Poet’s Pillory: the Creative Process

As poet, I have a lot in common with this guy, Chuck Wagner, Ringmaster of Over the Top 2008 Blue Tour of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. He tries to keep everything ordered and fluid, too, meaning he pulls together all sorts of disparate elements, melding them into a cohesive whole. Big difference? I’m not directing menacing elements (like tigers or lions)………… or am I?


I remember many years ago reading a writer’s comment: “I just never know where my story is going when I’m writing it. I’m every bit as engaged in discovering the outcome as the reader.” And I thought: “How can that be? He’s writing it. Why wouldn’t he know in advance how the story line will go?”

I guess I misunderstood him. What he meant was: The story is fluid; it will change as he layers and develops it. Even he doesn’t know where that journey will take him, for it’s all part of the creative process.

That point was a central theme in Stephen King’s “Misery,” where the author falls into the crazed clutches of his #1 fan. She imprisons him for months (he had the abysmal bad fortune of being found by her after his car accident) and she ministers to him only enough to allow him to continue writing. As such, she keeps him hobbled and bedridden.

She wants to know each day how the next segment of the story he’s writing will go (beforehand), even warning him that it better progress as she hopes or she’ll punish. He knows all too well how vicious she can be.

He tries to tell her he doesn’t always know where the story will go, but he soon discovers he can’t allow the creative process unfettered sway while he’s her prisoner. In one instance, she forces him to rewrite the entire ending of the story in keeping with her dictates.

If “Misery” suggests how the creative process works, nothing demonstrates its full flowering more than Charles Dickens’s works, with their multiple plots and subplots. If his writing weren’t self-directed (propelled by his genius,), I wouldn’t know what to think, for how could any one writer juggle that many interconnecting story lines, keeping them all marvelously intact and purposeful, lending themselves to the central theme?

The following is a poem I wrote, but in keeping with what I’ve said already: It actually wrote itself. Try one of these yourself and submit it to Biddy Bytes via the buttons below. You need never take credit or discredit for your work. That’s how the true masters do it…

They claim they’re merely the medium; the work developed on its own.

Poet’s Pillory: the Creative Process

I dally in purposeful prose
Trying desperately to carve meaning
Of amorphous thoughts
Into cohesive whole
Aching often in the process.

I realize it is up to me, alone,
As conductor, ringmaster, herder
To marshal miscreant words
Into compelling argument and legitimate logic.
But often my own words confound me.

At times like these, I abjure my role
As “Dictum Disciplinarian”
When words skittle across the floorboards of my mind
Indifferent to achieving that band of connectivity
Buzzing as they are, on auto-pilot.

The pack of urchins
Reel willy-nilly and punch the air
Wastrels, ne’er-do-wells, bombastic boarders each
Intent on empty endeavor
Mocking me with their will.

Oh, why won’t they behave?

But…. Every once in a while.
My words conspire, in sheer brilliance
To mesmerize me in their allure
And I wallow in their promiscuity
Each word a sentient morsel

It is for those succinct times of rapture
I commit myself to the drudgery
Of carving one fine line from many pretenders
Recognizing that poetic product is, in the end,
Not mine, but its own creation

***By Colleen Kelly Mellor

***The above poem is a work protected by copyright. No part of it can be used without the express permission of this author.

P.S. As an aside and in reference to “the power of words”–Click on the following link at GreenPerspecive.com to note the sensuality conveyed by language (Hint: you might think they’re talking about Passion Fruit instead of Papaya.) http://greenperspectives.com/2010/12/11/sexy-papaya/

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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