Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Beginning... Writing A Book Guided By The Ancient Chinese...


Eyes closed, he hears an inner music; he is lost in thoughts and questions --
His spirit rides to the eight corners of the universe, his mind a thousand miles away.
And then the inner voice grows clearer as objects become defined.
And he pours forth the essence of words, savouring their sweetness.
He drifts in a heavenly lake, he dives to the depths of the seas.
And he brings living words like fishes hooked in their gills, leaping from the deep;
And beauty is brought down like a bird on an arrowstring shot from passing clouds.
He gathers his words & images from those unused by previous generations; his music comes from melodies unplayed for a thousand years or more.
The morning blossoms bloom; soon the night buds will unfold.
He sees past and present commingle; he sees the whole Four Seas in the single blink of an eye.

Lu Chi ~ 261-303 A.D.
WEN FU: The Art Of Writing
Translation by Sam Hamill

And so the process begins to unfold. And it is important that I bring all of the elements from my life and carry them about with me in a big basket balanced on my head. Parrots sitting on the rim, the dogs curled deep inside, resting their heads on books and handspun yarns, and spindles. Beeswax candles to light our way at night and so that I may write by the campfire near the tent filled with all that I love. Stones, poems (I am always "wishing for the cloths of heaven... the blue, the dim, and the dark; night, light and the half-light..."), stories, photographic memories (I prefer these to actual photographs of people, which leave all of the life and poetry out.), symbols from ancient times that still inform humanity's plight and give us some direction. Swirling caftans, many shawls, handmade jewelry with stones who will heal me. I don't carry medicines on my journey, I take the things that will heal me along my way. My animals whose love carries me aloft, the stones and their healing powers, the wild herbs and plants for meals and some to braid into my hair, with cockatoo feathers tucked in to make a glorious crown. Always, always, I have the slender volume of Lu Chi's Wen Fu with me. It's the only book I need to light the way into the dark caverns of my life, the one thing that will save me when I go in too deep. I am entering sacred territory. I must be prepared.

It is not unlike Hemingway who couldn't write about Paris while he was still in Paris, but wrote the definitive book about his life in Paris when he had left it and gone back to Michigan. The book is A Moveable Feast, and it remains one of my favorite all-time books. My original hardcover copy is dog-eared, and I just ordered an audio copy that downloads straight onto my computer to listen to while I do my fiber work. My fiber work keeps me balanced and out of my head when I've spent too much time there. Music still lets my mind wander, but listening to a book, or my Zen teachers while I work is soothing, relaxing, and I can get caught up in a story and my hands just fly.

As to my fiber work I've pretty well decided that the etsy shop will stay open and I will list finished fiber pieces there, BUT I am going to set up a PayPal shop (widget) on this blog for my one-of-a-kind handspun, spindle-spun, designer yarns. I don't use a wheel. I do it the old fashioned way, with many elements in the yarn. The one I am spinning now is a variety of pinks and other complimentary colors with vintage lace in coral spun in with it. It is lovely. I hope to get the widget up with the first yarn in the next week or two. Spinning helps me write. It is a good practice to have something to balance your writing with.

As to getting away from the cottage to write about the cottage, I must fill my basket like I explained at the top, or more likely take my laptop to a cafe. I am not particularly social, but not unkind. I disappear, just like above, when I am writing. Onlookers assume someone is there but there is simply a near silent hum and the clicking of keys. The time is precious and I don't waste it on conversation. I can only see the cottage when I am away from it and as I seldom ever leave, if I have, well, my hands could beat a marathon runner. I can close my eyes and type and needn't look at the keyboard. Yes, you get the oddball mis-spelling but that is easily corrected. When you close your eyes to type you come up in other worlds, and from the distance, you can see the life you are trying to write about.

I have written professionally for 30 years, primarily magazines and newspapers. I have written many books that didn't sell and finally stopped writing books for the shorter forms, mainly because my life was taking me on such a magic carpet ride (including the times I fell off of the carpet and got caught up in trees or hit the ground) I was simply holding on for dear life and trying to remember to BREATHE....

And so it is from a distance that I write, not a memoir, no, I think a memoir talks about your whole life. I am not writing about my childhood. I am not writing about my quarter century as a married mother of 3. This story begins the night of April 30, 1999, my 45th birthday, when I left my family home and moved out alone, the first time I'd lived alone in all my four and a half decades. As I fast approach 54 the end of this month, I am ready to write about the life that would follow, such a wild ride, traveling hither and yon, being shoved in the kiln of life to be fired, retreating into hermit-hood, and inching back out again, and all the while building a life in a magical little world, both online and here, where I live, that started as a means of survival and became a way of life. A very unusual life. A life that many do not understand (and that's okay by me), some fear, or worry over, and one that I revel in. With each passing year the dust has settled and so have I, and Dragonfly Cottage, which began as a refuge, has become my base, my touchstone, my home.

And so as I've been writing here Blossom, the cockatoo, is sound asleep after her mid-day warm meal, Henry, the grey parrot, is talking his fool head off. Currently alternating saying, "Uh-Oh," "I love you," and calling the dogs by name. This bothers them not one whit, as they have just come in from an outing and are sound asleep. I myself shall curl up with a warm pug and a soft old quilt and take a nap. It's that time of day. And when I rise I shall write the night away, interspersed with spoolknitting, crocheting and spinning, as well as beginning to pot the hordes of cuttings I've been nurturing inside since last fall when it turned cold. The African violets are large now and beginning to bloom everywhere. My latte has grown cold, my eyes are droopy, and still I run my fingers through the soft wool that will be spinning fast on the spindle when I awaken from my nap.

I will dream about the basket full of all my beloved creatures and things, and the magic carpet that we are all riding on as I drift off to sleep, and a fuzzy teddy bear of a snoring boy named Samspon will be asleep cuddled into me.

Blessings and Joy to each and everyone of you, and no, that is not my cottage at the top of the page. It is the one I am dreaming my way into, or one very like it, old, hidden, and run wild with flowers, which pretty much describes my life today. But for now I shall join Wynken, Blynken and Nod, and cuddle Sampson in my arms while we sleep.

Fill your basket today. What will you put in yours?




BT Cassidy said...

What a lovely post, I really enjoyed it. If you write like this, for long enough, I’m sure the next fifty four years will be full of life and laughter- all the best- Tom


You definitely have a poetic mind. Maybe, because you are sensitive.


Robert A Vollrath said...

I find it impossible to write and yet I do. Your post reminds me that so often when I write it feels like I'm guided by an unseen hand.

Susan Gregg said...

I love your blog. I too have a family of rescued animals. Thanks for adding your voice to the world.

With much love and aloha,

Jennifer Robin said...

Oh how I wish I could write like this! Love your post; I see so much of myself reflected in it, I feel you are a kindred spirit indeed. I can't wait to catch up with your archives.

K said...

"I was simply holding on for dear life and trying to remember to BREATHE...." so many of us can relate to this ;)

I would love to see your blog posted and shared with other women at Her Blog Directory.


Cindy said...

I really enjoyed this post and I'm eager to see what that homespun yarn with lace and stuff looks like.

Lynn said...

Just happened on your blog through the blog log directories as I surfed about for others with similar interests. I'm not sure how I got here, except that I believe you may belong to a "green" community I just joined. Just the fact that you write and you love fiber arts attracted me immediately. They are passions of mine as well.

Is the cottage at the top of your blog also your home? It is absolutely beautiful!

Goddess Findings said...

oh what an incredible quote that was from WEN FU- Im going to get this book straight away! thanks, lovely post.

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