The Cat Looks at You Upside Down

IM IN UR GARAGE SCRAMBLIN UR EGGZ

My dearest, most venerable inklings,

Yesterday was Memorial Day. To celebrate this, the husband and I spent four days together with family members, installing hardwood flooring in the husband’s parents’ house. Here are a few moments that happened during that time:

  • My brother-in-law practiced his baseball swing by hitting wood bees with a 2×4.
  • For the first time ever, I cooked scrambled eggs on a griddle. Nothing bad happened. Yay!
  • I deepened my recently acquired addiction to “Angry Birds.” *sigh*
  • There were copious amounts of homemade blackberry cobbler. With homegrown blackberries.
  • We celebrated a high school graduation.
  • We ate our meals at a picnic table in the garage.
  • I chiseled pieces of flooring down to size, which reawakened my slumbering love for wood cuts.
  • Flying roaches and cups of coffee are not a good combination.

    All of that to say: This is my Official 50th Blog Post. One would think I’d mark the occasion by crafting something of cramazing brilliance.

    But, nay. As far as substance, that list up there is about all you’re gonna get on my blog today, because after being out-of-town with sketchy Internet service for four days, I am now in the process of catching up with my life.

    We’re entering serious hypocrisy here, kids. Do as I say, not as I do:

    Write yourself a cushion of blogposts, that you might not be without substance when comes The Day of Greater Catching Up Busyness.

     
    I don’t have a cushion of blog posts.

    Instead, here’s a picture of my older cat, Pippin. Yippee!

    Peregrin 'Pippin' Took Cantrell

    My Congress with a Fickle Woman

    This post originally appeared yesterday on Unstressed Syllables. Maybe I’m a cheat to re-post it here — but I thought my Court Can subscribers might like a chance to read my latest adventure, too.

    Near Chickasha, Oklahoma

    In case you haven’t heard, we Oklahomans had some excitement this past Tuesday.

    50 Humans, 5 Cats, 4 Dogs, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree*

    Said excitement is how I ended up in the basement of the church building across the street, wondering if I’d still have a neighborhood when I emerged, much less an apartment.

    It was stuffy; it was crowded. There were leggy preteen girls running up and down the basement corridor. The whole place was crawling with people I didn’t know. (And if you know me, you know that’s not my favorite type of social situation.)

    When we arrived, a woman thrust a blanket-wrapped bundle into my friend Brian’s arms and said, “Will you hold him? I have to go to the bathroom, I’m so scared.” As she hurried away, we unwrapped the bundle. I thought it was going to be a baby. It was some kind of scrawny terrier with mournful eyes and long mustaches.

    Ed, my husband, is an amateur radio operator (aka ham), so he glued his ear to his radio as we hunkered in the hallway. Brian retrieved a map of Oklahoma City, and we pored over it, looking for the county names coming in over the airwaves. Logan. Canadian. McClain. When I heard mention of the western part of Oklahoma County, I realized I was clenching my teeth.

    We’re in Oklahoma County.

    10 for 10 — But I Can’t Count on It

    Since Ed and I moved here three-and-a-half years ago, we’ve had a tornado scare every spring. And without fail, every time there’s a tornado headed our way, it lifts somewhere west of us and passes us by.

    The same thing happened on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. We huddled in that basement for an hour, while the temperature rose, the humidity increased, and the dander of unfamiliar pets got my sinuses draining. (Yum.) A tornado touched down to the south (and I said a silent prayer for Moore and Norman). My heart ached as the radio told us of massive destruction in Piedmont to the north.

    But the tornado coming up from Chickasha (and it might be the one in the picture above; I don’t know) never reached us. I don’t know if it blew itself out, or if it’s the one that touched down to the south. Either way, we got an “all-clear” of sorts. We gathered up our two terrified cats and went home. After the tornado sirens, the near-silence was a blaring siren all by itself.

    Once again, nature’s devastation passed us by. There’s a lake less than a mile west of our area, so maybe the temperature change around the lake has something to do with it. I don’t know. I only know that so far, every time a tornado has headed straight for us, it has spared us.

    But Mother Nature’s a capricious lady. I know I can’t trust her. She’s beautiful, always. Even in the midst of tornadic destruction, I recognize the raw beauty in that unimaginable power. But I’ll watch her from a distance, thank you. If she glances in my direction, I’m taking cover.

    Don’t look at me, Mother Nature. I’m just a bug, I promise — never worthy of your closer attentions.

    Moral of the Story

    What does all of this have to do with writing? Nothing, really.

