Back to the Future

We’ve been having to take a lot of career aptitude tests online in Health lately.  The grown-uppy-types are very concerned that our lives have no apparent direction or focus (they are right on this account) and that online aptitude tests where you check boxes and mark bubbles will somehow help direct us and manifest our destiny (woefully wrong).

Apparently I should be a stand-up comedian.  *winks and smiles while the ba-dum-dum of drums and cymbals plays behind*  That or a naturopath, but, you know.  I really can’t see myself ever pestling herbs and prescribing clay masks for ailments.  I don’t doubt its veracity–nature is good, yay nature, I am very pro-nature–it’s just not my cup of herbal tea.

I’ve decided to post about my increasingly nebulous future simply because it’s started to feel all the more nebulous as of late.  I’ve always been told I have years and years to figure out what I want to do with my life, and now suddenly I…don’t.

I’m forced to face the fact that the ONLY THING in this world that I am very, very good at, and that I can see myself doing happily for the rest of my years, is creative writing.  It always has been, and I’m pretty sure it always will be.  And this is kind of a hard lot to draw.  Every day, even during said career aptitude tests and college education classes, I’m bombarded with reminders that careers in the arts are notoriously fickle in regards to financial security.  And, ermghurughmrrm.  As someone who relishes planning and security and self-sufficiency, this doesn’t really sit well with me.  BUT I CAN DO NOTHING ELSE.

And then there’s the whole question of c*llege??

I have never before in my life questioned the fact that I was going to college.  It was handed to me on a platter at birth the same way things like “the world is round” and “you have ten fingers” were.  But…I’ve spent a long time researching the pros vs cons of obtaining an MFA in creative writing.  Most successful authors, even those with such degrees, seem to be of the mind that it’s not really worth the money. And I might be on the same page with them.  (Haha, literary pun, haha.)  For me, at least–I don’t want to sound snobbish–creative writing has always been more about intuition, inspiration, practice, and trial and error than algorithms or plot diagrams or instruction.  Definitely, I think the environment of a college literary program would be inspiring, and it definitely would be helpful to be around other likeminded individuals for feedback and midnight NaNoing sessions (and possibly meeting cute college writer guys, ya never know).  But…maybe it’s actually more helpful to me to read a lot and toodle around on my own?  The problem is I’m also deeply engrained with the stereotype that if you don’t continue onto college, you become a reckless, rampaging teenage delinquent set loose on the world with no direction in life, even though there are plenty of wonderfully intelligent people who never continued to higher education and are still huge forces of awesome in this world.  (One of those links is not like the other.) Also, it may be that if I do not go to college I will hole up in my apartment or whatever and order all my groceries online and never see the sun and never socially interact again because it’s so much easier.

I just…I dunno, guys.  At least I still have a few more years to think on this.

Anyway…it does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.  What am I doing now to work on my writing?

  • I’ve made it to my school competition of Poetry Out Loud, which is exciting and fun and terrifying.  If I win, which is unlikely, seeing as I’ll be going up against kids four years older than me and vastly more experienced, I think there’s a regional competition, then state, then nationals.  Granted, this isn’t working on my writing at all–it’s actually one of the first times I’ve ever performed a poem not my own–but it’s still working on my stage presence and spoken word skills.  (I also love spoken word.  I would not be disappointed in the slightest if my future career ended up focusing more on performance poetry than other types of writing.)
  • Novelling has been somewhat stalled lately.  Remember Thaw?  I gave that up during the summer to take a new idea out for a spin because I am a NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY GIRL WITH COMMITMENT ISSUES.  Luckily, though, I realized that that new idea was actually way too complicated and it never progressed into novel-shape.  I’m not saying I’ll never do anything with it, but I realized it’s going to take a huge amount of finesse and concentration and dedication to flesh out the idea into something that doesn’t seem too bizarre, and, as I am a lazy sack of caffeine and societal angst, that doesn’t sound too appealing right now.  So I am back to Thaw.  It’s around 60K words at the moment.
  • Writing is gradually getting less dark!  Yay!  Remember when I was having this problem?

tumblr_inline_mthr9h93F81qi7ifk(The last two years of my writing life…)

I’m not sure why this took me so long to realize, but the only way to make things less fiery-destruction-y was not to force it.  My older writings were reflecting my mood at the time, and that’s been getting better this year.  And the dark writings weren’t bad–they were just a different side of me.  It’s good to write multiple moods, since everyone experiences multiple moods.  I still get a kind of twisted pleasure out of writing from the blackest pits of my soul, but I feel the need to do that less often. 😀  I’m slowly mastering the art of whimsy, and I like it just as much.  I’m learning balance.

