How I Write


I don’t.  For a long time.  Not a single drop of ink leaves my pen.  I stare out into the expanse of my mind where thoughts gather on the horizon, clouds pregnant with rain, and the long wait begins.  The sun’s fading light reflects beautiful hues of comfortable pinks and bruised purples.  Out on that endless stretch my ideas sit at a comfortable distance, presenting no danger, asking nothing.  I should enjoy the calm before the storm but I’m impatient and I am selfish.  I want them to fall from their lofty perch in the heavens to the earthly realm.


Months go by waiting for the rainy season and when those thoughts finally precipitate, my pen wades slowly onto the page.  Words patter out, but they are not the words I want.  Not yet.  I let them fall, let them ripple until the ripples become waves, until those waves crest and those crests finally crash over the breakwaters.


I tread rough waters, floating above the surf threatening to take me to the depths where sand and seaweed would weigh me down, choke me with the very thing I love, all to remind me that I am human, that I cannot conquer them.


It becomes a losing fight.  I kick and flail, becoming so small in the midst of these words surrounding me.  They take over.  They are no longer the pattering precipitation of the thoughts I’ve gathered, they are a torrent slick with oil, marred by chunks of debris and sloppy unearthed kelp.  They are right.  I am only human.  I remember that anyone can admire clouds from afar, but few can live through the storm and no one can control them.


I inhale one last breath before sinking below the frothy peaks that batter me.  A requiem of sorts plays in my head, a quartet in D minor I know well.  Death’s call promises sweet peace.  I’m tempted by the life jacket it vows to provide.  The boat that will carry me away from this ocean, onto dry land if I give in and quit.  But I know that land is parched.  I will only die of thirst there.  I say, “Leave me!  I am not finished!” stubborn in the face of this draw to relinquish.

I dive deeper into the water now.  I am in control.  Under the surface, there’s less pressure, less danger.  I wait out the storm, exploding with a need to breathe, to yell out.  When I think I can’t take it anymore, when the words surround me and crush into every part of my soul, the undertow is gone, seatangle and muck dissipate.  I glide to the surface.  I gasp.  The sun shines on the water, illuminating new clarity.

I call out and hope I’m heard.


Schubert String Quartet No 14 D minor Death and the Maiden


12 responses to “How I Write

    • That has always been one of my favorite poems. I hadn’t read it since AP Lit so I just went back and read it again and loved it again. I guess I still really relate to the Prufrockian frustration and indecisiveness because I just realized the short story I’m working on now has a thread of that stalled ambition and stale nostalgia of decisions made, unmade and made again. Thanks for reading. I’ve been wondering, do you have another blog where you share your own poetry? After your letter on poetry to your daughter I’ve been wanting to read some of yours if it’s something you share with the world.

  1. The plight of all writers beautifully expressed. I was reminded by your piece about how the physical pangs of learning to surf are echoed in the emotional ones of trying to express oneself on the page.

    • Thanks so much for reading! Having learned to surf finally two summers ago, I can definitely agree, although I hadn’t made the connection until you mentioned it. Great observation. I appreciate the comment!

  2. Pingback: The Slow Way (or How I Eat a Pomegranate) | originaltitle·

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