My #songs and #spokenword on YouTube

I’m building up a bit of a collection of my songs and spoken word poetry on my YouTube channel Janey Colbourne Poet-Seer. A few of the songs are based on poems from one of my poetry collections, which are available in print and in Kindle format from Amazon. Here is a selection of some of my songs. Click on each image to go to the songs.

falling free

bad boy freckleface creative nation

Images by Janey Colbourne with PicsArt 2017

All content © Janey Colbourne 2017

 

Advertisements

Writer’s Block: are you procrastinating, or is it a necessary fallow period?

Some successful writers subscribe to the view that we should sit down and write every day, no matter what, even when inspiration is absent. There is of course value in this, and it may stimulate the flow. After all, as they say, “you can’t edit a blank page”. However, personally I’m not going to sit down and write hours of bullshit, just to throw it away. I know when I have something to say. When I haven’t, then I have a number of options. It may be a good day for editing. When the mind is not in ‘the zone’ it may instead be in a suitably critical state for proof reading and editing. Other days may be reading days. The life of a writer is not spent solely in writing. Ideas have to come from somewhere. To be a writer requires being comfortable with hours of solitude, and although our imaginations may be extremely fertile, at some point if we never come out of the house, and never see people, we have nothing to feed our work. When I have a fallow period, it may signify a need to broaden my perspective, to get out of the inside of my own head, to stimulate my mind through engaging with the world. It is important, however, to recognise when really we are procrastinating and making excuses to ourselves. If we have not written for a while, then a bit of self-discipline and courage to get started with some writing of whatever quality, may break through the inertia. Writing a journal is a good way to maintain regular writing without pressure, and may yield a few gems. Other forms of creativity can also awaken the muse. Self-care is as important as it is in any career. Personally, meditation and walking in nature are my sources of sustenance and sanity, and at times, direct inspiration. Whatever you need to do, do it. Let’s call it a ‘research day’.

© Janey Colbourne 2016

Book review: The Mindful Writer by Dinty W. Moore

‘The Mindful Writer’ is written by Dinty Moore, a well established author and writing teacher. Moore is a Buddhist, but it is certainly not necessary to be a Buddhist to find inspiration from these widely applicable words of wisdom from successful writers. The author was already discovering Buddhist truths in his process of writing before he became a Buddhist. He says that his work is not so much influenced by his Buddhism, as that his writing process is confirmed by Buddhist philosophy. There is very little direct mention of Buddhism and his warm, compassionate writing style is very appealing.

This is a mindfully written book about mindfulness. As a writer myself, who writes from the heart, I was very interested to read it, and I was not disappointed. I would highly recommend this book for any aspiring writer, for those looking for fresh inspiration, or for those times of stagnation and ‘writer’s block’. It is also nice to read confirmation of your own process. I like the format; in the main section of the book each chapter begins with a quote by a famous writer, followed by discussion. The book ends with a chapter of prompts for mindful writing, which are useful for getting started or shifting blocks. The style is easy to read and digest.

What made this book stand out for me was that Moore focuses on the deeper meanings and inner process of being a writer, the heart of it, rather than the technical skills. On the qualities needed to be a writer he says, “Are you still insatiably curious…Are you feeling as well as thinking…to be so open that it actually does hurt?” Moore writes on finding your authentic voice, freedom, opening the heart and writing for the love of it, but points out, “Write with your passionate heart, but edit with your calm brain”.

There are also practical suggestions, such as the quote from William Faulkner, “kill your darlings”, meaning that there may be times you have to find the courage to cut even writing that you love, if it does not fit. Sometimes being too precious about certain passages or phrases may actually hold us up from moving forward.

You know it’s a worthwhile book when you want to highlight almost every sentence. There are many humorous metaphors and clever analogies that ring true. For example, “It helps me to think that I have a certain number of bad sentences stacked up inside of me…and they have to come out, like the dried glue often found at the tip of the tube; dried glue that has to be squeezed through the hole before you can access the good glue necessary to finish your current project.”

I would say much of the philosophy and advice in this book is relevant to most forms of creative endeavour, not just writing. Overall a great read and would make a good gift for the writer in your life.

Janey Colbourne 2016

The Dark Night

In the light of the recent Stanford assault trial and the victim’s courage in sharing her statement, I’d like to share a short story I wrote. It is uncomfortable to talk about, but important for those who can find their voice to openly confront the experience and its impact, in order to free us from the complicity of rape culture. Often there is a misapprehension that it is a case of ‘getting a bit carried away’ with passion, which belies the violence and hatred underlying it. Trigger warning for rape survivors.

The Dark Night

Her memories of that night are dark.

He is quiet, but she feels his rage, a simmering undercurrent of cold malice. Knowing him as she does, it is clear that this will drag on. She has learned that not everyone has a temper like hers; a paper fire that catches in a moment, roaring bright brief flames, scary but soon extinguished. His rage is akin to white hot anthracite, stealthily ignited; from the outside all seems cool, no flames, but within burns relentless, searing hatred, so fierce it will silently burn right through your heart.

They go to bed in uncomfortable silence. Often she is feisty, but tonight there is something about him that she dare not challenge. Something in his mood makes her afraid. She judges that leaving him in peace is the best option. She is utterly astonished then, at his embrace, when even in the dark, she can see his anger still welded upon his face. She dare not speak as he moves to mount her. She is confused; how can he want to make love, when he is still angry? Most of all she is scared, more scared of him than she has ever been. She lies limp and numb, and takes it with neither protest nor affection, as time stands still, in a moment that she prays to be over, a moment that on another day she would wish to last forever. His eyes glazed, his thoughts so evidently elsewhere, almost muttering to himself, he takes possession of her body. Still she dare not stop him. An act of love now twisted into hate. She is shocked beyond belief.

She is on the train home when she gets the call.
“You fucking slag. Pack your bags.”
In that moment, her world once again is a churning horror. She tries to reason, but reason is a feeble flutter against the mighty wall of his cast iron certainty. She is dreading going home now. All hope drains away as she gazes at the sickly grey, rain-slicked landscape flashing by.

The chain is on the door. His raging face appears. Her pleading and sobbing falls into the abyss of his disdain. Then for the second time in two days she is utterly astonished as his fist flies out at her face. She runs.

© Janey Colbourne 2016

Click here for The Stanford victim’s full statement on Buzzfeed