  • Voice is developing!  Before it tended to be really malleable–as in, I would read Jane Austen and for the next few days I would write like Jane Austen (or a shoddy teenage version of Jane Austen), then I would read a shoddy blog post and would not be able to pull myself from the depths of the shoddy-writing mindset until I read something breathtakingly clean and articulate.  My current mood or mindset would influence the way the words came out a lot. But now, looking back on Thaw, especially, I’m starting to see some voice consistency and development of unique character voices…and I like it.  I’m not so critical of myself now, with some distance between myself and the novel, and I’m liking what I’m writing.  It’s really cool.

If you stuck with me through this entire post, thank you so much!  I had, um, a lot of thoughts.  I hope you all have a FANTASTIC 3-day weekend! In the comments: anyone know any really good quotes regarding THE FUTURE?

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Final Entry of the Positive Poetry Project

So…this is it.  This is the post I’ve been prepromoting all week, the poem I’ve described as the epitome of this challenge, the pinnacle of positive poetry–a poem about happiness itself.

I actually wrote this one a couple months ago; believe me, I’ve TRIED to write a better poem about happiness, but at the moment, in the mix of all my adolescent fervor, I’m gosh-darn confused about what happiness is, exactly–this poem explores that confusion in the least negative way possible.  (You should have seen the other ones I was writing…)

Also, this poem is SUPPOSED to and NEEDS to be spoken word, and it is very much bugging me that it’s not at the moment.  I AM looking into audio hosters that would allow me to embed it in here, but for some reason the very thought of posting my voice on the internet makes me feel quite vulnerable.  There is also the indisputable fact that I will hate how it sounds if I DO upload it–recordings of your voice never sound right, know what I mean??

Without further ado…

Science

We study fear

and isolation, depression, death

so we have data to turn to in our most desperate hours

some small thread of logic that feels soothing to weave into the folds of our brains

 

We study terror

if only because that thread will stitch us back to a state in which we no longer have to analyze

 

When you are drunk with love you don’t want to think of

the hormones coursing through you, the biological need for reproduction

because perhaps,

you think,

just perhaps,

it defies science entirely!

and then it

doesn’t.

There are textbooks

written on the theory of love–

I checked.

 

But–I am writing this poem and I want it to be beautiful.

I am not writing this poem to trigger all the pleasure centers of your brain.

 

I am aware

that we have specially advanced brains for calculating and discovering

but we also have hearts that bleed

and I am also aware that that’s much too woo-woo to include in a poem about science so I’ll just say this–

 

When I’m elated, jovial, ecstatic, thrilled,

impassioned, joyful, cheery, radiant, overjoyed,

on Cloud 9 in 7th heaven,

You look at me and affirm, “Dopamine.”

But I want to ask you

why it is,

then,

that we have so many other words for it.

 

 

Ahhh…so positive. 😉  I have a feeling that my poetry didn’t get MUCH more positive over the course of this project, but I did learn some interesting things about myself through this eight-day foray into…poetray (couldn’t resist, sorry); I’m thinking I’ll do a recap of the whole experience later.

(Speaking of recaps, what on earth happened to my Monthly Recap for January 2013?  I’m sorry.  Without running to keep me sane, I appear to be going a little bit senile…in my teens.  Nothing really awesomesauce occurred, at any rate, so don’t think you’re missing out on too much :P).

–The Girl in the Orange

Positive Poetry Project Entry #7

Photo prompt: Write a poem or story inspired by the scenario in this photograph.

