I’m not a very consistent writer. I never have been. To sit down and write at the same time every day doesn’t come naturally to me. Whether I’m working on a book, drafting a blog or creating copy for a client, there are times when the words will not come no matter how long I stare at the computer screen. I can find myself writing, then rewriting the same sentence to no avail. It will still be crap until I finally abandon the exercise and stomp off to another part of the house, muttering with frustration.
But there will be times when the ideas simply flow through me and onto the pages so quickly there is almost a word pile-up as my fingers struggle to keep up. That’s when I am thankful for the strict edicts of my year 10 typing teacher Miss Dunn who taught me to touch-type on an electric typewriter back in the 80s – yes, I am that old.
Those times of natural creative flow are so effortless and when it’s done, I always know it is good. Or at least, it meets my own exacting standards of good.
My Muse is annoyingly elusive though and can disappear for hours, days or weeks. But she has vehemently demanded my attention when I’ve been in the throes of abject misery – recovering from heartbreak or struggling with anxiety and despair. She often thrives in those environments of emotional turmoil and my creativity can feel almost uncontrollable. I once felt her call every night for a few short months. More than 200 poems, some several pages long, were the result.
A colleague once showed me pictures of the huge, beautiful canvasses she would paint when depressed. “When I’m happy, I can’t paint a thing,” she said. A lot of artists will tell you their creativity thrives when they are in emotional pain. Perhaps that is the Universe’s way of giving us a helping hand in difficult times – giving us something to cling to as we ride the glutenous seas around us and try desperately not to drown in the darkness.
Pain has certainly sparked my creativity many times but living a life that is inspiring has done the same. I can remember years ago, leaving my Monday night university class where I taught a bunch of smart, eager students who couldn’t wait to learn, travelling home, walking in my front door, grabbing my laptop then hurrying out to my back deck where I would write a blog in 20 minutes or less. The energy of my students was so inspiring that my Muse was jumping with joy.
Over the last few weeks I have started to hear the whisper of the Muse in my ear once again. I was afraid she had died or disappeared forever. I’m thankful she has not.
Half-formed ideas now occasionally bob to the surface of my consciousness before disappearing once more. But knowing they are there, is enough to make me feel hopeful that the creative tap is beginning to drip.
I am not struggling with despair but I am consciously seeking out the inspirations of books and art and passionate conversations. Perhaps this shift has heralded the Muse’s return? Only time will tell.
In the back of my first book The Men I’ve Almost Dated, I included some poems from my next book, The Madness of Love. The poetry collection is best described as an enticing concoction of reality, fantasy and other-worldly insight. It asks the reader to find the line between madness and love. I’m now curating those poems for publication. Here is another one entitled Egg on Her Face. Can you relate?
Focus on the feelings you felt, she said Not the man you know who gave them But when I did all I could do Is think of the man who raised them
I realised then The drama created Was always derived from me My expectations of being trampled on Let my fear run away with me.
All I wished for now it seemed Was his stillness and his light The feeling that all was well Of calmness with no strife
His air, just present His eyes so kind And frequently warmly smiling While making me laugh I’ve never felt so torn As I do now When I think back And realise what I’ve done I helped create the current stance In fact, I loaded the gun
He had played his part It’s true He had driven it home But I, oh God I couldn’t believe Just what my fear had done All was well Until I lost My way and all perspective And then all he and I could do Was drown in the invective As we rocked from side to side Carried on unsteady waves Of fear, anxiety, never confidence I behaved just like a babe
He had called me so naïve Was that for trusting him But perhaps my real issue Was actually me, not him
He had turned away from me Because I did not stand I had not yet put myself first Fear had the upper hand I did not stand in my power I was quite simply Just all over the place The thought that I had caused him pain Simply left me with egg on my face.
