Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Today's Wednesday Essay is a good reminder that when you're feeling the least inspired is no excuse not to write...

I Have Nothing to Write About!
by Mike Kamrath

It's been four months now since I've written anything of any consequence. This time none of the usual tricks worked. I have tried various venues to no avail. Now, I am sitting in Aroma Roasters coffee shop on a beautiful April evening. A coffee shop is the perfect place for this writer. I've chosen one I rarely frequent, so there is little chance of being interrupted by people I know. My only distractions are self-induced and sometimes they end up on the page. And if not these pages, then perhaps in a future poem or short story.

Clean paper, sharpened pencil and an aromatic almond latte, and so far, the Muse has not arrived. But I feel her nearby. Over these last several weeks, I have tried writing while drinking wine, while straight and normal, and while high. The latter produced profound, albeit small pieces of writing brilliance that somehow faded in the light of day (and a clear head).

I've tried writing at night after my daughter is in bed and my wife is at work. I've tried writing in the morning, even before the cat is up. I've tried writing in my truck by the side of the road. Tonight, I am reverting to my old faithful way to tempt the Muse: Write about writing (or the lack thereof). Its been the topic of several of my poems over the years, and is a tried and true way to "get back in the groove". I suppose its really an off-shoot of Julia Cameron's concept of Morning Pages, wherein one writes whatever comes to mind, without judgment. Just write.

"Observe" says the Muse.

Over there sits a Venus of Willendorf, a black woman in a purple top with three-quarter length sleeves, tight black capris and rust colored platform sandals Her hair is long, braided in neat cornrows and tied back like a pony tail. Amber tiger-eye dangling earrings accentuate the deep walnut hue of her cheeks. R. Crumb would love to draw her.

Across the room, a young woman bites her finger nails and sips her iced chai between chess moves. The fact I am aware of her chemise top with the delicate lace makes me aware of our differing ages and cultural disparity.

Ceiling fans spin at a high rpm. A brown haired woman in a brown top, brown pants and tan Birkenstocks leans back in her wooden chair, fingers idly circling the rim of her brown cup of cappuccino, her brown eyes staring vacantly out the window.
The couple next to me, two women separated by a generation, join in an animated conversation about elementary school education, the trials and tribulations of teaching, and of its rewards.

Two or three hand-scribbled pages later, I slow down, lean back and relax into the feeling of accomplishment, release, relief? I can still write.

A button down business man in brown oxfords sits at the internet bar next to a young woman, a student perhaps, with two-no three rings in her lower lip. My hand slips up to my left ear, touching the one piercing on my body done with a needle in a friend's apartment in Michigan thirty-five years ago.

I look around the room. The walls are a rich yellow ochre faux finish, warm and inviting, hung with large reproductions of French posters from the 19th century. Pelican Cigarettes, Cafe Martin, Fap ‘Ami “celuri des connaisseure”. Their bold greens, oranges, purples and blacks command attention. Everywhere in the room there is wood. Chairs, tables, salvaged church pews given a second life, the raised deck on which I am seated, wooden wainscoting on the main bar with its worn copper-topped counter. So worn in fact, the front edge has split and is now held together by several layers of yellowed and frayed scotch tape.

A ripple of red neon captured and then released by a window floats just above a no parking sign outside. I close my eyes, listening to an alto-soprano’s voice floating melodiously over a funky base rhythm.

I have never been more aware of the Muse. “See? And you thought you had nothing to write about.” The Muse pushes an earlier thought back into my mind: I write because its a way of connecting, of communicating. Its what I do. Even when I am not writing, I often think about writing And I read, always read. Searching for that connection.

I walk back to the counter for a 50-cent refill. The sign says “Honesty is what you do when no one is looking”. Like writing. Writing is what you do when no one is looking. You do it for yourself, and like honesty, it makes the world a better place.

BIO: Mike Kamrath has just had his first poem published in Minotaur 44, an on-going poetry anthology that has been around since the 60's, published by Jim Watson-Gove. Five of his poems will be forthcoming in a new anthology Present At The Creation (Poets writing about the process of writing), edited by Vilma Ginsburg and Doug Stout. He has had multiple entries on the Poets Against The War website, and was a featured poet on that website several months ago. Read a poem HERE.


At 3:56 AM, Blogger Susan Henderson said...

Great essay!


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