“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, May 22, 2023

From the Corner of My Mind


I am so nervous about this.

I'm like the check writer waving her arms over the check, wondering if she should sign it.

For the past 21 day mornings I have been running to my computer, often trying to leave before anyone else awakens. I didn't want to wash last night's dishes. I didn't want to fix breakfast or make the bed. I quickly cared for the animals, for if I'm up, they usually are. Making coffee was a big deal.

Sweet Pea likes to come with me to my office. And she pushes me to" Go to work." For she has learned that "Let's go to work" means she can lie beside the heater if it's cold. If it's warm, she either stretches out on the floor or sleeps in the chair. When I begin to starve, I make breakfast, and of course, there are pee breaks, and I throw in a shower every so often.  

You see, I was racing the Pink Dogwood blossoms trying to reach my word count before they snowed pink to the ground. I began on May 1. On May 21, they won.

Like Sweet Pea, the pink blossoms have been a constant source of joy each day. I would type my thoughts while looking out the window at the pink flowers and not the keyboard as were taught in high school typing class. For 15 days, I did not read what I had written; all typos I invariably made and misspelled words that would crop up now and again would just wait for me to fix them later. I am up to 32,554 words, while my goal has been 50,000.

I have heard that sometimes people like to be involved in a creative process. I enjoy watching a house's construction phase, or a painter painting, or a cook cooking. Thus, you guys might like being involved in this writing flurry. (Or tell me to forget it.)

A writer exposes themselves, or should, if they are worth their salt. Thus my hesitancy—exposure, or not worth it? Not even my family knows I am doing this. Here we go.


A Corner of My Mind

from a Badass in training

Do you remember this movie technique—Disney used it, others too—a paintbrush would swipe across the screen, and its wake, birds, scenes of villages and farmlands, animals, and people would magically appear? Maybe even a dog would run off the page.


That's what I am attempting here, to swipe the blank paper, although I have outlines, pen, and ink drawings, that my brush will fill in with living color.


"Pay attention," wrote Julie Cameron—"of life and what you see there.” What I see out my window is a pink dogwood tree in full flower. When we moved here, it was an old tree cut down to its bare bones, a trunk, and five branches. I had no inkling what sort of tree it was, but for the last couple of years, it has branched, leafed, and revealed itself to be a pink dogwood, one of my favorite trees. 


This is May 1, 2023. A time of revival, and we've endured a lingering sadness over the past few years, wondering about our lives, health, and world conditions, but I’m not going there. This is a time to thrive, and to live abundantly. We are the carriers of a new time. So, let’s get cracking.


I have heard people talk about "Building memories,” and I wondered, are my memories for me only? Could they be interesting to others? Perhaps in writing them, I could motivate others to join me, for I am motivated by Natalie Goldberg, another writer who said many years ago in Writing Down the Bones, "Writing will take you where you want to go."


Natalie was the first writing teacher to say writing is a therapeutic experience.


So, this is a memoir—and whatever else it turns out to be.


A memoir needn't be an old person's story as we sometimes think; I was born in so, went to school at so in so High, and married my high school sweetheart. Boring. In Goldberg's book Old Friend from Far Away, she explained that memoir is for the moments that take our breath away. Like the hot day, you stopped the car by a creek, stripped off your pantyhose, waded into the stream fresh off an ice flow, and felt alive.


I love the little girl I was. I came here to live her life. I remember how wild and free she felt with a skim of sweat on her skin and the breeze gently brushing it. I remember how she, on her horse Boots pole-vaulted the orchard's cherry trees—not too close to the branches, of course, but while doing it, she and the horse were at-one-with each other and laughing a big horse laugh. (You know horses can laugh.)


I'm not saying her life was perfect or that she was without pain, but isn't that the thing about memories? We can choose where to focus.


I was a tall girl and felt self-conscious about it in high school when all the cute little girls were making out with their boyfriends in the hallways, but I had a boyfriend who took me out of all that and wrote sonnets about me being five feet nine with eyes that shine. He gave me my first kiss. 


His sister, about ten years older than him, bet him he would kiss a girl before he was sixteen. He held out as long as he could, then kissed me, and said, "There goes five bucks."


Right now, I am not looking down at the page; it is always tempting to go back and clean up the typos I invariably make, the wrong words I invariably use, and the poetry that's missing because I stink at it. Instead, I am looking at the pink dogwood and typing as I was taught in high school when the teacher yelled at us, "Don't look at the keyboard."


I think I will write as long as the Pink Blossoms are on the tree. It will be a race between them and me.


And I wonder, as I wander over the pages, using my figurative paintbrush, what to make of my life.


I decided many years ago that I wanted to be a writer. Initially, I felt hurt by rejection. But now, I have come to the place where I know writing sustains me. It is my expression. And when my editor changed some things in my little book, The Frog's Song, I didn't care. I figured she knew what she was doing, and if she wanted to publish it, then go ahead and edit the devil out of it. Perhaps I won't always be as allowing with people dinking with my words, but it was a beginning. 


And now, carrying on as I am, I think of something that has been said many times, "You can't edit a blank page."


So, see, I am putting many words on this page, and later, I will see what I have written while wondering if my watercolors can be erased.