Sundays

An incandescent elixir is Sunday’s rich glow.

A bloom of its soft qualities begins to grow.

My soul drinks of it, swallowing deeply,

Using it quietly, wielding it discreetly.

-Excerpt from “Sunday Morning Rhymes”

by Nicholas Trandahl

Autumn leaves. Fog. Being outdoors. Shorelines. Woods. Morning sunlight. The sound of geese high in the air. The Atlantic.

Taking advantage of a mild November Sunday, reading and writing outdoors.

Taking advantage of a mild November Sunday, reading and writing outdoors.

Sunsets. Really good literature. Cocktails. Intimacy. Ambient music. Pinterest. Reading about trout fishing (while not actually fishing myself).

I, like all writers, am filled with creative inspiration by certain particular things. However, for me, few things inject creative energy into me like Sundays. There’s something so special about that day of the week, the quietest of days. Regardless what time of year, or what weather features a particular Sunday is offering up, I typically have a fervent desire to write or paint. The earlier the hour the better.

Today was a mild Sunday here in Wyoming. It was crisp, somewhat breezy, sunny and cloudless. It was still undoubtedly November, but it was a generous day for late autumn. It was a day for putting on a pea coat, lighting up an old pipe full of good pipe tobacco, and sitting outside in the meek warmth of the sun, poetry journal and book of Alice Munro short stories in hand. I was expecting to create something that glistens quietly; some elegant piece of prose that is subtle and well-written. I write a poetry every couple of days or so, and I figured today would bring a decent little poem.

I did write a poem, sitting out in the Sunday afternoon air.

And then I wrote five more!

Now, let me be honest here. I have never written six complete poems in one day. And I didn’t really do that today either. The five that I wrote after the initial poem were largely already created, verses jotted down quickly in haphazard chunks in a note app on my iPhone. I just cleaned up, added to, and improved on the rough drafts of poetry that were in my phone and put the final drafts of each into my leather poetry journal. Nonetheless, … SIX NEW POEMS!

My goal for 2016 is to have a chapbook of my poetry published, but at this rate I may have enough work for two! Or maybe enough for another collection of poetry! Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ll continue to take advantage of all the wonderful things in our world that inspire me. I’ll continue to use these quiet Sundays to their fullest. And, noble readers and writers, I encourage you to do the same.

A Luminous Niche

The waves have now a redder glow —

The hours are breathing faint and low —

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down that town shall settle hence.

Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,

Shall do it reverence.

-Excerpt from “The City in the Sea”,

Edgar Allan Poe

Nicholas Trandahl

Nicholas Trandahl

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been making stories. And everyone that knew me growing up knew of my penchant for fiction. When I was 11 or so, my uncle gave me a massive hardcover tome, Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s short stories were intriguing and I remember reading a few of them; I still remember several. But what truly drew me in, enchanted me at that young impressionable age, was Poe’s collected poetry. In his flawless lines I was taken to shadowed vales in realms of dreams, to lonely treacherous shores, to gilded rooms where romance bloomed, to Gothic dreary places swollen with sorrow and death.

I never recovered from that initial magic of poetry. Throughout my younger years I tried my hand at poetry, probably embarrassing works and better off disintegrated into the earth as they likely are, but my own literary aspirations remained on fiction. That all changed when I joined the U.S. Army and was deployed to the Middle East. I won’t go into the details here of the ordeals that I went through, but what I will say that the writing of poetry was my entire salvation. I self-medicated with words, prescribed myself (as I proclaim in my first published poetry collection) “Poetry for Pills!” Poems flowed from me, emotional and neurotic works of depression, hopelessness and helplessness, and sometimes questions of hope. I was eventually overcome by darkness while deployed, but poetry kept the darkness at bay longer than I could have with pills and alcohol.

Lost Yellow, Nicholas Trandahl's early collection of poetry published by Swyers Publishing.

Lost Yellow, Nicholas Trandahl’s early collection of poetry published by Swyers Publishing.

Later, when I was safe back home, a civilian again, a veteran, I had amassed quite the collection of dark poetry that I brought home with me from the Army. Also, I continued to write poetry in addition to fiction. My first published works were a handful of poems in a poetry anthology published by Swyers Publishing. It was called Making Waves and is available here. These poems began my relationship with Swyers Publishing who have continued publishing my novels, short stories, and even my debut poetry collection of those dark poems that I wrote during times of turmoil in the Army. That poetry collection, Lost Yellow, is available here.

But since I was first published in 2011, most of my writing endeavors have been geared towards my literary fiction novels and short stories. There were times when poetry would pour suddenly and briefly from me, when I was camping for instance and when I have been a little depressed. Poets, which I suppose I am, can write poetry all day every day. But I think that poets can only write really good poetry when they’re at their lowest and highest. In times of both depression and joy, the greatest poetry is birthed.

Despite my literary fiction endeavors, including my recently-released short story collection Cocktails & Other Stories, poetry has been knocking steadily and increasingly at the door of my creative mind. I’ve been reading and discovering new poets at the highest rate of my life. I’ve been filled with poetic inspiration. Also, my marriage and honeymoon last month have sure gone a long way towards unlocking really good poetry from my fingertips. I guess I’m becoming more of a romantic like early Yeats. Ten all new poems have mine were published recently in another Swyers Publishing poetry anthology called Crashing Waves (found here).

