writer’s block

Behind closed doors..name in lights

They don’t get to see

the tears,

the sweat

that goes into pouring one’s soul onto the page

for the prestige

of seeing your name in lights.

Out in the open,

they see what I let them see:

the sunny disposition,

the right look,

the comedic pauses…

What they don’t know

is that when the sun goes down

under flickering lights,

doubt sows madness

leaving me wondering.

When I think I have had enough

the book closes itself

like water running

down to my outstretched hand.

Sometimes, though the anxiety leads me to poetry…

thoughts: mirrored reflections..

then there are those moments when a reflection in a mirror catches my attention. just as i start to follow it. a shadow cowers over it making it hard to read the words underneath. we carry on…

mirrored reflections 2

listening to the music around us. until the next moment of clear silence comes around. We obey the beat inside and climb into it. Just we are about to reach the pinnacle of the crescendo. It starts raining. While frantically searching for cover. A window pops up, opens wide enough to see the other side.

interlude: scratch my soul

disclaimer: when i initially drafted this post (many weeks ago – writer’s procrastination had me bad that month). now there have been way too many incidentssoul_use this of violence against women, way too many names to remember… however, the words of this poem still echo how i felt a few years ago when i wrote this poem.

the recent uproar (of very minor proportions) about the 2013 AFCON’s statement on women and witching and not being allowed to sit in certain spots in stadiums, reminded me of a poem i wrote many moons ago.

now, this poem was meant for a women’s issue of a poetry anthology on rape. yes, rape, i know… it reminded me of rape because like rape, such statements, speak of far deeper societal problems. the idea of being violated and being told what to do, how to behave, what to wear, what NOT to wear, when to speak, when to sit down…the list goes on and on… does all of this change me? who i am? what i can be?

Scratch my soul
 
Look for me in the sentences, between the words
Of every newspaper article or news clip
I felt my essence as they were mutilating my beautiful body,
Stretching my oven of hope
A passage only the one I love is supposed to possess
Why, my brother, so much anger against your own
Look me straight in the eye so you can see the damage your raging loins are making you do
My soul weeps for my robbed innocence, violence in pursuit of my soul
Antiretrovirals, emergency pills – precautions only after
My bones and skin still ache where they groped
Skirt soiled with your useless seed
What a shame.
Incestuous invasions by father on daughter
Mama where were you
Did I not cry loud enough?
Give me a drug of forgetfulness, of forgiveness
Oh, Jehovah help their empty souls
My heart safely tucked beneath my ribcage,
Far out of their violent reach
They can only scratch the surface of my soul
But they’ll never own it

 

 

 

just write, right?

often when i have to write something (often with a hectic deadline) and words will choose that just writeexact moment to escape me.. ideas dodge my shadow.. i enter a room, they exit.

i brood over it. ponder it. count the hours. work out my days around this deadline. this looming thing. i write and scratch it out immediately.

sometimes, i clean my bedroom. hoping to bump into something that pokes something that will hopefully turn into an idea. i waste a LOT of time on the internet, looking at stuff. my own stuff, other people’s stuff. and still, nothing on my page.

so, what is a person to do in such a state?

i usually go back to the notes or words i have been collecting about said piece… write them down in no particular order. read them from the beginning. let whatever thoughts come to me fill up the spaces between those words. then i go back to reading it all again. add some more. then read it from the beginning again. listening for a pattern. that one thing that should be the introduction. i play air puzzle with it in my head. sooner or later, it comes. the order. the clincher. and when i read it from the beginning again. it makes sense. the way it should have been right from the start. usually, this takes less than 2 hours… while i would have wasted days procrastinating… fearing the blank page (and that looming deadline)….

 

filling that blank page

filling in the blank page 2so then, what say you? some ideas on how to fill those blank pages… get out of that writer’s procastination (thank the good people at Psychology Today for that replacement term writer’s procrastination).. i like to think of writer’s block as a mythical concept created by people who like to put off filling pages with their brilliance… a convenient excuse, harsh but true. i know because i frequent that land of procrastination far too many times than i care to admit..

some clever people have put together some interesting lists on how to get over this terrible malaise:

Adam Singer has compiled quite an interesting list on how to overcome writer’s block

Psychology Today’s article on how to end writer’s procrastination

what helps me get over my procrastination? well, i have tried a whole poetry course with the talented Miss Toni Stuart… her writing techniques helped me generate quite a huge body of work… things like free writing, listening to music… admittedly, things you may know already but haven’t bothered to try because they are so simple… i have taken to carrying a note book wherever i go. whenever a phrase or moment of inspiration i jot it down… my phone is an indispensable tool too, when i can’t reach for my notebook, i jot it down in ‘notes’… i pay attention to my surroundings, people’s conversations (you can be surprised by how much crazy stuff people talk about), i pay attention to smells and the memories they evoke, i watch children play, i watch and watch…

however, reading – a LOT – has been my saviour in most cases. there is nothing more inspiring that reading other people’s brilliance. the sheer envy is enough to get me jotting down ideas. i have written many a pieces such as this one:

together again was a piece i read way back in 2009:

together again
here in this place,
of angled streets and northern light,
under this particular moon,
with all quiet and sleeping behind and around us;
of what may I speak but friendship,
and our human wish for love – not just for me
but for friends too,
and those who are not my friends;
so if you ask me, now, at this moment
what is my wish: it is for love all over,
like tears of rain – that is enough – Angus Lordie

this in turn got me inspired and immediately after i read this poem (still a work in progress), this is what was happening in my mind:

pause
while thoughts of days gone by linger
in my head, like the after taste of a favourite meal.
i let my mind take the wonder of it all.
pause
something catches my attention.
fleeting past the corner of my eye.
pause
flip back to thoughts of painful joy,
freedom has come at a price.
i had to let it go to get here.
pause
while thoughts of love, of longing
consume me and manifest into this.
this state of wondering.

reading is another refuge i turn to when that procrastination hit.

reading also means i get to know about randomly different things which must wake up different parts of the brain and through some chemical miracle, it all comes together when it is needed. kind of like what this interesting article suggests, the benefits of being an expert generalist(http://www.99u.com/articles/7269/Picasso-Kepler-and-the-Benefits-of-Being-an-Expert-Generalist). am not quite an expert yet, but i will be sure to chug towards that…