something has sparked under my fingers

stencil graffiti of a lighthouse shining a triangle of light out over water, with the words, 'you are my sailboat'Good morning — Outside the foghorns are going like a bassoon symphony, like a bass chorus.

This is one of those difficult mornings, where the gremlin voices are scampering all over inside my head, under my skin, through the tender places — where I hear, You’re almost 40. What have you done? What can you hope to accomplish? Wouldn’t it be better just to keep sleeping?

In my dream, there was a classroom filled with people, huge but not theater style; some students were in chairs, others were sitting on the floor. There were bookshelves around the edges of the room, stuffed with books, unorganized, homely. We had a Peggy Phelan reader, and were reading a chapter about ontology. I came in late, didn’t have a reader, wasn’t prepared. Maybe we were at my old high school, but no one in the room was familiar to me, and it wasn’t a high school class — this was more advanced.

It’s interesting to me that most of my performance-anxiety dreams in the last couple of years have to do with Body Heat performance, not school: I arrive at a venue and I don’t have my chapbook and I’m not dressed and we have to go on in two minutes or something like that. Is this a shift, these school-focused dreams?

In another part of the dream there was a donkey standing over, literally on top of, a mule.

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Tonight’s the Erotic Reading Circle — can you come join us?

Also, the Fall workshops begin in just over a month, and early-bird registration ends on 9/1!

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So, I’m entering my second week of waking closer to 4am, to give myself close to 2 hours of solid writing time before the day officially begins, before the light comes up. I find that I’m jealously guarding this time. I have to go to bed by 9 to get up this early, trade evening movies or tv for morning creativity. The whole day has shifted forward, earlier, by two or three hours.

I adore this time, but have to battle the voices and the sleeping self most mornings — why bother, it says, not even asking, just smearing its disbelief, its hostility, over my tired eyes. Then there will be a little battle, the other part, the quieter part,  doesn’t exactly reply to the first voice, but speaks directly to the part of the self that has control over the muscles, that can pull us all out of the covers: you need this time. it’s the one part of the day that you feel whole.

And that little voice is right. I noticed yesterday (when I was contemplating again why it is that I feel constantly stressed even though my schedule, compared to most folks in the world, is remarkablly light) that I tend to multitask, or expect to be multitasking, nearly every second of the day — except when I’m here. Except when it’s too early for any other work to be done, except for when I’m in front of the morning pages and I’ve pushed through the first part of the writing and something in the story has sparked under my fingers and the words keep coming. Then I feel all the way in one place, right here, solid, centered, well.

(That ever-present multitasking is crazy-making, I think. This is that mindfulness practice, isn’t it? Being here with whatever you’re doing. The second I try to do two things at once I’m more deeply fragmented, and when I try to rush through whatever it is I’m in the middle of to get to the next thing, I’ve abandoned the first project because I’ve removed the fullness of my attention. What does it mean to let myself be all the way in this moment, to act like I’m writing all the time? Maybe that’s a good way to think about it.)

I’m sorry I haven’t been as present here — the other thing I noticed is that I’ve been trying to do so much, do morning pages and a blog post and work on one creative project or another during the 15 or 30 minutes I’d been giving myself for writing every morning. Of course, something had to give. And right now that giving, that gift, is project-focused. I’ll still be updating here, and I expect to get back to a regular posting schedule; it might not be every day.

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Here’s a prompt I used yesterday, when I needed one for my own work. I found it through WritingFix’s prompt generator — a great resource!

The prompt: “What does that tell you about your father?  List five products your father used (or uses).  Write a longer piece about, at least, one of them.”

Give yourself 10 minutes with this, or 15 if you have more time. Set your timers and get the pen down on the page, follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go!

Thank you for all that you notice, for your fine attention to detail, for the way you allow your whole self to be present, for the way you practice. Thank you for your words.