Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Insecure Writers: Inspiration

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!

Hey, IWSG-ers and other visitors! There's a very cool, very special IWSG theme today. The creators of the group are putting together a free ebook anthology called "The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond," and the posts that many of us put up today will be included in that anthology. You can learn about it here and submit your own post for it here. not writing anything for the anthology. I know, I know, big lead up for a big let down! But the idea is so great that I had to share it. So go on, go check it out and then come back and read my non-IWSG-anthology-IWSG post.

All done? Pretty cool, right??

Anyway, not to worry, I might not be creating a piece for the anthology, but I have plenty of insecurity to share!!

But I'm going to restrain myself today, and share some inspiration instead. I've been devouring Cheryl Strayed's work these past few weeks. If you haven't read Wild, her best-selling memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, go read it!! AND while you're at it, read Tiny Beautiful Things, which is a collection of her Dear Sugar advice columns, and which is so much more beautiful and inspiring and heart-breaking and vulnerable and funny and real than any advice column, ever. I had no idea I'd like it so much, but I've read it once through, tears spilling down my face the whole time, and as soon as I finished it I went back to the beginning and started reading it again. So.

That's not the inspiration I wanted to share, though. I mentioned Strayed because in Wild, she talks about the book The Dream of a Common Language. It's a collection of poetry by Adrienne Rich, who I discovered in college and who I knew, in the way of all egotistical, self-centered eighteen-year-olds, was writing those poems just for me. I haven't read her poetry in years, but the reminder in Wild made me pick up Rich's work and dive back into it, and I'm discovering all over again why I fell in love with it in the first place.

I wanted to share a few lines here, in part for their bare beauty, but mostly because I hope they'll inspire you the way that they inspired me:

From the poem Miracle Ice Cream in the book Dark Fields of the Republic:

"Miracle's truck comes down the little avenue,
Scott Joplin ragtime strewn behind it like pearls,
and, yes, you can feel happy
with one piece of your heart."

From the poem One: Comrade, also from Dark Fields of the Republic:

"Little as I knew you I know you:    little as you knew me you
      know me
- that's the light we stand under when we meet."

And finally, the poem #9 in the section Calle Vision in Dark Fields of the Republic:

"In the black net
of her orange wing
the angry nightblown butterfly
hangs on a piece of lilac in the sun
carried overland like her
from a long way off
She has traveled hard and far
and her interrogation goes:
-Hands dripping with wet earth
head full of shocking dreams

O what have you buried all these years?
What have you dug up?

This place is alive with the dead and with the living
I have never been alone here
I wear my triple eye as I walk along the road
past, present, future all are at my side
Storm-beaten, tough-winged passenger
there is nothing I have buried that can die"

If you liked these, go read the whole book, and then all of her books. Really.

What's inspiring you these days?


  1. Just... lovely. There are combinations of words that say so clearly what I feel is true. I liked all the poems ('...alive with the dead and the living. I have never been alone here...') But that piece from COMRADE...


    1. I know. That whole poem is so beautiful. It was just too long to include here...

  2. Nothing much is inspiring me these days. But I'm going to a writer's workshop on Friday, so we'll see what happens.

  3. I haven't been feeling very inspired lately, but I also haven't been reading all that much either. I really need to get back into it, as well as reading AND writing poetry. I haven't written a poem in years.

  4. Wish I could write half as good!
    You should go back and reread it now.

  5. I love Cheryl Strayed's Wild! Excellent book. It inspired me to read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods about his trek on the Appalachian Trail. Now I'll have to go get my hands on Strayed's other one.

  6. Thank you for this! I enjoyed reading the those poems. :)

  7. My favorite book of poetry is Cemetery Nights by Stephen Dobyns. Every fall I pull it off my shelf and re-read it. Lines from his poems spring to mind sometimes, just randomly . . . Is that inspiration? In any case, the work stays with me.

  8. I loved WILD, and thanks for the reminder about her other books. I have been meaning to read those as well. Honestly, I've been struggling with feeling inspired lately. Thanks for the reminder about poetry--maybe that's what I need to try.

  9. So strong and powerful. Love them.

    Not much is inspiring me right now besides survival. Not sure how much longer I can tread water.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration!

    1. Ok, no no, that is not good. Please stop treading water and just float. Less work. More oxygen. There are people out here who care about you and want you to make it.

      Seriously. I hope you can take a break, and float, soon.

  10. Beautiful poems. I love the verse from One: Comrade—so simple and yet so touching. Thanks for sharing!

    As for inspiration...hmm. What inspires me right now? Other writers. I recently went to a writers conference and came back inspired to recommit myself to getting published. We'll see how it goes.

  11. These poems are so wonderful. The first one brings back fond memories and the last I must read again as the imagery is wonderful and makes me inspired to make a card using the poem as a guide sort of speak

    1. Ooo, please do! And then post it on your blog!

  12. ...I hate books that make me cry...

    But I love poetry. Guess I'm going to have to check it out. =)

  13. I'm not a huge poetry fan but there are some verses that bring a tear to my eye. No easy feat with this cold heart of mine. ;p

  14. It's been a long time since I've read poetry regularly. I might have to pick it back up again.

  15. Ooh, that's some beautiful writing in those samples. Thanks for the recommendation.

    And I obviously didn't write anything for the anthology today either. :P

  16. I've just about finished my current plot, so I'm sort of past inspiration and trying to find dedication, as that's what I'll need to write the damn thing and not give up on it halfway through. >_<

  17. I generally don't read poetry, but I liked that! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Thanks for sharing your inspiration. I seldom read poetry but one of the best speakers I ever heard at a conference was a poet and she helped me with my writing.

  19. Good writing is always inspiring. I loved Strayed's Wild! Haven't read a ton of Adrienne Rich, but I remember the name. These excerpts are amazing.

  20. I really enjoyed reading these poems and thank you so much for sharing them. Their inspiration is not only moving, but there's a delicateness to the narrator's tone.
    "Little as I knew you I know you: little as you knew me you
    know me
    - that's the light we stand under when we meet." As soon as I read this, I thought about two soul mates meeting for the first time. It actually brought me back to the moment when I stumbled upon my counterpart in college. Even though we parted, I still have fond memories of the years we spent together, especially the first day we met. This type of love is truly inspirational. Stunning, Liz.

  21. I'm not much of a poetry person (or a deep thinker of any sort), but the lines you shared are pretty. I'm glad you're finding inspiration in the midst of insecurity. :)

  22. beautiful! this makes me wish I could write poetry.

  23. Hi Liz,
    I've been reading Lena Dunham's new book "Not That Kind Of Girl". While I don't think she's 'the voice' of our generation, I do find her inspirational.

  24. Oh, very pretty. I especially like the one about the light under which we meet.

  25. Oh, these verses gave me chills. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Good stuff, Liz. I've never been great at poetry (besides haiku), so poets with chops definitely inspire me.

  27. So beautiful. Loved it. Thanks for sharing!