Archive for July, 2015

The Heat is On/Off–Annie, Richard and me

July 18, 2015

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Heat is On.”

There are instances where I find that I work better under pressure. But, even then, the details ruminate in my mind and can tumble over and over. Just like thinking of something; to do it, you first have to have the initial thought to go forward before you can move. The alarm clock goes off…your eyes awaken…you start to fall back asleep….then, you remember that you have to be early….you smell the uncooked bacon…feel the urge of the unmade sale….rub your eyes…decide it’s time to run.

In the midst of that, there’s the question of who woke you up. As I believe it was God who woke me this morning, I realize it’s the thermometer within that will help me gauge what must be done today. He helps me think on what needs to be done, when. Sometimes, I will know that I need to write a paper for days, yet, as much as I want to get it done, it’s not until the last hour that certain details will come to me. Other times, the urgency will be so great that I will jot something down and it almost seems as if it’s writing itself.

It may have been Annie Dillard who said something to the effect that we have to be comfortable enough to not run to a notebook anytime we have an idea to write something. Sometimes, it’s better to allow ideas to grow. Other times, it’s better to write about that idea, the triggering subject that will grows into something completely different. One one side, there’s Annie with quotes like this:

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Another is from Richard Hugo, in Writing off the The Subject:

“When you start to write, you carry to the page one of two attitudes, though you may not be
aware of it. One is that all music must conform to truth. The other, that all truth must conform
to music. If you believe the first, you are making your job very difficult, and you are not only
limiting the writing of poems to something done only by the very witty and clever, such as
Auden, you are weakening the justification for creative writing programs. So you can take that
attitude if you want, but you are jeopardizing my livelihood as well as your chances of writing
a good poem. If the second attitude is right, then I still have a job. Let’s pretend it is right
because I need the money. Besides, if you feel truth must conform to music, those of us who
find life bewildering and who don’t know what things mean, but love the sounds of words
enough to fight through draft after draft of a poem, can go on writing–try to stop us.”

While this may or may not seem related, I believe that it is. As Richard Hugo wrote the Triggering Subject, there are instances where the the initial thought isn’t the end. We hear the sound, feel the wind when we don’t see it. Even when a task is begun, the ending is not with the completion of the task, or when it’s turned in. The collective remnants add to another, then to another, and another. Hence, what we know as truth is not stagnant but, it should continue to grow. Truth is not limited to a certain standard. It shouldn’t change or have loopholes, but we should find that we grow because of it.

We should not be limited to a set standard, but should be able to have an ever-growing relationship. One that is not stagnant and keeps you locked down. But, because it’s there, you’re there with another, moments build on each other. You’re not limited to the rules, because it’s a relationship. Understanding grows even in the midst of shortcomings and pitfalls and brokenness. Where deadlines are not dead, but lines that continue to grow, even when the ink stops.