18 October, 2006


I have violated three Wednesdays in a row in the name of business. The first was a freelance pr piece, because I needed the money. The second was a make-up day with my regular client, because I needed the money. Last Wednesday started out with a round of essay submissions to various editors, and working on the new banner design for my non-fiction prose blog, Notes to Self.

I woke up this morning with a grim determination to Write Poems. Then I popped over to Keri's place on a recommendation from friend, and was reminded that it doesn't work that way. My poetself is sick and starving at the moment. You can count her rib bones. I could probably wring something out of her with the sweatshop approach, but she'd eventually collapse, escape or stage a mutiny.

Keri writes, "Oh, how we pressure ourselves...Who would you be if you stopped trying so hard? Contemplate that just for a moment. Sit with it if you dare. What if you didn't produce a thing for the next while? "

Reading this, I felt like tipping my head to one side. I was like the dog in the old Gary Larson cartoon, "What Dogs Hear". "Blah blah blah Ginger. Blah blah Ginger. Blah blah." I could recognize my name in it, but the rest was foreign. Not produce? Like, intentionally, without guilt?

It might take me a while.

In the meantime, Keri's mention of filling her house with the smells of curry and incense inspired me. That I can do. And, come to think of it, need to do.

I have been struggling these past few months, with ego, ambition, expectations and desire. I'm not done struggling. I am going to clutch those things a little longer, maybe until my palms bleed. I don't know yet how to release them. I have felt terrible about it, too, because I "should" know better. (Apparently, the same sweatshop boss who runs my creative life doubles as my spiritual director). I castigate myself for coming down with this soulsickness, when what I need to do is nurture myself while it runs its course.

I can't heal it. But I can be healed.

So today I am invoking the kitchen gods. The curry is simmering. I have baked almond cookies. Sunshine is streaming over the sink. In a moment I will set the table for two, and invite Patrick to take a lunch break with me.

Then I might go for a long, long walk, with Keri's suggestion folded up carefully in my heart like a note from a schoolmate written in secret code.


Blogger bluebird of paradise said...


11:46 AM  
Anonymous SBird said...

The last time I wrote a new poem was the first week of December last year. I have only one more published poem coming out soon, then I am dry on the journal scene. I am trying not to let this bother me. I've been trying for a long time.

Those psychological hooligans you mention--ego, ambition, etc.--are tough company to keep. I'm not sure I have any wise words...curry, maybe.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowing that I was and never will be as talented at you, the last time I wrote poetry and was published was in 1991. I walked away from it for a mariad of reasons, none that seem sensible today. When my mother was dying I wrote several poems instantly almost in a fog. I live in fear of the emotion attached to the work, too much to feel. I respect your honesty, you make me want to write again.

You have the soul of a poet. I hope you never stop even if it takes a long time.

Jen K-C

7:07 PM  
Blogger Kel said...

hmmm, many things are violated because we need the money

funnily enough money is so often attached to ego, ambition and success

but there is also balance, to maintain a sense of self, to take pride in one's work and creativity, to know that you are valued and valuable

which you are :)

9:30 PM  
Blogger K. said...

Jen, your comment came moments after a rejection letter from a query for another project that's been hanging out there for quite a while. I really needed to hear what you said.



10:23 PM  
Anonymous jenlemen said...

lovely, true and desperately needed.
thank you for this. i will dig out the kitchen and make some curry-ish myself.

lots of love,

8:22 PM  
Anonymous jenlemen said...

something, something curry-ish. maybe after i sleep. :)

8:23 PM  
Blogger (Ni)mo.Ni said...

I think what Keri's saying is: "Don't force" creativity ?
Dunno if it'll help, but when we have to write a poem for Creative Writing class with a "by the end of the period" deadline, they almost always turn out crappy. The best ones are when we actually feel the poem coming on.

1:13 PM  

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