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Week 6/ November 8/Writing Raw - Page 3

post #41 of 74

Thanks so much for your comments. It is a true story, part of my college days. I'd never written about it before.........not even in my journal. I feel you on the difficulty of writing beyond the pain and unhappiness. I could only write about the ick for a long time. I got so tired of it, I didn't even want to read my writing. I guess the turning point for me was when I got a book of poetry exercises and just made myself go through it exercise by exercise. Some of the poems I ended up with were just crappy, stilted, dribble but some turned out nicely............Like my "ode to my teacup". I would have never picked the subject but it was 4 am and I was trying to write a sonnet before work and I couldn't think of anything else so I looked around the room and settled on my teacup. I ended up really liking it. It even rhymes! I found the regular exercise of writing helped me reach beyond all my negative emotions. Later I think in helped me be better able to control how I wrote able the icky stuff too. I was able to control it in my writing instead of it controlling my writing. Does that make sense? I dunno I'm still working at it.............never took a creative writing class or anything, just feel compelled to write. What I would find intriguing would be how you went from the less then pleasant place you described in your post about fire to the happier place where you are now. I guess I find the journey intriguing, how we get to the happiness not the happiness alone. I liked Anne Lamott's book "Travelling Mercies" in that regard. I loved the story of her journey. "Operating Instructions" was wonderful too.

You know my favorite poet is e.e. cummings because I think he is able to write raw with joy without trivializing it, Pablo Neruda too. They are my favorite poets for this reason. The same reason Ella Fitzgerald is my favorite singer EVER. Even when she sings the blues there is a kind of joy in her voice. I aspire to be like that; able to write/sing raw with joy while not being sappy or sacchrin about it; able to find beauty even in the sorrow and be joyful about the beauty. I think that's the most amazing talent, so much harder than connecting with the sorrows of life. Sorrow always seems so much more profound and easier to evoke; and there always seems to be so much more of it! I am in awe of those who can make joy raw and profound and are able to communicate THAT in a way the reader/listener gets it. Maybe that should be my writing goal.............anyway I can't help you with how to do it, but those people I mentioned I think do it, maybe find some inspiration there?
I think your book sounds really interesting. Sounds like it could be really good for kids going through that kind of situation as a kind of reference and reassurance that they aren't the only one. Is the book meant for kids or adults?

I love the line "the softest touch is a dance between love and restraint." It's such a perfect description.

I quite liked your fire piece, the contrast of fire's destruction and usefulness was interesting.

Is this the kind of feedback we are meant to be doing? I'd like some constructive criticism as well........what can I be doing better? Besides spelling, I know I cannot spell. Oh and should we be editting our writing more now that we are open for feedback?
post #42 of 74
You ALL are So amazing! Thank you for sharing your talents with us, and also for helping me to learn from you.

Curious~ perhaps you need to write about the things your pen is willing first, get it out and than the reast will follow when you and your pen are ready?

Red~ I wish you all the best of the writing world. I can't wait to go buy your book
violafemme~ I agree totally with what zenfulmama said to you.

I am too green to offer any thing in the means of constructive criticism. Sorry I can't be of help to you in that way.
post #43 of 74

article help

Recently, I queried Mothering mag with an article idea about Birth Rights and much to my amazement they gave me the green light. It will be the first writing project that I've worked on since the birth of my eldest (3 years ago). They "would like a strong article that pulls in the history of midwifery and tracks how birth options have dwindled through the decades. Then, to give the readers some options as to how to reclaim their birth rights." This is no small undertaking. Ashisha, the articles editor, has told me to take the time necessary to do the research. That, it will be six months + before they can publish it. So, what I've done is to ask a friend who has a master's in library science to help out with research and I've started researching myself. The problem is I feel like a college student who's been told what her research paper is and that she's got all semester to do it. I was one of those who would wait until the end of the semester and pull several allnighters...And the kind of writing that I did before was interviews with musicians, artists, etc.--cultural pieces that I could produce in a week, maximum. I want to do this right and have no game plan. any suggestions would be much appreciated. thank you.
post #44 of 74
YAY ZENFULMAMA!!!!! But I understand your plight. I've written a few articles for a genealogy magazine and initially made the mistake of putting it off, putting it off, putting it off.