The brick wall was coated with Teflon It stood there staring back Everything she threw at it It just kept sliding back
So she walked around the side To see what she could see But all she could see was more Teflon As far as the eye could see
Eventually she lay down And stared up at the sky The Teflon shadow stretching over her There was nothing else that she could try To shift the weight It pinned her down She was gasping her last breath Or so she thought Then something moved And she got up instead
She knew there were cracks Not far inside That Teflon-covered wall But it wasn’t up to her to budge it It wasn’t up to her at all
She put on her hat She put on her shoes And left her calling card Well actually truth be told She left more than several cards She stuck her cards With super glue All over that God-damn wall Those cards they stuck Didn’t even move in the breeze They weren’t going anywhere at all And every time She passed by She simply stuck on another That God-damn wall would have to collapse She wasn’t giving up No she wasn’t, my brother
But that wall Was fucking determined It liked the safety of Teflon But she didn’t care About any of that She didn’t care about the Teflon She’d keep leaving Her calling card It was printed in colours of light That wall it didn’t stand a chance Against all that beautiful light
Eventually the Teflon would be consumed By the light of those sweet cards The black would fade To leave all the cracks All the indelible scars
She would run her fingers through them All those faulty lines She would reach deep within Or maybe not Who could surmise What would happen When the Teflon left And revealed all that was hidden So much love So well-protected So hidden from normal vision
Perhaps she would just know it was there As days turned weeks turned months Her life expanding And then contracting Seeking always love
But walls are harsh So very hard Wiser ones would say But it’s the cracks that lie deep within I love them she would say
Life is full of faults and pain And some use that Teflon To repel all other advances They prefer to keep it on And that is fine To be sure There’s nothing wrong with that Although perhaps there is actually Something profoundly wrong with that Imagine if they moved the black Moved that dark Teflon And instead they let the light flood in All the darkness could be gone
What did she know Anyway About anything, any of that All the plain eye could see Was Teflon staring back
But she would keep leaving her calling cards That glue was really strong Was the Teflon stronger She wondered As she kept on, keeping on
She didn’t know Maybe she was wrong To believe in any of that Maybe she was wrong To believe The darkness was merely an act
Fanciful flights Circling her brain They flew straight to her heart She was happy right then To let them fly The light still filled her heart
‘I read your blog. There’s a lot of poetry on there,’ said You Know Who You Are.
I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately. I can’t honestly tell you why or when I became a poet, but it seems that I am. On my last count I’d written around 150 poems since May and five of those have been written this week! It’s a seemingly never-ending stream of words, rhyme and rhythm that turns up and demands to be written. So I write it.
Like the rest of my writing, my poems are very autobiographical so I need to be a little circumspect in what I publish here on my blog. Social media and the online world is so very open and everyone can know your business (exes and current lovers included) and words can be misinterpreted, too revealing or understood perfectly (horror oh horror). Other times I publish immediately, unable to keep it to myself, but then worry that I have revealed too much (oh the mortification!). Nevertheless, if you read all my poems you would see the outline of my life – its ups and downs, twists and turns and yes, let’s face it, the times when I’ve fallen flat on my face. It’s all there in those poetic words that just won’t leave me alone.
The tone of these works inevitably rise and fall with the happenings in my personal life because they are all connected to love. Love – whether it’s causing a flood or a drought in my life – is always there. And, for those of you who know the tempestuous possibilities of that emotion, I’m sure you would agree with my statement that sometimes love can indeed, drive you to madness.
My poems, when they appear in my psyche and demand to be written, cover all aspects of that madness – the pain, the exhilaration, the gentleness, the devastation, the silence (the most cruel aspect and hateful aspect of all). Not to mention anger, passion and of course, sex (whether you actually have it or just think about having it…all the time!).
Love seems to me to be an inescapable thing. Ever-present and ever-persistent.
The wonderful thing about poetry though, is it helps me to release that madness within. Like many women, I tend to obsess, to cling to that emotional roller-coaster and manipulate every detail in my brain to try and understand just what happened or will happen or might happen. But my poetry perverts the course of this bad habit. It simply grasps all those emotions and forces me to throw them onto the page. The form is not of my design – I firmly believe that is coming from elsewhere. But it is my fingers that fly across the keyboard.
Afterwards I often feel spent, exhausted, sated, like after great sex (okay, incredible sex) or a good cry where your tears fall like torrents. I will wonder if the madness has left me then. I will wonder if there is more to write. How can there be more to say?
Inevitably though, the rhythm will return and I am drawn once again to the black keys on my Mac. Love will haunt me again – love lost, love wished for, love longed for – driving my fingers onwards.
It seems that love holds the soul of poetry for me. So for now, love is all I need, or at least the promise of what I thought it was, or what it could be.