Monday, July 28, 2014

When you just can't write...

Sometimes the world overwhelms. Sometimes life becomes that thing that happens while you're making other plans. Sometimes available hours to write just don't appear. 

Sometimes you wonder why we live in a culture that does not support culture and the arts so that that time would be available...

It's especially hard when you are in the middle of a project you love, that is coming from deep within you, that wants to be written, that is even important, and that you know is some of the best writing you've ever done.

And life unfolds...
unexpected things, urgent needs that arise, all of this becoming new material for new writing projects, new ideas, new passion and creativity - if only there were the hours.

Often when going through a spell like this, I read other writers - not just their writing but their writing about writing. I like feeling myself in the midst of good company.

Linda Hogan is one of my favorite writers, and she is writing like crazy, new work coming out soon. I was sitting in the waiting room of a Honda dealership this morning waiting on a repair for my car's airbag system. It's not the most conducive place for contemplative reading, but I blow up a bubble around me and close off the buzz, immerse myself. Hogan had an essay in the summer double issue of Orion Magazine and these words leaped off the page:
"It seems that living with art is a story in itself, that art and harmony are one with spirituality, that it overlapped with the land, which contained so many gifts that were recognized in ways of beauty."
She is writing about the return of human bones to the mounds in Oklahoma where they were buried centuries ago, bones of a people who once lived and loved in that land, later dug up by new settlers, abused, put up for viewing (for a fee), violated - but later, with new laws in place, respectfully studied and now being returned to the sacred place from which they had been exhumed. She was among the witnesses of the reburial and her reflections about it are typical Hogan - penetrating, deeply moving, more than a bit challenging of this culture first built by the White Man.

A bit farther on, at the end of the burial when the workers are now gone, she sits for a while  in the deep silence with the remains of a community long disappeared, but again part of our Earth, our very soil here in this nation, and she writes:
"The silence is important. Much grows and lives in the silences."
Which is true. Which is incredibly true. So much grows and lives there.

And I hope my work will, even when it sits within me in keen and restless anticipation ("Margaret, c'mon, here we are waiting for you; the words, they are here waiting for you. They will wait. They won't abandon you."). 

And once again I have to learn to trust that. Because finding hours of available time will be very difficult over coming weeks - in part because of plans that were made (a paid-for gig to help pay the rent), and in large part because of life happening despite other plans or intentions. And the writer, too, has to live in space and time and the needs of others and the needs of one's own life, and the sorrows of this world that sometimes leave one almost paralyzed or collapsed in tears.

That's another danger of the silences. You can't control what enters.

Because a writer, at their best, is opening to the world, not closing to it, even in the private space (silence) of one's writing room. Sometimes the world comes in like a flood washing over you, and you just have to go with it, let it deposit you back on the shore - otherwise you might drown in it or be smashed to pieces.

As I let myself go with all these current waves, I trust that the words are there in the water surrounding me. We will flow together. We will meet on the shore.