    Oh, you can draw conclusions, if you like, about the application of fear and adventure to the writing process. “Remember these emotions,” I might tell myself. “Lean on them when your characters are in trouble.”

    Or, I could advise us all to observe people during a crisis and use those observations for character development. Really, I gleaned something from Tueday’s adventure about every part of the writing process.

    But today, I’m not thinking about any of that. I’m thinking about the families who lost loved ones. I’m thinking about the people in Piedmont whose homes now resemble piles of broken matchsticks. I’m thinking of the devastation in Joplin, Missouri (they got hit far worse on Sunday night).

    I’m thinking about how control is an illusion. I’m thinking about how I’m not the one in charge, and I never will be.

    ______________________

    *Some assembly required.

    The Convergence of Rattlesnakes, Angels, and Corsets

    Illuminated Van Gogh by Liz Cail McElroy

    You might not know this, my dear inklings — but I am involved in a grand scheme to change the world.

    I know. It’s hard to imagine that an artsy culture-geek such as I would be so idealistic as to want to alter even an iota of her environment. But, alas and alack, I’m too air-headed to leave well enough alone. Hence, just over a year ago, I embarked with fellow artsy geeks upon a quest to fiddle with reality until said reality suits us.

    This quest, me hearties, operates under the name The Consortium, and I encourage you to read more about it here. The basic premise is that we, the Consortium, want to change the world by supporting artists. Supporting artists supports the arts. Supporting the arts changes the world. And there you have it. Egad, Brain.

    A patron studies Forever In The Lion's Eye by Courtney Cantrell

    Better Than GroupThink

    The Consortium has officially existed since November 2010, and this past Saturday, we had our first official function: The First Annual Consortium Arts Fundraiser. This is important because it was the first time all of our artists came together to work on one gigantic project. Much firstness and officialdom!

    Over the past year, two writers, an editor, two photographers, a graphic designer, and a project coordinator collaborated to publish three books (one of them is mine, hint hint). ; ) Our director of marketing got us an article in a newspaper. We have multiple other projects in development, involving musicians, computer programmers, copy writers, and voice actors.

    We’ve got a passion for producing — everything.

    The One Where I Sold Three Paintings

    So, we’ve got our fingers in all these yummy, creative pies…but this past weekend was the first time we got into the same pie together. (Ooh La La; Or: This Is Getting Interesting.) We put on a fundraiser: an art contest and silent auction.

    And it was CRAMAZING.

    We had a life-size rattlesnake sculpture. We had a painting of a world-traveling octopus. The Craftivists, our artsy allies in Topeka, donated a purple lace window illustrating the dangers of corsets. Poetry submissions represented the written arts.

    Bill Weger sings They Call the Wind Maria

    Photographers extraordinaire Julie and Carlos Velez set aside their cameras and entertained us with song by means of ukulele and guitar. Two Consortium members elicited much laughter with a performance of the classic skit “Who’s on First?” And a professional opera singer, whose voice has entertained audiences as far away as Germany and the Philippines, regaled us with “They Call the Wind Maria.”

    I don’t know the numbers of how many pieces sold at auction or how many votes were cast for the winning entries of the art contest. But I do know that three of my paintings sold for more than I’d ever hoped to get for any of my art.

    (One painting was a portal into an otherworldly realm; another, a larger-than-life lion’s eye; and the third, a translucent angel. Seeing those pieces go to new homes has made my fingers itch without ceasing for my paintbrushes!)

    Carlos and Julie Velez, lookin' artsy.

    Why You Should Give a Small Rodent’s Posterior

    Actually, scratch that. We don’t want donations of rat tushies. For one thing, it would leave too many rats in a rather awkward position. Also, we’re not into maiming animals. (Although there was that incident with the platypus–)

    *ahem*

    But seriously. Dudes. You should care about all of this because, if you’re reading my blog in the first place, you already have an interest in (the) art(/s). You already care about how art affects the world and how it affects your world.

    And the Consortium, my lovely art-lover, is all about affecting your world in wondrous ways. The Consortium is all about enhancing your world, your culture, your life. Our fundraiser was our first collective step from the breathless, anticipatory shadows into the light.

    We are here. We are visible. We’re ready to make something happen. We are making things happen. And if you’re reading this, then the ripples are already touching you.

    There. You feel that? That’s the first tiny nudge.

    Support the artists to support the arts. The Consortium is doing wonders, people — and lemme tell ya, these pies are finger-lickin’ good.

