Saturday, October 21, 2006

There's No Such Thing As Writer's Block

There's no such thing as writer's block.
Wait patiently for a poem to drop.
There's no such thing as writer's block.
Just wait and scribble and breathe.
Dot your i's and cross your t's.
Stop thinking that it must have this or that
to rank significant,
worthy of a scholarly recipient.
A fly will buzz, a fan will drone.
Tell the muse there's somebody home.

Make her think you're drifting,
Sometimes she drops in unexpectedly.
Never on cue.

There's no such thing as writer's block.
Don't let the ink get dry.
Write, write, write, write.
March the rhythm by.
Can a muse refuse a cadence?
Will she just pass by?

Write, write, write, write.
Your mind's a metronome.
Read it again, then one more time.
Listen to the fan drone.

Tap, tap, tap, tap.
Don't worry, it will come…
after a load of clothes, perhaps,
after the coffee's done.
There's no such thing as writer's block,
just muses that like to roam.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Come-to-Jesus Meeting (AKA: The Locker Room Talk)

I was angry at my boss. Okay, I was SPITTIN' angry! My blood was boiling, my hands were shaking. I couldn't get it out of my mind. How could she treat her most loyal employee like this? I had been working 80 hours a week, filling in for people who took time off, doing three people's jobs (including hers)... and yet, when I ask for some time off, she says she can't spare me. If anyone deserved some time off, it was I!!!

Luckily, it was close enough to lunch time that leaving wouldn't seem unusual. So I grabbed my workout gear, stormed out, and headed to the YMCA to work off some steam. I got on the step machine and started stepping as hard and fast as I could. I did some free weights, I walked briskly around the track. If only the racquetball courts weren't already reserved. I could inflict some HEAT on a little blue ball! Oh yes! So I got on the treadmill. Usually, working out helped me think through things and either come to my senses, or at least make myself too tired to be worked up. But not this time.

After about 45 minutes of sweating, swearing, contemplating my righteousness and her wrongedness, going over and over in my head what I would like to say to her (and to think, we were FRIENDS!)…I flung open the door to the locker room. I stared at the lockers, breathing in that sweaty, musty odor. Now it was time to clean up and go back to work... but I wasn't ready yet. I sat down on the bench huffing, not just from the strenuous exercise but from the injustice of it all. I stared at my sneakers.

In fast-forward speed, I said to myself "Aren't you going to pray about this?" The question came and went so fast through my brain, it was like a lightning bolt. The sky lit up, and then there was darkness. I paused. I huffed. I began to do that God-forsaken "thinking and brooding" again, as if I were drowning and needed to tread water to stay alive. Kick, kick, breathe, breathe, "how could she?!" huff, huff, huff. "Does she want to burn me out? Does she want her most valuable employee to quit? I really need some time off!" I couldn't even stop my mind long enough to pray... long enough to just say "Jesus, a little help?"

I sat there on the bench facing the orange lockers, hung my head down, fought back tears. I took a deep breath. "Lord, I can't seem to stop my mind from racing... so you don't have much time in between thoughts, but I need your help to get past this. I'm going to try to be quiet and listen for you, but you may only have a split second." I took another breath. When I blew it out, the anger was gone. Poof!

Now, I know that "locker room talks" from coaches are supposed to be filled with fire from the belly. I know that "Come-to-Jesus meetings" are not really meetings at all, but tongue-lashings. Both of these phrases conjure up a picture of berating, brow-beating brimstone that leaves the recipient filled with regret and pain. But for me, the locker room talk was a blessed relief, and the Come-to-Jesus Meeting was a warm embrace. I left the locker room knowing that He could truly take away my grief and anger if I would but ask.... and he could do it in a micro-second.

I don't even recall in much detail what happened after that. I went back and stated my case to my friend/boss in a calm and loving manner, and was content with the outcome. Honestly, I don't know if she gave in and let me take some time off, or if she explained why she couldn't and I accepted it. It really doesn't even matter. What matters is the time I spent with Jesus, allowing him to put salve on my wounds and help me stand. I am convinced that God is outside of time, because the time I gave him was so small, it cannot even be measured. But even in the blink of an eye he can do great things; bless his holy name.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

When Will Horses Fly?

When I was first diagnosed, I believed that I would be inspired to write a lot, because writing has always been like therapy for me. But I sure haven't written very much in the past two years! As usual, I bring out the notebooks, mull over old writings, and then put them away until the muse comes again. I KNOW that I have to invite the muse by picking up my pen (or perch my fingers on the keyboard)... but, like many things that I KNOW (how to diet, how to exercise, how to pray, how to study, how to ..... okay you get the picture), I seldom actually put my knowledge into practice.

My friend MahrKay told me yesterday that I should write about the "Come to Jesus" meeting I had in the locker room of the YMCA. No, there was no coach yelling at me about how I'd lost the game for the rest of the team. Just me and God.

I think I'll write about it tomorrow. :) How's that for using the ancient writer's tool: "Suspense"?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why a Winged Horse?

Why do I call this blog the Pegasus journals? Well, the story goes so far back into my childhood that I, myself, do not even remember it.

When I was a child I had an imaginary friend. I don't remember him at all, but my mother says I called him "Mr. Pegasus." I wonder sometimes if my mother didn't just stretch her imagination to make my gibberish sound like such a name. It could have actually been Mr. Pegleg or Mr. Pogo, or some name I had heard but couldn't pronounce. But since Pegasus is such a wonderfully relevant name to someone like me, I think I'll go along with what my mother says.

Sometime during my adolescence I found out what (or who) Pegasus was. I had already found out that I love to write and wanted to become a writer. Imagine my elation when I read that in mythology, Pegasus, a winged horse who, with the slash of his hoof, created Hippocreene, an eternal spring of the muses, was a source of inspiration for poets! It was my validation, my guarantee, my sign from God that I was to be a writer. Why else would a child call her imaginary friend "Pegasus"? I certainly couldn't have thought of it on my own as a preschooler. It was destiny.

I have often wondered how on earth I came across my imaginary friend. When I was going through my Edgar Cayce/Shirley McClain phase, I believed Mr. Pegasus must have been a guiding spirit. And, even though I am a person who believes in divine purpose for everything, my rational mind keeps trying to tell me it was just a coincidence. However, my left brain has never pulled much weight with me.

Though my life has taken many turns, and I have changed my mind several times about my career, and indeed have changed my career field more than once, something in the back of my mind still clings to the notion that I MUST WRITE. Many times, I have felt convinced that I would never become a writer, and should give up the silly idea, but Mr. Pegasus will not let me.

The main problem remains that while Pegasus may be an inspiration, he can't force me to get on and ride. He is not a magic formula, and I am certainly not William Butler Yeats, who had Spirit guides to do his writing for him. That's what I keep hoping for, I guess -- that someday I'll fall into a deep trance, wake up, and see pages filled with wonderful words.

I used to tell my writing students that learning to write is like learning to ride a bicycle. You have to get on and ride, and fall, scrape your elbows and knees, and even your chin, and eventually you will be a bike rider. "If you want to be a writer, write," said Epicetus. OK, OK. I get the idea. I can't expect the horse to do it all, even if he does have wings.