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What I'm thinking about this morning

You didn't ask for it, but I'm going to share anyhow. And what an interesting mishmash of things it is.

A quote about poetry that I liked, especially when I misread it

First, there's the quote of the day from "Advice to Writers", which allows you to sign up for a daily inspirational quote. I often like what I get, and here's what was in my inbox this morning:

You must let your poems ride their luck
On the back of the sharp morning air
Touched with the fragrance of mint and thyme ...
And everything else is Literature.
PAUL VERLAINE

Only I misread it at first, and thought it said "And everything else in Literature." Which I quite like, even if it's a huge imposition to foist that much "stuff" onto poetry's back.



Elizabeth Gilbert's blog post this morning, and how it echoes my decision to write

The next thing I'm thinking about is Elizabeth Gilbert's blog post from today, which you can read here if you like. She was responding to a question someone posed about whether writing got easier for her the more she did it. Her entire post is worth a gander, I think, but here's the part that jumped out at me today:

. . . I've never asked my work to be "easy"; I just want it to be interesting.
  (By which I mean — I want my writing to be interesting for ME. If, as a side effect, my work eventually becomes interesting to you, that's awesome. But mostly, I am just trying to interest and educate and occupy and challenge and delight myself.)
  Often writing is indeed quite difficult for me. But I'm not sure that's the point, and I know it's definitely not a problem, because all the really interesting things in life are difficult — love, wisdom, growth, compassion, learning, travel, loyalty, courage, endurance, transformation…
  But "interesting" doesn't mean "tormenting". When things get difficult, it doesn't mean you have to suffer and moan and pull out your hair and rend your clothes. It just means things have gotten…well…verrrrry interesting.
  You do it anyway — the interesting thing — because you want to have a rich and varied life, not a flat and simple one.

She ends the post by urging people to "be careful not to quit too soon", whatever it is they are pursuing. Again, so much goodness in it, but I think I seized on the bit above because I came to writing as a way to "interest and educate and occupy and challenge and delight myself", too, even if I might not have thought to spin that exact phrase myself.

How this quote relates to why I started writing in the first place, and why I keep going

About 12 years ago, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which made it impossible for me to continue a full-time law practice. (Stress makes RA so much worse, and the practice of commercial litigation is nothing if not stressful, to say nothing of the 50- to 60-hour work weeks.) I was fortunate to have a good disability policy in place, at least, which makes paying the bills possible, but I spent the first few months feeling sorry for myself and staring at a lot of HGTV shows. It was in the fall of 2002 that it occurred to me to try my hand at writing for children, since I'd always loved writing, and I loved the children's books my kids and I had been reading together. I wrote a rather charming but underdeveloped poem about a hippopotamus and sent it to a magazine. It eventually came back with a "no thanks", but by then, I'd already discovered SCBWI and an online community of writers and I was hooked.

I'm so glad that I started this writing journey when I did, and continue to enjoy it. Now that I've got a bone spur in my right hip that makes life a bit uncomfortable, along with fibromyalgia on top of the RA, a full-time out-of-the-house job isn't workable. Heck, even a part-time one where I have to show up at set times on a regular basis wouldn't really work. But this writing gig? It fits around or between or into those health problems, and helps to keep me (relatively) sane.

About Julie Danielson's cat . . .

While in the shower, for reasons unfathomable, this song popped into my head:



It's "The Old Gumbie Cat" from CATS, and the lyrics come from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. I only got as far as "I have a gumbie cat in mind/her name is Jennyanydots", when I started thinking about Jules's cat. Jules is the mastermind behind the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and co-author of an excellent book on children's literature, Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature

Anyhow, Jules's cat is named "Pumpkinfacehead" (also the name of a cat in Emily Jenkins's Toys Come Home). You can see early photos of Pumpkinfacehead here, but I know I've seen photos of the long-suffering kitteh tolerating being put into various costumes by his humans.

And then I started wondering what Pumpkinfacehead thought of his name, and what his other names might be, à la Eliot's "The Naming of Cats". You can listen to Eliot read his poem at YouTube. I wonder if he has a far more dignified cat name, for instance. And having just listened to Eliot's reading, I can't help wondering if "Pumpkinfacehead" is a "sensible, everyday name" to start with. Plus he has the middle name of "Fluffernutter". You can see Pumpkinfacehead Fluffernutter wearing a knit hat in this post at 7-Imp.

What are YOU thinking about today?




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(Deleted comment)
kellyrfineman
Nov. 19th, 2014 10:13 pm (UTC)
I have found that to be the case with some things, but not others. Sometimes waiting is better than pushing, depending on the project or issue. But even waiting rather than moving on is better than abandoning it, yes?
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