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Arcadia– In Progress–Please comment

PSF-Dragonfly

Feedback Welcome– very early draft

Arcadia

I am standing in a garden.  The grass under my feet is cold and wet, like the shock of the dew on my feet would never feel normal.  Every new footfall had the cold contact of that water on my heels again. Behind me, where I came from, the long blades of grass laid down with the outline of my feet, thick blades of grass with their iridescent droplets of water magnifying veined stalks.  They lay like drawings there, in the dark earth.

In the garden, there are trees.  Huge trees, so high I can’t see the first branches, reaching up past where I knew the sky should be.  Perspective forcing me to lean back, further and further, up, up, up, to see where these trunks reached, but it was just more and more green.  Dark emerald green, like postcards of Irish islands, dark green velvets.  Everything contained so completely within canopies and vines, all locking me in my forest-garden.

To my right, a small knoll was capped by a wall, I’m certain the wall must have been brick once, but now it’s just built of moss.  The only parts of this portrait around me that aren’t some shade of green are the small flowers, speckled within the lawns ahead of me, surrounded by tiny bits of the rock and bricks that make up the earthly confines of my garden, and straight ahead, a large grey stone fountain.

On my left, huge shrubs, woven together so tightly no animal could squeeze through, let alone me.  They towered over me, five and six feet high.  Their front a flat screen of leaves and gnarled branches.  The shrubs were one long wall, each one stood like soldiers, shoulder to shoulder, lined up all the way towards that fountain.  The resevoir perfectly centered there between my soldier-shrubs and that moss wall.

I can hear a voice behind the fountain.  It sounds like my grandmother, her strong German accent making it harder to hear, over the sound of the water in the fountain.  It sounds like she is saying, ‘come to Oma’, ‘Oma’ is ‘grandmother’ in German, as we’ve always called her.  ‘Come to Oma.  I love you Oma’, and it makes me happy.

I walk towards the fountain, the air thick with cool humidity; the mist splits behind me as if I were wearing a cloak made of this garden’s atmosphere.  Life surrounds me in this path; lightning bugs illuminate and flicker in the distance, yellow-green beacons beyond the towers of vegetation.  Glowworms sway, pale blue and white in the darkest of far corners.  They remind me of car lights from a tall building, staring out into a sea of darkness with just tiny spots in pairs moving around invisible lanes.  To my left, the greenest frog in the whole world begrudgingly hops out of the way of my approaching steps.

I reach my fountain, its cool clear water should be blue, like my glow worms and the sky I can’t see from here; but in the twilight of my garden, it has the deepest black reflection I’ve ever seen, mirroring the floor of the basin the water pours into.  The fountain is so large, and I am so small I have to perch up on my tippy toes to dip my hand into the pool.  The water is snow-cold, impossibly cold; as soon as my skin breaks the surface, my garden is gone, and I’m awake, back at home, warm in my bed.  I can’t be back in my garden again, not until I fall asleep, and only then if I wish and pray, only if I’m really lucky, maybe I’ll get to visit my garden again.

Garden 2

It must have been weeks; I’ve been out here.  My eyes open, fluttering, slowly stretching more and more until they’re open completely, and I’m staring at a dragonfly.  Slowly opening his clear stained glass wings, just like my eyelids.  I focused on him and he’s staring back with huge domed eyes, resting on my hand.   His name is Carson; he tells me.  I know I’m back in my garden again, and it’s darker now.  My hand is cold, like my dragonfly is made of the cold; his pinpoint legs on my thumb pouring ice water into my skin.  Stretching up over my elbow, into my shoulder.  I’m lying in a blue chair, its dark blues a harsh contrast to my garden.

I’m thirsty, my dry riverbed tongue heavy in my mouth, like paste as I try to swallow, and I see my fountain ahead.  Closer now than it was before.  I remember where I am, and the moisture that hung heavy before is not here anymore.  I could never imagine drying out in this place, but I am paper and chalk, and all I want is that fountain.

