Posted by: jeannineatkins | July 13, 2010

Waiting for Words

I’m on a writing retreat for a few days, where I love talking about books and poems with people who’ve often read what I have, but I spend most of the time gazing at water and writing.

Yesterday my goal was to write a poem. I failed, but collected about eleven pages of flotsam and jetsam. Stuff that isn’t poetry, but might make its way into some. Some ideas and some images – those words evoking the tangible being more valuable. And, what looks like a usable metaphor.

I started yesterday telling myself to write a poem, holding myself steady as a fisherman throwing out a net, then keeping his strong hands still. The net may widen or sink, billow or bunch up, wobble or collapse, but the good fisherman stays where he –um, maybe that he should be she – taking whatever comes her way.

Today, I’m asking myself to dare to tear. I.e. rip out chapters and characters from my manuscript. The goal is to have a lot less than I began with, which has its own challenges. I’ll try to grateful for whatever words or empty pages the day brings. No problem being enormously grateful for the lake and company.



  1. So much of writing is the process and not the result. Flotsam, jetsam, and torn-out chapters and characters may yet see another life. Enjoy your day, Jeannine.

  2. For me, tearing out is often much more productive than anything I try to add. But it’s painful at times!

  3. What a gorgeous place! Sometimes the beauty of the world and the support of friends is just what you need to be inspired to rip and shred and create. I’m thinking of you there, Jeannine, and wishing you productive and happy days. xo

  4. Toby, I so appreciate your wisdom. And, with just a bit of grumbling sprinkled in, I am truly enjoying. And sending best wishes for your writing.

  5. Jeannine, thank you for the great thought to spur me on. It might not look productive, but it is! I’m going to keep your thought in mind.

  6. There’s a wind cooling off the air and stirring up waves. Water curling onto land has to be one of the world’s most beautiful sounds, and it’s giving me great comfort as I attack. Um, whittle where needed. And wait for the good that I know will come out with the right sharp strokes.

    Lovely to see you here, Lorraine. I hope your summer is going well.

  7. I hope you had a wonderful day.

  8. Thanks, Kelly. It was great. Partly talking with Sara Lewis Holmes about how amazing you are.

  9. What a beautiful photo!! It looks like a gorgeous place . . .

    I hope you catch much inspiration in your net. ;0)

  10. Thanks for the good wishes, Tami. Caught a few keepers. Hope you’re enjoying the gorgeousness around you.

  11. Man, some of my favorite people are all there with you. I just couldn’t swing it this year – we’re still struggling out from under the cancer-related medical bills.

    Also – is “amazing” a code word for “insane”?

  12. Happy Birthday, Jeannine! I’m wishing you wind and waves and wonderful words today, but most of all, I hope you are surrounded by love and special people to help you celebrate. Sending hugs from the west to the east. xo


    Hope you write lots and enjoy your retreat.

  14. Happy birthday, Jeannine. It looks like you are in a beautiful place to celebrate.

  15. Belated but heartfelt birthday wishes, Jeannine! It’s lovely to see you so close to my own old stomping ground. (And to see a glimpse of it myself.) I’m with you in spirit in both the netting and the tossing back. xo

  16. Happy birthday, Jeannine!

    Oh you may have failed to write a poem that you recognized but I bet in amongst those 11 pages are many poems, or lines of poems, just waiting for you to find them.

    I must say that when I read the phrase “dare to tear” I didn’t read it as tearing things from the manuscript, I read it as daring to tear up emotionally, which seemed to work for me as well. 🙂

    Here’s to finding joy in the flotsam and jetsam.

  17. Sara and I are so excited that you are coming to the end of your Jane poems. And, no, amazing does not mean insane, but wonderful, brilliant, and good. Hope to join you some other time.

  18. Thank you, sweet Lorraine. I got words and special people: a pie from lovely writer Marjorie and came home to a carrot cake my husband made with candles bent into the shape of a 5 and a 7, which I managed to blow out.


    Thank you — lake and words: was wonderful.

  20. It was nice to write and be among friends, and then come home and have a lovely and quiet supper with my husband, who surprised me by baking a cake. Thanks for the nice wishes.

  21. Amy, it means so much to have you as company in holding the net and waiting and tossing back. Thank you for the birthday wishes. What a gorgeous lake, and peaceful. xo

  22. Thanks, Susan. There were a few tears that don’t rhyme with dare over the few days, but not from me, and they ended up as we hope: a way to a new place, which inspired us all. So what’s a box of kleenex?

    And thanks for the faith in my flotsam and jetsam. It will be good to poke through it in the days ahead. Sending good thoughts for your July.

  23. I love the words flotsam and jetsam. How did your dare go?

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