Friday, April 24, 2015

A Ballata by Meo Abbracciavacca Da Pistoia

By long sojourning
That I have made with grief
I am quite changed, you see;--
If I weep 'tis for glee,
I smile at a sad thing,
Despair is my relief.

Good hap makes me afraid,
Ruin seems rest and shade,
In May the year is old;
With friends I am ill at ease;
Among foes I find peace;
At noonday I feel cold.

The things that strengthens others, frightens me.
If I am grieved, I sing;
I chafe at comforting;
Ill fortune makes me smile exultingly.

And yet, though all my days are thus,--despite
A sake mind, and eyes
Which see by contraries--
I know that without “wings” is an ill flight.


( Note: This poem is not placed among the author's collected poems because Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation is considered a poor one, but I've always loved this poem and it reminds me of a few characters in my forthcoming series The Court of Night and Bone. I typed it up over fifteen years ago and filed it in my writing notebook, always mindful of its whimsy and darkness. I am including it on my blog for National Poetry Month. This poet was in Dante Alighieri's circle of friends. I am going to post as many of these Italian poems  as possible over the next year. Even bad translations are better than none at all, and most of these poets are long forgotten or found only in obscure Italian volumes, which makes them inaccessible to common readers.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Feeling good again

Oh, I have so many flowers in my yard!  That is the power of perennials and a lot of good dirt--spring is so colorful and well, I need a lot of color in my life. As I have gotten older, I suffer through winters, just suffer. Once I get cold, I never get warm again. 

Today I sat out on the back deck and soaked up sunlight until I was pretty toasty. It was wonderful. But as I sat there, I thought, here I am again, another spring, and I still haven't finished my novels. Laughing. 

I really can't complain or whine, because I have made a lot of progress and the books are looking more like finished stories every week. And the work is good. I'm not in despair. I'm happy with what I have accomplished. It's just a lot of work, a lot of words and well, that is the problem with writing big novels. They take time and most of us are not really patient people. But writers of novels have to be patient. We have to endure the long stretches of time required to create and finish a big novel. There is no getting around it at all.  

Working over a long period of time is akin to a fight and we just have to survive the beating. We make goals, as in, "I'll finish a book in a year or two years," and then we find ourselves not finishing as planned, which brings me back to all the flowers and the sunlight. Flowers have come and gone and I have not finished my work. Notes fill two calendars of weeks and days marked off  with big bold red Xs, and still I have not finished.  All and all,  I've spent over 10 months total on The Sleeping Beauty Retelling and arrived at Draft 3 (I hate the word draft at the moment) and on the second project I've spent  six months total time and I'm still a long way from finished. My goal was June. I won't make that goal. I have to set another one. 

It would be easier if I did not work on two projects at once, but I always work on two projects, always have, even when I was younger and more productive, because I occasionally like for my work to go cold on me. That's my method, how I revise and look at work with new eyes, and I constantly like to do that.  But at times, it's trouble. Pure trouble. But I know, for I have been down this path before, that one day the novels will be finished, and all the days, alone, working in a chair, backaches, eye strain, loneliness, giving up TV and movies, all that work will make sense. Soon. Soon. I tell myself this all the time.

There were months that I found it difficult to work. I now understand why I procrastinated so much. It wasn't so much a lack of discipline as it was a lack of "what the hell am I doing here?" --- I had never written a rough draft in three months. I had never written a crappy draft, and at the end I just did not use any of it. I rewrote the whole book, and now I am revising the whole book again. That has been the problem of The Sleeping Beauty Project. As a testament to truth and realization, I have written as much on Project 2, in less than six months, all since last November.  I find both joy and pain in that fact. The pain is all the words I have deleted, all the darlings I have killed, all the subplots gone to the wastelands. I don't like to do full drafts over and over and over, I like to revise as I go. I don't ever want to do a full crappy first draft again, and I know I've written about this previously, but never have I seen what a failure I am at it as when I looked at both my projects and realized that I have done as much work on Project 2 as Project 1, in less than half the time because I worked from a detailed outline and notes, and revised as I went.  The joy is knowing that I won't make that mistake again. It was a total failure for me to change how I worked. I'm not delusional. I know writing is messy and destructive and writing is really revision, but how I do it matters to me. How I organize and keep that spark is valid,  and well, I lost the spark a few times and wondered aimlessly around trying to not write, just saying no to the work.

I also made a lot of mistakes on The Sleeping Beauty Project, and a lot of the time I was stuck because I just did not know how to fix them. I needed time to learn a few things, to let my technical skills catch up with my creative ones.  I don't know yet if I have done it right. I may never know that, because sooner or later, I have to just finish this project and let it go, be done with it. 

I. WILL. FINISH. THIS. YEAR.

And I will also finish Project 2.

So, all and all, I'm feeling good again. Spring is here. I'm walking in sunlight, weeding the flower beds, painting pictures, writing good words and a whole lot more. I've let go of some old things to the point that I've now developed some new habits. I am really proud of that, because that is about living as much as it is about writing.

New goal is just to finish my current WIPs this year and be done with them. I want to move on. I want to write a contemporary project about a young girl. I want to build a website for Project 2 (more on that later) and write some poems.