Thursday, May 13, 2010

If you are on fire, do not run.

How many poets does it take to write a poem? None. Obviously a poem can write itself. Ha!   

The past few days I've experienced the awkward side to the creative process: Publishing. I was invited to contribute to a book with three other poets. It was a simple question really, do you want to be published or don't you? But, I wasn't fond of the collection title. I jumped right in to the ring and started swinging. Why that title, why not THIS title?

( Simple? Asking four poets to agree on one thing, simple?) Ha! again.

If I didn't get a better title, I thought to myself, one that truly represented me and my work, why, I might just take my poems and go! *stomping my feet.*

I realized, on some level, my reaction was purely instinctual (and somewhat childish). Why was I feeling so overly protective towards my work? Would a title diminish what I'd spent so much time and energy creating? Was it the fact that I didn't get to pick the title myself, was I a control freak?

I wasn't sure.

I asked my husband: "Would you say I'm a difficult person?"

He didn't even say anything; he just gave me a look.

Reality check—Duh. Yes.

"Gee, thanks a lot."

My husband laughed. "Difficult, but fun, wouldn't want you any other way."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you don't always listen. It's very frustrating. You already have your mind made up before a conversation or debate even begins."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do. When you make up your mind about something, you won't change it for anything."

I contemplated this for a moment. I have changed my mind about some things, very drastically in the past ten years in fact. But was it true that I didn't listen? I considered the discussions we've had about politics and religion…

"I don't change my mind because I'm RIGHT." I told him.

He laughed again. "See, that's what I mean."


"Don't be mad. You asked."


I've always considered myself open-minded, aware of others points of view and empathetic towards those views. But, was I—really?

I reviewed my position on the title of the book and I took myself out of the debate, got out of the way of others who have their own vision concerning the name, and threw my own ego out the window. This allowed the universe to approach me with a measure of grace. Almost.

Ha! So there. ..see! I can change my mind.

To boil what I learned from this experience down to one sentence, I'll quote a writer friend of mine who suggested in situations like this I should just go with the flow and:

"Be grateful, not grating."


  1. What's in a name? That which we call, what shall we call it?

    Arroz is arroz is arroz.

    But maybe...

    Or else...


  2. Ha!
    Here's another twist on the poem I sent you via e-mail:

    How many poets does it take to change a light bulb?

    Light bulb, glowy thing, filament of
    spiral flame, oh bulb of light
    light bulbing bud, bud of fire
    changing, the screw, circular
    motion of hand:

    lefty loosy righty tighty
    screwing change
    what light
    through yonder winder breaks,
    why it is the east and


    where does this go again?

  3. ha, the comments are as fun as the post.

    so we have this talk now and then regarding my grown offspring. when the son won't change his mind, is he stubborn? or is he like his sister when she won't change her mind and everyone calls her feisty?

  4. Nice post, Melanie. I pulled my poems from my first poetry publication offer because the editor wanted to use one poem but not the other, and it made me feel like she wanted the easy stuff but not the more difficult and painful stuff. I look back and think, what was I thinking?! Anyway, glad you changed your mind and opted to publish. Good luck!

  5. Sherry,

    I hate labels all the way around, but alas, one must admit to one's character and women/girls and boys both can be equally "difficult, feisty, stubborn"


    Thanks for stopping by. I'm really glad I had a friend who has been there, so he could talk me out of running!

    I think we writers just are very protective of our "babies".

  6. Ms. Huber, I regard your (delightful) light bulb pomme as pornographic...

    As I wrote in the email:

    How many poets does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    The usual number: the problem is getting them IN to the light bulb.

    Thinking of light at the end of the tunnel...

  7. Perspective,'s all about perspective.
    I wrote about a light bulb, can't help it if you have a dirty mind.

    :) LOL.

  8. But maybe that's what the group photo-shop thing should be! Everyone squished into a light-bulb.

    I wrote a story about a vision of Christ dancing in a light-bulb...I'll have to post that one here soon.


  9. A year later: May 15th...2011...

    After dealing with this whole process, in hindsight:

    I change my mind. If you are on fire...RUN.

    Run. Run into the wind. Heck, run into a wind tunnel. Run until your internal organs explode like popcorn in a microwave. Run until after the flame has feasted upon every single skin cell, until your hair is blazing and your nose, eyes, and your mouth has re-arranges themselves Picasso style and melted off your face to fall on the ground, run over the puddle of flesh, and when you have become charred enough, when the bones are cinder sticks for muscles, and the marrow molten lava for the blood and nothing is left but ashes, run. Keep running.