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January, 2008

Coyote Morning

Ice Cream Brain Toppings
Advice and commiseration that really stood out
By  Jennifer Edelson

Fellow INniks clearly related that I am not alone in my anguish and for that ... kiss!
ast month, I asked you all to write in. And while I received enough goodwill to fill up my mush o’ meter (and this column) for weeks, there were several bits of advice and commiseration that really stood out to me.

In a nutshell, here are the three most important things I learned about my fellow INniks. First of all, ya’ll actually read this! Second, you have really good, and more interestingly, similar ideas. Third, some people are just so darn nice and so full of simple common sense you just want to kiss them.

Clearly, I am not alone in my frustration when it comes to the whole ice-cream brain thing.

Next month, I’ll get back to the task of mulling, but for now, I’d like to share a few reflections.

First, the most straightforward, yet soundly right advice I received.

“Maybe, just maybe, all she needs to do is actually write. Write. Something that sounds so simple, yet in actual fact is just as difficult for her and others as it was for Beethoven to write his symphonies.”

Actually, what I just shared are mere snippets from an extremely thoughtful, and inspired “story,” which the very lovely Mr. Rowdy Rhodes wrote and sent to me. Just how wonderful is Rowdy? If you want to devour the full narrative, and you should, go to his column this month and read, read, read.

His support and compassion is a reminder to all writers that we’re in it together, and it made this writer feel a whole lot less lonely.

Onward, the following are a few thoughts from Zorba, a reader with a cool name and a few simple ideas.

“Inspiration to write specific pieces is so much more difficult than abstractly writing the great American novel, but the main thing that works for me is to just write the first thing that comes to mind while focusing on the topic -- don't think about words, just feel the message you want and start going -- keep my editing mind turned off and suspend criticism. Let the ideas unfold in front of you, by trial and error.

Ignore perfection, and just try to get clear what I want to say. Other times I have to prime my 'inspiration' by reading a few pages of another good book.

When painting and jewelry making don't inspire, how about adding music -- it stirs my moods and they get my juices working, e.g. Leonard Cohen helps me get reflective, Beethoven's 9th arouses my energy to feel/think big, Sade subdues, Elton John just makes me feel alive, Shania Twain revives my feminine side.”

Along the same lines, reader Mark speaks to the power music has to inspire fluidity.

“The one thing that gets me past the type of stuff you talked about in your August’s IN column is music. I can always become inspired to write by sitting and listening to my favourite tunes and while enjoying the words and sounds I think about the effort, the amount of energy, that goes into creating something as wonderful as my selected songs.

It usually prompts me to get to the keyboard and make a stab at getting sentences to sing out, ring out, put forth something of interest to the world. But most importantly, something of interest to myself. If the sentence doesn't play out well for me it gets deleted straight up because, to me, it means that I'm trying to force what it is that I want to spill and not accomplishing it a manner that I find pleasing.

You know what they say; write, re-write, re-write, re-write and finally edit. Then read the piece a week later and see if it still grabs your attention. If it does, then you've done your best.”

INnik Rachiel also had a good idea.

“Have you thought of letting someone read the novel, someone not related to the writing business? I did that with a story that I could never figure out how to end. I had the progression, and the climax, but I could never figure out what I wanted these two characters to do in the end. I told my friend the story, and she told me from her point of view, how she, as a reader, felt it should end. While I have not taken her advice to a 'T" it did give me a fresh perspective on a story I have been writing since the dawn of time.”

And this next one just made me laugh. So thank you “Jonni” . . .

“Your subtitle drew me in, but the title did not. I was hoping for some advice about when to stop myself... seven years writing, rewriting, editing... but alas, just shared frustration.

Your metaphors, however, were beautiful. But a butt melding into metalwork grooves was too damn visual. And why do you hate self-sustaining democracy -- you want to go back to wealthy patrons? But I shall avoid becoming politico. Is the ipsa from International Political Science Association or some other meaning?

(FYI, “res ispa” or “raceyipsa,” is a Latin term used in law, which essentially means; the fact that something happened is proof enough of its existence (or in other words that a problem existed).

On when to stop, I only find one guide -- time. When I let it sit for three or four months, it looks better.”

So after reading your comments, here’s what I learned -- the golden rule is, just sit down and do it. Then put it away, wait it out and rock out (or mellow out) to tunes.

It’s a formula that works for me.

And thank you! Especially those of you who struck a chord -- there is actually one thing that gets me raring to write regardless -- music, or more specifically, the Psychedelic Furs.

Mark, you’re so right -- Richard Butler makes me want to “to sing out, ring out, put forth something of interest to the world,” because his voice and lyrics remind me there are other people out there full of longing.

And 20 years later, he still inspires pretty intense wanderlust feelings.
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Jennifer Edelson is a Minnesota attorney and legal writing professor. Her writing has appeared on all the finest refrigerators in the Twin Cities. Jennifer can be emailed at:

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IN This Issue
Creative Karma
Rejected! Now What?
Seven Deadly Sins
Seven Virtues
Essential Ingredients
The Last Quill
Done At Last!
Part III: It's A Fact
Part II: It's A Fact
Part I: It's A Fact

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Bald Ego
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Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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