Far & wee: The origin story

I was really shy about admitting the whole story about how Far & wee came to be. Why on earth would that be? I mean, I’ve already admitted I wrote twenty sonnets (and illustrated them) in nineteen days (okay, maybe that’s a bit of a flex…). I’ve admitted that I had no patience for getting feedback on the sonnets (this wasn’t that kind of project, honestly).

So I’m impatient and proud and may have rushed this project through (not just to be able to brag that I got it done in twenty-five days, but that doesn’t hurt). Why would I be embarrassed to admit what the spark was that put this whole thing in motion?

Well…

And here’s the shy part.

…the spark came from my persistent and somewhat consuming fandom for a K-Pop group.

There. I said it. I’m a K-Pop fan. K-Pop came along in my life when I needed a lift. And it gave me that! It started with BTS, but it quickly expanded to include groups like TXT and Enhypen…but especially the self-produced group Stray Kids.

If you come into my store, you’ll no doubt hear Stray Kids. If you surprise me in there, you might catch me dancing and sometimes singing along (you don’t need to hear that—I’m bad enough in English). I was fascinated when I found out they write and produce almost all of their songs. They help with choreography and producing the music videos. But especially the writing part. The poetry of these songs is incredible. In three different languages, no less. Mostly Korean and English, but they also write entirely Japanese songs as well as Japanese songs with some English mixed in.

It doesn’t hurt at all that they’re also handsome and charming in addition to prodigiously talented. And they adore their fans.

So how did they inspire me to write Far & wee, a book of sonnets about the balloon-man in e.e. cummings’s “[in Just-]”—when I’d been considering writing such a book for a long time?

It all came about when the leader of Stray Kids, Bang Chan, who loves to tease fans with spoilers they’re never going to figure out until it’s far too late, messaged his fans that his favorite color combination was pink and blue. And how together they made a whole new color.

Well, my first thought was that pink and blue really just makes purple. But I started thinking about pink and blue and purple and somehow it got mixed up in my head with the balloon-man (balloons come in all colors!). And there you go.

I won’t call Far & wee Stray Kids fan art, because it isn’t. But it is art that was done by one of their fans and definitely owes some of the inspiration to them. And a good bit of it was done with them playing in my AirPods or in the background.

So, thank you, Stray Kids. Because I’m really proud of this little book.

Wolf Chan and my book Far & wee.

New poetry book announcement: Far & wee (with excerpt—sort of)

Cover copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

So you’ve been with me from the beginning of this thing. May 21 doesn’t seem like that long ago, right? What is that, 19 days?

I never would have thought in a million years that I would write, illustrate and publish a book in nineteen days. But I did.

I’ve often felt that I write what is given to me from…somewhere else. I write for someone else and there’s a purpose I don’t necessarily know about for my writing. I don’t know who it is out there who needs to read this book, but it’s here now. It was my obsession, pushing everything else out of the way for 19 days. Now I need to move on to finish up some other projects. Projects that took me longer than 19 days. But I think I can do it now.

Anyway, as a little introduction/excerpt to the book, here’s the actual introduction of the book as it appeared on my computer while I was laying out the book.

Copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

Cover reveal of the book I wrote, illustrated and prepared for publishing in less than three weeks

Is there a correct amount of time to spend writing a book?

If there is, I broke every rule with this one.

My previously untitled “balloon-man project” is nearing completion. I designed the cover this morning. I finished the layout last night. I’ll probably publish it tomorrow.

This book is really about obsession—especially as it applies to us creative types. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of need that an especially appealing project creates in the belly of a creative.

And there’s nothing like that feeling of knowing it’s done. Even if you broke all the rules getting there.

Copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

Balloon-man Project: Excerpt from Sonnet #12

It’s 12:30 a.m. and I have to be up at 7 a.m. My son graduates high school this weekend. I’m working between graduation events. It’s a busy weekend.

