Monday, February 27, 2012

Where We Work

In the four-plus years I’ve known Susan J Tweit, I’ve coveted her writing space. With its views, its layout, its two shelves of books, its being set aside solely for her writing, I feel I could produce incredible writings. (Much moreso than at the desk I currently have crammed against my apartment’s living room wall.) Likewise, many of the local artists have long longed for her husband’s large and thoroughly-stocked studio, where he turned boulders into sculpture.
I’ve just finished reviewing David E Hilton’s recently published first novel, Kings of Colorado, for, Colorado Central. I was struck by Hilton’s seemingly innocuous placement of details, early on, which develop into resonant symbols or are the beginnings of the filo layers of the story.
 “Writers write,” goes the aphorism; and Ron Carlson says, “The writer is the one who stays in the chair.” Andre Dubus III wrote, The House of Sand and Fog, “in the front seat of my car.” Hilton wrote his novel, “mostly in his apartment’s stairwell just after the birth of his first son.”
That such haunting works have been crafted under such conditions should be a strong lesson for all of us—artists, especially; writers even moreso. What matters isn’t so much the place outside us where we do our work, as is the place we are inside ourself.
 Back in college, my advanced comp professor would listen only so long to our whinings and questions about an assignment until she’d bark, “Shuddup and write.”
Ah, but excuses come simply and readily, don’t they? And there are rational reasons we don’t give our craft the time and attention it deserves. But, according to Dr Gregory House, played by Hugh Laurie, “Excuses are the lies we tell others; rationalizations are the lies we tell ourself.”
So where else does that leave us, but fully responsible for, accountable to, our craft? Me? I’m hearing again and again, Dr Cockelreas’, Shuddup and write.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Getting to Work

There is a notion that creative people are absentminded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true. For they are in another world altogether.  –Mary Oliver.

For over a month, I’ve been riding a surge with my writing. Every day I’ve written at least a couple of pages worth. There have been snags, mornings when it’s been difficult to sit before the open pages and fill them, but I’ve managed to nonetheless persist doing so—even when it’s taken two or three sessions in the same day to accumulate a substantial enough amount of writing: say, half an hour’s worth.
Yesterday, however, I wasn’t getting any writing done, and the day continued with me not writing, saving the doing so for later. Even when I knew what “later” was turning into, I continued deluding myself, forgetting that like tomorrow, later was about to never come. (Eventually, however, I did finally come to the blank page, writing this blogpost-to-be.)
Every day is a decision. Sometimes, it’s as though the decision to continue with the craft is made for us already, is obvious. Other times, we have to force ourselves to heed the call. Hopefully, on those days we struggle to keep on keeping on, we’re rewarded somehow: some imp of an inspiration metastasizes into something incredible. Sometimes, though, all we’re left with afterward is just the triumph of not having succumbed to the easier path of “tomorrow/later.”
I’ve noticed for years now that I’m on time for my 9-5 job, every day. In fact, I’m nearly always a little early getting there. Even on the days I don’t want to go to work, which are increasingly common by the way, I show up on time, ready to get to work. For my vocation, though? Well, note that I’ve stated half an hour is considered, “substantial;” and “over a month” of writing is, “a surge.”
For a job that I’m weary of, that I’m ready to be rid of, I’m punctual. For my vocation, my passion? Well… Let's just say I have miles to go.
Quoting Mary Oliver (again): If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.
Not to be snarky, totally asocial, but rather, to heed and honor the call.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Whispered by Name

In last week’s blogpost I mentioned being amid an upsurge of good things regarding my writing. One of those “good things” will happen tomorrow night, when I’ll be included with a gaggle of writers in celebrating a local bookstore’s re-opening at its new location. The writers’ part of the celebration is being called, A Rapid Fire Salute To The Written Word. Each writer will be given one minute to read something they’ve written. Here’s a short list of writers invited: Kent Haruf, Laura Hendrie, Susan J Tweit, Felice Larsen, and Mark Irwin. For me to be included in a presentation with any one of these writers is a substantial honor and blessing. To be included with the entire lot? To be among the limited number there are spots for? Well, even though I’m a skilled writer, I’m not finding words that do justice.
Perhaps one of the sorceries of small towns is that you’re seen for who and what you are, even when it’s still unapparent to you. Since the days before moving to this magical mountain valley river town, I’ve considered myself merely a beginning writer. And while that may be true, in a sense, I am considered by those around me as something more than, something other than, “beginning.”
It’s not an uncommon occurrence for writers to hold themselves at bay, keep themselves in check until they’re given “permission.” Typically, this permission is received when someone whose judgment carries weight calls them by name, calling them a writer. The irony is that this receiving permission has never been necessary, for the writer has always had it. It becomes something of a post facto realization—just like the fact that folks have been calling them by name, calling them, “writer,” for quite some time. It’s just been a little below hearing range, as though whispered.