Sunday, December 10, 2006

In Birnam Wood

Sir John Everett Millais.
Glen Birnam.

A writer, having unfixed his earth-bound root, may feel like this sometimes - like a wayfaring stranger in a winter landscape.
Weary, cloaked against the cold.
A pilgrim burdened with a trug basket of heavy dreams.
Alone, between the exiled trees.
The path stretches on, and, like perspective, disappears.
And the hills, like home, seem far, so very far away.

I wonder if that is high Dunsinane in the distance.

We are told the market shrinks like wrap.
We are warned that this genre or that is dead or dying in the battle for market share.
That we will drift like Banquo among the dead.
Trolls and thieves lurk along the track beneath the moss and bracken, beside the ice-bound rocks, while witches cackle over caldrons.
And many whom we meet tell tales of tavern brawls and betrayals, of kings and porters, of soldiers dismissed without their fee, and some curse us with a name for our impudence.

I wonder if that is high Dunsinane in the distance.


anna said...

I wonder if that is high Dunsinane in the distance

I'm sure it is - stay true to the course and the force will be with you.

Carla said...

Topographical: probably but I haven't got a detailed enough map to hand to tell you if Dunsinane is that shape :-)

Metaphorical: It was Ambition that brought Macbeth to Dunsinane (Vaulting ambition, that o'erleaps itself/ And falls on th'other). Without ambition, would Birnam or Dunsinane have had the opportunity to be sinister?

December Quinn said...

That certainly is an excellent metaphor for trying to pick one's way through the process. Amazing how something with so little real danger can be so terrifying.

spyscribbler said...

Bernita, sometimes reading your blog is just the most wonderful start to my day.

Thank you!

MissWrite said...

What a beautifully poetic way to say being a writer sucks sometimes. LOL

A writer, having unfixed his earth-bound root, may feel like this sometimes - like a wayfaring stranger in a winter landscape.

It does feel exactly like that at times though, doesn't it?

Ric said...

A wonderful bit of writing to start the day, think about how hard the journey continues to be, and dream about reaching the end of the road.

archer said...

Yeah, it does feel like that, midway through a first draft especially.

There is a scene in the Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away" in which he's finally escaped his island, and is drifting on his makeshift raft somewhere in the South Pacific, and a whale comes. It surfaces near him, and its great big eye looks at him. What else could he be thinking, except what we think?

If I get out of this in one piece, it'll make a hell of a story.

Bernita said...

Sorry, I'm slow.
We had a planned 4-hour power outage that stretched closer to 5.

Thank you, Anna.

Re: the topography, I may well be taking liberties with Millais's designation,Carla.
Always thought it was not ambition per se but the reprehensible means of satisfying it.
Not sinister but necessary - to us followers of MacDuff.

The danger is to our minds, I suppose, December, our strength and our weakness.

Thank you, Spy and Tami.
Yes, it does,especially without benefit of prophesy or clergy.

Grab a tree as camouflage, Ric.

Archer, I really have trouble associating Tom Hanks and whales with the Scottish play.
Dim of me, I know.

writetnwyrdd said...

Being a writer does feel like you are all alone in a wilderness, sometimes. Maybe it is because we are inventing universes, and no one else shares them with us until we get our roadmaps and travellogs otu there in book form?

I am haunted by the words, though. From now on, I'll be thinking when I'm feeling melancholy, "I wonder if that is High Dunsinane in the distance?" (It's Mt. Katahdin, but nevermind.)

Bernita said...

Lay on, MacDuff! Writeynwyrdd!

raine said...

How lovely, Bernita.

Must remember to adorn myself with birch branches from Birnam Wood if I continue to venture out...

EA Monroe said...

Hi, Bernita. That's me trudging along the path with my basket of dreams. Only, my Mt. Williams was bulldozed earlier this year to make way for a big hotel, convention center, amphitheater and shopping mall! But I know where to find it again.

Bernita said...

Don't think you'll need them, Raine.

Liz, those damn Macbeths are at it all over the place.

Gabriele C. said...

But what is the solution? Kill all publishers and become a publisher yourself? They'll only be back, hiding behind the branches of Birnam. And meanwhile, your editor has gone mad.

Bernita said...

I identify with the foot soldiers struggling up that long rise to displace the tyrants, Gabriele, even though most of the time I'm hiding under a bush at its base.

Kate Thornton said...

Beautiful poetry, Bernita!

Bernita said...

Kate, thank you.

M.E Ellis said...

I opened a new book last night and scoured the first couple of pages looking in the hopes the writers agent was mentioned. If I knew who the agent was, I could approach them with my own works, knowing similar stuff was sold by them, namely the book I opened.

I'm that woman in the cloak right now. No idea if my type of thing gets taken on these days, yet there seems to be plenty of it on the shelves.

Hmmm. Dilemma.


Bernita said...

Maybe research on the author will turn up the agent's name, Michelle.