I stand, my legs stiff and my stomach uneasy, my arm aches.  All that cold makes me crumble, rusty, as I pull my elbow to my body, rubbing it warm.  Still Carson stands defiantly on the back of my hand.  Freezing me from the inside, and I don’t want to let him go; so I take it.  I’m strong, I know I can be strong; Mom says I’ll be strong, so I will be.

As I walk for my fountain, I think ‘I can play here today’.  I can be here as long as I want to be.  Those other places are broken, and I don’t want to play.  I want to dance in my garden where I don’t need other kids.  They look, they think things about me, all I need is here, there’s always something interesting in the grasses.  The air is fresh and filling.  I could run forever here.

The other kids have to go to school.  They have to learn math and science and how to play basketball.  I get to play in my garden and they’ll never get to know about it.  Mom thinks I’d be sad that the other kids don’t play with me, but I’m not.  They don’t get to see what I get to see, they’ll never know a color as green as this.  Where they play, dogs bite and the mosquitoes make little itchy bumps that get red during the summer.  The ground is hard, and there are rocks and pebbles, and blacktop.  In my garden, it’s soft, I could fall from a million miles up, and it wouldn’t hurt at all.

Here, there are flowers, and fresh little puddles.  Its never too hot, or sticky, or snowy, and the bugs never bite and Carson stares from the back of my hand and the fountain is always cold.

I’m thirsty, I pull away from that chair.  As I walk towards that fountain, it feels like Carson is pulling me back.  He sits heavy on my hand and wants met to stay in my chair.  I don’t want blue today, I only want that cold water.  The air around me is stirring as I stand and try to reach.  I’m sitting in the grass now, my dragonfly anchoring me to that ugly chair.  I hate that chair, and how far it keeps me from my fountain.  This is my garden, who is this little bug to keep me from going where I want?  He’s stinging my hand now, his cold toes biting into me, wings pulling at my skin, and I hate him.

I pull myself back into my chair, and my hand hurts less.  He’s still staring at me, those big stained glass wings making fun of my tired eyes, open-close-open-close as I sit back down.  I notice warm hands holding my left hand, rubbing my palm.  I can smell my mother’s perfume as she tells me it will be Ok.  This will pass.  She must be right.  She knows better than Carson does, she’ll give me water and make me warm again.  She’s talking to someone else too, I’m not sure who, but they’re talking about Oma.  Oma wont take someone, but I can’t hear, and it isn’t water anyway.

There are other voices too.  Sounds, tones, clicks, and words like a foreign language.  They are addressing people that aren’t me.  I can’t see them, just hear them noisying up my garden.  Just Mom’s voice, my dragonfly and my fountain in my garden; these are the things I hear, and see, and smell, and that’s fine by me.  I’m tired, and I’m cold, and I’m still thirsty, and Mom is quietly crying.  These voices are upsetting her, and I want her to come to my garden; then she wouldn’t have to listen to them anymore, and people wouldn’t have to look at us anymore, and she could sit on the grass with me and talk about ice cream and icicles and dragonflies.

Bedroom 2

 

I’m in my bedroom now.  I can hear Mom in the kitchen.  I’m still cold, but now it’s all over me.  I look for Carson, but there’s only a bit of tape where he sat.  A heavy bit of white tape and cotton where he was perched, and there’s the red outline where his stained glass wings touched my hand.  My forehead is cold, so I nuzzle into my pillow and pull my blankets up high and think about my garden.  What I’ll do next time I’m there.  That silly dragonfly won’t hold me back anymore, and that fountain won’t wake me up.  I’ll try to find the sky next time.  There must be some break in the trees where I can see a little clouds or rain, and Oma will help me find them, while we walk over the buttercups and daisies.

A Bed

I’m lying in a bed.  It’s not my bed, not my comfy cloud bed from home with the pillows that smell like me, and the four walls I know. This bed is all white, and the room is all white, and the metal is all silver, and I’m cold.  My bed has arms like a chair, tall bars that stand above the edges where I lay.  When I touch it, its always chilly; I reach out and wrap my fingers around the bars next to me.