Photograph by NASA. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.

in science we learn that humans are made of

stardust

which sounds so

magical

fantastic

surreal

that it somehow doesn’t seem pertinent

after a time

once childhood naivety has worn away

and bright eyes become

drooping

weary

 

we say we are doomed as a species

“look at what we’ve done to this planet”

and everything has a ring of truth

but maybe that is all it will ever be

because i look at those seams, veins, capillaries of

stardust

threaded across this place

dreamed by radicals,

fabricated by engineers

photographed by

space-men

and i think that

if we have destroyed this planet

we have surely done so in the most beautiful way

like euthanasia

the human death

the humane death

 

but

are smatterings of

stardust

not so

alive?

 

 

 

Okay, as a little disclaimer about this one–if you choose to read it a certain way (because there is often more than one interpretation of a poem), it brings up some opinions which are not necessarily my own, namely about climate change, which is not THE most controversial issue out there, but is still pretty heated (no pun intended) among some people. I really try to keep this blog as non-political as possible, because I believe that there isn’t a single issue out there that’s completely black-and-white and I respect all viewpoints one may take.  So, no judging here.  Regardless of personal opinions, that’s a beautiful photo and a lot of what humanity has done is really, strikingly beautiful.

This poem is also not very positive, I’m afraid.  I think I piqued with Entry #4.  But tomorrow comes the final poem, THE positive poetry challenge–writing about happiness itself.

Should be interesting.

–The Girl in the Orange

 

Positive Poetry Project Entry #6

In response to the prompt:

It was all yellow.
 
Colors have always been linked to emotions. Take one color and write down every emotion you associate with that color. Then, branch out. Write down people and positions, locations, objects, weather–anything at all that you associate with that color. The relationship doesn’t have to be logical; it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.Write a poem or short story incorporating a few of the objects and feelings that you’ve listed. Incorporate the original, inspirational cover as frequently or infrequently as you like.
Hmm, I wonder what color I’m going to choose.  😉
__________________________________________________________________________
 scritch-scratch

sweet sticky syrup sliding to the back of your throat

drinking in life

vibrancy

silly sunny summer days and even

one

cold

long

winter

(they’re imported from South America, you know)

exuberant.

passion and heat and

perfectly circular cockatiel cheeks and

confidence

for once

journal entries

self-pep-talks, delicately toeing a new lifeline

trial-and-error

discovering how to be The Girl in the

Orange.

 

 

Wow…that took me, um, thirty seconds.  Fastest entry yet.

I realize many of these entries aren’t Awesome poems (or, at least, they’re not quite up to my standard of “Oh, I really love that one”), BUT, at least I’m not talking about death and depression all the time. 🙂

–Her

Positive Poetry Project Entry #5

Photo prompt: Write a poem or story inspired by the scenario in this photograph. 

  

Photograph by Willi Wallroth. Reproduced under a public domain license from Wikimedia Commons.
 Tag
Whoever said
That the skill of playing a great game of tag
Is something you outgrow
Neglected to inform these two gentlemen. 

Or perhaps they were informed, and like the teenagers they are,

they are choosing to rebel—

choosing to disregard that particular scrap of information

and all of society’s restrictions along with it

choosing to leave it behind to fester in the sun, along with their shame

along with their pride

along with that awful nuisance we have come to call rationality.

 

Today

is a day

to be

wild

free

truly happy for the first time in

life.

 

Today they will dash through the neighborhood,

Tearing through shopping malls and Cineplexes and skate parks and town squares

Taking delight in the squealing of swerving tires as they enthuse through the streets

supposedly alternating between chaser and chasee but no one

is really keeping track

 

and the world

so consumed by its rationality

is doomed to watch from the sidelines, collectively scratching its head

not understanding

but

will find it in itself

to laugh alongside them

anyway

 

(has no idea

just how much it is really missing out on)

 

 

 

–The Girl in the Orange

Positive Poetry Project Entry #4

In response to the prompt:

 
Wanted: One Writer
 
Write a wanted ad that you or one of your characters might respond to. List characteristics and skills you or they have. Try and come up with specifics that indicate a perfect fit, as well as broad descriptors. Make the listing as long or as short as you’d like. Example:“Wanted: One man, not too tall, who can change tires with racecar-pit efficiency. Love of dogs a must, as is love of Minecraft. Strong opinions about web browsers a bonus; brunettes preferred. Qualified candidates can respond in French.”

