Yesterday I wrote a poem. It’s the first in a series of poems that will concentrate on happiness.
I’m an autobiographical poet. When I write poetry, it comes from inside me. Sometimes it’s like I’ve slapped blood and guts onto the page (or my computer screen…side note: don’t do that). I have poems I’ve written that I probably won’t ever want anyone to read. I’ve deleted poems after writing them, not because they were bad, but because they were too good.
They showed too much of me.
What I’m getting at is that I often dwell on my dark places. Not always, but too much.
I’m going to do my best to focus on the good stuff in my life from now on. I’m starting small.
By Michelle Garren-Flye
It's that moment when your favorite song begins
and your stomach that had been so heavy?
(weighed down by worries
about the kids
and the rats in the basement?)
—all of it disappears
pushed back into the ether that houses those things—
the ugly things that snatch pieces from our hearts
and leave us lonely (and broken if we let them)...
But it's all gone with that first note
and you and the song are together—
the one thing that lifts you away,
the only thing that can.
It’s one thing to tell you how special this little book is. It’s another to show you. So here I am in a one-take video, reading my book out loud and explaining it as well as showing you the pictures as best I could.
Be happy where you are. I’ve said it before. What I haven’t said is I learned at least a portion of what I now know about being happy in the moment from my VR headset.
Beat Saber. It’s a game where you have to slice up energy blocks that are flying toward you in time to music. If you’re like me, you feel like each energy block that gets past you is a potential threat to your family, your home, your entire way of life. So you have a tendency to panic.
Panicking doesn’t help. And if you dwell on the energy block that gets past you, you’ll mess up on the ones still coming at you. And if you try to anticipate the ones that you can’t see yet, you are likely to miss the ones you can see.
You get it? Live in the moment. One energy block at a time. One enemy or obstacle or opportunity at a time. Beat the hell out of those and then move on. And if one gets past you, let it go.
In other news, Far & wee is getting some attention with its first five-star review on Amazon!
5 stars! Sweet and beautiful
“Michelle Garren-Flye, novelist, childrens’ book author, and 2021 Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate, has put together an entire collection of Sonnets in Far & Wee, which, strung together, tell a story of one woman’s quest. Flye is searching, as we all are, for reasons that life’s roads twist the way they do, and it is during this search that we should look for inner peace. Like the old adage, ‘It’s not the destination but the journey,’ Far & Wee invites the reader into her heart and soul as the poet takes us on her personal journey. It is obvious that this stream-of-consciousness writing can be extremely effective, and, I would imagine, incredibly cathartic for the poet. I read the book in less than an hour, though I did go back and re-read bits and pieces, some out loud. To add to the power of this little book, please know that Flye wrote the book–AND created the illustrations–in 29 days. But even if it had taken her a year to put this together, I’d be impressed!”
I have a feeling this is gonna be one of those weird stream-of-consciousness posts that might actually be TMI but nobody’s probably gonna read all of it anyway, so what the hell? Caution to the wind, live in the moment, seize the day…
I’ve been thinking a lot about being happy where I am. It’s hard. I don’t want to be happy here because here is prosaic. I want poetry. I want flower paths and sea breezes and to dance among the stars.
I want. And I think it’s okay to want. I think it’s okay to work toward the things you want. But it’s also essential to appreciate the things in your life that are already good. They might be prosy instead of rosy, but they’re still cool.
That’s why I’m dancing more. Even if it’s in my bookstore and not in the night sky tripping through the stars. And when I walk my dog, I stop to take pictures of flowers along the way. They might not exactly line my path, my steps may not be softened by their petals, but they’re still beautiful. And when a breeze lifts my hair and cools my neck, I close my eyes and imagine I’m standing on the deck of a sailboat in the middle of the sea. Even if I’m mowing my lawn.
None of this means I don’t still want the things I want. I’m fifty-two years old and I haven’t yet achieved my dreams. Does that mean I won’t? Nope.
Maybe I’m just taking longer to get there so I can enjoy the journey.
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?
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.
I do not know what I want from you. I’m just certain there is something more and the only reason I consider love or romance is because I do not yet know the other. But my soul yearns for it. Across stars and oceans I call. But all I get back is the echo of a whistle of a far away balloon man.
Yesterday my book came. Far & wee. This is my “seize the day” book. I started writing it on May 21 and today, June 15—25 days later—it’s on the shelf at my store. It’s available on Amazon. You can read it if you want.
I’ve never been real good at “launching” my books. I suck at marketing. Especially the initial teasing about what it’s about and throwing myself a big party and signing. I’m more like, hey, I wrote a book. You know, one day it’s not on the shelf at my store, the next day it is. lol.
This book is no different in that respect. Yesterday it was not on the shelf. Today it is. I’ve signed it, priced it and even put up a sign that it’s mine (I don’t usually do that). But yesterday when I opened the box, I got this feeling that this box of books was different.
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.
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.
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.