The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Friday, October 27, 2006


In the interest of giving you something interesting to look at besides my writer's bloat, I tried to download some photos I took a few days ago, but blogger is refusing to take them. I think blogger and the one muse may be related...but read on. You'll see what I mean.
First things first: I received the most heavenly yarn yesterday from Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns and I was so excited to put up a picture of it today but Mr. K needed the camera at work. And, seeing as how it IS his camera, I thought that letting him take it was really the most gracious thing to do. I'll put up a pic of it tomorrow, though, promise. It's just lovely--turquoise mohair with just the barest hint of violet in the long hairs. Love it, love it, love it. Thank you SO much, Jo!

Now, to those muses. Muses are funny things. In the same way that dropping a bowling ball on your foot is funny….when it’s your foot. I was thinking about this today because some of you have been kind enough to compliment my writing (you have no idea how much this means to me, but I’ll keep right on thanking you for it) and I’ve certainly had people ask me in the past how I do it. I usually say something flip like “Oh, it’s easy.” Which is a bald-faced lie of such magnitude that I could use it on my resume should I ever decide to go into politics. Truth is, it’s all down to the muses.

I have two muses, because I have done two different types of writing. For what I call “general writing”, that is--articles for publication, blogging, school papers, etc.—there is a lovely, almost friendly muse. She is very nearly kind, and is actually somewhat forgiving as her type goes. That is, I can sit down and write without much forethought and oftentimes she’ll actually forgive the arrogance and whisper a few ideas into my ear anyway. And, once she starts, she’ll usually stay at my shoulder until I’m done and the end product looks, at least to some extent, cohesive. She’s not above misleading me so that I come back later to what seemed to be a brilliant piece of writing but now seems to have magically transformed into a pile of crap….but she’s a muse. They’re a flighty breed, muses, and they can be expected to get bored and play games. The other one, though…..the other one.

See, I also have been known to write poetry. Once upon a time I dreamed of publishing a book of poetry. This, of course, when I was young and innocent and didn’t realize that getting a book of poetry published is something one should only try when similar forms of satisfaction—falling out of a tree, becoming shipwrecked, standing under a flock of seagulls with intestinal flu—have been exhausted. If the other muse is a gentle, occasionally mischievous soul who generally wants me to do well, the other one is a bloody-minded bitch (or, as my mother would say, a brass-plated, four-door bitch. I’ve no idea what that means, but it’s quite satisfying to say in these situations). To blog or write a paper or an article, I form some general ideas and sit at the computer and type and stop and erase and type and stop and erase and I do this for awhile until something passable is born. Practically painless. I call the muse; for the most part she comes and we do the dance and all is well. Not so the other one.

To write poetry it is necessary to sit down with a notebook and a pen (I don’t know why, but I’ve never been able to write poetry on a computer), and then to stare at the page until my eyes bleed. The muse, meanwhile, just does the muse equivalent of standing there with her fingers in her ears chanting “La, la, la—I can’t hear you!”. And, since she has the attention span of a three-year-old at Christmas, even if she does help she’ll leave halfway through and I’ll be stuck with this half-written poem that makes no sense to me and I have no idea where I was going. But here’s the real hell of it: when she does decide to help, it’s beautiful. When she’ll do the dance it’s like nothing on this earth. The thoughts and images pour through my mind and through the pen and onto the paper and I stare in amazement and wonder how in the world that came out of me. (I used to say the poems just used me to get written, and that’s how it felt.) That, of course, was the hook. Because I’d love what we made and I’d think we were going steady and the next day…..well, the next day she’d be long gone. Or she’d stare at me blankly as if to say “Oh, you didn’t think that was SERIOUS, did you? That’s so cute……” My poetry muse has huge commitment issues.

She’s a flirt, that muse. She’s almost like Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football. Because I’ll get fed up and ignore her and she’ll just hang at the edge of my consciousness and offer tantalizing little bits of music…..and then run away as soon as I get out the paper. I can almost imagine her saying “I can’t believe you fell for that AGAIN!” I love her and I hate her by turns. And at the same time. I haven’t tried to write poetry in quite some time because I know how she is. But I’ll probably have to try again soon because…..well, because I know how she is. Bitch.

So there’s the answer to how I write like I do—if it’s general writing, I ask nicely and I angst a tiny bit but mostly she comes. If it’s poetry, I whack my head against the wall until the urge goes away…then admit that it won’t and do battle until something is finally born. And both hate and love very minute of it.

I’ll leave you today with this offering from the Evil Muse of the West (not to be confused with the Good Muse of the North), written for Mr. K once upon a time while thinking about ordinary miracles:

Love Poem

Eggs chuckle softly on the stove
Spitting water to hiss and die
On the burner below;

Steam clouds the window
Where night presses
Her cool black cheek,

Leans longingly against the lovelit walls
Where we are

Making eggs
And other small


  • At 12:09 PM, Blogger Faren said…

    I really like that poem, it is very evocative. Speaking of love, I was having a bad couple of days, so my hubby, besides being supportive and a darn good listener, brought home a vase of flowers last night. But not just any flowers, oh no, he didn't have any money, but he did have time and a lot of office suplies, so he made 3 purple flowers with green steams in a pink vase out of colored office paper! Isn't that the sweetest thing?
    I just realized how long this comment was...sorry!

  • At 12:38 PM, Blogger Ms. Knitingale said…

    Faren, I think that IS the sweetest thing--I would enjoy the office paper flower more than any real ones, I think. Here's hoping you're having some better days...

  • At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    aahhh hhaaaaaaa.

  • At 7:38 PM, Blogger Lynn said…

    Oh, it's great to find somebody else who writes food poems that are only incidentally about food.

    When I was still married to the children's father, I wrote what is quite possibly the world's largest collection of PO'd wife poetry.

    The solution to the whole publishing dilemma? Chapbooks. Self-published, sold to other poets at $5 a pop. I stitched mine together with Balger Kreinik metallic threads.

    The poetry muse ran off with the Fuller Brush Man [are there still any Fuller Brush Men?], but she sent a gaggle of Needlework Fairies in her place.

    And as for the Good Housekeeping Fairy? Check my blog in a day or so, after I've caught up on my sleep.

  • At 9:14 AM, Blogger Charity said…

    Side Note: Faren, that's awesome! I'd so much rather have paper flowers handmade by dh than something from the hothouse! :0)

    Ms. K, thanks for sharing your wonderful poem. It's lovely, and so true, and such a great reminder. :0)


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