Saturday, June 23, 2012

Before I Take a Week Off


We walk through the dry lake bed. The day is foggy. Not cold but damp. The house is there up ahead, where it always has been. It looks the same, but the trees. The trees are more than bare. They are simply poles sticking up into the fog. The branches are gone. The pine needles. There are simply trunks. I say to my companion, I can't believe they are selling it. He doesn't say anything and I can't be sure that he's there. That I'm not alone. We keep walking toward it. Out of the fog, it resolves into the shape of the thing I've known. A friend's summer home. A place from my past. A thing that is going away and has become shrouded in fogs. I stare at it. The fog grows thicker. I am sure I'm alone now. The house fades. The trees branch. The water returns to the lake. Seeping through the ground. Rising over my knees. My hips. Up to my chest. I stand in the lake knowing that it will not rise over my head. Almost wishing that it would. But if you die in your dreams, the saying goes. And I have to tell them not to sell this place. Never let it go. 

I just wrote that draft a moment ago and now I'm all self-conscious. That's not unusual. Still, the self-consciousness is heightened by the fact that I gave copies of 92 poems to eight different people this week. I ask those people to read all those poems and tell me yes, no, maybe for each of them. It's really the first time I have ever done something of that sort and it has left me thinking a bit too much about audience.

It's a good thing to picture an audience at some point in the writing process, but probably not when I'm first drafting. That initial pass through and idea should be about as free as I can make it. I need to let my brain associate wildly, to make leaps that won't survive the next draft, to do things that seem wrong or impossible. In the revisions I can think about others and set things to right, but that first draft has to take crazy jumps and go where it may. I need to keep that in mind but, for the moment at least, I'm having to be conscious about that and force myself into accepting things as they fly out of my fingers.

None of that is too hard to do and it helps me get around the problem of writer's block which is a thing I don't believe in anyway.

I'm endlessly intrigued by the processes of writing. Getting words down initially is the thing that most interests me. Revision, though there are thousands of ways of doing it and though it is a craft, it feels to me more of a mechanical thing. Creation, the act of making something quite literally out of nothing, that's a mysterious and wonderful thing. It's a thing worth plumbing.

Okay, and now a word from our sponsors. Or rather, a word about what's going on here at this blog. Back on October 31 of last year I set out with the goal of writing 750 words every day and publishing them. I did that for a few months, let myself miss a day here or there after that, but basically kept going. Over the course of this last month I have been taking time to work on publishing some of my poetry and the energy I've devoted there has come at the cost of these daily essays. And that left me feeling badly.

I'm getting over that feeling now and next week I'm going on vacation with my family. So I'm going to take most of the rest of the month off and come back in July (maybe a little sooner, maybe a little later). I have some ideas about what to write (running, writing, technology, and living a good life) and the time off will get me to mentally stockpile some of those ideas and get charged up for writing over the rest of the summer.

It is awfully nice that so many of you have been reading these essays and talking back to me about them. That, as much as anything, gives me the courage to write on.

See you in a week or so.