Just Writing

The Leaf

The Leaf

somewhere deep in the forest
a leaf grew on the high branches

one day she changed
to vibrant red and gold

she merely thought it was her time
the time she’d waited for

she didn’t know
she was about to die

in hues of majesty
she held onto her branch

overlooked the forest
and understood contentment

she watched her change
and was happy

she didn’t know
she was about to die

a wind came from the south
carrying black clouds

but she didn’t have strength
to hold on

it had been sapped
the colors had weakened her

she knew
she was about to die

somewhere deep in the forest
a leaf grew on high branches

one day the red and gold betrayed her
and she fell to the ground

and shattered on the forest floor
nothing to catch her

she hadn’t known
what it felt like to die

and there, upon the ground
the leaf stayed forever

ever slowly falling apart
blending into the brokenness

she watched the long life of others
saw their contentment

she watched as they knew
that they would never die

 

 

I'm Just Saying

Just Revise, Please

I have an announcement to make. Everybody stand back and listen:

This week I finished my novel.

It is done. It is finished. I have finished it. One year after beginning it, this novel is finally done. I have had this story in my head for over a year now and this week I finished writing it.

It has been a very long time since I finished writing a novel, and I forgot how amazing it feels. I forgot how crazy it is to plan a part of a novel and then be actually able to write that part of the novel.

The end of this novel is like a bomb. Seriously. Everything just falls apart real quick. Seriously. It gets put back together fairly quickly, but the falling apart part is absolutely crazy. For a year I’ve been worried about writing these parts.

There are two parts in particular where my main character just kind of runs into a wall of reality. And the thing about writing things like this, at least for me, is that there doesn’t need to be a lot of fluff. It just happens. Kind of like running into a wall would actually feel.

I’ve been wondering about these two parts of the novel for the last year and hoping that when it was finally time to write them that I’d be able to convey everything all of the characters were feeling. I think I was able to do well. I feel quite confident about the project as a whole.

One thing that I really wanted to do for this book is eliminate unnecessary things. So if something did not directly contribute to the plot I did not include it in the story. Imagery is something I love in my novels, and is one of my strong suits as a writer.

But since I know it is something I’m better at I also know that I tend to get carried away with it. So it was actually really refreshing to write this book and keep reminding myself not to get carried away with things that didn’t need to be there.

As a result, it feels very bam-bam-bam to me. I can’t really think of another way to put it. But another reason I did this is because my main character has a lot of these similar traits. She’s very honest, very straightforward, and doesn’t like to deal with things she feels don’t matter. So naturally, it seemed like a novel from her perspective would follow the same type of pattern.

But when you finish a novel, there is always one glaring question:

What now????

Well, obviously I’ve been tweaking it like crazy. Something happens to me when I’m finishing a novel where I finish the last chunk in record time. I think I wrote seven or eight chapters in two days or something insane like that. All of it is just fighting to get out of my head and so I just write like…I’m running out of time. (I would’ve been struck been lightning if I hadn’t used a Hamilton reference right there. If you know Hamilton you’ll understand. Also, if you do know Hamilton let’s talk and be best friends, if you don’t I’m sorry.)

So because I wrote a huge chunk of my novel in record time revising has definitely been a thing. There have been quite a few moments of, “Oh! I forgot to write this one thing!” Actually, the other night something really incredible happened to me. At 3 a.m awoke very suddenly and realized something I’d forgotten and had to fix it then and there. For reasons I’ll never be able to explain I’ve always wanted that to happen to me. It finally did.

The thought of rewriting this novel it makes me want to cry. It doesn’t matter that this is actually a thing serious writers do. In my head, I’m finished with it so rewriting isn’t even real. Heavy, heavy editing, moving around, rewriting parts, yes. But actually starting all over? How does one actually do that?

To all of you writers who actually rewrite your novels from scratch, I salute you.

If you need me I’ll be revising.

Just Writing

The Green Field

The Green Field

If I close my eyes
and open my mind
I always see a green field

The sun is shining
and the air is crisp
a white dress reaches my heels

Sometimes there are leaves
the color of Fall
piling around my feet

Piano music plays
I always walk on
and for what am I searching?

I don’t come often
to the rolling field
it hides behind slabs of life

Every so often
it comes to the front
so vivid before my eyes

Sometimes it changes
this green rolling field
at times I walk down a path

Sometimes there’s a fence
it guides me forward
I never, ever look back

I don’t ever know
what is waiting here
in this place inside my mind

I’ve never made it
too far down the path
looking, but never to find

Some few days ago
when I closed my eyes
I saw something very new

I sat on the ground
on top of a quilt
the sky was vividly blue

I wasn’t alone
there was no white dress
different than other times

Still my same green field
but so very new
what I saw, such a new sight

Too precious to write
the things that I saw
a life I hope awaits me

I will keep it close
and pray to live it
changes in the field of green

Just Writing

Sparks

sparks

the land was barren
covered in blankets of snow
frozen desolate

temperatures rose
very slowly and secret
the land still frozen

sparks

the thaw was sudden
the grass brilliantly green
underneath the ice

sunshine brilliant
made fire from desolation
it was ignited

sparks

sparks flew and grew bright
created glowing orange flames
sparks popping brightly

the fire was life force
giving breath to the once dead
the sparks rescued it

sparks

unexpected rain
a flood enveloped the land
everything was drowned

hopelessness and ice
inevitably return
the sparks are vanished

sparks

somehow they’re glowing
the sparks survived the deluge
they are still glowing

sometimes they fizzle
breathe upon the sparks, give life
reignite the fire

sparks

Just Writing

Stone Stories

I.

