Sunday, November 28, 2004

NaNoWriMo Winner

Today, I verified my word count with, and at 50,085 I have managed to complete a novel and be declared a winner. Pretty cool. Check out my nifty new icon in the sidebar.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

New: Linda Hogan's "Nothing"

I'm up to 17,000 words on my NaNo novel; but I need a break. Time to put my energy toward some poetry, and cleanse my mind.


Nothing sings in our bodies
like breath in a flute.
I dwells in the drum.
I hear it now
that slow beat
like when a voice said to the dark,
let there be light,
let there be ocean
and blue fish
born of nothing
and they were there.
I turn back to bed.
The man there is breathing.
I touch him
with hands already owned by another world.
Look, they are desert,
they are rust. They have washed the dead.
They have washed the just born.
They are open.
They offer nothing.
Take it.
Take nothing from me.
There is still a little life
left inside this body,
a little wildness here
and mercy
and it is the emptiness
we love, touch, enter in one another,
and try to fill.

-Linda Hogan

I could write an entire essay (and maybe I will) on the meaning of "nothing" in this poem. It is the title, so I imagine that is something Hogan want the reader to do.

The first two lines: "Nothing sings in our bodies / like breath in a flute" sound almost flippant, the way someone might say, "Nothing tastes like chocolate," meaning there is no no food that exists that has the distinct, unique flavor of chocolate.

But the simile forces the reader to examine this more closely; "nothing" is compared to "breath." It is also compared to the air in a drum. It is the sound that brought forth creation; it is the space which we leave available for another to fill. "Nothing", in Hogan's poem, is life-energy, that which creates and lives and offers and cleanses. It is as vital as the air, whether in a flute or a drum or in our lungs. When the speaker says, "Take nothing from me," she is offering everything she is.

Monday, November 01, 2004

"The Real Writer"

(Please refer to the previous post to read the poem.)

First of all, I have changed my screen name. You may have noticed. I decided to use my first, rather than my middle name. It's going to stay that way, so don't be concerned that I'm flaking out :-)

"The real writer is one / who really writes." That's what Piercy's poem asserts. If this is true, then I am a real writer today. I have completed over 2500 words of my novel for NaNoWriMo, on my way to finishing 50,000 words by November 30. Now I only have to do that twenty more times. Well, that makes it sound kinda hard.

Anyway, I wonder about this line in the poem. I believe, as Julia Cameron states in her book _The Right to Write_, that everyone, indeed, does have the right to write. If you write you are a writer. But--what about expecations of professionalism? Do we need to make a distinction between writing as a hobby, writing as a profession, and writing as an aspiring professional? How much does earning a publishing credit or paycheck add to one's credibilty as a writer?

I think these things matter most to people we don't know--or who don't know us. My father was sorely disappointed when I studied music in college--voice and piano. He couldn't believe I didn't want to follow in his engineering footsteps, and he frequently referred to my classes as "bunny courses." I knew he wouldn't last a week in music theory, but whatever.

I was not a musician in his eyes. I had been training in classical piano since I was eight, and voice since I was ten. But, to him, I was not a musician. I had no "professional"credits. Only when I started to accompany and sing at weddings did that shift a little. A little.

My husband says I am a writer. So far, I have published only one short story, won an honorable mention in a small contest, and I recently sent off five poems to a poetry contest. Am I a writer? He thinks so. Because he has been watching me write for years. He knows its priority in my life. (He thinks I'm a musician, too.)