Words are limited and limiting. It has been said that sometimes spoken and written language is utterly inadequate to convey the workings of the mind and heart. To me, this is where the gap between what I write and what I intended to write originates.
Of course, sometimes the gap appears when I have not done enough research. When I wrote the Samhain poem for Halloween in October (called Under the Autumn Star: A Riddle), I was not mindful enough of the distance between the conception and execution of a sudden inspiration. I had an idea that formed quickly, but not fully. I did some preliminary research and wrote a poem that was passable, but felt wrong wrong wrong. I’m skilled enough at writing to avoid creating a piece that’s abjectly terrible, but this poem felt…flat. Even as I posted it, I was not happy with it, but I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I needed magic; magic and inspiration and the witching hour.
“In the middle of the night,” I jerk awake and bolt upright/ like Miss Clavel, who wakes in fright, I know exactly what’s not right.
Daylight and two tries at revision couldn’t give it to me, but jazz noon,as the musicians call it, pulled me out of my fog and sent me straight to the solution: I had not fed my brain enough specific information to form a real story. The poem had no heart, and this is always indicative of hasty writing on my part (not waiting until I have enough concrete information for the story to genuinely shape and share itself). I was missing the essence of the celebration of Samhain because I didn’t know enough about it. I had to more closely study not just the Celtic division of the seasons but also Celtic fire rituals, actually understand Fomalhaut and the science and folklore around this brightest of stars, research color theory and it’s application in more ancient times, and listen so I could understand people – the ones who kept their fires burning then and the ones who dress up in costumes once a year now. When you read enough, you start to notice patterns and overlap. Patterns mean connections, and connections close the gap. I added one more epigraph to the 2 I had found, wrote a rune (which is more in keeping with the Celtic traditions I was imitating), added in both Aztec and Persian influences and adjusted the organization by centering the poem around the visual imagery of the colors of fall, which allowed me to add in lines that appealed to the other five senses and capture that air of celebratory defiance that was so characteristic of Samhain and Dia de los Muertos. I always know the moment I am finished with a piece, even if I don’t consider the piece my best work. There is a deep satisfaction that comes straight from my stomach that lets me know I can put in the final period, a sign that says to me that I am finished, and I have done well.