Wednesday, November 12, 2008

how to write in your own home

Do not look at the clock, the calendar. Do not look to see if the cell phone is turned on.
Do not notice broken objects requiring attention. Do not wonder why your daughter’s piggy bank is on the dining table before you.
Do not wonder about anything but paper.
Do not listen to the cat no matter how hard he rubs against your ankles.
DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN LEAVE MARBLES UNDER THE HEATER, since the cat loves marbles more than ANYTHING.
Do not waste any time being angry, annoyed, exasperated with marbles.
Do not notice the pajamas you are still wearing.
Stop drinking coffee. Now. That last cup disappeared without hardly passing the tastebuds.

Imagine sensory blinders that dull everything but the warmth of the sunlight streaming through the window (do not look at it, do not wonder about a walk) and memory. Become more alive to memory than to this particular day, hour, minute, the cat batting the marble across the wood floor, finding an abandoned Pez dispenser and wrestling it under the edge of the braided rug, his favorite game, returning to the marble. Do not think about how old and dusty and ugly the braided rug is, how it needs to be replaced, how you’d like even the most threadbare oriental rug. Under no circumstances should you think about that little colonial for sale in your dream neighborhood, and the horrific list of to-do’s surrounding THAT question.

Blinders.

Okay, go get dressed in something— there’s an appointment in an hour, an appointment you intended to cancel but you can’t find the phone number, can’t find the paperwork at all from the last appointment. While getting dressed pick up every single marble wedged under the heater AND the one your cat is using to make all the noise. Shake off the sluggishness. Move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, and the clothes from the dryer can go atop the laundry basket, hidden behind the couch with every single stray object that’s been left in the living room and kitchen. Everything is out of sight. The surfaces are cleared so you can think, remember, fall into that trance, if there is time before the appointment.

Let the cat play with one more marble, just for a moment. You are not thinking. You are not sinking into a trance. Do not dwell on this. Do note the pleasure of washing your face—this new bit of self-care is a little intoxicating, no? Do note the goodness of flaxseed oil on the whole grain slice of toast—save butter for something more exotic than toast. Do pour a scant quarter-cup of coffee and dress it with milk, now that you are tasting and conscious.

Now pick up the marble, and scratch the cat behind his ears, sitting in the sunny window, the place you love. Set the timer on your cell phone, for that appointment later.

Now. Sit back at the relatively empty table, listen to the quiet, look nowhere but inward. Go.

4 comments:

Lara said...

But I really WANT the coffee!

Dyana said...

During our first Santa Fe residency, Josh invented the idea of a "writing helmet," an actual helmet one would wear to aid with the "blinding." He made one, I think, and later declared it impractical.

You write poetry, too, right? Because if you don't, you really really should.

Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

not only are you an amazingly interesting person to read, but your ability to evoke rich images add joy to my visit. Thankyou for taking the time to write.

barbara s said...

Ah, such good advice. Why is it so hard to just sit down and do it? Why are there always so many other things that steal our attention? I have to write 40 pages of my screenplay by Dec. 12 - wish me luck!