Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lighter, Brighter

Dear Friends,

I have not posted for awhile, I've been deep-in, living, surviving. It's been a tough year, with many challenges, on a variety of levels: practical, emotional, famlilial, but I won't over-share, offer TMI here and now, I will save the details for my journal, for transformation in my next book, for Oprah--Oprah, are you listening? If only....

To cope with tough times, I've turned to poetry. Yes, you heard that right, poetry. Blake, including his extraordinary plates, prints, and paintings, to Emily Dickinson, to Rilke. Why? I find when I am reading a great poem, a poem with that bottomlessness I seek, which always offers up something more, something new, I can do nothing else. The poem sucks me in and absorbs me, and through this concentrated focused attention, the treadmill of ruminating thoughts, the panic, vanishes, evaporates, and I am simply there, or here, present, inside the poem.

When I awaken these days, even up North, I hear the birds, after the deep silence of winter. The sky is lighter, brighter. There are only patches of snow on the weathered ground, rather than great drifts and high, soiled banks with their blackened crusts. Soon these patches will melt. The winter-warped silhouettes of trees, so lacey and beautiful against the sky, will bud.

Though we always doubt that spring will come, it must. I feel as if I don't have to bunch myself up, I can let the air out of my chest.

I am writing a new novel, my third, my fourth book. I feel blessed to do this creative work. I think about it as I write, as I walk, as I clean, as I sleep: my story, my characters, and more and more is coming to me each day. I have no doubt that the creative way saves me, allows me to give my best self to the world.


oreosandpeace said...

Indeed, spring will always come. Artistry and creativity will forever be the greatest escape from the pain and bitterness of this world, because we can always find ourselves in a different one.

Leo said...

I must admit, I never thought of poetry as an escapist form. But I do agree with your conclusion that reading poetry is excellent for stimulating that creative part of the brain that aches to write something beautiful.

For the tunnel that is the month of February in these northern climes, I've always been drawn instead to airport novels, dramatic thrillers where men are all action and no personality, women struggle mightely for a place in the book but in the end, surrender to the men they've come to know, and the plot is all encompassing to the point that the world as we know it will end unless the hero and heroine, working together, solve the puzzling code on the detonator at the last minute and watch, arm in arm as the bad guy, raving like a lunatic about going to heaven, still at the controls of his executive jet that is shooting flames out of the engine cowlings, crashes into the side of a craggly mountain peak, never to disturb the waking nightmares of good citizens of the world over.

Mind you, I also read Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union, which was just as gripping at the former thriller (but much better written), in the style of a Raymond Chandler murder mystery, the body and Detective appearing on the first page, and the whole splendor of an alternative universe that is the Sitka District, 3.5 million Jews crammed onto one island off the coast of Alaska (when in reality, there are 36), with so many Yiddish terms sprinkled throughout there is a glossary to help us gentiles navigate the shoals of this excellent book.

Unlike your experience in reading poetry, however, I am no further ahead in my creative life after reading those two books except to say that, as always, reading Chabon is stimulating to such a degree you just want to sit down and write something just as brilliant.

Maybe one day I will.

Chez Ami said...

I read this Chabon and was less dazzled, though his language is always wonderful and his ideas, his risks, well, he retains the childlike element that all wonderful writers need to embody, embrace.

Re: thrillers. Michael received two Henning Mankell novels for his b-day. I had not heard of this writer, but apparently, he's good.

I'm reading an Israeli, A.B. Yehoshua, and will let y'all know what I think. It's okay so far, but I am not gripped yet. He seems to do too much with dialogue, all the history, expo, dumped into dialogue. Back to work on my book now!