Essays, Misc, Stories

Stuck? Try Writing Poetry

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any new writing. There is a reason for that: busy, busy, busy relaunching my first book under my own name, busy revising the sequel so it might be ready in the new year, and well, Life keeps happening. And another thing: being in this writing group of mine has really done a number on me. 

Being primarily a genre writer it was a stretch for me to jump into a group that consisted mostly of lit-fic writers. But I wanted the challenge; I wanted to see what I could glean from the experience. It has been great, and I have learned a lot. But it has also been confusing. “Rules” that have been drilled into my head in all my learning over the years and which apply generally to genre fiction (“No head popping”, “cut out ‘to be’ verbs as much as you can”, “show don’t tell”, “pacing is key”, “make sure you hook your reader in the first chapters” amongst others) seem to be thrown out the window in favour of the story–at least that’s my take. I’m also being exposed to different types of writing I’ve not come into much contact with before (creative non-fiction, for example). So, when it comes to thinking of writing a story, suddenly I’m bombarded with a slew of  questions before I even begin: why am I writing this? Is there some larger application or meaning to this and how can that best be shown? Can I even figure out how to blend the old and the new into a comprehensive story?

From www.blogging4jobs.com
From http://www.blogging4jobs.com

None of this is bad. It’s just taking time to figure it all out and turn it into a language (voice) I can use. That’s why that ‘silly’ writing experience last week was so important to me: it reminded me why I write. I write because I like it, not because I feel I have something to prove. Since then, the stress has diminished.

Today, I wrote two poems. I don’t consider myself a poet but when Life Happens, as it has in drastic fashion over the last few weeks, I find poetry helps unblock me. They might not be great but at least creative expression is flowing. Oh, and I usually write poetry by hand. This is a tactic I usually hate, since I think faster than I write, but for poetry I find refreshing. I’ve heard it said that handwriting uses a different part of the brain and forces the brain to slow its thinking. Perhaps this is what contributes to that ‘unblocking’ alluded to before. Anyway, since this is a writing blog here’s the second of the two poems written today. Enjoy, or not. I told you, I’m not a poet 🙂

Compulsion

 

Goodbye
is holding a palmful of water,
watching crystal rivulets trickle back into
the pool from whence they
Came.

Goodbye
is standing on a mountaintop,
listening for an echo only to find
it’s been dispersed
by trailing winds.

Goodbye
is me
standing,
waiting;
while your shadow,
my essence,
passes me by.

The pieces of us
Are scattered on the floor.
I pick them up
Put each one in their designated
place.
Only they fall.
Some things
just aren’t meant
to stay together.

I dig, shovel and stack
grains of sand.
Destined to ruin
no binder
no glue, my constructions
always collapse.

Our castle I will build,
this habit I will tend.
And this goodbye,
petty and ridiculous
as a house built of sand
will remain
unfinished.

Copyright@ 2014 Dyane Forde

From completehealthcircle.com
From completehealthcircle.com
Stories

Give and Take-Short Story

NOTE: FOR AN UPDATED VERSION, DOWNLOAD (FOR FREE) THE VERSION PUBLISHED IN THE DARK HELIX EZINE.

 

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Preamble: I wasn’t planning on posting this story. It’s very personal and the idea came to me while I was watching children play on the shore during my vacation. But over the weekend, I came across a some very personal posts and stories by other people. They reminded me that everyone suffers pain and loss at times in their lives, and that as much as Life hurts, it’s important to remember that pushing through it is possible, even necessary. So, I hope you enjoy this story and are encouraged by it.

GIVE AND TAKE

castle-sand

I used to love the ocean. As a child, I would plant myself on the white, powder-fine sand and watch while the waves broke against the shore. Even then, young as I was, something about the rolling of the waves felt like magic to me. Maybe it was the planes of aqua coloured water foaming into roiling, white tips; the waves were like the sea’s breath, the surging soul of a mysterious, marine world. Sometimes, the receding dregs left gifts behind on the beach: shells, twisted driftwood or glistening jellyfish. I felt like a princess and the sea, my first and most generous lover. But that was before. I have grown up since. When I visit the sea, bits of discarded plastic are left behind for me now, and pieces of broken bottles, not jellyfish, glisten like jagged jewels in the sun.