The one tip I CAN give you (although your library science friend might have already) is to DOCUMENT YOUR SOURCES and KEEP COPIES of your source stuff if you can/have the room. This will make your life so much easier. I would photo copy the page and mark it with a numbering system. Then I'd enter that number onto a master list of sources. Sounds complex, but with your research you will absolutely need it.

Also, when you interview people, see if you can record it. Write down specific items, but keep the recording (if you can).

As always, take down your source citations while you're reviewing the source. If you need to submit them to the editor (and this might happen AFTER publication if your information is called into question) you will have them right at your fingertips.

Good luck... I know that when I got my first complimentary copies of my work in writing I was THRILLED. It's an incredible rush!

post #45 of 74


I walked gently down the hall... the baby was finally sleeping and "alone" time was at a premium in this house. I turned to descend the stairs and saw the wafts of light gray smoke coming from the chimney on the porch in the last light of day.

He'd made a fire. As I got closer, I caught the faint scent that is left behind before the woodstove door is closed. It was just starting... the newspaper was just disappearing and the scrap wood started to catch. I laid on the futon and as the daylight disappeared, I watched the orange glow of the fire contrast against the neon orange of our sugar maples through the windows surrounding me.

He came back with two glasses of wine and I lifted my head so that he could sit down, and then settled back onto his lap. It was our anniversary. The monitor was quiet. There was a slight chill in the air, but my feet were near the woodstove. Now the logs were fully drenched in the flames. We sat there watching them dance, talking about everything and nothing, drinking our wine, smiling...

Hours passed. The last log burnt deep red as it turned into coals. The chill got stronger. The wine was gone. The monitor was still quiet. The day was done. As we gathered the glasses and sealed the woodstove to burn itself out my husband hugged me and kissed my forehead. We remarked about how innocently it all began years ago--neither of us wanting to leave until that last ember went out. But that last ember will always burn inside of us forever.

I know... sappy!
post #46 of 74
Thank you very much for the tips, heatherdeg. I like the numbering system--organization is something that I struggle with. i do have a large filing cabinet--need to buy some file folders and stick them in their own separte container...or buy a small accordian folder type thing, with a letter by letter filing system-that would work. I also need to dust off my old interview recorder and make sure that it still works...

Your romantic fire story was very warming on this cold winter's night--a lovely scene, great description esp. of the sugar maples, and the fire.
post #47 of 74
Writing into the void was liberating. Since opening the forum to feedback, I feel my inner critic creeping in again. But I’m aware of her now, in a way I wasn’t before. And so already, this experience has changed me.

It’s been four days since I last wrote. I’ve resisted writing raw, resisted the impulse, the permission, to rage or exalt. I feel the words crowding against my forehead, rushing into unexplored corners, fighting to go first. It’s all there but they don’t connect. Like in dreams, when you open your mouth to scream and nothing comes out.

I hate this writing about writing. It’s schematic, self-absorbed, boring. And yet it also is my most troubled (and troubling) obsession. It’s why I’m here in a cold, dark room at 6:22 AM watching the first snow accumulate on the top of a street lamp. And why I keep returning.

The thing is, I’m a writer. (There, I said it.) I mean I get paid to write. At least I did until I had a baby and became a stranger to my former self. I wrote copy, expertly crafted “messages” designed to persuade people to buy, believe, donate, invest, divulge, surrender, indebt. If you have a bank account or a credit card, ever signed up for cable or bought a new car, stayed in a hotel or ordered a sweater online, you’ve probably seen my work. I invaded your email, stuffed your mailbox, accosted your friends. I gave you something for free, I promised you the world. I even went after your kids.

Then one morning (actually, it was several mornings), I decided I had sold enough goods, signed up enough new customers, rewarded enough frequent flyers for a lifetime. I packed up my things, watered my plants, and left a note on my boss’s desk. It went something like this:

Dear M,

We need to talk. I think it's time we ended our relationship, effective immediately.

It's not you. It's me. I pretended to care about marketing productivity so you would want me. But I’ve been transitioned and restructured so many times, I don’t recognize myself anymore.

Sure, we had some fun, but in the end it boils down to this: I gave you the best I had in me. You gave me a ceramic dish for Christmas.

It might be hard at first, but you’ll find someone new. After all, we both know I only wanted you for your money.

Affectionately Yours,

The next weekend, my son was conceived. All that “trying” sex finally turned into “doing” sex. My husband jokes that leaving my job unlocked my fertility mojo. But I think it unlocked my creativity, let loose the woman raging inside against the inexorable blandness of corporate life. For the first time since elementary school, I had permission to play. To eat when I was hungry, sleep when I was tired. To write when I felt like it, and not when I didn’t. To paint all over the blank canvas of my son’s nursery. To make of our home and of my heart, a calm, meditative space.

I met my former co-workers for lunch a few months later to share my news. It was met with a mixture of congratulations and panic. No one’s going to hire a pregnant girl, not in this industry. And they were right, as my attempts to land a few freelance gigs soon bore out. But my unemployment (and my unemployable-ness) proved the greatest blessing. It gave me the luxury of time. And once I got over the pressure to “do” something, I realized I was knee-deep in the most important work of my life.

Having a child has opened doors in me I didn’t even know were closed. How do you write raw from joy, someone asked? You allow the joy to be greater than the sorrow. You take what you can and hold the rest in reserve because you’ll need it one day when you forget who you are. You’ll use it to unlock chambers, to vent the pressure, to loose the wild bird and the fragrant tree inside you.
post #48 of 74

I loved this part,

"Having a child has opened doors in me I didn’t even know were closed. How do you write raw of joy, someone asked? You allow the joy to be greater than the sorrow. You take what you can and hold the rest in reserve because you’ll need it one day when you forget who you are. You’ll use it to unlock chambers, to vent the pressure, to loose the wild bird and the fragrant tree inside you."

Thank you for it.
post #49 of 74

A Morning In The Life of The Fire

I got a luv-a-ly buncha coconuts…”
My toddler is awake, serenading the morning in her unique fashion. As always, I clean the coffee from my nostrils – it gets in there when you burst out laughing in the silence with a mouthful of the stuff. I also wipe a few splodges of coffee from the computer screen. I push back from the computer, giggling softly; sure that this is the only way to start a day. I open her bedroom door as the finale is in full swing, “THERE STANDS ME WIFE! THE IDOL OF ME LIFE! Singing roll-a-boll-a-ball a penny a pitch!” We throw open the old fashioned windows and let rip together, “Singing roll-a-boll-a-ball a penny a PITCH!!” Arms outstretched, we hold the final note – which, I must admit, was pitch perfect. An elderly couple passing by on the street applauds us. That’s a first; we must be getting good.

John looks at us from the doorway, his eyes puffy and straining, his naked body covered in sleep dents. He shakes his head, almost dribbling, “Oh Lord, what have I done?” and makes his way with a sleepy smirk to the bathroom.

I pull out of the fridge my latest fad – macrobiotic breakfast! Ooh la la! Sierra helps me set the coffee table Japanese style, which really suits our rice, cold steamed fish and miso soup combo. We all sit around the table, which looks convincingly like a scene from a Geisha house – what, with our throw pillows for seating and chopsticks and all. John looks at the fish, looks at me, looks at the fish, stands and promptly fixes himself some corn flakes exclaiming, “All I ask is one average day. Just one normal, just-like-others day from start to finish.” He sighs. I look at Sierra, she knows what we have to do. As we charge him hollering, “Death to the dictator!” with our pillows he screams (quite a feminine scream, I may add). He falls to the floor as we tumble on him, arms tangled in legs.
“God, I hate you!” he whispers, his face soft with adoration.
“Oh, babe, I hate you too.”

We watch him walk to the car, my sweet young girl and I. Both feeling the same way, something along the lines of, “Damn work!” and yell out, “Miss you already, daddy!”

We mean it more than he will ever know.

My life is fire. I breathe in the heat; I breathe the heat out. A simple life, but love is far from simple. Every moment is my passion, every song, every laugh – especially those laughs that leave your cheeks sore for an hour. :
post #50 of 74
Calm~ have I told you how much I like you lately?

