formula exactly what I want to express about life at the moment. A writer's life.
Last week, many of us were stunned into that shocked silence...not being able to put together the words to convey our sadness at the events in the centre of Paris. Although I've been to Paris at least 3 times in my life, I always seemed to parachute in for a day or two and never made it into the cathedral (just as I've never seen the inside of the Louvre). I am planning on a visit to Paris in the fall and was dismayed to hear that (my favourite way of travelling - with writers!) the Inkslinger's Retreat was scheduling a whole day in Notre Dame (cue weeping for it's not to be). Nevertheless, as writers are often called on to do, I was nudged into labelling my feelings the day after the blaze during a full day of writing (sonnets, this time) at James Dewar's monthly Poetry Sanctuary. And I did come away with 4 sonnets!
This week my brother called asking for words...My family has commissioned a set of carillon bells for the family-church steeple in the city and we've been invited to add an inscription. These bells are in dedication to my mother (who some might remember died in 2017 after a shockingly brief illness). Again, I was reminded of the grappling feeling of wordlessness. Reaching and stretching for the best words in the best order (the definition of poetry).
Much of poetic writing has focused on climate change in this past year. How to capture the emotion and the raw power in feeble words? That is the struggle of many a writer. Standing mute when it's necessary to formulate full sentences. Words are the building blocks of communication. Yet sometimes we need to take refuge in the awkward silences; the quiet practices; the stillness of nature to find those breadcrumbs...Do not be discouraged about taking that moment - that breath - that beat from which the words will spring. Those places are your sustenance.
Then, write on...
At this time of year, most of us are so starved for colour in our lives - writers as well as ordinary folks - that we bemoan any hint of further snowfall. The grass is yellowy-brown. The trees are bare. Too often rain and clouds block the sun. If the sun appears, it's watery and weak. Winds prevail. And we're just done with being patient!
Such is the writing life as well. I've been encouraging you for over a year to submit, submit, submit (your work). And with submissions come the wait. It helps if you're tracking your overloaded roster of submissions because (mostly) you'll forget that 6 months have passed; or that you never heard back (& can axe that notation, sending the work out again); or can send it out anyway, doubling-tripling up of the possibilities for that piece you're so proud of.
I expect rejections. It's how I ward off the disappointments. Then should an acceptance arrive to my inbox, oh joy! For the first time ever (several weeks ago), I had such an acceptance - a contest winner. There was joy, but also the mad scramble to inform a Lit Journal that I was pulling that poem and the replacement of the poem with another publication (since the deadline hadn't passed yet). First time angst due to simultaneous submissions...and I survived. Know that you can easily sort out any issues if your work should win something. It'll be the least of your concerns. In my case, my poem (written on the tour bus in Ireland last summer) called Rowing Across the North Atlantic has won the Calgary Poetry Contest and all the relevant paperwork has been signed for publication. These small victories are too few and far between for poets - for writers in general. But know they can be managed.
And they do add a hit of colour to this barren time of year! That and the high-octane saturation of my knitting and crochet projects...
Write on, fellow wordsmiths!
Poet. Writer. Teacher. Artist.