Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Walk to Clear

Take a walk.

I've read this piece of advice for writers from many different experts, and I can attest that, at least in my experience, it is wonderfully sound counsel.

Again and again I find that when I am stuck or scared or bored or all three in my writing, or in my life in general, the very best thing I can do is walk, alone and without haste or great intention. I don't have any idea why it works. But it does. Somehow. It seems to make space, beyond my tight efforts. Often even when I'm walking an idea comes for how to solve a problem in the poem, or suddenly I know what I really wanted to say, or I am aware of an image that comes from deeper than my thoughts and is truer, too.

The wonderful poet Robert Frost took a lot of walks, and that is immediately obvious in his poetry. Here are some links to some of those poems.

If you are an artist, (and you are), let this be my Christmas gift to you... permission, even urging, to take a walk. Meandering and solitary, restful and awake... I believe then this will be the seedlings for your gift to the rest of us.

Oh, and here's an assignment, for those who may have that secret wish (Valerie). Take the walk and then write a poem or mini-essay based on your observations and meditations.

Frost has obviously provided us with many extraordinary examples of this practice, but here's mine (one I wrote for the writer's group almost two years ago).

-After the Long Rain-
The air was threaded with fog
and the blades and the leaves lined
with drops solemn as pewter.
The river was slate-colored and moving
fast and high and in so many swirling currents
that it looked like skeins of cord,
all knotted and pulling, flung between the gray-green banks.
And above the water, just above the surface,
were the swallows--with their arrowed wings and streaming tails.
There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them,
all along the rivers’ bends and turns.
They were swooping, in and out, out and in,
darting, reeling, spinning between and among each other,
as if they were a thousand bright-black shuttles,
weaving a silver cloth
of light and air and water
on the loom of this new day.