Thursday, March 13, 2014

Still writing. Honestly. I'm still writing.

Wow, has it really been 3 months? Time to renew my commitment to this blog about writing, about my writing, about the journey that is the writing part of my life.

I would like to blame the bitter cold winter and above normal snowfall. I would like to blame being overwhelmed with life changes, with too many commitments, with the need to pay my rent, which writing doesn't do (yet - one can always hope). But when I think about all that, I realize it is only more material for writing.
Lake Michigan holds winter in place...

I haven't stopped, of course. I finally offered the book I've been working on for a couple of years to my siblings for feedback - the book that opens a lens on this moment in the culture through the multi-generational story of my family, from ancestors in the old country, pioneers, farmers and miners, to my parents and the struggles of the generational clashes of the last century. They turned out to be wonderful readers and I am finishing up the revisions that came from their feedback.

I've started another book, this one from the journal I kept through my 2-week trip last September to Alberta, what the six of us who went together called the Athabasca River Pilgrimage. The link is to the blog we kept along the way. Actually, I think this was part of the reason for my long hiatus from the writer's blog - that trip reshaped my work. All adjustments take time and attention, no?

That experience pulled me deeper than ever into this overarching theme of my working life these days - the increasingly pathological relationship of this human species with the planet that lovingly evolved us and carried us with such generosity for tens of thousands of years. How could we repay that generosity with so much destruction to the point of a potential collective suicide?

The multi-generational story is my effort to SEE how that came about and why we have such a hard time altering course even in the face of unfolding disaster.

But there is poetry in my work, too. Yesterday, posting on Facebook, I was commenting on this month of March, this wild, crazy, unpredictable month that marks the transition from winter to spring, which in the north is a tumultuous, exhilarating one that often ends in euphoria - especially after a winter like this one. I wrote that I wished I could write a poem about it, about March:
Ah, March. I wish I had time to write a poem about it today. Let's just say it roars. Let's just say it is fickle. Let's just say it has trouble making up its mind. It is unstable - like all big transitions. Then, as I listen to the roaring wind, as today the temperatures plummet yet again, as it will be 50 on Friday yet again, I ponder this transition, what is opening here, what is giving way, and to what it is giving way. The Earth that is opening. The birds that are mating and finding this year's nesting places. The fox dens where the tiny ones are being nurtured.

And I know what's coming - I mean, besides baseball.
...and then let's it go.

And then a couple of writer friends said - well, there it is. There's the poem. And, like so many poems, I realized that all I had to do was open to the experience and, you know, there it was.

So I will work on it these days, shape it into something I hope will tell the story of this sometimes mean, sometimes angry, sometimes warm and welcoming, sometimes tender month that is March in Wisconsin. (Oops, see? Just found some more poem there.)

Thus the writing comes - and goes - and comes again.

But, really, watching winter relent - return and relent again - what more could a writer want to work with to craft the next phrase, the next story, the next window on this wonder we call life?

Margaret Swedish

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