*Note: This is a repost - I've been told comments were getting an error message, so I apologize if you're seeing this twice on your readers. Happy Labor Day weekend, all!
Note: Books are carefully folded forests
void of autumn
bound from the sun
- Saul Williams
The above is a stanza is from a book of poems I just picked up, and those three lines sealed the deal for me. I kept repeating them in my mind like they were mental beads on a rosary, and knew I had to have it.* This is how I choose my poetry. It’s chaotic and intuitive and random. I never read what I’m “supposed” to read. That would be like reading names on gravestones, and would take all the fun out of it for me.
No, I wait for something to speak to me, for some gong of recognition in my chest, for the words of another person to form new connections in my mind. Poetry is a creative electric shock, so it’s a great place to run to when refilling the well from which ideas spring, a splash of cold water on the face at the beginning of your writing day. I’m at that point now, doing light edits on the sixth book in my Zodiac series, THE NEON GRAVEYARD, and looking forward to what comes next. Hopefully by the time I start sweating out two thousand words a day, day after day, that well will have a surplus of ideas and newly formed connections for me to draw upon.
Obviously I’m not only reading poetry. I’ve just blown through the HUNGER GAMES trilogy (another body of work that I’m shocked and delighted exists; I could have never dreamed those books into existence!) and I have a handful of books partly read (I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE, by Laura Lippman; THE REAPERS ARE THE ANGELS, by Alden Bell; PRINCE OF THIEVES, by Chuck Hogan, SILVER BORNE by Patricia Briggs; SAVAGES by Don Winslow) which I pick at every day depending on my mood. Like I said, no reason or rhyme to my reading. Only what I want when I want it. I don’t ever want reading to become work. (I suppose that’s why I don’t read overly much within the Urban Fantasy genre.)
The oddity in all of this isn’t that I’m reading eclectically, but it’s the time of year at which I’m actively doing so. No matter when my deadline hits, where I am in the publishing cycle, or what else is going on in my life, I - me, as a person - begin again in September. It’s when I clean house (forget spring cleaning; it’s September cleaning for me) and clear off my desk, clean up my writing notes, start a new journal, and begin again. Anything that isn’t good for me - including personal habits; including ‘friends’ - that I don’t want as an active part of the next year of my life, is swept out the door. This allows space for new habits, hobbies, and people. All of which create new thoughts. All of which create new experiences. All of which create new books. September, in other words, is my personal new year.
Lest this sound too calculated, I should say that I didn’t consciously realize this until it was pointed out to me about five years ago. Sure enough, right before each September I felt myself craving new experiences, knowing they would be the cornerposts for my life in the following year. I think everyone does this sort of skin-shedding, though maybe not everyone has thought of it as such. Realizing it, though - anticipating it, and recognizing it when it comes - has helped me alleviate a lot of frustration (“Vicki, why are you cleaning out the garage when your deadline is in two days??!”) and I can now see it as a great boon to my creative life. And we’re all creators of our lives.
So my question to all of you is what do you do to consciously remake your thoughts and life? Is there a time of year that you mentally seem to come alive? Is there a point in the twelve month cycle that feels like rebirth? Even though the world celebrates January first as a new beginning, do you have another, more personal date that makes you want to take stock, declutter, and then roar from the starting gate into the rest of your year?
Mine is September. I’d love to hear yours.
*The book of poetry, if you’re interested, is called ,said the Shotgun to the head. It’s ostensibly one poem laid out over alternating black and white pages and is apparently the result of a kiss. How could I resist that?