It’s never quiet here.  There are rhythmic beeps and clicks, like a space movie, there’s always someone else coming in, and they’re always writing things or talking to people when I’m trying to get back to my garden.  I close my eyes and things go all shiny and I’m almost asleep, but someone always says something in a funny language and it wakes me up.

They know about my garden.  They talk about Carson when they talk in their complicated speak.  I’m sure I’m starting to understand them now, but I wont tell them.

My Garden

 

It’s dark.  So dark, a thick soupy dark that I could mold in front of me, if there were only contrast around it, but there isn’t.  Just dark.  I can hear my mother, out there in all that dark.  I know I’m in my garden but I don’t know what told me this.  I just know I must be.

The other voices are out in the darkness too, talking about me, they tell each other times and dates, something with Oma.  Something is wrong, the words they use are long and complicated, and they don’t know I can still hear them, but I can.

They’re talking about time, my time; all I care about is my time in my garden, but it’s so dark, I can’t see the fountain, or my soldier-shrubs or my frogs or anything.  One of them says I’m strong, I fight, but I don’t remember fighting.  The ground is soft, so I sit down.  I just want to see them, I don’t want to keep secrets from them, and I want Mom to see my garden. She’d love my garden, and how I built it.  But I’m alone, and I cry.

They keep talking about Carson, and Oma, that they’re taking me somewhere, I hear their names over and over, so many people talking about Carson, Oma, and when I’ll be going; It’s like these people are right with me, but its so black, I can’t find them.  I feel like waking, feeling the grass on my feet again, but I don’t feel anything anymore.

Then, in the darkness, I hear my mother.  She’s talking to the voices, asking them questions, about my garden.  She knows! I knew she was there, holding my hand, and warming my skin.  I try to speak, but its like the darkness has filled my mouth and my lungs and I can’t form words.  They reason with her, they tell her that some people see things, that it can affect the brain, they give it a name, in their long, complicated language, what happens to the mind, the chemicals they use to fight with me, to fight the thyroid carson-oma.  But its like they’re a million miles away, past the fountain, and the wall, and the glowworms.  They couldn’t hear me anymore, even if I could tell them about my garden.

Garden 3

It’s bright now.  So bright and warm and quiet, I have to struggle to open my eyes, the light warm, but making it hard for me to focus.  When they do open, I can see the impossible rays of white sunlight breaking the canopy over my fountain.  I can see over my wall now, there’s a huge field I’ve never taken notice of before, it stretches forever, out and away from the forest, away from the thick trees and away from that cold fountain.

I stand; it feels so effortless now, standing in that warm sunlight.  Raising my face and my arms up, I’m not tired anymore.  Checking my hand slowly, I look for Carson, but he’s not here either.  The little red outlines of his wings are gone, and I’m free to walk, to feel that grass under my feet again, not wet or stinging, it stands now, dry and soft.

As I reach the fountain, the water is cool, not the sharp cold awakening as before, I take a long sip from my cupped palm, and look out, over the wall and into the vast open sea of flowers.  I think I’ll visit them today.

Journal-Long Form 2

I’d love to say you cant have me anymore.  But I wasn’t strong enough to take me away the first time.  I’m still missing that part of me, almost as much as I miss you.

Hollow bits I forgot to pack up, leaving drops of myself like breadcrumbs to that place I promised Id never go back to.  I’ll find my way along that bright red path; shining black in the moonlight, like that rain falling under the greyscale skies that can never wash it away.

Those ashen skies appeared like a movie reel, framing my hemorrhaging- writing my dramas in a script no one would believe the details of, but too perfect to forget.

My life isn’t for me anymore, and it probably never was.  Our lives are simple, to find someone else to gift them to.  Polish them to a shine until we find someone else strong enough to contain them.  Our injuries earned through a life poorly lived; a tapestry no one else can recreate.

But then, why would they want to, when they see how beautiful you have woven it?

Passion is never calm.

Passion is never relaxed.

Journal-Long Form

Mathematics is the language of the universe.  But I don’t want to speak to the universe.