    The Consortium in cramazing hats!

    10 Free Blog Post Ideas to Use as Thou Wilt

    Not only that, but I also got a great new profile pic from Julie V. Photography

    Or: In Which I Have Way Too Much Fun Taking Screenshots of Twitter

    Apparently, dear inklings, I am in listing mode. By which I do not mean that I am a boat. But I do mean that I’m currently (ha! ha!) about writing lists.

    LISTS! YES! Give me list-ery, or give me death!

    *ahem*

    I don’t know what just happened.

    Anyway. Last week, I listed 33 Questions. On Tuesday, I listed 10 Novel-Writing no-nos. (Don’t do those no-nos, or cute things all the way on the other side of the universe will die.) Yesterday on Unstressed Syllables, I listed a googolplex of writing inspirations.

    Today, my luvs, I shall list 10 blog post titles. These titles are for you. You may use them however you like. It would mega-cramazing if, when you use them, you’d link back to me so I can come read what you wrote in response to my titles.

    If you don’t link back to me, I will send my legion of Evil Elves to tattoo “I’m a nerd” on your forehead.

    So here ya go. Have at it, and have fun!

    10 Blog Post Ideas for My Readers

    (That was the first one.)

    The following two titles resulted from a Twittersation with one Dean Carlton (@DinoCarlton), which went something like this:

     
     
     
     
    All of which inspired this post you’re reading right now and leads me to the next two blog post title ideas:

    5 Ways to Edify the Twitter Kitchen

     

    101 Ways to Wok the Twitter-Bird

     
    Moving right along… 

    The Blogging Habits of 13th-Century Monks

     

    How to Please Everyone on the Internet (Even Your Mom)*

     

    All Dressed Up and No Place to Blog

     

    50 Ways to Leave Your Blogger

     

    Why Grocery Shopping Is the 9th Circle of Hell

     

    Fruit Flies Like a Banana

    Subtitled: And Other Linguistic Shenanigans
     

    When Good Velociraptors Go Bad

     

    And there you got it, sugar. Ten blog post ideas to vex, befuddle, and inspire you. No substitutions, exchanges, or refunds. And please do let me know how you make use of these!

    Ooooh! And if you have some fun blog post titles of your own to share, list ’em in the comments! ;oD

    ________________
    *For the record, I don’t actually believe it’s possible to please everyone, on the Internet or otherwise. But I’d love to see a whopping sarcastic post to go with this title. ; )

    Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

    10 Ways to Really Write an Awful Novel

    In this post, I’m going to tell you how to write a bad novel. And by bad, I do not mean the more-than-implied badness of the tweet with which Josh Unruh executed #TweetVengeance upon me yesterday:

    *ahem*

    Instead of that sort of badness, I bring you the badness of truly horrid writing. Because, really — there are so many cramazing, beautiful works of written art out there, you don’t want to be like all of them, do you?

    I didn’t think so.

    (This is going to make some of you very sad. But it’s for your own good, I promise.)

    10 Ways to Really Write a Truly Awful Novel

     

    1. Never read.

    Novels, short stories, magazines, newspapers, poetry journals — reading all of that stuff is way overrated. You have your own style, your own voice. You don’t need anyone else’s examples of writing to clutter up your thinking.

    2. Only write when you’re inspired.

    You wouldn’t want to tax yourself. Writing is supposed to be fun and flowing and brilliant all the time.

    3. When writing dialogue, never use the word “said.”

    Instead, use booed, chuckled, hissed, demanded, muttered, mused, mumbled, other verbs starting with “m,” protested, retorted, agreed, and so forth.

    These beautifully complicate your writing. Besides, you need these tags because your readers can’t figure out your character’s tone, and they can’t do that because you:

    4. Never stay in character.

    There’s too much noise in this world already. What? Your characters don’t need distinctive voices! It’s much safer and easier on the brain if you make them all sound happily the same.

    Besides, crafting unique voice is what our plethora of dialogue tags is for.

    5. Writing a novel, your participles should absolutely dangle.*

    Having gone to the store, the groceries cost $20.
    Cleaning the house, the broom handle broke.
    Frolicking on the lawn, the lumberjack watched the kittens.

    6. Do what I did in the title of this post: Split infinitives.

    In case you don’t know, a split infinitive is when you conveniently take an infinitive verb such as to write and insert a word between to and write. There are reasons why this is a bad thing to do, but let’s not talk about what they are.