 
Wanted: The Girl in the Orange

Am I…wanted?

I see my picture tacked to the wall there

all smiles, of course,

and I want to scribble that word there;

wanted

just to give myself some

reassurance.

 

Or, better yet, you could scrawl that there

smile quietly in your acknowledgement of its truth

leaving me with a glimmer inside

feeling wanted.

 

If you want

a girl, short of stature,

with braces and square glasses

who can recite pi to the 349th digit after the decimal,

who spends her time writing poetry and blogging when she really should be doing her homework

(but gets all A’s anyway)–

boy, aren’t you lucky right now!

 

Yes, handcuff me, lock me up, throw me into captivity–

I hear I’m wanted alive–

just so I can feel the resonating meaning of that word.

 

I’ll be waiting–

I guarantee you I won’t run out of stock–

Just let me know–

If you want

someone with hard fists and a sharp tongue,

but a soft heart,

who would make you learn to love tofu,

who would teach you everything she’s learned over these crooked years

and is just as eager to learn from you–

Just let me know.

 

 

 –The Girl in the Orange

Positive Poetry Project Entry #3

In response to the theme:
Charles Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities infamously begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What time in your life does this remind you of? Use this opening in a contemporary setting to describe something you’ve experienced.

A Tale of Two Cities 987 miles apart:

It was the best of times

And the worst.

That crystalline summer sun

smelling of chlorine and cardboard boxes

and black Sharpie marker

pushing its way through elliptical skylights

in what I never thought I would have to call The Old House

made anything seem possible

made everything seem surreal.

 

Two friends gathered in a spidery cement basement

wove tulips out of pipe cleaners

(I still have those, Christy)

wove friendship from embroidery floss

wove laughter and slivers of light into that

cold

silent

basement

cold silent time.

 

Cat’s Cradle by the pool,

prancing through prairie like fools,

both faces plastered with elementary school smiles,

not knowing how it would feel–

how impossibly, utterly, awfully real,

is the difference of nine hundred eighty seven miles.

 

“I’ll call every day–”

“Wish you didn’t have to go away–”

“But we’ll keep in touch, you’ll see.”

No way for either to know

Of the way things would go

Once “me and her” became just…me.

 

Because Life

gets

complicated

 

I whisper her name

and something like shame

on the tip of my tongue, starts to sting

And I know I should call

But can’t work up the gall

For fear that that phone will just

ring

and

ring

and

ring.

 

It’s a good thing I’m so contrary.

 

Dialing anyway now–

so many zeroes–

pity nothing rhymes with zero–

pity it’s the number for nothing,

squandered dreams, squished hopes,

no value, worthlessness, the epitome of emptiness-

No, stop, positivity.

 

Zero-zero-nine

Now at the end of the line

I hear the silence of the buzz of her room

And then that voice known so well–

Again weaving that spell

A friendship two years abandoned can so easily resume.

 

I’m drenched, now, in Pacific Northwest rain

(Cell reception is only outside)

But now I am sure:  Whether they bring us bliss

or a pain of the most needling kind

Once in your heart, people permanently reside.

 

 

 

This poem is not quite positive, but not quite negative, either.  Three poems already brings me to (almost) the halfway point of this weeklong endeavor, and in the latter half I’ll strive even more away from this neutrality–on the last day, I’ll take on the ultimate challenge, and write about happiness itself.  Until then,

-The Girl in the Orange

Positive Poetry Project Entry #2

To the prompt:

Opening Line:
 
“She had the best laugh–loud, sudden–I’d hear it in my sleep.” 
Use this line to begin or end a short story, or somewhere in the middle.
I suppose I’ll write a poem about this She.
No, Really, It’s Hilarious.

She had the best laugh–

loud, sudden–

I’d hear it in my sleep.

Ringing out over the cemetery

the one we could not avoid on our homeward walks together

managing to slice sharply through even that long-still air

the blade of a fan made of light and love.

