Monday, March 26, 2012

Shift work.

(Sometimes I write on my sunny little balcony, wispy curtains swirling around me.)

For me, writing isn't exactly a sedentary activity. I can't imagine spending a day with my butt in a chair, pen in hand. If I get stuck on a word or an idea, I like to walk around a bit, figuratively jog it out. (At home, this takes the form of going to the kitchen for a cookie, or a cup of tea, or another cookie.) At the convent, it means walking around the garden, moving my chair to a sunnier/shadier spot or watching the birds flit and flicker in the almond trees.

The other day someone said to me that most writers here have found a spot inside the convent, tucked themselves away where there aren't distractions. Besides the fact that it's literally stone cold inside, I can't imagine anything worse than that -- only a blank wall to distract me from a blank page.

Sure, it feels great when a poem is really cooking and I'm so immersed in it I don't even think of cookies. But I also love to dip in and out of a piece -- even for seconds or minutes -- because every time I come back to it the light hits it from a different angle and I see some new possibility that wasn't there before.

I like to feel I'm part of the world -- not removed from it -- when I write. And I hope that makes my poems feel that way too.

Of course, this might all be a way of rationalizing lazy work habits. Or just a luxury of the poet's life. (I can't fathom the focus it would take to write fiction. I'm certain that novelists couldn't get away with roaming around after every few words.)

Still, I've always felt a connection between movement of the body and the mind. (At work-work it takes the form of trips to the bathroom. In school it was pacing the house while I wrote essays.) I do some of my best writing and thinking while I'm running or walking, even moving in/out of sleep. (Never while driving though -- safety first!)

What can I say? I've got stanzas in my pants!

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