April 4, 2009
Writing is a craft. You have to take your apprenticeship in it like in anything else. ~Katherine Anne Porter
Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see. ~William Newton Clark
This week I stepped out in faith to read my work and be critiqued in a writers group. I am thrilled to be part of a creative community, and I hope it will result in greater inspiration and courage to confront the blank page, as well as a honing of my craft.
This encounter suggested to me that my confidence often lags behind my skill, and I have to wonder if I sometimes come across as having false humility. It is not approval that I want so much as to embrace a realistic view of my writing, to see more clearly what I want to say and how well I am communicating it. (For more reflections on approval, see Judgment.) I believe participating in this group will lead to greater clarity.
Today, I am grateful for the Stonepile Writers, for the creative process, for this blog, for all artists everywhere!
December 22, 2008
In the dark time, the eye begins to see. ~Theodore Roethke
Again I have fallen
into the dark well of grief.
I can feel myself paling
like the camel crickets
too long out of the sunshine
that made me shudder
and draw back.
In this deep and narrow place
I must make meaning:
a lifeline, a light,
some wide wash
of healing water
in the black crucible
December 21, 2008
The fact is that the future is made of the present. If you take care of the present to the best of your ability, you are doing everything you can to ensure a happy future. When you waste your energy in fear, stress, despair, and worry, you are spoiling both the present and the future. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Art of Power
The right path to our future is the one that evolves naturally and easily from our present. Pushing the rope is counterproductive. This makes perfect sense to me, but it seems to be a lesson I have to be reminded of often, since I have such ingrained habits of fear, stress, despair, and worry!
Taking care of the present is all we can do, though. This moment is the only one we have in which to act. Thay says, “You have the right to plan your future, but you have to let go first and put your anchor down in the present.” OMG, did he say let go?! “We don’t really have to think a whole lot,” he continues. “If we are healthy, light, happy, and fresh, our thinking is creative.”
How are my thoughts about past or future getting in the way of being present? When do I find myself pushing the rope? May I strengthen my mindfulness muscles (and weaken those negative habits) by practicing every day. May I set my anchor in the present moment and trust that if I am taking care of the present, the future will take care of itself.
September 6, 2008
[Here I had the poem “Faith,” by David Whyte.]
I want to rail against faith, the way we arise, day after day, to face the brutal truth of the world. We wane and wither in the dark night of the soul, then in spite of ourselves, wax bathed in the light of encouragement.
May I continue to arise as the sun keeps coming up, as the moon rides the shadowy clouds to its fullness. May I take comfort in the words of Mignon McLaughlin: “The best work is done with the heart breaking, or overflowing.” May I find those slivers of light before the final darkness.
April 11, 2008
You write from what you know, but you write in what you don’t know. ~Grace Paley
When the painting is finished, the subject reveals itself. ~William Baziotes
Writing (or any creative work) is discovery. That is why it is so frightening, so exhilirating, so compelling. This blog is my exercise in writing in what I don’t know. When the blog entry is finished, the subject reveals itself. I merely try to follow my mind and heart where they lead–first in choosing a quotation, then in my response to it.
This is good practice, I believe, for surrendering to life, for letting myself “be carried” by the universe, for loving what is. Perhaps writing will save my soul. I keep returning to Ray Bradbury’s advice from Zen in the Art of Writing: “WORK. RELAX. DON’T THINK.” There is so much wisdom in that simple exhortation. I am not sure how it could be more perfect.
William Stafford said, “Intention endangers creation.” May I approach my work with relaxation and a spirit of inquiry. May I surrender to the world with faith that I will be carried. May I set aside intention, will, and the illusion of control in order to be in the flow–no!–to be the flow–of all creation.