Thank you So much for that. You have no idea how special you are.
post #51 of 74
I'm working on my feedback. It's an experience to read, and not just respond, but figure out what I'm responding to - that's what I'm trying to do for my comments...
post #52 of 74
I am new to the group, and I apologize for comming in so late. What an amazing group of women writers here! I have been touched by many of the peices I have read. I welcome feedback on my writing.

In 1982 our bare feet slapped the dew soaked grass
While chasing butterflies and imaginings
In 1982 a day’s journey took us through fresh flowers, sand castles,
and fried bologna sandwiches, ketchup oozing onto our fingers
In 1982 my pigtails were long and my legs were short
and my dreams stretched before me
In 1982 cotton candy freedom stuck to my mouth as our raised arms and voices sprung from the back of the tilt o’ whirl
In 1982 whispered secrets slipped between our ears, freshly pierced,
waiting for the next hush-hush bit of information
In 1982 we hid behind the red shed, giggling, escaped from the neighborhood boys
And our shrieks echoed from the trees when they discovered us
In 1982 my shoes tapped the pavement under my Barbie embroidered backpack
on the way to school before the snow flew
In 1982, when in a moment, creeping fingers separated us, smudged my memories,
filled my throat, until those recollections were flooded, drowned alone, like a limp, wrung-out dish towel
or a wrag doll, one eye missing and a hole in her shirt
post #53 of 74
mama dance, i'm intrigued by your poem. i posted some different thoughts earlier, and have now decided to retract them...after rereading i've found i love it just the way it is. the imagery is beautiful and i like the contrast of the ending with the rest. i've found it to be very challenging to give feedback--as we go along, maybe i'll get better at it...so here's some heartfelt praise for your first post...welcome!
post #54 of 74


Days with Frog and Toad
Many stories left untold
I lied to my teacher and said that
I have eight brothers and sisters and even a cat
The cat was no lie: white Persian named Fee Fee
My mother graciously
gave her to me
I didn’t know how mama must have felt, now I do
She had me, a little boy and a newborn too
We watched her be thrown down by daddy, pushed to the floor,
screaming and yelling and wanting no more
All I could feel was pangs of neglect
No understanding of grief or regret
post #55 of 74

Passion/Obsession #4: Photography

I love taking my Nikon N65 camera out expressly to capture moments. In some ways I feel like a huntress, hunting for great moments to be captured on film. Other times I feel like an on-looker, simply observing life and capturing my angle. The first time I did it I was excited to carry my camera around and thought I looked good with it, but the big surprise came when I developed the pictures. The pictures had a fresh, great quality to them. The views were interesting, you wanted to stick around and keep looking at them. That’s when I realized I had something here. I began to look for more interesting animals and scenery to put on film. It was fun, exhilarating. It made me feel alive. It was as if something inside me was vibrating and happily glowing from within.
Then life happened. My work consumed my life, and all that was left was scraps to spend with my husband. I longed to take pictures again, but at the same time, I felt guilty and wanted to spend with my husband as well. I could have done both, but I know that he was tired as well and we both needed to stay home since we were always on our horror commutes.
Then we moved, embarked on a new life and I lost my father to a heart attack. I didn’t feel like eating or reading, which meant I must have been severely depressed. For six months I was in limbo. Sadness, no genuine laughter, no interest in photography.
Then I got pregnant. After a near-death experience and hospital stay, I had my beautiful baby boy at a birth center. My midwife called him the miracle baby. And he is. I take up my camera again, this time not as a hobby, but as a necessity. I want to keep every moment with my growing son. I revel in his health, vitality and mannerisms. The fact that he looks like me. I take many, many pictures. I get to know the photo lab technician really well. He laughs and exclaims: “more pictures?” He doesn’t have any kids.
I fill up albums, already six or so, and build up my memory bank. I worry about hurricanes and having my treasure destroyed. Photography has a new meaning now.
post #56 of 74

To Brandon: My Best Day

My best day was when I found out you were OK. I had been sick, ill in the hospital for ten days. I could have died, I found out later. Bizarre, since I didn’t feel any pain. But all I worried about was you and seeing you, my little companion. I had sleepless nights staring at the ceiling. I felt weak all over. I prayed to God that He would give me a chance. Prayed that I could see your father again. Prayed that you would be well, meaning I had to be as well, at least up to your delivery into this world. Then I prayed that I would be well too, because even with a wonderful father like yours, I know you needed me. You needed me. And you still do. God saved you and me so I can love you, guide you, help you and be your mother.

