Tuesday, February 21, 2017

WHEN THE MUSE POUNCES

guest post by Vicki Windle

photo by Vicki Windle
I drop things, trip over my own shoes and lose my phone. My driving gloves are a left and a right, but do not match. (How fortunate to have lost the right of one pair, and the left of another!) So, when asked about my writing process, I feel kind of “deer in the headlights,” because I write the same way I live; haphazard.

Ideas typically appear when my mind is at rest; a relaxing drive, in the shower, before falling asleep at night, at 3:00 a.m. I call these ideas “nuggets.” They are small, dense, and fleeting. So, I pull off the road, hop out of the shower, or leap out of bed to record them.

Then a process, of sorts, comes into play. That night, the next morning, a week later, I begin. Sculpting, stretching, carving, and embellishing that nugget into a poem. I add possible phrases, and search the visual catalogues of my brain for relatable scenes. When words seem weak, or imprecise, I drag out my hefty Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and trusty Merriam-Webster Thesaurus. A 3-D kind of gal, I write with quick-flowing ink pens on whatever paper comes to hand.

I have tried to write only in one journal, to keep all things organized and in place. It just doesn’t work for me. It seems as though, when I write on the backs of papers, on the edges of the newspaper, on envelopes, my mind feels free to wander where it will. What gets gathered in this walk-about is the fun stuff. This is where I get those random connections that others say, “I would never have thought of that.”

The next step is to weave these pieces into coherency, with much adding, circling and crossing out. I only move from ink and paper to the computer when the poem is nearly finished. Word processing makes those final changes easier.

This leaves me with a lovely poem, and a lovely mess of paper. Some writer’s self-help book said to save all your discarded words for future reference. The words may not have worked in this piece, but may in another. My drawer of words is a treasure trove (for me, anyway. I’m not sure how my grand-children will view the drawer full of old journals, newspaper articles, and other bits and scraps as inheritance.)

My most recent mini-book, “Writerly," contains six poems about writing. Each written in its own place and time, the collection in this booklet illustrates what may be called my writing “process.”

I wrote “Paper” during a long airport layover. I had pulled one of those perforated ads from the center of a magazine. The other end of it was a plain white piece; perfect for scratching out a poem. Waiting for inspiration I held the paper to the sunlight streaming in the nearby window.


Paper

Only white until,
Held to the light,
Its mottled fibers glow.
The ink, therein, floats
On its skin
Drawing me in
To know.




The beginning of “Sometimes, Waxing” came to me around 3:00 a.m., as much visual as verbal. I woke up long enough to jot down the imagery in my bedside journal. Those random pearls of thought rolled around in my head for a couple of days. The muse pounced again, while I was showering, so I wrote the ending on the bathroom mirror with a lip-liner!

Sometimes, I am overcome by feelings I cannot name. So, I attempt to express them in verse, like this one.

Attempting to sunder
Layers of wounds
And wonder,
My spirit oozes
Song, percolates
Poetry, articulates
Art, and strives
To weave
A wholeness
From parts.

Published in the Fall 2016 edition of WyoPoets, “On the Eating of a Poem That Aches,” began as a phrase which woke me mid-slumber. I recorded it in my journal. It made no more sense the next morning, but reminded me of an abandoned previous work. So, I dug through my drawer of journals, papers, and scraps to excavate the material to complete this one.

A music fan, I can be found at many, if not most, musical events in town. Casper is a thriving center for the arts. Authors, musicians and artists abound. “Poet” was written in a coffee shop, listening to live music, while a talented artist painted a watercolor of the band.

Poet

The painter strums music from color.
Musicians spin stories from sound.
And I?
I paint the scene in syllables.

The longest poem in “Writerly” is “Poetry and Pine Needles.” The Casper Writer’s Group meets monthly, but has a special gathering on the mountain once in summer. After the important business of eating and visiting, we spread out to write. Walking into the pines triggered memories from across six decades, and four states. The poem is published in the WyoPoets Winter, 2017 edition.

Photo by Vicki Windle
With the encouragement of my writer’s group, and surrounded by a pile of poems, I decided to publish. However, since I write what strikes my heart, rather than to a plan, I couldn’t see my poems in “a book.” I studied art in college, and my sister has long prompted me to do more, so I was captured by the idea of illustrating my work.

Inspired by a book-making workshop, I decided to produce a series of mini poetry books. One attempt at printing at home sent me seeking assistance from a local print shop. I write the poems, create the illustrations, and design the lay-out. After printing, I do all the folding, stitching, gluing, and such. Every book produced has been formed by my hands, hence my logo, “from my hands to yours.”
Photo by Vicki Windle

I currently have 10 different mini-publications, with concepts for two more. They are sold in Casper, Wyoming at Goedicke’s Art Supply and, through April 2017, at Art 321. You can also get them directly from me. I usually carry some in the car, nestled near my mismatched gloves.





Lynn chimes in

Haphazard, eh? I work in much the same way and prefer to adhere to the adage that "creative minds are rarely tidy." However Vicki puts the words together, I am a fan, and have been since the first WyoPoets conference I attended. I had the good fortune of sitting next to Vicki during the workshop, led by Echo Klaproth. I was wowed by Vicki's writing. 

Which reminds me--WyoPoets is in Buffalo this year. April 28-29 and Colorado poet David Mason will be our presenter. For more information visit www.wyopoets.org.  Hope to see you all there!

Bio for Vicki Windle

photo provided by Vicki Windle
A retired elementary school teacher, Vicki Windle fills her days and nights with poetry, art, and song. She also travels, kayaks, cross-country skis, and volunteers at various organizations. Vicki is a member of the Casper Writer’s Group and WyoPoets.

As well as being self-published, her work is included in Weather Watch; Poems of Wyoming, in Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone; an Anthology of Wyoming Writers, and in some WyoPoets newsletters.

Vicki's poem “Haircut Day” won honorable mention in the 2015 Eugene V. Shay National Poetry Contest. View her art at facebook.com/frommyhandstoyours2016. To purchase publications or to schedule an appearance, contact Vicki on Facebook, at vickiwindle@yahoo.com, or at 307-258-8829.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Vicki, for a description of your writing process. It is similar in many ways to mine, but also very different too. I could never work with many bits of paper in a drawer. My office is disorganized enough now with books scattered on the tops of book cases, on my desk, on the floor, that if I added drawers full of old pieces of paper, the fire marshall would shut me down, not to mention the scorn of my wife. But the muse showing up at odd times--love your term "pounces"--usually when wet in the shower, asleep, or while driving. I've trained myself to remember most of those thoughts and do write them down in my journal later.

    And writing with pen or pencil or paper is a good idea. Research shows a better connection to the material if written by hand than on a keyboard. I try to start all my poems in the journal. Thanks for the insight into your writing process.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the way Vicki combines her love of words with her love of art. As someone whose tried her hand a bookmaking in the past, I think Vicki's way to publish her words make very special books indeed.

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