Saturday, September 5, 2015

Being still

Recently I had a conversation with a writer about the need to be still. For writers, yes. We need to look inward, to think and sort emotions and make sense of the world. We need quiet. A writer can't write amidst chaos. Or disorder. When I was in Dublin in August I visited a recreation of one of James Joyce's rooms, a messy cramped space in which he and his beloved lived. But even in that small room, he made a sliver of order in which to write. Writers aren't special. Everyone needs to be still, to shut out the noise from time to time. But I am, of course, thinking of the writing life here. 

This has been a noisy summer. In some ways, wonderful and inspirational and dizzying and exciting and productive. In other ways more challenging than I've faced in awhile. Into this contradictory mix, not one but two of the people closest to me were diagnosed with cancer and embarked on grueling treatment. A third friend died after a year's battle with cancer. 

And I've taught my butt off this summer, from Salt Lake City to Aspen to Truro to Ireland to Vermont. What talented students I had. And I've been blessed with their humor, intelligence, creative, talent, and friendship. But it's exhausting too, the travel and the work and the partying too!

On top of all of the above, I revised my new novel, The Book That Matters Most. Who me? A Type A, overachieving, workaholic? Guilty!

So this writer--and hopefully all of you--is staying home and being still this week. I'm doing a lot of knitting. I've already read two novels in two days. I made tomato pies. I cleaned my study. I'm not getting on a plane, train, boat, or bus. I'm tending my darlings as they continue their difficult journeys toward health, feeding them and doing jigsaw puzzles and giving out hugs. 

I'm looking inward, listening to my heart and soul. Being quiet. Being still. 

One dish rag knitted. How many more by week's end?

I recommend both of these!

PS Full disclosure: I'll be at the Spencertown Literary Festival tomorrow at noon. But then retreating!