I’ve been attempting to write a little bit of short fiction on my typewriter, but my hand instead migrates to the drawer of my writing desk. Opening it, my hand withdraws my leather poetry journal that I picked up when I was in Martha’s Vineyard this October. I’ve been writing pieces in that journal, and also sketching and coloring quiet little drawings to accompany my poems. These recent poems that I’ve written in the last couple of months are easily the best poems that I’ve written; maybe the best items I’ve ever written.

Or maybe I’m just waxing poetic.

Nonetheless, I’m feeling more and more that the next book I’m going to try and get published is a collection of poetry. I suppose that’s my goal for 2016, to get a new poetry collection published. I’m sure I could make more sales and garner more of a royalty check if I put out another novel. But poetry has claimed me! I know poetry’s a niche area of literature, but it sure is a luminous niche. Isn’t it?

And I like spending time there.

To NaNoWriMo, or not to NaNoWriMo?

The colorful boughs of crisp October have given way to the barren limbs and cold grey skies of November. Do you know what that means? Not the quickly encroaching holiday season! It means that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is upon us! And, according to what’s trending on social media, over 300,000 authors and aspiring authors are participating in the challenge to write a new novel this November! That’s quite the influx of new books, should even a fraction of these participants be successful in this literary endeavor and get it published.

Over the years, I’ve seen the NaNoWriMo crowd of writers get wildly jazzed about November, and I must say that the excitement has been contagious. I’ve often toyed with the idea of participating in NaNoWriMo, but then I get realistic with myself. I say, “Nick, you know that if we’re talking about a deadline and daily word goals, you’re going to do everything in your power to procrastinate, put it off, and eventually justify why you gave up.”

Clark's Turning Leaf by Nicholas Trandahl (published by Swyers Publishing in January 2014)

Clark’s Turning Leaf by Nicholas Trandahl (published by Swyers Publishing in January 2014)

Don’t get me wrong! I write … a lot. It’s a VERY achievable goal, writing a novel in a month with even a couple thousands words a day! The first draft of my most successful novel, a literary fiction book of contemporary drama called Clark’s Turning Leaf, was written completely in only three weeks! I’m not saying that writing a novel in less than month is easy. You’ve got to be wildly inspired to do it, almost possessed by the need to write. I was! And with 100% 5-star reviews on Amazon and the novel selling regularly each month, I think I turned out a decent literary product in a very short space of time. Check Clark’s Turning Leaf out for yourself here.

But the NaNoWriMo dilemma for me personally is that I would have that deadline that I’d have to reach or I’d consider myself a failure. I write very strictly on my own terms. And I usually write only when I’m inspired. In fact, I avoid writing uninspired pretty much all the time. I can tell when an author has written uninspired, and I can certainly tell when my own prose in uninspired. And I doubt that the entire month of November, I’d be inspired enough to write the way I need to write to be satisfied with myself.

Well, this October was no different. I saw writers on Twitter and Facebook getting all prepped for NaNoWriMo, getting their literary ducks in a row, and I again toyed with the idea of joining their enthusiastic ranks. I’ve recently returned from a honeymoon in Martha’s Vineyard in October, and have a journal loaded with details of the trip that I thought worthy of using as inspiration for a novel. In fact, during the honeymoon throughout the middle of October I was dead set on writing a contemporary fiction novel set in the Vineyard in the autumn. I was ready for NaNoWriMo.

Or so I thought. I blame poets for the dashing of that brief aspiration.

During the honeymoon, I purchased a hardcover copy of Mary Oliver’s most recent poetry collection, Felicity. Within two days I had bought and read a total of three of her poetry collections. I began my writing career as a poet in an anthology and have held a deep appreciation and fondness for poetry since I was a child. I published my debut collection of poetry in 2013, Lost Yellow, a collection I wrote when I was a soldier in the U.S. Army to help deal with my own stress and depression. But after Clark’s Turning Leaf and An Uncomfortable Life, literary fiction novels that were both published in 2014, my attentions strayed from poetry to writing fiction. My short story collection Cocktails & Other Stories followed this year.

But then very recently, ten new poems of mine were included in a poetry anthology that releases later this month. And then with my discovery of Mary Oliver and the contemporary romantic poetry of Jessica Kristie (visit her website), the poetry bug had very firmly reattached itself to my heart. I also just finished the final draft of a new short story.

So that brings us to the present, to the beginning of NaNoWriMo. And I’ve pretty much lost my aspiration to write a novel in the near future. I’ve got too much poetry to write and too many short stories that need telling. So this November, I’ll just sit back at my desk and watch all you NaNoWriMo participants engaged in that frenzied game of writing your novels in a single month. I’ll root for you, favorite your tweets, and retweet several of them. But that’s as far as I’ll presently dip my toe into the jovial literary chaos that is National Novel Writing Month.

Best of luck to all of you with your writings!

P.S., Those Martha’s Vineyard experiences of mine from this October are still going to be used. They may just reveal themselves in poems and short stories. Maybe a novella. We shall see. Stay tuned!