Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hello darling, welcome to my little writing lab. It's nothing like a cold, steel-tabled lab at all, where my musings, experimentations, jottings, observations, conjurings take place. No, here it's not, from my point of view, bleached antiseptic portals and rectangles - it's a lozenge of light cast by the silk apricot-shade of my desk lamp; the rosy hues of my icefilled glass; the mysterious beet-colored hearts of my patterned desk blotter; my fingers tapping on keys, roses blooming, as I sit here huddled (not unlike a Vermeer of a man intently contemplating a map), contemplating - leaning into it - the screen where I see letters appear as my fingers take steno from my halting mind giving dictation. Full stop.

I've had a bit of a mental challenge today, that I found myself thinking about as I sat down to write to you. A writerly acquaintance of mine, a friend of hers perhaps, and I plan to meet this weekend on the grounds and cafe of the local international arts colony (Occupy Omi! - no, not really, but that's funny - I don't believe there are any artists in residence there this time of year, so we will visit instead).

I've greatly enjoyed the all-too-occasional Olana-sponsored en plein air writing sessions, led with great warmth, intelligence, and creative inspiration by Kathe Izzo.

So my friend and I are trying to recreate something of that experience for ourselves. I myself dread showing up and us possibly a tad awkwardly greeting one another and saying - as though it's a front-lawn game of touch-football (I imagine a grainy film of the Kennedys in Hyannis tossing a ball around, Jackie, on the porch, observing from the sidelines) - okay let's go out into the Fields and toss some words around!

Oh, ugh! Of course, neither my writerly friend nor I have any such desire.

Still, we have no "leader" - in the form of a Kathe - to take charge and simply issue us a theme to write about, send us outdoors, and come collect us if need be, if we're not back after twenty or thirty minutes.

I have a "creative writing" library book on my desk that Kathe had recommended, but I'm not finding it useful for this coming weekend...

Oh - because the problem is: let's try to come up with a writerly directive for ourselves, so that when we send ourselves out into the Fields (that's how the local international arts colony refers to its vast, sculpture-scattered property, with a Dickinsonianly capitalized "F") we'll have some 'hook' that we can start in on. So that it's not just me (picturing me) standing in a vast field going - oh God, I'm so tired, what am I going to write about, it's so uncomfortable standing, it's chilly, good thing I wore that extra cashmere layer beneath my sweater, blah blah blah)

So I started thinking & musing, & searching for ideas online
Stand at a tree and write, then stand back two feet and write again, and another two feet,  etc., etc.
[not a bad idea, though I picture Alexander Hamilton taking backward paces with a pistol at dawn]

or, model your writing on Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird;

or, be like Thoreau
but I'm nothing like Thoreau!, not dispassionate as him - yes, I do find him dispassionate - quite analytically almost - am I being unfair? - linking his personal facticity with naturalistic observations of Nature - be positive!, admonishes one of the writing exercises - such "plus" plus "plus" to equal "PLUS."

Oh - that's not me at all! I'm not a 'nature writer' in that sense. Although I like what I just wrote -- and 1.0 found it curious that I had evinced some sort of sensitivity towards numbers - which ordinarily I don't -

but yeah, maybe that's why I don't find Thoreau so personally inspirational
I like mixed formulas, that include pluses & minuses -- the minuses being Dickinson's "truth - told slant" -

that "slant" is almost algebraic, or mathematical in nature -- I can see that
and I was terrible at algebra, back in middle school
but now I feel sort of, in coded metaphoric fashion, drawn to it
(ever so lightly, darling -- )

maybe that's what bothered me about a poem I'd read
posted by a local poet the other day
it was way too + + +
(that is, plus plus plus) for my taste
way too direct

if she'd presented it in a writing circle -
would I have voiced my objection? I doubt it.
Which is always a problem with such a circle.

Anyway -- dearest love, I hope you are well & happy, wherever you are, and I have reason in my mind to triangulate, that is, to think of a third who I still think of

Full stop.

And so it came to me, in trying to come up with a writerly charge for ourselves, Wild Women set loose in the beautifully sculpted, landscaped fields...

I haven't come up with the actual directive yet, but just note (it came to me as I was sitting here) the resonances between these two artists, mirrored (or negative) correspondences between their lyrics...

But before that -- many kisses my love, whatever time, time-zone or place you're in -- xoxo

#441, by Emily Dickinson, c. 1862

This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me -
The simple News that Nature told -
With tender Majesty

Her Message is committed
To Hands I cannot see --
For love of Her - Sweet - countrymen -
Judge tenderly of Me
"If I Wrote You," by Dar Williams

I never thought you were the letter writing type
so now I see the words you chose the way you write
so I started to write back about the trees in the snow
and I saw a bird, couldn't say what it was but I thought you'd know
you always surprised me

And if I wrote You
If I wrote You
You would know me
and you would not write me again...

P.S. Editing this post a bit this morning, and was delighted to find your eloquent page hit, dearest, that summed things up exactly -- "alice in wonderland perspectives" -- I'm not consciously aware, but yes, that's it -- and the image too, in connection with that, that speaks to mirrored (or negative) correspondences...

From a previous post...

Another instance of Alice-in-Wonderland-like perspective shifting occurred for me upon entering the crystal-palace conservatory. There, in its large central space lies an enormous still pool. The surface of the water is smooth and black and it's gorgeously interplanted from below the mirror surface of water up to domed sky with a jungle of foliage and flowers. I stood and regarded it, and it reminded me of my own houseplants arranged on a tiered stand and on the floor in a corner beneath a small fountain hung on the wall, in what we grandly refer to as the solarium. Standing in the truly grand-scaled conservatory I simultaneously imagined that I was standing at greatly reduced size on the ledge of my wall fountain amidst my collection of tropical plants.

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