Friday, January 2, 2015

I've been a serious writer for two decades now, working within and around and through the distractions of babies, jobs, housework, farmwork. Yet for me this physical vigor has been an integral part of a writing life. Interruptions that might seem to impede writing--oh, no, the baby's awake and screaming; oh, no, we're out of bread and I need to bake; oh, no, the goat's busted down her fence and is standing in the garden eating a rosebush--have turned out to be indispensable to getting the work done. Yes, I've been able to reconfigure some of these incidents into subject matter. But more importantly, they have taught me that writing doesn't stop when I step away from my desk. As I wrestle with the goat or change the diaper or shape the dough into loaves, my ears and eyes are still polishing images and following cadences; disconnected thoughts are still adhering and dissolving. Not only does my cerebral curiosity cling to the task of composition, but the actions of my body seem to invigorate that curiosity.

So I can easily understand that a body's slowdown might equal a writer's slowdown. Donald Hall has chosen to stop writing poems; Philip Roth has chose to stop writing novels. I imagine that someday I, too, may choose to stop writing. Yet I do hope I will be able to shift graciously into some other joy. Adoring nothing would be a terrible end.


Nicholas said...

This almost makes me feel lazy. Perhaps it is because I have not been a serious writer for 20 years that my body and mind to not constantly think in terms of imagery and cadence. Not writing poetry has begun to bother me the way it always does when I am away too long. The last 4 months have left me feeling mostly empty and I feel consumed with something we spoke of earlier, individualism. I have hidden away in my fantasy literature books but even there the themes of nature and humanity and individualism, etc. keep popping up. Break time, I think, is nearly over for me and it is time to put pencil to page. Dawn, when you first started writing did you stop and start in fits or sometimes go long periods with writing? It feels terrible to think I will not write again, I know I will, I just struggle with when as though the time for writing is only when I have reached wit's end. The trick must be to start and not stop, ever...that is frightening to me for some reason and I wonder who else feels the weight of all those years each moment spent thinking about them. Maybe I ramble but as I said earlier this blog is my link right now to the poetry life.

Happy New Year!

Dawn Potter said...

I still go for long periods without writing poems. Part of the reason I keep this blog going is because it forces me to put together at least a sentence or two every day. I deeply dislike poetry prompts (for myself): I cannot write real poems unless my head and heart are reacting organically to an emotional impetus. So don't beat yourself up for not writing. You are still watching the world, still reading, still questioning. The poems will come when they come. To soothe myself, I sometimes copy out other people's poems, and you might try that strategy too. Copying allows you to live inside a poem, and it takes you out of yourself . . . away from that damaging guilt and languor. I'm glad that this blog has also been some aid as well.