Nov 28, 2012 - How-To, Writer's Life    6 Comments

Writing When You’re Down

As I experience my 7th day after Achilles tendon replacement, I’m starting to feel a little limited by the fact that I must use crutches to get around. We thought our house was accessible to all, but now I see that some significant doorways (like bathrooms) are not wide enough to accept the easier alternatives. I have, so far, slung myself into chairs, dropped from great heights onto sofas, lost control and fallen into doors and dressers. My shoulders ache and my good leg cries for a break; not literally.

It’s easier to stay in one or two well-cushioned spots with the bad foot up. I study Buddhism, meditate, read bad novels, watch “Glee,” and thumb through journals like Writer’s Digest or my current favorite, The Writer, for inspiration as I try to keep up my practice. I would love to begin and even complete my first TV series while lying around for several months waiting to heal. Then I can run off again. I’ve decided that’s why you have to hurt something once in awhile­–so you can complete a long project. However, I must be able to do without the painkillers before I can begin my series in earnest.

Meanwhile, I came across a creative challenge in Writer’s Digest to write a form poem called a nonet. The word nonet is is defined as a combination of nine musical instruments or voices. The form is fun, only slightly challenging, and there are no definitive rules aside from the structure: The poem is nine lines long. The first line is nine syllables, the second line is eight, and so on until the last line finishes in a word. The form, as many do, force you to keep the poem short and concise, use vivid imagery and verbs, and compress your lines.

In “Sundowners,” I try to express a syndrome known to the elderly, the dying, an injured middle-aged drama queen poet, and most of us during the season when the light starts leaving the sky earlier and earlier each day. It seems better to turn these “negative” feelings into art so that, even if they seem dark, there’s a shine that comes off them like a low light bouncing off an unsunk eight ball.

Below, you’ll find my nonet. I challenge you to try your hand at this form. If you’d like, you can paste your nonet into the comments section and I’ll put them in a blog post for all my 31 ½ readers to see. Just kidding, but you won’t need to feel overwhelmed by the publicity. I can use your name or a fake name or no name. If you like this idea, just put “can include” next to your nonet. I will also pick my personal fave and send the winner a prize, which will be a writing book or mag to inspire you onward. I’ll contact you through your email on the comments page. I realize authors and poets fear putting their work on the web, but I’ll cover that fear in a post soon. For now, here’s my nonet:

Leaves copper with shine, wings flicker, suns fire
until the sky’s gold-coin brightness
silvers to a fifites’ dime,
darkens to old penny
flattened on a track.
No way to flip
back to light



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  • I love “Sundowners” the imagery from the dime to the penny was my favorite part. I’ll try this form and post back soon. Here’s to speedy healing!

  • love the poem. hope you’re feeling better soon.

  • Mendy, you “can include” this in your blog.

    (A nonet by Pamela Lee Hill, Nov. 2012)


    Lucid once, then often not, she leaves
    more quickly now, frightened by a
    shadow, spark, or spot, she’s off
    to wander isles of blue,
    then asks “Where are we
    now?” “Who are you?”
    I’m missing
    her, a

  • Stoney grey, the weather holds us in
    Doors cordon off drafty windows
    Steamy cup of joe to warm
    And blanket in my lap
    A cozy corner
    In well lit room

    * A quick try for the fun of it! Best wishes for speedy recovery!

  • ACK! I left out a line!
    thaws my

  • include

    My Sundowner

    She asks my name like we have not met.
    Cloudy eyes gaze, her hand comes up
    To brush my cheek and the tear…
    Mother, it’s your daughter.
    Barb? Where have you been?
    Here mom, right here.
    Who are you?
    Mom, it’s