Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Midnight Muse

Night is a blue velvet drape outside my bedroom window. Between the clicks of the baseboard heater the muse comes tapping. Long golden tresses flow over her shoulders. She is dressed in pale blue and green chiffon. Her slender hands pull me from dreams and needed sleep, luring me with poetic lines and dramatic scenes with irresistible characters.

I toss and turn, knowing it's hopeless to try and go back to sleep. Now the muse begins to hum, melodious tones spill from her mouth filling the room with the siren's song that calls me to my desk.

In that vaporous alley between midnight and dawn poems rise like mist over the ocean. My pen glides across the page as the muse whispers in my ear. Her hand braces my elbow nudging me to keep writing. All thoughts of sleep vanish in the verses and I keep writing until sunlight glints in the window behind me, chasing away the dark night shadows that spawn poetry and stories. As the shadows fade the muse disappears leaving me to continue the work she injected into my mind in the midst of a dream.

As the room fills with light and the demands of this new day drag me back to reality, I close my notebook, put the pen in its mug, and rise to leave behind the soul of a poem.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Writing Retreat

On a clear and crisp November weekend three members of my writers' group Tapestries venture out to the south fork of Long Island for our twice a year retreat. Staying at Sea Crest Resort in Amagansett we find the time to write and the support of other writers.

As the sun rises in the east I brew a pot of coffee, have breakfast, then go for a walk along the beach. The sand is soft beneath my sneakers. The waves roll softly into the shoreline and the seagulls' cries greet me. As I walk, characters appear in my mind, new plot lines unroll like the waves, and as questions are answered others arise. These will be raised to my fellow writers later today when we have our brainstorming session.

Back in our suite, I shower and get dressed, then settle at the kitchen table, notebook open, purple pen in hand poised above the blank page and begin to write. The time and silence in which to write is a rare gift for a writer, especially the three of us who all have full time jobs and families to take up our precious little time. As I write, Lori is on the couch also writing and discovering where the suspense is in her newest novel. Karen is across the table from me hashing out some new turns in her YA mystery. And around us there is a communal energy that we thrive on and absorb.

Nowhere else, at no other time, am I privileged to have such long blocks of time in which to write. Writing in short spurts works if you have no other choice, but optimal plot building and character development come with long stretches of time.

Over lunch we discuss how far we've gotten in our novels, how much we love this time away to write, and ask questions that help us move ahead in our afternoon writing sessions. Later we'll dress and go out for dinner and relax and talk more about the writing life. We even dream of how great it would be to write full time and have a little house out here on the east end with the background of crashing waves and orange sunsets.

I'm happy to say that by the time I got home I had completed 54 pages of my present novel. Now as I transcribe those scenes into my computer word program I am energized to keep going. I need that jolt of progress and the communion of other writers to encourage me and spur me on.

Looking forward to another retreat in the spring I plan to be working on a new novel. My goal is to finish this first draft by the end of this year. I'll just glance at these photos every now and then to remind me how much writing is possible when you put your mind to it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


In four days I will be driving out to Amagansett to attend a weekend retreat with two women from my writers' group. It will be a welcome getaway after a late season hurricane and an early snowstorm. Thankfully the resort we stay at, Sea Crest, has power, heat and minimal storm damage so they are open for business. Open to welcome us into a little suite with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms and a living room and dining area.

We will take our pens, notebooks, and laptops and write away. In between meals and snacks we will create characters, weave plot lines, amp up suspense and tension, and hopefully make significant progress with our novels. We will also spend time brainstorming so we can give each other ideas for plot lines and character development. Writing is a solitary sport but sometimes three heads create more of a story!

So you may wonder why I called this post writing confusion. It's an old tale for me. I've been beating my head against the plot wall of my novel and getting nowhere. I seem to be deep inside the murky middle and the plot problems I worked out have created some more problems--how do I go ahead with this, what has to happen and how do I make the scenes suspenseful enough to keep my eventual readers turning pages? I'm stuck.

Being stuck for me generally leads to switching genres. If my novel is stalled I write a short story, if the short story fails I write poems, if they sound off and lame I revert to personal essays or memoir. It's a conundrum.

In the next four days I have to decide what I will focus on while we are on our retreat. I can't bounce all over the place. I have to have a particular project to work on so I can make solid headway while I have that precious time away from work and home to devote to writing. The novel seems the way to go so I have to set myself up to sit down with my notebook or laptop and write away--get through the middle, build to the climax and resolve this story once and for all!

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 2, 2012


I enter poetry and find my self. The images and metaphors beat with my heart, the rhythms float on my breath, and the lessons in the verses are my life blood. I found poetry as a child hearing and reading nursery rhymes and soon began to write my own poems. As a more independent reader I discovered the humor of Ogden Nash and the world of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Child's Garden of Verses." In poetry I found my own private Camelot, a place of perfection. Inside the silence and solitude of writing poetry I record my world and learn about my own heart. I discovered Mary Oliver's astute descriptions of nature and Billy Collins' persepective on the everyday world. I ventured into the mystical realm of Rumi and Hafiz.

I travel away and into prose--fiction and essay, novels and memoirs, but always return to the land of poetry. I read it, write it, study it and read about writing it. It is my heart and soul and herein I will always abide.