    In fact while, we’re talking points 5 and 6 just don’t pay attention to any rules of grammar spelling or punctuation, while your writing. Grammar does nothing for clearly communicating with you’re reader’s. Especially you should ignore, correct apostrophe usage; definitely insert things like “This gift is from the Smith’s” instead of “This gift is from the Smiths.” Oh and definatly every comma in this paragraph, is incorrect.

    7. Mix your metaphors.

    Every main character who knows his stuff will bite the bullet up his sleeve. She’ll cut off her nose to go out on a limb. If you don’t mix your metaphors, you’ll be a small fish to fry in a big pond. But if you do it right, you’ll really be living high on the hog while the sun shines.

    8. Use lots of adverbs.

    Fortunately, I’ve been giving you a terrific example of this throughout this blog post. The more adverbs you use, the more overwhelmingly receptively your audience will respond to your story. And if you pair an adverb with a non-said dialogue tag, your audience is likely to chorus enthusiastically, “Butterflies wouldn’t melt in your stomach!”

    9. Don’t prepare or do prewriting of any sort.

    That way, when you get to the end, you’ll run out of ideas, and those pesky plot twists won’t bother your readers so much.

    10.

    _______________________

    *Writing a novel, your participles should absolutely dangle. = The participles write the novel.
    Having gone to the store, the groceries cost $20. = The groceries went to the store.
    Cleaning the house, the broom handle broke. = The broom handle cleaned the house.
    Frolicking on the lawn, the lumberjack watched the kittens. = The lumberjack frolicked on the lawn.

    And after that, he beat the writer to a pulp.

    33 Questions for My Readers

    You mustn’t always believe what I say. Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer.

    –Pablo Picasso

    Okay, my dear inklings. This one was inspired by Michael Martine, Remarkablogger, who apparently keeps a tiny camera tucked into the the folds of my brain and blogs answers to my questions before I know I have questions.

    Without further ado or adon’t: I have questions for you, my dears. Pick a few and share your thoughts in the comments. Or answer all the questions, if you dare. Or ask some of your own. Who knows what might happen if you people start talking to each other as well as to me? ; )

    Mac or PC?

    WordPress or Blogger?

    Disqus or Livefyre?

    Facebook or Twitter?

    Blog or e-zine?

    Chicken or the egg?

    Novels or short stories?

    Poetry or journal?

    Paper or plastic?

    Tea or coffee?

    Cream or sugar?

    IHOP or Denny’s?

    Restaurant or home-cooked?

    Faith or religion?

    Values or beliefs?

    Parachuting or deep-sea diving?

    iPhone or Android?

    Data or Spock?

    Kirk or Picard?

    Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Klingons or Wookiees?

    Jack Bauer or Chuck Norris?

    Bauer or MacGyver?

    MacGyver or Jones?

    Early bird or night owl?

    Dogs or cats?

    Oceans or mountains?

    Jungle or desert?

    Speaking or listening?

    Silence or sound?

    Stillness or movement?

    Inward or outward?

    Questions or answers?

    And, above all: WHY?

    When The Salmon Speaks, Do You Listen?

    This made sense when I drew it. I swear.

    Or: The One That Got Away

    Last night, Trish and Becca came over to help me select a few of my paintings to donate to the Consortium’s art fundraiser. Afterward, Becca and I chatted about all things artsy, including noveling and blogging.

    As I was replacing paintings on my overloaded art shelves, Becca said, “I almost had this great idea for a new story…but it didn’t quite materialize, and now I can’t remember it.”

    I nodded in sympathy, having experienced such non-remembering of ideas more times than I care to not-forget. For a few moments, we discussed the merits of Writing Things Down, and then I remembered something.

    “You know,” I said, “I just remembered something. I read somewhere that if we don’t quite remember a story idea, then maybe it wasn’t a valid story idea after all. If it really is The One, it’ll probably pop up again, even if we don’t write it down.”

    Story Ideas Eat My Worms

    Grandpa used to take us kids fishing every summer when my parents and I congregated with aunts, uncles, and cousins at the grandparental home in Oklahoma. We’d go out to a family friend’s property and fish from this rickety, ancient, sagging wooden bridge (which was okay for the ’80s but probably wouldn’t hold water [ha ha] with any safety standard of today).

    Sometimes, we caught a fish, and there was much rejoicing, since Grandpa would be the one to clean it. Most times, though, we’d feel a twitch on our line, yank our fishing pole back, and reel in nothing but a soggy, half-eaten worm who was definitely not having a good day. Those crafty fish knew just how much to nibble without getting themselves in trouble. Which goes to show that a catfish is smarter than a 9-year-old human.

