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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Knitting Instead


In the dog-days of summer (my homeland) and hot rainy season (here), Orion's dog Sirius rises into the heavens.  Without the ability to see the starts here in this urban environment,  I've been a little lackluster in creative writing efforts and the work at the office,

In July, I failed July's Camp NaNoWriMo and my commitment to writing 30,000 words in a month,   I became overwhelmed and discouraged reading Joan Didion's masterful recount of the loss of her husband and daughter  in The Year of Magical Thinking.  The writing exercises that fueled work earlier months ago seemed trite when I sat down.   I downloaded guided meditations and brainwave music and listened to TED talks and podcasts. While swimming laps in the pool, I would have brilliant ideas that I promised myself I would remember until I got to my notebook-- and then they dissipated into the friction of pen on paper and the hesitations that stopped up a free flow of words written. That number is the primary  measure of how writers succeed and I was falling short.

I was sick with a fever for three days in early August, sleeping, and dreaming.  Again just a couple weeks later, my immune system is still struggling: spasms of sinus-shattering sneezes rattle my brain and I am left reeling in the aftermath. The recent weeks of this year-long commitment to focus on my writing have slipped away with nothing substantive to show for it, except the hearty progress on a sweater for my niece.  This project is an experiment, combining small stash balls into a pattern that I downloaded off the internet and adapted to fit a rapidly growing girl. Like all good creative process, I have no idea what will result from the effort but I trust the final product will be what it is.

Perhaps my creative force is like the rains of the season. Predictable in general, but only coming in a true and authentic voice and power when the idea reaches the point where it must be written.

This time of year the clouds often gather in the late afternoon.  Then the winds pick up, swaying tree branches and rattling the ill-fitted and rusted sheets of roofing metal on the old wooden houses outside of my office window.  The  sky darkens and everyone knows the rain will come. The tension  builds on the street as the moto drivers hurry to reach their destination.

In the rush of a downdraft of slightly cooler air, large splatters of rain dot the sidewalk. The pavement emanates a the familiar fresh smell associated with sudden urban precipitation. The momentum escalates and in moments and later the rain is torrential.  Water pours down from the rooftops, gushing into streets and lapping up over sidewalks. The rain comes in undulating gray waves, pounding the pavement and ruffling through the landscape.

In recent years, the seasonal afternoon storms are becoming more sporadic and violent in the city.   In early July, an extraordinarily brief and powerful wind storm created havoc in the streets, uprooting trees and sending construction debris spiraling into the air.   Short gif of Cambodian man struggling in strong wind

For my creative work at this stage, I am hoping for a brief and powerful outburst that cements my commitment to telling my story.  Perhaps this will foster a deeply-rooted confidence that will carry me through the excuses, the vagaries of life events and the ever-rocky daily reality of my paid job.  All I from this year is  to generate material, create a draft and give me something that I can begin to refine and share.

Some writers I know can dip into the creative spirit like a short swim in a lake. They are able to paddle around and generate material before emerging on the beach, toweling off and heading back into their work lives. Some use a rigorous dedication to a schedule (4 am!), others go on trips with unrestricted time.  Still others muck around in reading and ideas and remain poised for  a moment to strike their hot irons.

 In mere days, I will be off on a 10-day retreat with a terrific group of people in a wild and wonderful country (Bhutan!)  with lots of space and support for creative work.  I know the story is there.  I will find the path to let it out.