From the sofa, the tree above looks so stunningly graphic against the big sky.
Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight.
~ Mary Oliver (from the poem Mindful)
The days are intense and long, and short, all at the same time. I love the bubble of writerly process I’ve been in. Love looking out my window at that tree and cross on the hill, seeing the light come and go. I love the cottonwoods blazed gold here and there, often in lines marking the water traces. The color of fall in northern New Mexico stretching across the landscape to the far horizon I see from my condo. But it’s been intense and long, and short, all at the same time. Not a time like any other I’ve had in Santa Fe.
A writer just left that I hosted and coached for four days – listening and hearing between the lines, following patterns to guide her to deep dives into subtexts in her work. It took a bit to come out of her Writer’s Dream. I fell right into hours on my book.
I’m an old fashioned writer. Will never be one to write a book in a weekend, which seems to be the new fad. I weave words, ideas, and stories in my mind that go down on the page the old fashioned way. With time and breath. Then edit multiple times the old fashioned way with attention to craft, form, and saying it well. What’s different is I’m writing a nonfiction book, and I’m not composing the first draft with pen & paper as I do fiction and poetry. I compose straight on the screen. My notebook replaced by lined pads and printed pages filled with notes from interviews, mapping, points to remember. The writing feels good and not so good. As whenever I’m writing something intentional, engaged in a dance with creativity in the process. Whatever I write is always a tad bigger than I am. And sometimes that stretch feels hard to do. It consumes me like a lover.
I tell authors not to focus on the product or goal, stay centered in the process. Good advice for Life, this presence. But, I confess it’s difficult following my own advice right now. I want it finished, sent to the publisher for what’s next. Want off the screen. I long to walk under the blue sky I see out the windows. Long to walk in the sunlight turned golden by the last canopy of fall cottonwoods. Even tho the work is good and I love it.
I’m living on a hill three blocks from the Santa Fe Plaza for the next month. The incline’s fairly steep. Going down’s magical as I see the western horizon, those golden cottonwoods stretched all the way there. Coming up is a challenge. I’ve learned to look down, focus on my breath as I climb. That I arrive quickly, without needing breaks, albeit winded. That somehow seeing that incline, the distance yet to go, tires me. The other day I put my bag on a low adobe wall at the bottom, took off my overshirt, prepared for the hike. A young man walked toward me. I noted his dirty stuffed backpack, the tattoos on his face, his clothes old but with no tatters. I suspected him one of the homeless I pass gathered in threes and fours. Bits of tales about their encounters on the street caught, but I’ve never been approached for money. So unlike the ragged loners I see in St. Pete.
I confess I immediately wished this guy would not ask for money. That I could just greet him like any other person on the street, and look into his eyes, not see desperation. I wished this as I unzipped my purse, ready to reach for the bills I carry for asks.
He slowed slightly, said Hi as he passed. I looked into his face, replied, ‘Hi. How ya doing?’ He hesitated just a beat, then picked up his pace. ‘I’m dong good,’ he said. ‘Another day, another chance to smile.’
I felt his words. Yes. Right! And we held each other’s eyes for a moment as he walked on. I watched him walk down the block.
Sunday a little boy in Taiwan who is the brightest little magical being, ever, turned 7.
Made me happy all day just thinking about him. Another day. Another chance to smile.
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
Tell me. . .what made you smile today.
I’ll tell you a secret. . .I’m still really happy, and feeling lucky.