Thursday, February 19, 2009

How it isn't.

So I don't know if you have watched the Elizabeth Gilbert thing. Which started slow and then got rolling. I rolled along with it. So it is posted on TED. You can also see it here. I linked to it in my post before last. Thank you, TED.

What stuck with you?

I love Tom Waits. That was fun.

But I adored the part about the poet Ruth Stone. It reminds me that I need to sit down and blather with my pen whenever I feel the wind blowing through me. I've never been so good at pursuing it. It's those people who externalize their art, that seem to treat it as a force to be reckoned with, that I find so darn interesting.

The wind blows more lately as my practice has developed. I don't strive for it, I just do Jane Yolen's BIC (butt in chair). Okay but Ruth Stone is way more interesting. Out on the field working and she can feel the poem rumbling at her. Like a train or something. I picture it sounding like that--or a tornado. So she has to run to get a pen, lest it passes her by, to go on to find itself another poet. But (imagine this!) sometimes she just manages to grab the tail end before it is gone and pull it back into herself, where she transcribes it. LAST WORD TO FIRST. Does that sound like magic? It makes me feel the wind blow just to hear that.

Lately my process has changed. I have been timing myself for twenty minutes. I have a whole separate throw away document that I can write anything and everything into. and I start with two words from my Lynda Barry(thanks very much to her) Box of words (It's totally magic with envolopes and everything).

But so let me tell you how it comes out. And I'm going to have to be long winded in order to describe this. It is like this trick book that my kids got for car trips where there is a page made out of transparency plastic tinted black, with it came this "flashlight" which is actually a piece of cardboard shaped and printed like a flashlight and at the end shines forth a yellow cardboard pool of light that you slide beneath the plastic sheet in order to see the page. Magically, out of this seemingly utter darkness, appears perfect detail. It's as bright and clear and distinct as day. Beautiful. And the rest of the page is still cloaked in blackness.

That illustrates my process. I do so wish it was more like a ramling Tazmanian devil of a poem that would knock me down. Come to me backwards, like the devil.

All I have is this little pool of light to flash around inside my book, the rest is terrifying darkness. I just run my pen, or my fingers as fast as I can when the light is shining. Because once it goes out I can see nothing. But it is my job to keep typing into the dark void. Thanks, Elizabeth Gilbert.

As Always (inspired),