Saturday, October 27, 2007

Miniatures

I cannot compare it to coming down off a high, since I don't partake of illegal substances, ever, not once, no sir, move along officer, but the intellectual shift from writing a short story novella back to my usual medium of poetry felt quite odd. It wasn't emptiness or a feeling of being unfulfilled, because the craft required for each is completely different, nor was it the sense of sitting in an emotional decompression chamber after having swam in a deep, gently undulating ocean, une grande symphonie contre la musique de chambre, a vital, constantly moving current. Each has something to say, and in the only way it naturally can.

So, after writing my first one in months, a few discarded attempts interrupting the story along its tortured creation notwithstanding, I stared at the finished piece lying dormant in the notebook. I cannot fathom how anyone can create on a computer screen - I say while typing this post - when the physical process of putting a pen or pencil to paper, the curves of each stroke gently pressing on the pulp, leaving its mark the way a finger tracing a word or a picture forms a ghostly impression on your lover's skin, the tactile nature of pulling something from seemingly nothing with your own hands, feels so much more immediate, alive, personal. It matters.

But did this poem matter? I'm never satisfied with my work, as I imagine most anyone, whether a genius, or in my case, a textbook mediocre writer, would be, yet something was off, askew. It felt wrong in a way I could not explain. The words sat there, motionless, a pieced together Frankenstein still waiting for its electrical jolt. On those rare occasions when the planets align and the moon is blushing, I'll write something that on a first reading strikes me in my own narrow imagination as quite moving, conveying a true feeling of yearning, of the erotic, of sadness. The test comes with later readings when it still, surprisingly, seems fresh. How did I come up with that? Yet this was flat, stale, which wouldn't have been out of the ordinary considering the fact that I hadn't finished anything for nearly half a year, but once you learn to ride a bike...

A solitary activity, trudging through banality as commonplace as cool drops windswept onto your face are, creeping into your eyes as you pedal through a chill autumn mist. Writing a poem to successfully recreate an emotional imprint using human language is nigh impossible. As with moving from French to English, Italian to Spanish, Russian to Greek, something is lost in the translation. For even the masters can never paint a true representation of what playfully gnaws or brutally devours them within the limited confines of a collection of words. They can approach greater heights than us mere mortals, to be sure, but it remains nothing more than a replica. For myself, I'd sooner have success, after being dropped in the middle of Paris, of charming so well the natives, who conveniently ignore my lack of citizenship, with my Franglais that they elect me mayor than I would with explaining the exact emotions that I felt, that demanded I write them out.

I tried to animate the body, but my feeble attempts resulted in silence. The lines couldn't be improved any further beyond their initial birth. They would remain weak, vulnerable to the predators, the mob of a million better pieces that I've read, that remain unread or, I hoped, yet to be created by my own head and heart. Everything has to die at some point. I just didn't expect it to be so soon. Waiting for a stroke of lightning to make its rare, inspirational appearance, I put the pen back to the paper and began to fabricate another series of curves and lines that I hope will become a replica worth revisiting.

10 comments:

Freida Bee said...

Surely, this time brilliance will ensue (were I to believe it had not already done so in this post.)

Randal Graves said...

You're far too kind.

Mary Ellen said...

Randal-that was an amazing post! I stopped over earlier, but got called away and I'm glad I was able to come back to finish it. There's no doubt in my mind that you are a brilliant, talented man. I'm in awe...


Now I have to do some research on my next blog post. If only I could get that stroke of lightning to spark some inspiration. If not, there are always dirty jokes and limericks. ;-)

La Belette Rouge said...

The tortured and adrenalizing process of creation is explored in your post in its beautiful specificity. i.e., Great post. I am in awe of the self-awareness you bring to your creative work. My only question is the label of narcissism. Self-awareness and the ability to reflect in a non-grandiose manner are not the hallmarks of narcissism.

Randal Graves said...

Mary Ellen, my next post will probably speak of my disdain for the President and his policies. Some things just never go out of style. :)

La belette rouge, merci. Narcissism in this case is merely a euphemism for speaking about something other than politics or sports, my usual fare; namely, myself.

Mary Ellen said...

Randal-The only good thing you can say about Bush is that he is the conduit to let creative juices flow. When you look at all that has been written and the YouTube and other videos that are out that expose him and his administration, it shows how such a man can wake up our senses to the reality of pure evil.

Candace said...

Randal, after reading this post and the links to others, and links therein to still others, I am impressed and intrigued! Your talent is obvious and considerable. Are you going to keep Dead Flowers under a bushel? Granted, there's a small market for literary works these days, but there are editors out there who are still looking for quality.

I have to write with the keyboard for the simple reason that my hand cramps. Ergonomic pens help somewhat, but not enough. Besides, I can type much faster than I can write, and sometimes, when I'm in the zone, the speed is essential to getting the thought down before it sinks back down to the bottom of the pool.

Your observations about writers' angst were hilarious, btw.

FranIAm said...

Oh my - oh my.

You have talent my friend. Talent indeed.

The way your words work in this and the linked post, the way they work is amazing.

And it is true- the angst. Very good indeed! Hilarious is right!

Randal Graves said...

Mary Ellen, that is very true. The posts often write themselves. It's the non-political ones that are a pain in the ass!

Candace, oh hell, I don't know if I could submit it. I have no problem with constructive criticism, but I fear a lot of "this just rambles on too much, you must excise this, this isn't clear." Er, that's kind of the point. :) And believe me, I can understand the need for economy and/or ergonomic considerations. When my hand starts cramping up, that keyboard looks mighty inviting. The key to countering that though is to pause, take a sip of an alcoholic beverage, and stare out into space, looking to be deep in serious thought when you're merely resting. :)

Fran, merci. It's frustrating when you realize there's simply no way to improve something you've written, yet you recognize that it fails to say what you are trying to say. I guess that's hilarious in a pass-me-another-drink kind of way. :)

b said...

I completely empathize with this frustration. There is something lost from the moment of that feeling/thought and when we go to put on paper or type it. That is my greatest struggle as a writer... how to communicate something that truly seems so brilliant to me.