Clichés

William Shakespeare

Griselda disappeared a couple of months ago.

Before setting off for subconscious terrain, she left a long letter on my desktop, beside a file of the novella I was writing, accusing me of suffering from a “Plague of clichés.”

I didn’t scoff, as I might have if anyone else had said it. Her list of grievances was too long, and too pointed. All I could do was sigh and groan.

“Perhaps,” she concluded, “you should take that statue of Shakespeare you’ve had since childhood, and move it from the bookshelf to your desk for inspiration….”

Which is exactly what I did.

So far, he hasn’t said a word. Nor has he budged. I turn the desk light on periodically to see if his expression has changed, but it hasn’t. And, if the light bothers him, I can’t tell. He doesn’t squint, and he doesn’t complain. Not even about my clumsy drafts.

***

In the past couple of months, I have read two novels in which he plays a significant role. Both use similar construction and literary devices.

I enjoyed reading them, but, when I finished, I was struck by how many other books I have read in the past year in which the Bard plays no role, but the construction and devices do—the same ones in my work that triggered Griselda’s departure.

And so, I am left with a silent Bard, too many versions of a manuscript driven by stale contrivances, too much time to rue over them, and a reluctance to let them go.

Shall I be like Donatello, before his statue of the prophet, Habakkuk, and scream at my silent icon, “Speak, damn you, speak!” Hoping, praying for instruction? Or shall I regard the lack of it as trust? The Bard’s way of saying, “You can do this. Think….”

Think, he says…. Of folders nested within folders, unused titles, inscriptions, settings, characters, words…overused construction and devices…and Griselda’s exasperated notes….

A plague of clichés.

Maybe that’s where I start.

©2020 All Rights reserved

Globs and Blobs

Does anyone else’s eye hurt?

I hate talking about my writing. I really hate writing synopses, mostly because I’m lousy at it…but there’s a fog outside that seems to be rising out of mounds of melting snow. Does that seem right?

A few days ago I tried a gluten free chocolate version of a snack cake that was shaped like a Twinkie. There were six in the box. Now there are only two. I won’t buy them again.

But about synopses…. I did finish my latest project, which is too long for some markets and too short for others, and I honestly don’t know what to say about it other than that it’s done and it has these characters in it and I’m already thinking about a short story involving a character who never appears in the book(ish) but definitely comes from it and….

I swear, the dark chocolate sea salt caramels in the container I bought yesterday are thinner than the ones in the last container.

(Wiping eye.)

Which reminds me this is the day I usually clean the house, but I won’t because my thumb cracked open last night…so, what was I saying?

Oh, right…. I never have a problem talking about other people’s writing, distilling their work into two sentences, or a page, or three, but my own becomes mounds of floating blobs in aqua liquid, spawning new mounds after it’s finished, so it’s really not unlike the lava lamp my dad bought me in 1966 for no other reason than he thought it was cool and I’d like it.

Which I did.

But I really don’t understand how divine a substance as chocolate can be turned into something awful, like the organic bar I sampled this morning, so not even close to the faux Twinkies. Now they are brilliant…

…unlike the synopsis scrambling my brain.

Maybe I can send a lava lamp instead.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

The Plow

screen shot 2019-01-19 at 5.29.09 pm

“The Plowman” (Winslow Homer)

The thing about Griselda is she works when I do. If I’m off, she goes…elsewhere; but she’s always back when I’m at my desk, or making notes on paper assuming I’ll be able to read them later…which I won’t because…well, I’ll save that  for another time.

***

I’ve been practicing Hatha Yoga for decades. Four to five mornings a week, once my breakfast has settled, I do a fifteen minute flow to keep my frame limber and strong, and my nerves soothed.

Almost two weeks ago, as I was coming out of the Plow pose, I felt something in my back move in a direction it was never meant to go.

***

You read a lot when you have to spend 10 out of every 90 minutes with an ice pack, first on the side of the initial injury, then on the side that wrenched in response. And days later, when you switch from ice to heat, you reach for a book because you get sick of watching movies and binging on TV series.

I actually did manage to get some writing done when I was finally able to sit at my desk for more than 20 minutes without pain, but mostly I read.

And I came away from those books, all fiction, all of which had garnered enthusiastic praise by reviewers, wondering what I was missing, and whether there was still a place for my voice (such as it is) among all that is recognized as worthy these days. Yes, I know, it could have been the muscle spasms talking, but knowing that didn’t help. It put me in a funk. So, I looked for Griselda, and found her on a velvet swooning couch watching a badly degraded copy of The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.

In spite of the funk, I watched it with her, and, for some odd reason, felt better afterward.

***

It’s almost 5:30 here, and according to my Fit Bit, I’ve logged 3,000 steps doing laps around the kitchen and dining room. I was also on my feet for over an hour this afternoon peeling and slicing apples for a large pan of crisp (now baked and making the kitchen smell heavenly), and I’m still able to sit at my desk without pain.

Ptui, ptui, ptui.

But, I’ve decided to eliminate the Plow, and it’s demonic sibling, the Supported Shoulder Stand, from my flow, when I’m ready to go back to it. There are enough planks and other neutral spine poses to keep me flexible and toned. I think my back will appreciate that. I know Griselda will.

She is fond of plows, but prefers those that turn the earth, ready the soil for seeds of all varieties. For her, it’s all about what takes root, what grows, and what thrives. She’s funny that way.

©2019 All Rights Reserved