When I saw Piccadilly
the light was August gold
dancers moved to music
surrounded by crowds with stories
in courtyards of stone

I stood on the bridge
just one among many
I leaned against the stones
and asked the city,
“Please tell me your stories.”

A boat on the Thames
carried me to Westminster
back again to the Tower
under bridges of stone
that whispered stories passing by

I visited the abbey
saying prayers in a circle
checkered floors held stories
monarchs who live and die
oaths, stones, sacred chapels

I read sonnets on trains
stories in patterned lines
beside people who lived normally
stones lined tube walls
painted with the underground names

Raspberry pastries in museums
tea rooms, stores, and David
stone streets guided me
towards Oxford street and stories
it was lightly raining

Beside the river, writing poems
a man and typewriter
a desk on the stones
I will never know
the stories written about him

London showed me things
whispering stories I couldn’t understand
I walked over stones
trying to touch the things
I could only feel

At Buckingham palace stone statues
and others looking on
a sunset and discussing stories
the clock tower glowed
I had to whisper farewells

When I left London
a piece stayed behind me
in the grey stones
stories disappearing from my view
I haven’t found them

II.

there was a pile of stone
which formed an old cathedral
it was surrounded by green graves
sat beside a tall tower
stories were hanging in the air

the druids were there once
and monks in the stone tower
a stream was running nearby
a forest with moss covered trees
I wondered about their stories

half of the sky was storming
sunshine blazed in the other
everything was green, even in death
graves of stone were crumbling
the stories on them had faded

it is surrounded in mystery
this glen with its ancient stones
the stories long since gone
an old spirit still lives there
it alone remembers what happened

the tower stretched high toward heaven
the cathedral serenely beside it
gaelic stories swam before my eyes
I could not read them
the stones wouldn’t tell me anything

I sat beside the stream
and closed my eyes to listen
my back against the stones
there was depth all around me
but the stories wouldn’t speak

I brushed the stones with fingertips
in the cathedral’s open air
wondering about the stories they held
I looked towards the alter
standing where others had once stood

druids placed stones in grass
we hoped to release their magic
but the stories stayed trapped
inside the circle surrounded by green
the glen forever a mystery

III.

stone walls led us to Haworth
where a family wrote stories and lived
surrounded by moors with purple heather
the village spilled over a wild land
a road led to the apothecary

a small book store beckoned us inside
and showed me an old Burns
it sat beside a copy of Cymbeline
we could not leave them behind
we carried the stories over stone streets

a cemetery sits beside the house
the stones are all covered in moss
they tell stories of sadder times
when the village was shrouded in death
somehow held together by the literature

a path leads from place to place
atop the hill beside the moors
we followed the stones that led forward
understanding the stories they had written
we wished we could understand the process

a village made of old stones
Haworth lives in a sea of green
a sadness does live there still
it stays behind to remember the stories
there are so many to remember

the beauty that lives there is palpable
it serves as a powerful reminder
joy and sorrow go hand in hand
the stones seemed to whisper this
when I asked them about their stories

in a moment beside the house
I sat in the shadow of stones
there was rain in the air
and too many stories to be absorbed
I kept wishing I’d remember everything

as I walked through that beautiful village
it seemed to me a dream
and looking back now I can see
that world of stones and green
the beauty belongs solely to the stories

Just Writing

Running Backwards

Running Backwards

you’re a person who’s running
running so fast
from the demons you left behind you
from a past you told me
a little bit about
a few of your darker truths

you live with the fear
that you’re still that person
the one from your darkest chapters
I knew differently
because I saw your soul
but you were running backwards

you run from the past
and the things that you did
but you never get past attackers
no matter where you run
or who you meet
you are still just running backwards

it’s a cycle, you see,
this thing that you do
where you love then run far away
you sabotage what’s right
and you think too much
you’re alone at the end of the day

you asked me to jump
so jump I did
I took your hand and we fell
further and faster
so in love I was dizzy
but I hit the bottom by myself

there were moments of sun
too bright to bear
when all was clear as the sky
now I can’t stop thinking
of every single kiss
no matter how hard I try

