Friday, August 19, 2011

At the Helm

I am posting this photo I took the other morning of a spider web--one of dozens and dozens in the trees along the path where I walked. I'm not going to make a metaphor out of it--I already did this, once upon a time, in a poem, and enough is enough. Anyway, seeing scads of these all at once kicks any artist's ass pretty hard. Are you kidding? Forget about the Internet, or TV, or whatevs--I'm competing with this? Nature is better, and best. I bow down.

What I'm thinking about are these weird interior images and feelings I get when I'm trying to steer a story toward a particular point on the shore. Heaviness in my arms as I try and try to make the turn, but the story is still reeling out ahead, or maybe in the opposite direction. What's this all about anyway? Why can't I make it go in the direction I want--easily? Why this big drama, as if I'm Captain Bligh, turning the helm in the big storm to get around the Horn?

I carry around such vivid images of the physical work of writing--they are so real to me I don't even question them. They can hover all day.

I just got to the end of a story. I hope it's good. It has been a separate world and a respite from what's on my mind, and the bad dreams I've been having every night. I have to type it next. Another image; the three stories that need typing, and the section of the novel that goes in the can, never to be touched again. I'm dragging them all forward. Heavy chains, clanking.

I am waiting. For what, I won't say. I write what comes, dream the bad dreams, photograph the marvels. Meanwhile my body has a strong sense of what it needs to do to keep the show on the road. One of the many aspects of life that is private.


  1. The heaviness in your arms is a visceral image. Sometimes I take those symptoms of physical exertion as a sign to back off--do I need a nap? Am I overdoing it? It's good to know the struggle may mean that I'm close to completing the work.

  2. Hi Alice,
    I wasn't sure how to contact you so I apologize for leaving a note on your blog!

    Liz Dawson suggested I contact you. I'm a playwright/writer who lives in Montclair.( I also blog on about disability and parenting issues) I'm close to finishing a memoir and she thought that you might be teaching a class that would be beneficial to my work. Do you have another email address at which I might contact you?
    Katinka Neuhof