Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writers are Wrestlers

Photo by Miho Fletcher

When I make art, I say, "I'm an artist, so that's that." And I go ahead and jump into the volcano of weirdness. And everything eventually works itself out.

 I mean I am in the business of making books ~ sometimes I'm illustrating, sometimes writing, and sometimes staring at snails. But the outcome can be so satisfying.  A good yarn, brings lots of smiles. So whether the "book" arrives in the traditional form, like on papyrus, or whether it zaps us via digital whatchyacallits, stories can captivate.

 But when one begins writing, "they" swoop down from Valhalla's underbelly and block the path.  I'm talking about the guardians. "Sorry, you can't get there from here," they insist.

 Pay them no mind, and don't give them eye contact. Close your eyes and let the daisies flow out of your brain. It doesn't have to be daisies. But I have been writing about daisies and I have to tell ya, I've gotten quite chummy with them.

I find that when writing, it's hard at first to tell what's real, what's reflection, and what's ridiculous. It always starts out as a wrestling match. But in the end, one of you will win. Unless it's a draw.

I'm wrestling with this poem to say what I mean:

Writing is like
A scarf that won't silk
A cow that won't milk
A corpse that can't die
And a fish that shan't fry

The butter don't melt
The hat's not felt
Why it's a dog cain't hunt
A football won't punt

A fly no fly
Glue no glue
Thought no think
Stopper no sink

Pig no sty
Blush no shy
Pen no write
Plane no flight

Flower no bloom
Rocket no zoom
Clock no time
Poem no rhyme.

Writing is wrestling
With thoughts
That have thoughts
Of their own.

13 comments:

steven said...

when you write
about the rite
of writing
you're so right
right?!
steven

Amy Baskin said...

Maybe it's like Jacob wrestling the angel- we can't give up wrestling until we become blessed through it. (And pass those blessings on.) Thanks for sharing your great imagery, Richard!

Robin Weiss said...

I call them them the "doldrums" and I am there right now!....Think I'll go lie down in a field of daisies....

Martha Brockenbrough said...

I know what you mean. It's hard to go gentle into that good write. xoxo to your family!

Michaele Razi said...

This post came at the right time! Thanks, Richard. The poem was awesome (One of my favorite words--shan't). Loved it!

duane said...

sometimes i don't know whether to wash my hands or wear gloves...

Faith Pray said...

Sometimes it's smooth and perfectly crafted at first breath or first scrawl. But mostly, writing is struggled out, fitfully wrestled and untangled. Happy daisies on your work!

Carolyn K said...

Very true! Sounds so you! And me too!
Look forward to your visit with SCBWI in Arlington tomorrow. Happy trails to you.
Carolyn Krecklow

Kjersten said...

Yes, it's a strange untangling, tangled dance. My favorite part of your poem:
"Writing is wrestling
With thoughts
That have thoughts
Of their own."

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Steven, right on! Or is it write on?

Amy, that's so true. Power through to the point of blessing. And good point: it makes it even more meaningful to pass the blessing on to others.

I sympathize Robin. The doldrums are no place to dwell. Hangin' with the daisies is where it's at.

Hugs back, Martha.

Michaele, I'm glad the post came "at the right time". Timeliness shan't disappoint.

Duane, sometimes I don't know whether to wear shoes or climb trees barefoot.

Thanks, Faith. I've never written anything smooth and perfect at first breath. On what planet do you reside. Do you come in peace?

Thanks, Carolyn had a great time with y'all. What a fabulous group. Thanks for the "Happy Trails".

I appreciate your kind thoughts, Kjersten. It really is a dance, isn't it? There is an ancient dance from Crete which portrays the story of the thread of Ariadne and of Theseus in the labyrinth with the Minotaur etc. The dance weaves around the room tangling and finding a way to untangle, yet keeping the dance in motion and being true to the rhythm.

Anonymous said...

I add this:
Writing is about the things we don't say.

Writing is about a possum fighting a cat fighting a mocking bird and not noticing the giant human sneaking up on them.

I wonder if I'll ever say what I mean.

Love your wrestling. I'm in the middle of it everyday. I think the words are winning.

Hey, I'm going to LA! Maybe we can chat. :)

I'm waving at Susi and being unhappy that we are neighbors. I would make kolaches and have y'all over.

Molly Blaisdell ;)

Anonymous said...

Not neighbors. Dysgraphia strikes again.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Top O' the mornin' Miz Molly. Kolaches? Never had them, but now that I'm imagining them, ooo, they're tasty! Be right over.

I'm so glad you will be in LA. See you there! And yes, I too wonder if I will ever say what I mean.