But I’m up right now because I really wanted to share something else from my balloon-man project. You know, the one that seized me by the freaking throat, picked me up and shook me until I agreed to indulge it? And now it won’t let me go.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit violent of a description for what’s going on here, but I do feel like this one came out of nowhere. I mean, I decided to write sonnets one day and bam. There it was. Twenty sonnets in two days, all connected, telling a story. And now I’ve illustrated more than half of them and I’m pretty sure I know how to lay them out in book format (a very tiny book), and I’m thinking it’ll be ready about the same time as Hypercreativity, which I worked on for months.

I’ve never had a book happen this way before.

Poem and illustration by Michelle Garren-Flye

Which Wolf Do You Choose?

Fear and hope. One can easily defeat the other. It’s a matter of which wolf we choose to feed.

I’ve fed both in the past. Fear is a scavenging beast of a wolf. His ribs always show, regardless of how much you feed him. He’s always wanting more. More of your confidence, more of your dreams, more of your self. He brings nothing but doubt.

Hope is a mighty warrior when you feed her. She’ll slay Fear before he can eat your soul. She’ll encourage you to reach for those dreams, even when it seems there’s no way you’ll ever achieve them. She brings joy and life and love.

I am almost finished with my next poetry book Hypercreativity. During the course of putting it together, I realized that although I always want to choose to fill Hope’s bowl with kibble, I often dribble it into Fear’s. Because you have to consciously make a choice to feed Hope, but Fear is always there, waiting.

I made a conscious decision to finish my book with a healthy feeding for Hope. I’m pleased with that decision because my entire writing life is built on Hope. She needs to be strong.

Illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

Poem: Motherhood

This isn’t exactly a new poem. It was inspired by my oldest son but over the course of the past year I’ve seen more and more instances of strength in all three of my kids. They’ve been generous with that strength, too, loaning it to me when I needed it. Like a warm coat they take off their own shoulders to place over mine.

So thank you, kiddoes. Without you I wouldn’t be me.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

Poem: Sunfall

It’s been a few days since the end of National Poetry Month, and I’ve been busy writing and editing a newsletter for the store, the literary magazine, my own poetry book…

And today I stopped for a minute and read the news.

Bad idea. Bad. Very bad.

You know how I thought we all rush toward our end? The world is doing that right now. But the end isn’t going to be bright and glorious and swift for us all. It’s going to be slow and painful for the unlucky ones.

Please stop rushing toward it.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 30, Verse 30

And so we have rushed, headlong, to the end. The end of April, the end of the beginning of spring, the end of National Poetry Month, and the end of my renga.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life up to this point. I should definitely be past the beginning of spring. Well established in my, ahem, fifties, however, I’m not certain if I ever had one.

This year, this project forced me to look closely at the spring that was not just happening, but living and breathing all around me. I saw how the flowers bloomed, how they started as tiny buds, but because they knew from the beginning what they were supposed to do, they just did it without question. They spread petals, inviting the visits of pollinators and the gentle brush of spring breeze to spread the pollen that not only makes us sneeze but also carries their DNA to another willing recipient.

The flowers do this because they know what they are meant for. As human beings, we question. We doubt our talents and our abilities and our purpose. This leads to anger and resentment and despair. Most of us never fully experience our spring and are therefore not ready for summer because we’re stuck in that thawing stage at the beginning, unable to fully realize our potential because we just don’t believe.

(As an example, I’m doubting these words even as I write them.)

It’s a difficult thing believing in yourself. Going all in for what you want to do and be. More and more I’m trying to do that. Maybe even at this point in my life, it’s not too late for spring.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

National Poetry Month, Day 29, Verse 29

Ever considered doing something kinda nuts (nuts just because it’s totally out of character for you, not like dangerous or anything)? I feel like I’ve spent most of my life rushing headlong toward the end and now I want to put on the brakes and just enjoy. I might get whiplash if I put them on too hard, though, so I’m still hesitating. Hesitating while rushing onward.

Poem and illustration copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye