The Need for Solitude

I have never lived alone.

I lived with my parents until the day I was married. Except for two brief separations (perhaps a week or two) I have always lived with my husband since we were married in 1989. I am rooted in my home life and love my role as wife and mother.  I am there for my family in every way that I can be. I see myself as a caregiver, and in that role it is easy to let my wellness suffer for others.

I used to suffer from chronic insomnia and as excruciating as it was, it had its benefits. Nights were mine. I wrote furiously for years in the wee hours to better myself as a writer when I could work freely without many interruptions. Sleep has come more easily, so as a result, my awake time has been shared with other awake humans. This has left me with little alone time.

Last year, I took a short retreat to celebrate the completion of the manuscript for “Eating the Heart First,” to reflect on that and really let it sink in.  It was a wonderful, meaningful time and I was happily able to go on another brief retreat this year.

I have been posting raw and edited excerpts from the Retreat Writings from 2011 and 2012 to this page. I plan to work these into a little chapbook. 

Retreating to write has become vital.  Actually leaving my home and going somewhere to be alone purposefully to write or read is a way to recognize the importance of my own wellness and life as a poet. Living the Writing Life has helped me do something beautiful and valuable.  

Creative writing saved my life. After great losses, I have turned to it to heal. So much of the matter of my life has been channeled into art. As a result, my burden is lightened, my understanding has deepened.  I give to the work to be greater than myself— poetry-making is prayer.

Retreating to meditate, pray, create is necessary for me. My grasp of myself as woman, as wife, lover, mother, daughter, truth-seeker, artist, as well as vulnerable, flawed and mortal human has sharpened—

I know myself better, which is the point, isn’t it?

The Retreat 2.0

I went on a brief, “self-directed” retreat at a little guest house that belongs to friends. I will be posting some of the writings I produced during my short stay and new works that were inspired by fragments/thoughts discovered during the retreat. I posted some recently from 2011. These new writings have been edited.

8 years and a lifetime

It is rare to ever feel that you have triumphed in life. That is how I feel—triumphant and profoundly grateful.  I made something real.  It was just a wisp of an idea which came on a wind, a small spark that became a fire in me. The work of 8 years and a lifetime went into Eating the Heart First.

I had a baby when I was 15. He was born premature.   Adam’s life is a long story that I cannot tell here. What I can relate is that after a life lived beyond the doctors’ predictions, a life of joy and pain, Adam passed away in 2004. When Adam died, I made a conscious decision to honor his memory by committing myself to The Writing Life. Because the focus we had given to Adam’s care was suddenly not necessary any more I thought, “Beyond what I need to give to and be for my family what can I do for myself?” I needed to write to feel as though I was not giving up on a long held dream. I also made the promise to my daughter, who needs me to succeed; she needs me to set an example for her so that when she dreams she will believe that she can make her dreams real too.

I choose to live without regret. To live without regret we must follow our better instincts which lead us to the Good. The first task was to read, read, read and write, write, write with the focus that I would get better and better and better. I got out of bed to write. I wrote while driving the car. I wrote my dreams and memories. I wrote what I believed was in the heads of strangers. I sought out other writers to be a part of a community and began submitting my work.

I took on my Writing Life as though it was a business. Being a poet was my job. I had a professional background in public relations, marketing and sales. I decided these skills would be necessary to have any success at writing. 

In the 8 years since Adam’s death, sixty poems of mine have been published.  I have read publicly about twenty times. I am a Teaching Artist with the Acadiana Center for the Arts. I just founded the “Voices” reading series and I have a forthcoming book.

Writing has saved my life many times. Creating this book gave me not only the satisfaction of making something beautiful and lasting but marks a true high point in my way of living.  I will spare you the clinical details, but I have struggled for decades to be well, to recover from bad breakdowns that left years in ruins.

Being able to claw myself back to a real and rewarding life is thankfully possible because I have good caregivers, a strong family and wonderful friends.  I have not beaten the disease but I have beaten it back–

The making of the book (the writing of it) has come to completion and is outside of me now.  So much energy is freed. I will get behind the book when it is published in the fall in every way I can. I am looking forward to the new challenges that selling a book will present.

Eating the Heart First, my debut poetry collection, is slated for a fall 2012 release as a Tom Lombardo Selection from Press 53. You will be hearing much more about it. I must self-promote because I want to move you with my poetry. 

I invite you to read me here. And do keep your eye on this site for news of new adventures in my Writing Life, readings and new publications and such.  Thank you.  

“Come, come, be transformed. “

Two Dreams of The White Horse (2005)

May 10, 2005

I dreamed of the White Horse again last night. In this new dream I was its master. On my command it leaped high fences topped with barbwire and lay still without breathing in tall grass to escape detection of the mafioso hunting me. When I’d fled the murderers, I strode into the house of The Don and walked directly to him. He was a thin, old man in loose clothing without a single gray hair. I whispered in his ear. The breathless hitmen falling over themselves to reach me were told: “Leave this woman alone.”

The dream that follows is the one I had February 5, 2005, which was my introduction to the symbol of the White Horse. I think this first dream of the White Horse could have been the awareness I had been chasing illusions and this second dream indicated I’d reached some mastery over my life.

Chasing the White Horse –Dream of 2/5/05

I had a psychotic break and was out of my mind for a year or many years. The years were black pages. I had to be placed in a secluded, secret house and attended by several plain-clothes, patronizing nurses. My husband divorced me and remarried a beautiful blond woman. My daughter simply forgot me. My ex had more children with the woman. I saw him and he was indifferent toward me. He said now, with the new wife, he knew what love really was and that the sex with his new beautiful wife was fantastic and meaningful. The most significant people in my life were unreachable, despite all of my efforts to remind them who I was and what I believed we meant to each other. I was totally lost and alone. The heart of my life dissolved. My loved ones had “moved on” and I was without direction. I had been fighting my demons only with the hope of returning to my family– but they were by choice through with me.

I wrote a book when I’d recovered my mind and gave the manuscript to the suspicious nurses reluctantly, but with desperate need that they would see that it got published. They smirked and took the manuscript. I escaped on a moonless night and ran barefooted through cold mud and unlocked several wooden gates to freedom.  I had no idea where I was. The place was rural and unfamiliar to me.

I attempted to be guided by constellations but my knowledge of the heavens was vague. I followed a river until I found a city. I entered a boutique that sold books, wind chimes and sterling silver picture frames. When a happy customer spoke to me I was surprised to learn I was famous. Many people had read the book and loved me but I didn’t know them and they meant nothing to me. I was helped my on my journey across America with money, shelter, clothes and food.

I arrived at my parent’s home. There was a wild, white stallion tearing up the lawn. My father held it tenuously by a thin string. The White Horse broke free before I could close the gates. I chased the White Horse. It ran into traffic and caused a calamitous accident but was unharmed. The horse bucked and galloped through my hometown and breezed into a weird pastel colored subdivision that looked like rows of storybook castles. I chased the White Horse into a house with an elaborate checker-pattern inlaid wood spiral staircase that rose into infinite space. I caught glimpses of the horse travelling upwards but it was far away. I was tired of running, so I climbed the staircase on my hands and knees. I became dizzy from looking up. Space tightened. I became disoriented. I couldn’t tell anymore which way was up and which way was down. The stairwell shut around me like a coffin. I woke up confused and hopeless.

Year Eight of The Writing Life Begins

SUN RISES IN A NEW YEAR

March 15th, 2004, our family suffered a loss–the death of my son, Adam.  In my grieving, I reflected on my life and his life and thought: “What can I do with my life to honor him?” I had always believed myself a writer but struggled with discipline, leaving many things unlearned and unwritten. I thought back then: “If I can do “this one thing” to the best of my ability and honor (not neglect) my God-given gifts, then such a choice would be the best way I could honor Adam.” 

Adam’s death, although hard to bear, was the catalyst for choosing to follow this life-path with dedication and passion.  I have grown personally and have had numerous wonderful opportunities via The Writing Life.  Dear Adam gave so much and continues to bless…gone from us almost 8 years. He would be 28 this year. Wow.

And although much of my posting on the Internet is self-promotion, I think it is important to share this story and the bountiful blessings I have had in these remarkable eight years. Self-promotion is necessary because I want you to read my creative works.

I want to move you with my poetry.

I have had many struggles—some from which many people could not recover. I have recounted many here in previous postings, if you want to look back.  Right now I am looking forward which I believe is necessary for true healing.

I am grateful to God-Creator-Universal Force for Good-Power of Love or whatever it is that I do believe in for pulling me through, shoring up my confidence and for putting people in my path who have aided me with loving care, support and friendship.

I am excited about 2012. I am a mother of a 16-year-old who is smart and beautiful. She inspires me everyday.  I am married to a loving, strong and honest man.  I couldn’t ask for more, but for me there will be more in 2012—more writing, more reading, more learning and more teaching.  The momentum is with me as I continue my lifework.

I am on a path and I do not allow much to divert me from it.   

 

Thanks for reading. 

~Clare

WHITE ROOM

The other day I walked into a white room and it was perfection. The wide, wooden floorboards shone. My footfall echoed in soft flip flop-claps. The air hummed coolly. White linen curtains glowed mellow light. I gasped; I felt punched because I recognized something in that clean, sharp room that we do not possess—an order, a becoming that was whole and indelible. (We live in squalor, awash in grief.) Could we be born again? Could we fit into a white, sunlit room of our own? In this room was a laughing wife, snuggling her beautiful son. Her clean-shaven husband entered their white room, kissed his family and sat beside them. There was no hardness between them. I don’t believe your promises anymore— you, who will not build me a white room. How long can I continue to sneak away to motley motels to luxuriate in aloneness, to delineate my own everything? There is someone else. There must be. There must be someone who would build me up bone by bone; fill me with a simple and clear eloquence, and renew me. Such is an interior white room. I am separating myself from myself from myself ad infinitum to find the door to the white room that eludes me and walk through it.

BEING HERE AND NOW

BEING HERE AND NOW

I have come here to pray.  I have come here to put thoughts into words, and with words discover meaning.  I have come here to be and sleep alone so that what is not me can come over me, and so that what is essentially me can emerge.

This moment is my absolution—this quiet, this gift of silence that is not silence but a lush response of crickets, wind sifting through trees, waves of soft traffic noises. I never want to come out of this mystical repose. “Save me, save me, save me,” she sings–

RETREAT WRITINGS
July 2011—Casita Azul

The second excerpt from Retreat Writings– I will post brief passages over the next few days.

Hello. My Name is Clare.

Hello. My name is Clare.  Welcome (again) to my website.

I purchased the domain https://clarelmartin.com/ today and will be writing here with more frequency. I hope I can count you as a reader.

I will muse upon the writing life, real-life happenings, sleep revelations, waking prophecies, earth, wind, fire—things I am passionate about and the few things I hate with passion.  

Certainly, I will try to keep it interesting and valuable.

Stay tuned…

Peace.  

Clare

Good News!

My essay, “The White Crane” has been nominated by the editors at Referential Magazine for the 2011 Best of the Net award.

You can read all of the nominated works here:

2011 Referential Magazine Best of the Net Nominees

Sincere thanks to the editors and readers, and especially to Jessie Carty for her hard work, her support of writers and dedication to her vision to present beautiful and important works to the world.