“I don’t know why it is, but everything enters me more deeply
and doesn’t stop where it once used to.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
We’re all cheering the monsoons here in the desert. This is the kind of place where people walk outside and look up when it starts to rain. The kind of place where green blushes the golden-red brown landscape overnight, and any weedy sprig may bloom with a little water. Last night the rain fell gently for hours after the thunderstorm. It felt different, slightly strange, to a friend and I as we stepped out, walked down the block. Later in the evening at home, I forgot that feeling. I was comforted by the sound.
This morning I started for my walk after 6am. Late. Immediately it turned different. I came across a large garden snail in the middle of the road 1/2 block up. Just as I thought wow, a snail, I heard the eggshell crack of another I stepped on. Which (after apologizing profusely to the crushed creature. . .yes, I do that) I noticed 10 to 12 others across that section of road. Nowhere else up or down.
Then, 2/3 of my way up before I start back down, along the block where I enjoy bunnies and ravens, no bunnies or birds. Not one. First time since I started these walks 6 wks. ago. I wondered if the bunnies got flooded out. Why do we humans go to catastrophe first? I heard a hawk call as I crossed the street to the park.
I walked the sidewalk toward the rose garden rather than go thru the middle of the park like I usually do. A rare move, as the path thru the lawn offers some relief from the rush & roar of early morning vehicles. A ways before the paved entrance to the rose garden, the little voice said turn onto the lawn here. I followed. 15 ft. in, I came upon a semi-circle of white mushrooms. I stood in the middle of their arc, looked at them a short while. There were 8 buttons. I’d seen the phenomena before in the woods. As I walked away, I glanced back. Darker grasses formed a perfect waxing crescent moon, tips and all. The buttons ran thru the middle of it.
Past the bushes cut as hedges, around the ideally shaped blue spruce standing 25′, I stood at the top of the rose garden, surprised by suds on every level of the fountain at the bottom of the walk.
I thought as I walked home how one detail – rain for hours in the desert – changed the entire trajectory of this story of my morning walk. How things that are hidden came out. Did those location centric snails wash from a yard? Or did they crawl out onto the wet hard surface to get here to there like they do in FL, covering sidewalks like tiny booby traps for inhumanity. There are no sidewalks on that stretch of the snail covered road.
I talk a lot about following the story, letting characters lead, getting out of our way so to expand and deepen the possibilities in ourselves and our work. Even in nonfiction, what would emerge if we followed threads of thought.
Author Richard Bausch says, “If you’re struggling <with your writing>, it’s because your talent is acting on it, seeing into its fault lines, and you have to learn to trust the difficulty.” What if we just wrote & created to see where it led us. To see what questions and challenges might come up. What if we shifted to openness-adventure-surprise vs. expectation & assumption. And let our talent act.
I believe we would feel more space inside. Our work would grow bigger. I know what I’m talking about.
I didn’t start out to write a novel. I followed a little boy who showed up in the very first story I wrote at my very first writing retreat. I wrote to see what would happen to him. To see if I could write long enough in a bigger story.
I never intended to write “The Writer’s Block Myth.” In fact, I got a message like a charge from the Universe, along with the message I’d be telling the world about myself, 3 full years before I wrote it. I said No, I’m going to the hot springs today when I got that message. Those exact words. And I did. But the book dogged me.
I started a blog for no particular reason except it seemed time to start. I shared what was up each week, never realizing it would develop into what it is now. The title for the book flew thru my mind as I wrote a scene for my second novel. I noted it in the top margin of the page. Months later, a list came like another magical download that turned into a blog. That list is the over-arching structure of Part One of the book. There’s more, but you get the picture.
Author and songwriter Leonard Cohen wrote the cracks are how the light gets in. I say let’s face the cracks and fault lines. Be explorers thru the challenges. Follow the unexpected. It’s quite a glorious feeling when it sings just right. I can tell you that for sure, too.
- Look around the room, choose a prompt. Write for one minute to see where it leads. Keep writing if you want to follow.
- Take something you’re working on, believe you know where it’s going, and throw something new in. The morning after a rare all night rain in the desert. The woman across the room walks over, trips, falls into him. A total eclipse of the sun.
Can you see how huge that thunderhead is? Can you see the light inside it?
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