Today, my daughter builds sandcastles and moats in the same powder-white sand I used to build in. How futile. Piling up columns of sand when the slightest misstep causes them to crumble. I sigh while pulling down the front of my sunhat against the sun’s glare and continue to reflect on my younger days. The tide always swept my projects away, leaving no sign of them behind. Still, back then half the joy was in the creation of the thing. The happiness I’d felt tempered the loss so that I didn‘t quite mind so much. Funny how our perceptions change over time.

But just as I imagined my parents had been unwilling to burst my bubble, I can’t tell my daughter the truth. I let her fill and refill the sand into various sized yellow, red and blue pails, press it all down and dump it all out, over and over. I watch in aggravated silence while she carves doomed tunnels and trenches and rebuilds the walls when the water she dumps into the canals are breeched. She is just a child. Innocent and un-phased, her world is painted in shades of aqua and sea-green and the sea god still leaves pretty pieces of shell and smooth driftwood on the beach just for her.

I settle into my beach-chair and turn my gaze to the waves. They spill onto the beach and withdraw, each time pulling along with it handfuls of sand. Ebbing and flowing, the waves take more than they bring, and the gifts they do bring are none that I want. How sad that somewhere along the way I’d unknowingly crossed the line where the blush of youthful dreams faded away and only the stark reality of adulthood glares back at me. Work, work, work. Strive, strive, strive. Build a life, tear it down, build it again…

(Fall in love.

Marry.

…Separate…

Rebuild).

I have since constructed my house on a barren beach.

Smiling and laughing, my daughter runs up to me. Sand is worked into the creases of her shorts, is packed under her nails, and all I can think of is how long it will take to get her all sorted out. But she is radiant, the joy shining through the dirt splayed over her face. Even her eyes are aglow.

“Mom!” she cries, “Did you see what I made?” Then she’s off, running down the list, providing a play by play of just how she did it. Towards the end of her telling, I begin to see a crease deepening between her brows and her eyes begin to widen with understanding. She looks from me to the beach.

Her shoulders slump.

“What is it, honey?” I ask, though I already know the answer.

She takes a minute to gather her thoughts. When she finally looks me in the face with those gorgeous, oh-so innocent brown eyes, she holds me captive. “It won’t last, will it? All that work, everything I made today, none of it will be here tomorrow. Right?”

Pressure builds in my chest. The truth rises up into my mouth but I hold it back. I can’t do it to her, not yet. Not when there is more time for play and make believe. Isn’t that what adults always lament? Not having enough time to be children?

“Honey,” I begin and then stop, still not knowing what to say yet hoping wisdom would somehow come to me.

Slipping her hand into mine, she asks, “When it’s all gone, can we rebuild it?”

Rebuild? I almost laugh, a most bitter and unpleasant laugh. Instead I say, “Sweetie, it’s late and it’s almost supper time.”

“Mom,” she insists, shaking her head. “Can we rebuild it?”

She holds my gaze. Truly, she is braver than I had given her credit for. But then, hadn’t she watched while I picked up and re-knit the tattered pieces of our lives? Hadn’t she cried with me and held my hand when the ghosts of loneliness haunted my sleepless nights? And yet even now, she still looks to me with the expectation that, somehow, I can explain the madness that is Life, as though I have the power to resolve its many discordant chords.

Shelly hands me a blue shovel, one that matches the blue bucket she carries in the other hand. “Mom?”

The tide is rising, the sound of the breaking waves growing louder in my ears. But her smile speaks louder.

Smiling back, I squeeze her hand and with the other, take the shovel she is offering. Then I lead her to a spot higher on the beach, one that is more difficult for the waves to reach.

“Yes, baby,” I say to her once we reach the spot. “Together, we will rebuild.”

Copyright@ 2013 by Dyane Forde