    Last night, after Becca went home, I had an absolutely cramazing idea for a blog post.

    I didn’t write it down.

    This morning, I woke up not to a bright, sparkly new idea — but to a half-eaten, soggy, grumpy worm.

    Big Fish Story

    No! It really was that big! I promise!

    I remember things about that blog post idea. It was gonna be smart, it was gonna be snarky-funny, and it was gonna give you dear inklings some great how-to-do-something info. That unwritten, now much-lamented blog post was going to be one of my best yet. It was gonna be The One.

    It got away.

    So now, I’m asking myself: Was that really The One? If it were The One, wouldn’t it have stuck around? Since all I ended up with was mangled bait, does that mean the Big One is still lurking out there somewhere?

    And that thought leads to the image of me, wading out into the deep and getting half a leg bitten off by something that I wouldn’t have wanted on my line in the first place.

    Ideas can be scary. Some of them have sharp teeth and are big enough to swallow you whole. They wait out there where it’s dark and deep, and oh, they move fast. I picture them as deep-sea angler fish the size of a VW Beetle.

    Gone Fishin’

    So, if you clicked through to that angler fish picture, you’ve now seen one of my greatest fears. Angler fish fascinate me — mostly because I find the sight of them terrifying. (Imagine my surprise and relief when, a few years back, I found out they’re about the size of my hand. Or smaller. No VWs, thank goodness.)

    But, in spite of my fear, I still go fishin’. No, I’ve never fished out on the ocean — but even when I’m standing on the bank of a placid Oklahoma lake, my imagination supplies the endlessly deep water and the lurking, fishy creepazoids, thank you very much. Those shiver-your-spine thoughts don’t deter me from fishing…

    …but still, let’s just say I’ll never become a noodler. ; )

    Gone Writin’

    So, what about this write-it-or-lose-it thing? Honestly, I can’t tell ya. I carry my scribblebook with me almost everywhere, and I’m always jotting down something. Are they all viable ideas? No. I’ve stuck a few soggy worms in there. Sometimes, the simple act of writing myself a note tells me that I won’t be looking at this idea again.

    But still, I write ’em down, even if they’re nothing but water-logged mush. Because if I don’t write it down, I’ll always remember that flash of fin, that brief flick of a tail, and I’ll always wonder,

    Was that The One?

    ______________________

    And you, dear inklings? Do you keep a scribblebook? How faithful are you in recording those half-glimpsed ideas?

    Or do you prefer the scribble-on-scraps technique of trapping those elusive ideas?

    If you don’t capture an idea, do you choose to believe it wasn’t viable in the first place?

    My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    There is a children’s book which, sadly, I have never read. It is Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

    Although my English teacher mother and my bibliophile father kept me in English-language books whilst I was growing up in Germany, they seem to have missed this one somehow. I arrived at college in Oklahoma in 1996 to find fellow students referencing this little book all over the place. This book, and the film The Princess Bride. I didn’t know what anyone was talking about.

    In the interim, I’ve seen The Princess Bride about a bajillion times — but I’ve never gotten around to getting my hands on Alexander’s story. For my purposes today, however, all I need to know about his story is the title and the cover art. I can extrapolate pretty well: Alexander’s day is starting out sucky and it’s just getting worse.

    (On a side note, my fingers keep wanting to type “Aleksandr.” Apparently, I am Russian today. Yeah, baba.)

    My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Wednesday

    Yesterday, I could relate all too well to Alexander’s story. It all started when I poured my coffee, zested it up with Truvia, and then opened the fridge — only to discover that there was no milk in any form. No cow, no goat, no almond.

    I cannot drink coffee without some form of milk. My tastebuds haven’t the constitution for the purely black stuff.

    So. No coffee for Courtney. If you know me at all, you know that this was pretty much THE harbinger of Doom.

    The doomish trend continued when I settled in to work out our monthly budget, which I do at the start of every month.

    NOTE TO SELF:

    Never do a budget without having fortified self with coffee.

    I shan’t divulge my budgeting details, ’cause that’s nunya. ; ) However, I will say that upon close review, the finances looked worse than I’d anticipated. In fact, I’d been anticipating good stuff. There wasn’t any. Just bad stuff. I slumped in my chair, rubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands, and plodded on.

    Things got worse when I opened a bill, and it was medical, and it was unexpected, and it was for several hundred dollars, and I don’t think I should have to pay it. A phone call confirmed my fear that the only way to get out of it will be to haggle with the insurance company that hasn’t provided our insurance in almost a year.