The way it burst from her throat

At the oddest moments

with our fleece-mittened hands a swinging pendulum between us

was the one thing

that could remind me

that all this

life

is surely so

wonderfully

funny.

 

 

(Sigh) Still, with the cemetery reference.  And the past-tense.  But I blame the given-to-me opening line for the past tense, and the poem is “positive” overall.

–The Girl in the Orange

Positive Poetry Project

So I have this problem.

It’s not necessarily a problem, depending on who you ask, but if you ask me, it’s a problem.

I write such depressing poetry.

I like to consider myself a good poet, but for whatever reason whenever I go to pen something I can’t help but morph the whole thing into several stanzas of despair and twisted agony, and I can’t keep from throwing in a reference to suicide or death or cutting or giant metropolises engulfed in flame…

Yeah.  I need to work on it.

I think part of my problem is that I’m not pushing myself hard enough.  Sure, I’m pretty proud of the desolate poems I do churn out, but if there’s anything I’ve learned over the course of my writing “career”, it’s that it is MUCH easier and MUCH more fun to instill an emotion like sorrow or terror in your reader than it is to describe happy, peaceful things.  It’s usually more powerful and haunting, too.  In example, have you ever heard of Edgar Allan Poe?  Who wrote such poems as “The Raven”, “Farewell Leanor”, and “Annabel Lee”?

What about Kay I. Kramer, who wrote a poem called “The Beauty of Nature”?

I rest my case.

Nonetheless, for one full week, I’m going to challenge myself here and post a POSITIVE poem daily–inspired by the daily Figment writing themes delivered to my email inbox–not quite daily, but I have at least seven unread ones stored up.

Oh, and this project is going to be followed through, you hear me?  With the amount of shtuff going on in my life right now, I realize that it is fully ridiculous to be investing in a week-long poetry project as well, but this is something I care about; I promise it will not be fated as the Savory October Challenge (fail), or the December Photo Project (didn’t happen).

So…first poem, inspired by the prompt: 

Create an emotion using only concrete nouns and phrases that depict concrete images and sensations (nouns that represent tangible things, like “dirt on a new white shirt,” “the smell of bacon,” and “air” instead of “dirtiness,” “hunger,” or “love”). List these things; use the images you create in order to provoke your desired emotion.
Oh, man, that’s annoyingly hard.  Okay, so, I’m “creating”…”hope”, mmmkay?
The Human Clot
  • rubble
  • pillars of ash, where once stood a kitchen table, a plush sofa
  • the color black, around the edges of all things
  • the puckering of the floorboards, the curling, the furling inwards
  • the darkened banners of surrender, telling of a life of sugar
  • rolled in salt, and soot
  • a clot of humanity
  • the would-be scab on the wound
  • pressing in, congealing
  • no more blood escaping
  • this clot
  • hosts benefit concerts
  • where men paint their faces black
  • and white
  • and scream into
  • black microphones
  • and turn their wailing into money
  • and this clot
  • gives all they have
  • to build something new
  • a house
  • not so black
  • the white walls and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling
  • putty pinning that two-dimensional universe into place
  • just to bring a smile to the face of that girl in the white bed
  • (hospital beds are always white)
  • (want to make you forget blackness)
  • the girl in the white bed
  • with oxygen whistling into her
  • the smell of maple syrup
  • (sometimes oxygen is not enough to breathe)
  • (and even oxygen has to be taken away sometime
  • but when the tubes are removed
  • and the only concrete phrases are
  • the new house
  • the sweaty construction workers
  • the men with black and white faces
  • and the thin little girl off oxygen
  • and all of them smiling
  • [not the house]
  • breathing feels right again
  • and the smile bounces
  • to the faces of newscasters
  • and newswatchers
  • and dissolves
  • alka-seltzer smile
  • and the human clot flakes away
  • leaves a scar
  • but scars mean that wounds healed)

Okay, I realize that even that had quite a dark tinge to it.  But it ended happy, I’m getting better, and I wrote it in about twenty minutes total (reading the prompt to finishing the poem)…thoughts? 🙂

–The Girl in the Orange