I was happy then
happier than ever
in a world of dreams come true
we danced in the light
of love and future
you told me you felt it, too

for a moment I saw
the man you could be
if you would only let it happen
but you ran far away
like you said you never would
plunging it all into blackness

there were moments when
I was very, very scared
but it was the only thing that mattered
so I had faith in us
we’d do it together
I didn’t know you were running backwards

you live with this fear
that you’re still that person
the one from your darkest chapters
and the saddest part
is that you still are
until you stop running backwards

if you ever come back
and I pray that you do,
for this they tell me I’m insane,
I wish it would be
sometime soon
before it’s much too late

it wouldn’t be easy
to fix it all
this heartbreak is oceans deep
but I truly believe
that love conquers all
these are the dreams not letting me sleep

but no matter what
and whatever does come
remember the things that matter
you were too cruel
and much too distant
I watched you running backwards

there is a man inside you
with a heart of pure gold
I love you even though I’ve tried
embrace that gold
I’m begging you to
please leave all of that behind

you asked me to jump
so jump I did
I took your hand and we fell
but you looked back
I watched you do it
and now we’re both by ourselves

you live with this fear
that you’re still that person
the one from your darkest chapters
at this point, my love,
you can only save yourself
you’ve got to stop running backwards

Just Writing

Heartbeat

A broken heart is a funny thing.

At first it doesn’t feel real. The world goes a little blurry and on the surface you’re doing and saying things, but underneath you wonder if it really happened.

Then the emptiness comes. And the reality sets in. And there is no reason to check your phone anymore but you keep doing it. And there is no reason to wait for a call that won’t come, but you still wait. And worse than wondering why is wondering how.

That is when it becomes the most real thing in the world.

And suddenly the feeling of it not being real is replaced by a hole inside of you that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Until you fall inside of it. And you feel lost between trying to climb back out and trying to fill it up. Which do you do first? How do you do either?

Eventually pretending you’re okay is doable. You can laugh about things. Be okay for just a moment. Maybe even forget when you can finally fall asleep.

But the emptiness doesn’t leave.

It does evolve though. And rather than walking around with a gaping hole it feels like a fire. It is lit inside the place where they lived, and burns slowly from the inside out every time you remember. But it never reaches the outside. It just continues to burn.

Remembering is the cruelest part. You have to decide which parts to remember, and which parts to forget. But you never really forget. Do you? And you fight the urge to remember, and you fight the urge to forget. And you’re caught somewhere in the middle.

Why does your heart keep beating?

There are silver linings, I suppose. Lessons that needed learning. You learn how to sympathize. You learn to understand. You learn that the worst pain in the world isn’t physical. You learn who is there for you. And sleep on a lot of couches just so you don’t have to be alone.

Life takes on new shapes. Decisions have to be made now that your future is different. You try and be grateful for all the goodness, and there are brief moments of sunshine. They make the waves a tiny bit better.

Because there are a lot of waves.

Waves of grief. They hit you when you least expect it. Waves of questions you wished you had asked. Waves of longing that widen the hole and stoke the fire. Waves of wondering. Waves of wishing. Waves of pure confusion. An entire ocean inside of you.

There is no more waiting. There is no reason to. None. And yet it is the only thing you know how to do anymore. So you’ll wait. At least for a little while. A piece of your soul will wait forever.

Sometimes there is too much to feel.

So you have to choose. Do you curl up and feel it all? This choice is the one that ends in more tears than you knew you could produce. They soak your pillow. And the shirts of your friends. The coats of your brothers. The blonde hair of your nieces and nephews that pile on top of you.

Or do you push it away? Forget about it all? Pretend it never happened? That only works for a minute. It catches up to you eventually when you suddenly hear a song, a word, a phrase, a movie, see a restaurant. When the memories are everywhere, they are inescapable. It will all catch up to you. And you’ll end up with the first choice anyway. In the tears. But not on your own couch, or your own hallway. Far away from the memories until walking through them doesn’t hurt anymore.

Why does your heart keep beating?

They all tell you to write it out. “It’s what you do.” They say. “It will help you feel better.” But you’ve forgotten how to write. How do you write without feeling it all? Maybe cry first, and then you can write numbly. Put it into a sort of poem. Then it becomes a project.

There are some moments of peace. When a little voice tells you there is a plan. And you hold on to this idea. That there is a plan. And for a moment you feel better, because having a plan is better than navigating the pain. So you wake up in the morning, on a different couch or maybe in your bed. You learn about colonial America. You go back to work. You spend money on frivolous things. You spend too much time with your friends. And you do the best you can.

And you try not to think about the fact that no matter what, at the end of the day, they are still gone.

You try and move forward. Moving on isn’t in the cards right now, because you don’t think about tomorrow. But you can move forward. Hour by hour. Remembering the things you love. Even though you’ve discovered that there are some things even Frank Sinatra can’t fix.

You send out your love. Because even though you wish it wasn’t, it is still there. And you pray they can feel it. You don’t want to become bitter. You remind yourself that love is beautiful. That it can conquer all. But in order to do so, you have to let it. Being in love is a frightening thing. You have to give yourself wholly to it, or it will fall apart. You have to stop thinking so much, or it will disappear. You have to have faith, or the fear will creep in.

These are the things you tell yourself. Hour by hour.

And somehow your heart keeps beating.