“I’ve… been too much in my head. Why don’t we take a walk?” (McLain)¹
I’m not sure if pursuing writing is a good idea for me. I think it makes me crazy. I’m moody, brooding about my latest idea, working things out in my head, withdrawn as I think and think and think. I am irritated because the dishes aren’t done and I clatter them roughly, this beautiful earthenware we received as wedding gifts. I don’t want to wash these plates; I am impatient to write, or read about writing, or research my diaries, or deconstruct the Best American Essays. I am in my head, trying to find the guts of the story in my boat rides piece, trying to figure out how to write my trustworthiness of narrator idea, worried that the tone of my fainting piece isn’t right. Wondering if its worth blogging about our son’s little-boy-voice query, “Do you get paid for your writing?”
I write every morning. I wake at 6 o’clock to write for an hour before the rest of the house stirs. But instead of emptying my head, the practice jostles ideas that elbow and shove to get themselves onto the paper first. They are quite rude and occupy an awful lot of space, and because I cannot release them all in one hour in the morning, they create noise long into the day, so much noise that when I prepare dinner, I am not able to simultaneously chop pecans and answer our daughter when she asks me a question.
I worry I’m pulling away from real life in order to chase ideas around in my head and maybe catch a few and throw them down onto the page. And not even get paid for it. I wonder if it’s worth it. Does writing make me happy? What are all these ideas I want to get down, and why?
Ebb tide –
dip to mud. (Basho)²
Moon snails. Luna moths. Aurelia aurita: the moon jelly. These are favorite animals. Moon stone enchants me. Moonlight on snow, moonlight on water: they pull my insides out, they compel me to poetry.
There is magic in the smooth spiral of the moon snail-shell, the absinthe glow of the luna moth, the grace of the gelatinous moon jelly. The milky moonstone mystifies; opalescent in its luster, it makes me want to swim into it. Snow sparkles blue on a full moon night, as if diamond trees shook glittering dust from their branches; light paints a white path on black water under the silver coin in the sky.
Tides rush in, bulge, and recede, like the ideas in my head.
I write on the toilet – there is not a second to spare. I have to pee, but I don’t want to lose the words.
lu·na·cy (lo͞oʹ nə-sē) n. 1. Insanity, esp. insanity relieved intermittently by periods of clear-mindedness. 2.a. Great or wild foolishness. b. A wildly foolish act. 3. Archaic. intermittent mental derangement associated with the changing phases of the moon. [Root leuk-. Light, brightness]³
lu·cid·i·ty (loo-sid-i-tee) n. 2. The ability to see things clearly; rationality; sanity. [Root leuk-. Light, brightness]⁴ ⁵
The moon snail tongue is acid and many-toothed; it is the moon snail who is responsible for the perfectly drilled holes in clam shells along the beach. Sometimes moon snails are cannibals.
The adult luna moth has no mouth. It cannot eat. In its winged form, it only lives about a week.
The moon jelly drifts with the currents.
The night is dark and full of shadows.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie. (Poe)⁶
Everything has a name. During Wednesday word work, when I researched lunar words, I came across these entries:
lunette n. 1. Archit. A crescent-shaped or semicircular space, as over a door, that may contain another window, a sculpture, or a mural.⁸
Naming invokes connections: a part of my body with a heavenly body, our dwellings with the cosmos. Words help us piece the universe together.
Bright moon: I
stroll around the pond –
hey – dawn has come. (Basho)⁹
We had a come-to-Jesus meeting in our writing group. We spent the morning discussing what we each want from the group and how we want to spend our limited time together. To my great delight, we agreed to bring current works-in-progress each Thursday so that we can push up our sleeves, reach in with bare hands, and pull the guts out. We will dissect and probe, expose paragraphs, transplant words, poke sentences to make them jump. After group, I wrote hard and well. I couldn’t stop smiling.
On the way to soccer practice, a song I liked came on the radio. I turned it up, sang out loud, let go my grip of the steering wheel so I could do jazz hands. I caught our son’s eye in the rearview mirror and could see him grinning at his crazy mom, dancing in the front seat. I grinned back and sang louder.
The tide rushes in.
¹ McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife. New York: Ballentine. 2011. E-book.
² Basho. On Love and Barley – Haiku of Basho. London: Penguin Books. 1985. Print.
³ “lunacy.” The American Heritage College Dictionary. Third Ed. 1993. Print.
⁴ “lucidity.” Def. 2. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.
⁵ “lucid.” Etymol. The American Heritage College Dictionary. Third Ed. 1993. Print.
⁶ Poe, Edgar Allan. Edgar Allan Poe: Selected Works. New York: Gramercy Books. 1985. Print.
⁷ “lunula.” The American Heritage College Dictionary. Third Ed. 1993. Print.
⁸ “lunette.” Def. 1.b. The American Heritage College Dictionary. Third Ed. 1993. Print.
⁹ Basho. On Love and Barley – Haiku of Basho. London: Penguin Books. 1985. Print.
When I declared 2014 to be The Year of the Craft for me, some of you asked that I share my writing group’s homework exercises here. We’ve been working on structure, and this was an experimental craft work piece using found words (from other writers, from dictionaries, from drafts in my WordPress dashboard, from my old diaries) and the collage structure as described by Priscilla Long in The Writer’s Portable Mentor.