Written But Not Read

You’ve probably heard of Octavia E. Butler’ s quote, “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff…” Well, I’m a proud possessor of an absurd collection of short stories.

It was when going through my archived content with the hope of recycling some that I landed on a forgotten folder “Written But Not Read” that contains short story drafts, I wrote many years ago. Boy oh boy, such crap I was churning! I mean I could write 4000-word stories, now I can’t even produce 140 characters.

But my badly written stories made me laugh, and still do now reading them after all these years. It actually dawned on me that I was then writing to entertain myself; a way of dealing with culture shock in a new country. I wasn’t calling myself a writer then, I was simply writing and with no intention to share any of those stories with anyone else. I did knock myself out. Such freedom!

Lydia Koidula’s Writing Desk

I also remember at the time being convinced that I loved writing short stories. A puzzling thing, when I think of it now. Because writing short stories is the most demanding thing I’ve tried with my writing, thus far. I was perhaps a little more in love with the idea. In fact, a note (in that same folder) is equally interesting, “I don’t know what I was smoking to think I love writing short stories!”

But I wonder if, as a creative, you still allow your imagination free rein. Or has your art become burdened by all the social ills, we face today? As a reader, what short stories have you read lately, and also had you in stitches? Please do share!

note: I’m linking to Writers’ Pantry at Poets and Storytellers United. And oh, if you could use some encouragement with your writing, follow the link!

On Honouring the Process

The other day, a deer crossed my path. Startled we both stopped and stared, for a split second, before sprinting into different directions. A simple explanation for this encounter is that it’s spring and all living things are awake and roaming about. But I’m the kind of person, who sees signs or tries to find meaning in everything. You might say I’m a binge thinker but I view myself as a good listener, more especially from nature.

I bet deer are always lurking in the periphery of cities, more especially here with abundant forests and right on our backyards. But what took my breath away, at that specific moment, I was alone with the deer on a path that is usually busy with people going about their business after a workday.

As I write this piece, I’m a bit shocked and saddened by a message in my inbox this morning from one of my favourite Steampunk writers, announcing they will no longer continue to write and publish. I’ll admit, I shed a tear or two. First, because this pandemic is hard and has disrupted so many things. Second, because I’ve been especially hard on myself of late, concerning my lack of time and resources to publish my work.

So completely has a whole year passed, with scarcely the fruits of a month. . . I have done nothing! ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Anyway, it turns out a deer crossing one’s path has a number of meanings, But the one I took away is about gentleness and compassion instead of it as a sign to perhaps give something up. Because I can never imagine myself not writing. I also learned Coleridge stopped writing poetry at 32 years of age because he was no longer able write “serious” poetry.

As I honour my process by being patient and compassionate to myself, I’m also putting out a plea. If you are a creative, please don’t quit! We might never know, in our lifetime, how our work impact others. But perhaps in a distant future, someone might find something of value from our endeavours.

p.s. Featured photo by Dustin Romeiro on Unsplash. I’m also linking to Writers’ Pantry at Poets and Storytellers United.

On Coming Up for Air

It’s spring, a season of expectations and the morning smells fresh. Light conquers as the cold, dark and long Nordic winter finally relents. Even though the surface remains slippery, I dare come out to play.

I had decided not to start the year with laments, for I know not of anyone who hasn’t been bandaging wounds or scars left by 2020. So, instead I plunged myself into water, even though I’ve never been a good swimmer. It was a leap of faith, an expectation that I’ll come out mentally and emotionally strong. Because I’d have learned to not try grab hold of water but float.

It’s often said people gravitate towards poetry for comfort or getting through a tough time. I’m one of those who don’t gravitate but planted in it. Because as Rosemary Nissen-Wade once wrote, “Maybe the only person your poetry will save is yourself.” But now that I’ve finally written an epitaph for my dad-in-law, I’m coming up for air.

And the question I ask, have you been leaning into poetry or running away from, during these hard times? Why?

note: This piece was inspired by a number of recent events, a poem I wrote years ago, Rosemary’s quote above & I’m also linking to Writers’ Pantry at Poets and Storytellers United.