A Writer Not Afoot

I’m in recovery from a knee surgery last week, so not really coherent enough to write a long post. I’m in that strange convalescent phase that means I drift along like a bottle on the sea, admiring that swath of sunset or the way the light catches on my cat’s whiskers but nothing much more. In the back of my mind, I’m working on my next Barbara O’Neal book, which is taking on a life of its own and going places I didn’t expect, but that’s fairly normal for my process.

I have discovered Scandal, which everyone told me to watch and told me to watch and told me to watch, and once I got past the first episode, it was great. What else would you recommend?

Oh, my monthly column will be up at Writer Unboxed tomorrow, called originally enough Not Writing, about my favorite subject, filling the well. Come on by.

Have you ever had a few weeks of forced inactivity? How did you fill the time? 

Listening to the Prompts

All creative people devise ways to communicate with the mysterious place where ideas come from. A scientific person might call it the right side of the brain. A more mystical one (that would be me) probably calls it the universe or Spirit. Whatever the name, we all learn over time to trust the whispering prompts that nudge us into a particular direction.

Detail-from-JMW-Turners-B-007I’ve had some weird communications going on with the universe over painter JMW Turner, an Englishman I’d honestly never heard of until three months ago. I don’t know how I missed him now, since he is one of the most highly regarded of all English painters, and his style was a forerunner of the Impressionists, whom I adore with heart and soul, but there’s the truth. I had never heard of him or seen his work until I needed a painter for Brilliant. Jess gives Tyler a biography of a painter for Christmas, so I googled watercolorists and Turner came up. He was an eccentric who did things his own way and he fit the bill, so I ran with it. (Deadlines make a writer practical. Yep, works, toss it in there, move on.)

Afterward, Turner kept coming up—everywhere. At first, I put it down to simply awareness. You never notice how many cars of a certain model there are until you start driving one, then they are everywhere. Or you learn a new word and then see it in twenty places the next few weeks. I’m studying watercolors a bit, so reading in that world, and he’s a master. Of course I would see his name.

But it kept going and going. An article in a magazine I rarely read. A comment about the new movie. (Me: “There’s a movie?”)   (more…)

On the road

imageI promised blogs every week, but must say the Internet access was not great in many of our stops the past ten days. Here are a couple of photos to keep you company for a few days. We are on our way home and I’ll post later this week about foggy weather, venison stew, windows as studies, and my weird conversation with the universe about the English painter Turner.

Meanwhile, enjoy one of the windows, from a rambling country house in Devon on a cold winter morning.

 

What If You Are The Star?

Christmas Eve is one of the most magical nights in Western culture, a night that celebrates peace and light and new hope being born into the world. A star lights the way for magis to come and worship new life, to offer gifts and honors. Angels sing to celebrate the moment.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zamb0ni/4103226307/in/photolist-9mm6Cw-nvybUQ-3oomWN-4kjshQ-gSp2MB-7fA7ea-8Ef12Q-64TsRU-5LGs11-nT88tP-8Zrr3A-dC3GGK-jCELhL-5TEPBK-78SnnM-8vHsw2-78WdFw-d3R6HG-ohkkKs-7qKF9f-nCpKto-an6R39-nojGNX-oUxBDt-516SXW-decZ5V-2TPUJP-dJkhFE-4bnKnc-7gDKD3-8hyqAV-fPMmTE-49PeFP-7951zX-7qKFdQ-obeCGH-2k93sw-9hHu62-vNLxE-7dy7Ms-e8VTaY-5HMaKr-JVnvq-7h7eNF-545t7x-bL9o76-cZkfgY-9vwF8A-54yNfz-54GckgIt is holy and luminous, this night, meant to remind us of the possibilities of our lives. It’s also a metaphorical jewel box, brimming with images we can use to inspire ourselves, to remember who we are, each of us, at the core of our being.

We tend to think we are small, the donkey looking on, or the sheep chewing hay in the manger. What if, in fact, we are each born to be a star that lights the night, lights the way for others? What if each of us has a corner of the world to illuminate–
perhaps the neighborhood in which you were born, or a battlefield that haunts you, or the magical worlds of some faraway, unknown land? What if your essay, that singular particular manifestation of your observations, your need to speak, is the kernel of truth that changes a person forever, even in the tiniest ways? This is how the world is saved, by each of us taking on the mantle of our vocation and giving it the very best we can give it.

You are a writer, or perhaps a creator of another sort. You have been born with this pressing desire to make things, express yourself, offer observations on the world, make things up—however it shows up in your life is the way it is meant to show up. We do it imperfectly at times, and often we fail at the vision we hoped to transfer to the page, to the hearts of readers, but the pursuit is the thing. In pursuit, sometimes also called practice, as in the practice of prayer or the practice of yoga or the practice of piano, we serve the work, and in doing so, serve that unnamable something that is holy, opposed to evil, that thing that brings light, stars, singing angels into the world.

This Christmas Eve, give yourself the gift of loving the desire to write, the desire to be better. Celebrate your own holy star-ness, and shine, shine, shine.