Voice is the language of man.  But I have nothing to say to people.

Color is the language of emotion.  But words paint a picture than any brush.

Why would anyone want to communicate with anyone?  To convey selfish needs and requests; speak your own language those who want to learn it, will.

 

 

So, now you’re a writer?

I’ve been published; I’ve received money, real money, for my work. Now, I’m truly a writer, right? Well, yes and no.

Having only been recently published, and receiving money for my work, I can say its one of the most interesting turning points in my life. In that, nothing turned. I have kept a journal for many years, and in that time have written many things. Shallow and deep things on many subjects that were important to me at the time, and in retrospect and after careful reading, the vast majority of them weren’t very good. I’ve always tried to create, while I’ve pined through different jobs that have paid me very decent money, but all the while I’ve wanted to make a living with my art. Either drawing, or painting or writing; I didn’t want to continue existing simply maintaining the bottom line of some corporation.

I don’t expect my writing or my art will ever produce enough money to sustain me, but just being able to create something for public consumption is all I was really aiming for. But that’s different than what I thought it was. In hindsight, it seems so obvious now; and some reading this may even find it silly: when you create for public consumption, other people will read it. They will judge you, and that’s good. The worst thing you can do as an artist is surround yourself with people who will not openly criticize, when invited. These people know you, they know how you act and how you speak, and they will put your voice behind everything you write. To them it sounds natural, because it’s you, in the context of you.

I don’t think that’s what makes a good writer. It’s not about knowing when to put the fancy words in, or show off your vocabulary skills. Writing is for the reader. You’re painting a picture, and letting the reader fill in with their imagination. If you are forcing your own language into your work, you’re essentially forcing the reader to receive it as you’ve imagine it; you’re not letting them play in their own imagination.

Growing up, I remember reading many books. I had significantly more time then, and I would spend hours reading and rereading through all sorts of genres, novelists, screenplays and comic books. Isaac Asimov, Anne Rice, Carlos Castenda, Michael Crichton and Neil Gaiman filled my head with new worlds that didn’t exist before they created them, and that power amazed me.

201px-NeverwhereI remember reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and having this perfect image in my head of what Door, and Richard may look orsound like, the battle of the Hunter and the Beast of London Below was so vivid in my mind, I was engulfed in this imagination so deeply, I could almost smell the underground. I heard there had been a BBC television adaptation, and I had to find it. This was long before downloading a film was optional. I eventually found a bootlegged version on eBay; and anxiously waited for it to be mailed through the post from the ether, because in those days, people just left, and things simply came. They weren’t tracked and available at an instant.

When I received this VHS with its hand written label, I couldn’t wait to watch. It was a spiritual moment; surely what I had envisioned was what they had filmed! What I read and saw in my head what the only way it could be!

It wasn’t, and I hated it. I kept it, and still have it. I’ve even purchased its reprinting when it was officially available in the states, because I loved the story so much, but I haven’t watched it since. My imagination ruined that film before I had even received that bootlegged version; when it was written, it was done in such a way, whatever Neil saw was not forced onto me. His words gave me a nudge into the direction he wanted the story to go, he gave me elements of the environments, without demanding my imagination see or do anything other than the storytelling.

I’m sure all of my writing for my own amusement forgot that lesson. They were only letters written to me. The few people that have read them already had a concept of my voice, and where I probably intended to go. But when writing for people on the other side of the country, or the world as a new writer does today; one simply can’t bully the reader. They will never hear it in the writer’s voice, and generally, they wouldn’t enjoy it if they did. Only writers lucky enough to have built a fan base, who are familiar with their own voice, will be able to succeed in such an environment.

Miles Davis once said “You have to sound like a lot of other people before you sound like yourself”, and that’s very true. But another element of that, at least in my writing, is: you have to let your reader sound like themselves. I want to be the writer that lets the readers experience their own imaginations, nudging them along, giving a fresh idea, or my own spin on how I saw it, without forcing my own voice. In that, I will have found how to sound like myself.