    The only haggling I enjoy is the haggling one does with European vendors who don’t speak one’s language.

    Yes. I would rather stand in a dirty, open-air market and argue over trinkets at the top of my lungs with an irate vendor who is trying to cheat me and whose language I don’t speak than have a phone conversation in English with an insurance company.

    But that’s beside the point.

    The point is that by now, I was bawling in horrid frustration over my budget forms. This was followed in quick succession by slamming the back of my head into the corner of the kitchen cabinet and then poking myself in the eye with a fingernail.

    My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

    In Which Things Get Better

    Since Judith Viorst’s book was published in the more innocent, less snarky age of 1987, I’m assuming Aleksandr’s story has a happy ending and a Moral To The Story. (Word.)

    My happy ending came in the form of a phone call from my mother. (How do mothers always know?) She said, “Daddy and Grandpa stopped at Sonic on their way home, and Daddy paged through a Gazette while they ate. Here’s what he found… .”

    What Daddy found was an article in the Oklahoma Gazette. And the article was about my book.

    As a placeholder for what you’re reading right now, I posted the following on my blog yesterday:

    Odds bodkins and gadzooks! My novel is in today’s Oklahoma Gazette!

    Read article “Write-hand view” by Danny Marroquin.

    Cramazing!

     

    Every Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Has Its Silver Lining

    And that, my dear inklings, is your Moral To The Story.

    Are you having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?

    I’ve minimized a lot of my worries through witticism and sarcasm in this post. I won’t minimize yours. If you’re struggling with something more serious than budgeting woes and bumps on the head, my prayers and good thoughts are with you. I understand that there is darkness so deep, silver linings aren’t visible. (I’ve been there.)

    But if you’re just having a bad day — what’s your silver lining?

    It doesn’t have to be something like your first novel’s cover art in the newspaper. (Although that’s pretty freakin’ cool, lemme tell ya.) Your pick-me-up might be a literal ray of sunshine. A smile from a stranger. A call from a friend.

    Or maybe it’s chocolate. I ate a lot of that yesterday, too. ; )

    How do you turn a bad day around? Let’s talk.

    Poetry Sucks, Beats, and Twists

    As I’ve mentioned before, the time when I wasn’t noveling was one of the most depressing, despairing times I’ve ever gone through.

    The good news is that the experience led to one of the most uplifting, life-changing conclusions I’ve ever reached:

    If I want to feel content, if I want to be able to function like a human being, then I have to be writing stories.

    I have to be writing novels.

    It’s what I was created to do — and if I’m not doing it, I start falling apart.

    But.

    Poetry Is Like a Vacuum Cleaner

    There is another side to this story. Over the last year, I’ve realized that the more I immerse myself in my novels, the more my poetry sucks.

    When I was 12, I pulled a book off my mom’s shelf: How Does A Poem Mean? by John Ciardi. In his book, he talks some of the hows of turning emotion and experience into words. I didn’t understand all of it, but what I did understand made me sit down and start poetizing. I haven’t stopped since.

    Poetry Is Like a Heartbeat

    In an address at Brigham Young University in 1963, Ciardi also spoke these lines of pure beauty:

    Poetry is not inherently moral or immoral. It is like a heartbeat. There is no moral or immoral heartbeat.

     

    Poetry Is Like a Car Engine

    My very best poetry has come out of my darkest days. When I’m at my most miserable, my poetry is at its most touching and most resonant.

    So, in a way, it’s a trade-off: When I’m noveling, I feel good. When I feel good, I can’t write a lot of poetry. The stories and the poems come from two different places. Or maybe it’s the same place, but the Muse chooses different tools to hand me.

    I tinker. I twist. I turn and twirl with my tools, and sometimes I even tintinnabulate. Sometimes, after my twistinnabulation (howzat for poetic?), things start running smoothly. By which I mean they’re gritty and fundamental and from-the-heart bloody.

    That’s when my poetry is beautiful.
    ____________________________

    Do you write poetry?

    Do you want to write poetry, but you think you can’t?

    Oh honey, please tell me you didn’t listen to someone who told you that you can’t. If that’s the case, we need to talk.

    Writers of various genri*: Do you novel better than you poetize? Poetize better than you journal? Journal better than you prosate?

    What makes the difference? Interest level? Emotional state? Mental condition?

    The comments are yours, sweetlings. Let’s conversate. ; )
    ____________________________

    *One genre, two genri, I always say.