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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reasons for Not Writing



1. I had to take my son to the doctor and hospital yesterday. For a diagnostic chest x-ray. He has bronchitis. Thankfully not pneumonia, but he's been out of school two weeks, and now another week while he gets rid of his nasty cough. A kid at home sick is keeping me from writing poetry.

2. My spring garden must be planted. Today I must pull weeds and buy spinach starts, and plant mustard and arugula seeds. Today I must dig the earth and mulch it with compost. A hoe in hand is pre-empting my fifteen minutes of scribbling.

3. For reasons I will not go into, the playroom needs to be organized. I need to go to Storables and purchase white wicker baskets. Then I need to hide all the unsightly toys, organize all the sightly toys, and make the playroom look like it's being used without making it look messy. (This never happens in real life, but never mind). While I am organizing the puzzles and blocks, I will not have a pen in hand.

4. My daughter has been begging me all week to take her to the Science Center. I love taking her to the Science Center, but this will make it difficult to . . . you know what.

Excuses? Worthy excuses? I hate excuses. (If you read my blog, you should know that about me by now.)

Listen: I know that there's always a good and valid excuse out there not to write--vomiting due to a dose of chemotherapy, trips to Costco for diapers and wipes, a splitting headache, having to take the cat to the vet. There is always a good excuse to not pull out one's notebook for even fifteen minutes and jot down a few images or recall a childhood memory of chasing after the Good Humor truck.

Sometimes we're just too tired or defeated or brimming with loss to pick up a pencil or pen.

Okay, I'll make a deal with myself. Sometime today, when I'm resting from digging or patting down dirt, I will pull out my notebook and write a poem about seeing my son's scrawny naked chest against a wall, standing so still and holding his breath, and/or about planting a garden with two 6-year olds. I do have a lot to rejoice about, to be thankful for, but even if I didn't, even if he did have pneumonia or worse, I still know I would turn to poetry to help me through it.

That's what poetry, to me, is about.

9 comments:

David Graham said...

Time to lower your standards until you meet them!

rams said...

Now print that out, highlight the good bits, type them up with good line breaks and you're on your way. (Says the woman going out to prune her apple tree. I can't write because Robert Frost keeps snickering.)

Jan Priddy, Oregon said...

Lovely! I don't believe in "writer's block" either. We just have to make the time and if it matters enough to us, we do.

Joannie said...

Yikes! I hope your son gets better soon. It's scary.

Getting out in the dirt helps me a lot--maybe stick the pen and notebook in your pocket for that sudden sprouting inspiration?

Wendy Wisner said...

So totally true. Great post. I think your poem is on its way.

Martha Silano said...

Thanks for spurring me on, gals. I so appreciate it!

David Graham said...

When I started drafting a new poem every day I told myself I would try not to have too many "haiku days"--the idea being that that was just too easy. Anyone, even me!--can write a mediocre haiku in about 18 seconds. But as time went on I began to think that even that little prohibition was stupid. Some days maybe a single haiku is exactly what I need to produce. Or all I *can* produce, and what's wrong, ultimately with that? The key for me is giving myself permission, at every level & on every front. And--natch--the poems tend to flow much more (& better) as a result. Or so I think. Possibly I remain deluded. But if so, it's fairly pleasant delusion, and keeps me too occupied to explore other vices. . . .

seana said...

Too much scary chest stuff going around. I hope your son is well on the mend.

Martha Silano said...

David: A haiku a day is to be lauded. No need to justify or feel sheepish. I write terribly when I write daily, but I find I can steal from the rubbish and make a decent poem out of a week's worth of drivel. And yes, it's better to write every day, and keep that pump primed!! The quality of the work should not suffer if your editing standards remain high. It's enviable, how you keep up your daily writing ritual in spite of your teaching and all the other stuff that could excuse you from "the real work." It's admirable.