Into the Work


(Today’s writing desk….above the Rio Grande Gorge )

AGONY!!! (from “Into the Woods”)

“Beyond power of speech, when the one thing you want, is the only thing out of reach.”

Agony.  That’s exactly what the creative process feels like sometimes.

It’s good to make plans, to have a vision.  To have an intention and an idea where you want to go, what you want to create, do, or become.  But despite all your management, life will intervene.  Maybe Larry’s friend Mike will drop by to chat for an hour while you’re sitting and writing at the little iron cafe table outside your Questa guest house.  And you’ll talk about 400 years of Questa history, of the land that was originally covered with plum and apple orchards, of the local mining work he’s done, the fact that so many couples come to Taos only to split up.  You’ll talk of social security and Syrian refugees and his reservation home in Arizona.  And you wouldn’t want to give that up, even though adrenaline is rushing through your veins, crying: WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.  You’ve learned it isn’t just the land here that’s beautiful, but the people too.

If it’s not neighbors dropping by, then it’s when you’re just sitting down to your log desk, excited to begin the latest writing and editing approach you’ve discovered, only to have the phone ring, and you find yourself on the bed, crouched on all fours, shaking your head, squelching mournful groans as your sister says, “Mom passed away this morning.”  And your voice won’t work but the noise in your head refuses to stop rationalizing,,,,but she just had a birthday, but we just spoke, but she can’t,  but… but…..

And you find yourself that way for days, but now the agony had found its way through your vocal chords and you wake up in unstoppable, breathless sobs. You haven’t written in days, and if you stay in the house, you’re floating on the ceiling, hiding from the body’s pain.  Talk about life imitating art….talk about you, the out of body girl, still relying on her old coping mechanisms.

So, how do you do it?  How do you get back into the writing? The morning you sit down to try, your computer has decided it no longer understands how to read your documents… off the laptop goes through the mail to magician Michael Kaplan.  And Jesse reminds you, despite your contract with the universe, the universe has its own plans, and you need to honor the process.

And you realize the only thing left to do is go back to basics.  Back to pen and paper, back to the large unlined sketchbooks you’ve always loved.  And if you find yourself on the trail down to the junction of The Red and Rio Grande Rivers without your notebook, you use what you have with you to write on…an old grocery store receipt.  And rock and paper become your writing desk.

And because your heart aches most days, and your mother hasn’t visited your dreams yet, you read Joy Harjo’s book, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.  You come across this line: “What will I do without you? How will I find you again in the woven story of dark and light?”

And the next morning you awake….from a dark place in space, from a raven croaking, from your mother’s voice calling your name…Joyce, joys, joy.



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