Poetry, the Psych Ward and Me


I’ve been writing poetry lately, as evidenced by a glance at my blog. I’ve been inspired by a wonderful poet by the name of Dean J. Baker. His work lives and breathes. With a minimalist approach, his words accuse, tease, reveal, threaten and impose. It’s truly a distraction. I’m supposed to be working on my collection of short stories, although I confess it’s good to have the occasional diversion, if brief. Sometimes, the stimulation of another person’s work serves to give us just the inspiration we need to carry on with our own work, so thank you Dean.

I don’t know about you, but writing isn’t a sedentary experience for me. Much like a performer on a stage, I let go and allow myself to forget I’m even there. I tend to allow the character or feeling to take over, until I’m immersed in the moment. Magic happens. Words spring forth from a well of unknown origin. From the outside looking in one may wonder at my sudden bursts of emotion, my need to offer indistinguishable utterances to the empty wind, and my occasional rants that propel me up from my chair to pace a bit before dropping back into lost thought. I haven’t been hauled off for psychiatric testing…yet. If it that happens, will somebody please make sure to send a pen and some paper?

For years, when I would make attempts to connect with the writer inside me, I suppressed the natural language that came from my characters. I actually feared it, as it startled my naïve brain that obscenities and horrific details of depraved actions would urge themselves upon the paper, my paper. I struggled with it and set my pen aside. I focused on everything else but writing. Finally, after having a bit of life experience and understanding that writing is such a part of me that to deny it is to deny myself, I am at peace with words I write. I can’t worry over the judgment others pass, and believe me, they do. No, all I can do is write.

I feel as though I’m at a stage of awakening in my life, a place of living with my eyes wide open for once and the things I see are amazing and wonderful. The people I’m meeting are interesting and insightful. The works of others I’m reading are transforming and inspiring. I believe they call this living an authentic life. I’m not quite there yet but I’m on my way.

How about you? Who inspires you? Any quirky habits when you write? Are you being true to yourself as a writer? Please share – I always love hearing from you!


Dean J. Baker – Poetry, and prose poems

Open ClipArt Library

22 responses »

  1. Writing requires tough skin. Especially when you start putting it out there for others to see. As you point out, you can’t worry over other people’s judgment. If we did, we’d never dare write a word. I find it can take a bit to get me into the “zone”, but once I’m there, good luck trying to get me out!

    • wide awake, re-reading your post, i found some very similar feelings – a good book can draw you into the writer’s imagination – i still think more in reading than watching movies. i find my self closing my eyes often, while i imagine my characters, as you are well aware, they’ll kick you in the chins, if you don’t pay attention to them.

      you have a brilliant imagination…..


  2. Don’t worry, Sheila – you are not the only loon in the writing bin. I remember when my characters started doing and saying things I didn’t expect. I wasn’t sure what to do, but when I let it happen, wow – good things came. Honest things, instead of things I was trying to make sure fit in by contriving the story that came to that moment.

    I play loud music (when no one else is home) and drink tons of coffee and talk to myself and make faces at my computer. I get up and jog or dance around the house when I can’t get the word vomit out of my head. And sometimes, for freaking hours on end, I don’t move a muscle except those in my fingers. Until the coffee reminds me that I have bodily functions that need satisfying :).

    It’s all good. As long as the words come, and as long as I am writing. And for the record, you are one of the writer’s who inspire me. I am a poetry dolt, unless it is silly and rhyming, but your poetry is lovely. And this post is a healthy dose of awesomeness.

    • Julie: I am truly humbled by your comments. Thank you so much and I’m glad to know I’ve got such a great loon in the bin with me 🙂 Thank you always for reading anything I write. You are one of a kind yourself!

  3. What a highly well-written post. Honestly, it’s sophisticated, mature, and honest. It reads as if you spent just as much time choosing the words here as you do your poems. 🙂

    So, my inspirations? Quirky habits? I wish I could say with sincerity that I’m inspired every day to write, but the truth is I’m not. Sometimes I have to force myself. I look at writing as I do work, or going to the gym, or cleaning my apartment: I dread it, I don’t want to do it, but once I START, I’m all set. I could go for hours. That’s the part I like most about writing, when I’m immersed in it and I actually enjoy what I write. As for quirky habits, it’s probably a good time now to admit that I like used the Pages program on my Mac because it makes what I’ve written look like a real page from a real novel. For some reason it makes the work I’m doing feel professional. 🙂

    • Sean: Thank you for your lovely comments 🙂 and I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. I’m not always inspired every day to write, but I choose to pick up a pen almost every day. When I was writing song lyrics with a local musician one time, I found that if I made an effort every day to put something down on paper (it could be one line) then it might spark that mystical thing that happens to us sometimes…a moment where words come into being. I never dread writing, but I am a “feeling” kind of writer – where my feelings can send me on a course I don’t plan to take. So, if my feelings are sad, the work is sad. If I’m feeling anxiety, the work comes across scattered and all over the place. If I’m exceptionally happy, sometimes I can’t write worth a damn – go figure.

      I’m unfamiliar with a Mac, so what does the Pages program do for you to make it look professional? I mean, does it look like a page from a book when you’re typing into it or something, instead of a blank document appearance? Thanks again for reading this post – you’re awesome my friend 🙂

      • Sheila,
        I don’t know how to describe the Pages document, or my weird quirk regarding it. It was the same way with Word. Something about the way the paragraph looks. In Pages, it’s single space, and it looks like something you’d see from a paperback novel. It’s weird how that confine can shape how I write. It helps dictate the lengths of my sentences, keeps them from running over. I can’t explain it. I’m a nut! 🙂

  4. I was just writing at a coffee shop the other day and it occurred to me that other people might think I’m crazy. I have a habit of (subtly) acting out how I imagine a character might respond to a given situation. So, for instance, if the character walks into a mud puddle, I imagine myself doing it and I see what kind of facial expression I’d have, or what words might come out of my mouth. I’m sure people having coffee who watch me suddenly furrow my brows and mutter “Shit” into my computer, then change expression into a smile (you know, when someone offers me a hand to step out of the puddle) have the urge to move to a faraway table, just in case.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s