Off to Write a Whisper… While Communing with Frogs

Three years ago, I was told stories about a ninety-year-old man’s first memory of crying, about a wise crone and her sisters using hot water bottles to warm the winter, about a painter who claimed his roots through ghostly images on canvas, about a mother metamorphosing into dragon and knight in the eyes of her youngest son…

Naturally, the tales stirred my Muse. Her whispers filled the hungriest parts of my mind… reminded me that we feed on words and delight in the preservation of memory. I plotted the story of their tales that same night, while everyone slept and frogs sang of summer’s end.

I’ve written different versions of the story, and they all feel… wrong. Last night, as I ran fingertips over the soil of my potted plants and listened to the mechanic roaring of Broadway, I finally figured out what kept diminishing the tales: I’ve been trying to bring a story to life, while writing it almost 3,000 miles away from its soul. The scrawling of those memories yearns for frog song, for bat wings speckling the night sky, for the prickling of the blackberry bush.

So, the Witch/Piano Man household flies off to Friday Harbor, where I aim to write a whisper… while communing with frogs, bats, deer, and eating more blackberries than it’s probably healthy.

I usually plan to blog little while I’m away from home, but I suspect that the telling of this tale is going to fill me so much that I might need to share some of the process with you. I’m looking forward to it—the telling and the sharing… Also, it has been quite a while since I’ve written about the writing process, from beginning to end. I kind of miss those posts.

Well, I better stop here. I need to have one last conversation with our house sitter, and I must revise my green babies’ watering chart—I’m quite enchanted by cemeteries, but a potted graveyard in my living room has never held much appeal, if you know what I mean.

What about you, my Wicked Luvs? Have you ever wrestled with creative work that won’t come to life until you allow for specific conditions? Do tell…

Edited (8/20/2015): there was a typo in the title (I wrote commuting instead of communing). So yes, there were lots of jokes about cars, trains and planes full of frogs. I enjoyed every one of them. 😀

Green Frog on Rose Hip

Clarabelle and Dee

“Pure of soul and of flesh, she was.
One of a kind, thought the Witch.
Not half woman and half spider,
but one of Nature. Whole. Complete.”
~ Belle du Freak

Often, a writer will say that her stories write themselves; or that characters snatch the pen off her hand, deviate from her outlined plot, and run wild. This is true for many creators of tales, of poetry, of worlds…

When I wrote “Belle du Freak”, the first poem in a trilogy that grew into a quartet that is morphing into a series, I thought I was writing about a witch rescuing a spider-woman from a circus of cruelty. By the time I penned the third poem, plot and characters surprised me with a love story that’s weaving itself to life while swimming in blood and dancing on fire.

Most things about the Belle du Freak poems have been a surprise. For instance, I never named the speaker or subject. But Lorelei started referring to the spider-woman as Belle… then Sharon spoke of how much she loved Belle’s poems… After that, there was no way back: everyone called her Belle. I suspect the spider-woman is speaking into readers’ hearts. “Belle… Belle… Call me Clarabelle,” she whispers… and I hear her, too.

Clarabelle doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of passivity (or maybe she understands perfectly, and just doesn’t give a damn). Her dexterous fingers grip my pen, her chin hovers over my right shoulder, her breath is warm on my ear, her words are clear, “I was born poetry,” she says. “Force me to be prose, and we’ll both hurt.”

I believe in my Clarabelle, so the story of her life with Dee (yes, the witch has been named) will be told in free verse. Because I was a rather unskilled poet when I wrote “Belle du Freak”, I’ll start by rewriting the first three poems. I know three years isn’t such a long time, but I’ve learned so much since then… that it feels like it has been forever and three days.

Would you read a verse novel, told through poems similar to my “Powerful Freaks”?

Whispers, by Denton LundWhispers, by Denton Lund