Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Plenty on My Mind Today

While driving home last night and listening to a favorite CD, I noticed something that I do from time to time. My mind will be thinking about work, my writing, or the future, and I suddenly realize that a favorite song is playing, and I’ve missed a portion of it. I will then scan to the beginning of the song. Often my mind is still wandering, and I realize I still haven’t fully entered the song. Hence, I will scan back to the beginning of the song again. With some songs, I like to be fully present when I listen to the music. I want to experience the song emotionally and create in my mind the images that I’ve created to go along with the story of the lyrics and music, kind of like my own music video. Ah, the power and joy of music!

From the poetry books I’ve been reading recently, I feel that there is a gap in my education. I want to learn more about the specific names of trees, flowers, birds, fish, insects, and the constellations. I tend not to write overly gorgeous poetry with lots of trees, flowers, and birds, but I would like the knowledge at my command if I want to use it in my writing or if I encounter it in other people’s writing. Last night I spent a lot of time hunting for a specific tree name that would fit a line of poetry I’m revising. Had I more knowledge about trees, I could have probably pulled a good tree name out of my head that would fit the line rather than thumbing endlessly through books.

Last week after I returned from Dallas my wife and I had dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s near the airport. I noticed a mismatched couple sitting behind my wife. The woman was a young, slim, well dressed, and a very attractive blonde. She was sitting opposite this guy that looked grungy in his long-sleeve skateboard T-shirt, knit cap, and jeans. Further, he was not nearly as attractive in body or face as the woman. I discreetly pointed all of this out to my wife. We had a brief conversation debating if they were a couple or maybe brother and sister. We never did arrive at a definite decision. I saw the same couple again last night while I was writing at Starbucks. This time I saw her put her arm around him and stand very close to him while they ordered their drinks. I concluded that they are indeed a couple. This got me thinking again about what my wife and I discussed as part of our conversation about the couple when we saw them at Ruby Tuesday’s. Generally, men and women will pair up in such a way that each of them are relatively equal as far as society’s definitions of attractiveness goes. However, occasionally you will see a very attractive woman on the arm of a relatively unattractive man. To be cynical, we could say that the man has money, which offsets his other perceived shortcomings, but I don’t think money is always involved in this kind of scenario. I don’t think the grunge guy was loaded for example. My wife pointed out that it is very rare that a highly attractive man would choose a relatively unattractive woman to be with. I think she is right. So, are women more willing to overlook looks in favor of say personality, intelligence, a sense of humor, etc. than men are? It would seem so.

Regarding submissions to literary magazines, it occurred to me last night that even if you send out your work and it is rejected at least more people are reading it than if you were not sending your work out. If having an audience for your work is important, at least a few extra people are reading what you do. I find this comforting. It assuages some of the sting of rejection. Of course, if your work is published the hope is that you will have a larger audience and more people will read your work. Having your work accepted by a literary magazine is about external validation that what you do is valuable and worth your time and other people’s time. When a literary magazines accepts someone’s work and publishes it the editors are in effect saying to the world, “Hey, look at this! You’ve got to read this!”

I’ve been listening to a philosophy CD in the car. Something the philosophy professor said about the Greek Stoics struck me. The quote goes something like this: “Never say you have lost something. Instead, say you have merely returned it.” The point here is about the nature of attachment and that all life is transitory. We never really own anything—not our CDs, not our cars, not our houses, not even our health, intelligence, and our lives. Everything is borrowed and on borrowed time. It all must be returned sooner or later. It can all be taken from us by another or merely by the ravages of time. The idea of “returning” these things is very interesting to me. I never thought of it that way.


Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.

--Dylan Thomas


At 4:15 PM, Blogger Stephanie King said...

I do the same thing with music while driving back to WV from time to time. I will sometimes play a song 4 or 5 times just to fully get the beginning.

As far as sending out goes... I think that's a brilliant way to think about the whole submission process. It is nice to know someone somewhere is reading something you worked hard on.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Gerald Huml said...

Thanks for the comments, Stephanie.


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