One Page at a Time

One Page at a Time: Against the Tide

“The world is addictive. It wants us away from the desk, and a writer is a person who likes her work so much, that she’s going to get it. You’ve got to go upstream. It’s against the tide to get this kind of work done.” Ron Carlson as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously

“In life’s darkening duel…you’re…the tide that sways my inland sea!” from Gavin Ewart’s “To Margo”

Even as my Daily Poet writing prompt Tuesday was to write a poem in the language of Facebook, my reading from A Year of Writing Dangerously lists checking Facebook as one of the eight ways to sabotage your writing. As there were only eight listed and six through eight focused on email and Facebook, I began to wonder what might have sabotaged writers prior to the Internet. Perhaps it was walking to town to wait for the post arriving by train, or writing letters by hand, or taking a long walk through prairie grasses, or getting lost for a day in the forest.

The wonderful thing for writers living in this addictive, ransacking, sabotaging world is that we often bring our work with us. We shoulder bags carrying a laptop or the latest-greatest tablet device. Many of us tote mini-sized pens and notepads in our pockets and purses. If those are left behind, we resort to borrowing writing utensils and scribbling on napkins or receipts. If we trust our minds, we lock our brilliant words in our mental journals to be jotted down as soon as we arrive home.

But, no wonder we find ourselves exhausted fighting life’s churning tides and daily currents! They pulled hard at me on Monday. I didn’t care to know what phase the moon was in to cause such turning, but the going was painfully slow and barely navigable. Some days are like that.

Writers, like salmon on their instinctual anadromous journey, go against the open-sea tides leaping toward our freshwater places of greatest productivity–our desks, our coffee shops, our favorite chairs, our fields and forests–where somehow our writing lives survive another day, where somehow–in discovering safe havens to create–we recreate ourselves, within this predatory world.

One Page at a Time

One Page at a Time: Unexpected Places

Several times this week, I have encountered the theme of “space” and “place.” My post from January 3, 2014 focused on the space and place set aside for writing. These quotations help me consider my writing and how it affects the world outside my personal space and place. The imagery evoked by them excites me rather than frightens me. I hold tight with all my might to my
“corner” of this writing ride!


“…have you ever found yourself in an unexpected place but where, deep down, you knew you were supposed to be?” from A Year with Aslan

“The approach of a man’s life out of the past is history, and the approach out of the future is mystery. Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive. The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember. The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here?” from The Long-Legged House by Wendell Berry, as quoted in Poem a Day

“I see the terrifying spaces of the universe that enclose me, and I find myself attached to a corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am more in this place than in the other, nor why this little time that is given me to live is assigned me at this point more than another out of all the eternity that has preceded me and out of all that will follow me.” from Thoughts on Religion by Blaise Pascal, as quoted in Poem a Day

“The essential question is, ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?’ Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words your characters will speak, ideas–inspiration.” Doris Lessing, as quoted in A Year of Writing Dangerously