This is a creative paradise, and I’m making the most of it. They say writers should work in a plain environment where they won’t be distracted by the surroundings, but so far, the beauty of the garden here has been an inspiration, not a distraction. Where better to work than on the terrace overlooking grass, trees, flowers, overhearing the conversation of the birds? I’ve spent as many hours as possible over the past few days, right there.
FOCUS, dear Beth – write about one of the most vulnerable and meaningful episodes that you can recall with enough clarity or emotion to RECREATE into a work of creative non-fiction. You’re an artist, not a recorder. WRITE THE DAMN THING AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON IT. Be messy, chaotic, but never let go the truth of what you are feeling as you write. Do not think, think, THINK! Write! That’s what I do.
Do ONLY the hot bits that burn your heart to this day – and as you use every bit of your craft to recreate the emotional realities of that experience, a flood of the most essential details will come to you (note, DETAILS, not ‘facts’). Free your deepest memory to express itself without any concern for facts.
It is emotional truth we are seeking, not a diary entry, an anecdote, or a journal of events. Surrender to the shaking self and write your heart out. Never mind any sequential or chronological details, correct names or even age! Hauntings are their own reality – and much more dramatic and inspiring. Fine tune later. Get the MOST IMPORTANT, FRIGHTENING, JOYFUL, ECSTATIC, ENLIGHTENING, CHAOTIC, RAW moments out on paper. Memory, after all, is just another form of fiction, as Antanas told me.
FREE YOURSELF TO EXPRESS YOURSELF – ! Yes, a thousand times YES, you can write at that white-heat, enchanted, inspired depth.
His faith and encouragement brought tears to my eyes. But easy to say, Wayson – am I capable of what you’re asking? To go to that depth, to test myself at that level? The doubts are many. Maybe my memories just aren’t that important, frightening, ecstatic, enlightening. Maybe the flood is dammed up and I can’t summon that white heat. But, I said to myself, I will try. And as I resumed tapping, a black and white butterfly swirled around my head and almost landed on the computer. It fluttered nearby most of the day. Wayson is keeping an eye on me.
A few hours later, more tears. I’d just eaten a glorious peach at lunch when this came in, from one of my oldest friends Patsy on Gabriola Island, and I was inspired all over again.
From BlossomsFrom blossoms comesthis brown paper bag of peacheswe bought from the boyat the bend in the road where we turned towardsigns painted Peaches.From laden boughs, from hands,from sweet fellowship in the bins,comes nectar at the roadside, succulentpeaches we devour, dusty skin and all,comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.O, to take what we love inside,to carry within us an orchard, to eatnot only the skin, but the shade,not only the sugar, but the days, to holdthe fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite intothe round jubilance of peach.There are days we liveas if death were nowherein the background; from joyto joy to joy, from wing to wing,from blossom to blossom toimpossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.Li-Young Lee (1957 – )How unforgettable – the round jubilance of peach.Finally, at supper, Denis and I discussed, among many other things (which included my in his eyes indiscriminate use of superlatives) our love of Johann Sebastian Bach, and after supper, he put on “The Musical Offering,” an exquisite piece of music I’d never heard. I sat with my eyes closed, more tears.An emotional day. One gift after another, all the sweet impossible blossoms. And the gift of the day itself, being here for the day, being here to receive the gifts, trying to create something worthy to give back.