It’s been a long, densely packed week—even more so than usual—and I am very much looking forward to the three-day holiday weekend. I can’t even tell you how excited I am to have a whole three-day stretch, all to myself; you all know how I like to be left to my own devices. Delicious! My plans primarily consist of final preparations for teaching my upcoming poetry workshop (click here for more info on the Los Angeles Review Summer Writing Workshops) along with some gardening, further quality time with my treadmill, and best of all—writing. It’s even been warm enough lately to carry out said writing from my porch-hung hammock chair, no less.
I’m in remarkably good spirits this partially sunny afternoon, facing the computer’s daunting prospects since a disgustingly early 5 am, but finding that it feels good and fine to have a lot of work and writing on my plate. Truly, there are few better feelings than looking down at my daily planner and finding it covered in sprawling, multi-colored scribbles of chapter plans and dialogue ideas, lists of titles and possible character names—the pages already all covered in my rapid-fire imaginations by mid-morning. I am strangely cognizant of how fresh and eager my own creative energy is at the moment, and the prospect of having 72 hours in front of me in which to let that energy take over and run around willy-nilly, is positively thrilling.
I am especially ready to dive into things because I feel as if I’ve had a much-needed cleansing of my creative palette this past week, after having a visit from my dear friend, Miss Victoria Simmonds, who came all the way from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Victoria and I have maintained our mostly long-distance friendship for almost ten years; in fact, we have only lived in the same city for about six months total since meeting back in 2002 while studying together at the University of Puget Sound. Like last year’s family trip to South America, it turns out that what I really needed to do to get my writing groove running steady on the regular, was a little change of scenery and company.
Getting to have a relaxing visit withVictoria reminded me exactly why I am so lucky—I have such an incredible collection of people in my life, people who love me and know me and enjoy me just as I am. I’d be fortunate to have even one friend or relative like this, but to have so very many—of different ages, backgrounds, occupations, personalities—is proof that my life is meant to be a good one, even if it doesn’t feel that way 100% of the time.
All these people, my family and friends and coworkers and neighbors, are in my life for a reason–this much I know to be true. Of course, lots of people come and go, cross my path and flitter off to someplace else, but the people I love, who have stayed in my life, have seen me through both the tops and the bottoms of every rollercoaster, give me such strength I can barely contain my gratitude. A writer’s life can be so terribly isolating and lonely that I honestly don’t think I’d even still be trying if I didn’t have the support of my peeps.
I’m as surprised as anyone to learn that, even after all that I’ve been through—the lost years, the lost people, the time and love wasted on those who didn’t deserve it—I have more love than ever to give—so much that it seems to burst out of me at times and I find myself fighting the urge to hug total strangers. But it’s true—I am in a constant state of cup-overflowethness these days, with more love than ever to share. More joy to experience and exude, more compassion and generosity inside me. And I have more things to say–good God I have things to say. Above all else, I think my father would be most proud of this: I find that, with all this overabundance of love to give, and when surrounded by solid, intelligent, and deserving people to love on, I am a noticeably better writer. I’m looking back today and realizing just how productive and creative a writer I am when I have good people around me, when I sustain a good mood and attitude, when I remember how easy and good it feels to just…be.
I’ve been generating ideas and taking to the page (even at incredibly inopportune times) with renewed ferocity and focus lately most assuredly because I have this freshly cleansed palette and a steady, happy routine. This last part might sound a bit utilitarian in contrast to all the gooey love-talk I just spewed out, but having a disciplined routine and practice of writing is crucial to my success. You see, my imagination is fantastic, but it has a tendency to eclipse all other aspects of my mind. I once heard a quote about imaginations, one that eventually spawned a poem I’ve long since published: “Imaginations are like thunderstorms—wicked, or else miraculous.”
Writers must have imaginations like thunderstorms, must possess the ability and the desire to let our thoughts run wild. We must have a certain reckless abandon inside us to be able to brew a storm of creative energy, let it slowly build and grow thicker from a distance and then blow in, blanketing the landscapes of our minds. Sometimes we see it coming, sometimes not. And we need also to have the sudden, spontaneous kind of storm—the lightning storms that sneak up from behind the mountains in an instant, flash through with great intensity, and then leave as suddenly as they arrived.
The thing is, though, that we need also to be able to control this process, to call to it with our great and terrible powers of thought, and then quiet the storm back down in order to live our lives in some kind of functioning manner. My only hope of ever being able to shape, hone, and channel this power in a way that brings to me the miraculous, and not the wicked, is to be clear-headed. To accomplish this, I need to be focused, and loved and supported, and have the time and space to write as I see fit, and–above all else–feel completely at ease with myself.
I can’t think of a better time to perfect the way I yield the powers of my own imagination than now. This is the best time, the most precious time, the Tbone time.
And yes, I danced in the elevator this morning—bounced my way up seven floors to “Lost In My Mind” by the Head and the Heart.