You know when I found out you were OK? When I helped you out of me. You were so healthy, strong, with a full head of raven hair. I think about you then, and I think about you now, toddling around everywhere, touching everything you can and learning new tricks every day. You need me to navigate your world and make sense of it, and I will step up to that. You need me for companionship and nurturing, I will be there for you. You need me for support and encouragement, count me in. You need me to slowly let go of your hand, I will. But I will always be beside you. I loved you then, I loved you before that, I love you now and I always will.
post #57 of 74
Call me chicken, but I can't bring myself to write about my father's burial. The wound is surprisingly still fresh and it hurts just to think about him being dead. Sorry, I know this is about writing raw, but I'm not ready yet.

It hurts too much
post #58 of 74


In 1982, I was fourteen. This was the first year that my eating disorders really began. I wasn’t full-fledged into anorexia until the following year, but this was the year that the awareness began. I had always been tall and very thin. That summer I was in Princeton, NJ attending a ballet summer session. It was there that I first encountered bulimia. It’s something I never did, but a student there was teaching the girls how to throw up so that you could eat whatever you wanted but could stay thin. It made me become very aware of weight, something I had never focused on before. Much to my surprise, I got my period that summer. I had been told that because I was thin, I could be sixteen before it happened. I was so surprised and upset by the turn of events. I guess I realized in some ways that my childhood was over. In the ballet world, womanhood used to be frowned upon. Dancers were expected to look more like little boys than they were women. It was not long after that that the downward spiral began. But it wasn’t just the physical side that caused me to fall into this horrible disease of the mind, it was so much more. Control issues with my mother, control issues with my ballet teacher at home, loneliness, confusion…it all came into play. Because of the time constraint, I can’t get too into the disease itself, but as I write this, I remember coming almost full circle. The day that I had gained enough weight to be healthy again, I got my period for the first time in two years. I cried because it meant I was a woman and that scared me. But I also knew it meant I was well and while a difficult thought, I also knew it was the right thing and that I was free of that demon.
post #59 of 74


Fire! Fire! Ring of fire! Burning! This is good but it hurts so much! I yell out to the midwife…burning! Ring of fire! We laugh because I am able to find the humor in pain. I also know that this means she is almost here. I laugh because I am grateful that I learned about the ring of fire in my Bradley classes or I might have been more scared or maybe even more in pain. I know that the hardest part is almost done…but she’s almost here! I push and push but why is it not productive? Ah ha! I finally figure out what I should be doing. Four huge pushes, incredible burning fire. Wait, wait…stop pushing, stop, stop! You’re kidding me I think. I can’t feel anything but fire right now, am I pushing? Am I not, I can’t tell anymore. Whoosh, she comes flying out, she’s here! The burning subsides, the fire dies down. They place my perfect baby girl on my belly. My baby, my baby, my beautiful baby, we meet at last!
post #60 of 74

The softest touch

The softest touch. When have I had the softest touch? Why can’t I think of a time that I was touched softly? My baby doesn’t know how to touch softly yet. My husband doesn’t touch me softly, my mother never touched me softly, nor my father. What a sad moment to think that I have never had a soft touch. There must be a time and I just can’t recall it. But wouldn’t one remember a soft touch, a special moment? What a sad, but wonderful reminder to touch my baby softly from now until the day she will no longer let me touch her because she hits that funny age where parents are suddenly embarrassing. I reminder to touch her gently, to stroke her cheek, to stroke her hair, to kiss her softly and tell her I love her. I do this everyday but I must never forget to do so. SO, maybe I was thinking about this wrong. Touching my baby is the softest touch, yet I was thinking of it solely from my point of view, if I’ve been touched softly. Maybe that’s the purpose of this exercise, to turn me away from egocentric thoughts and focus them on my baby girl. But yet, I feel as though I have given up so much of myself. Confusing. She is my world, yet I fell as though I am losing myself. Maybe that’s why I approached this exercise in my terms. Someday maybe I can find a balance where I am whole, not from other people filling me, but from within myself. Then I will be whole.
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