pretending to remember

"[kit carson] led me back to the world, to see how close i could bring my changing vision of possibility to the rigid nature of things. the stories i read made me feel as if i were threading a needle, squinting through whatever aperture the world would allow. . . a voice in the book told me then to watch and wait; it suggested that living and creating are one and the same, that writing is an act of faith, that, perhaps all real adventure begins in the imagination" (from Dreaming of Columbus by michael pearson).

i realize now that i've never stopped to appreciate the connection of memory and imagination. the people we've known and touched, the sidewalks and lawns we've strolled, the states and countries we've traveled--they all leave a nostalgic imprint on our life that, after time has had it's way with them, look rosier and brighter. sometimes i appreciate the moments more after they've aged, like wine. the skunky fermentation makes them strangely sweeter to swallow. in the end, it really doesn't matter what happened, only how we remember them. and make-believe is a handy tool.

still, if i'm honest with myself, an imaginative memory is actually pretty deceptive, especially since we sometimes have to rely on it for a happy past. i shouldn't struggle to appreciate a moment until it's gone, or race to take advantage of every moment to make it happy. instead i want to live s-l-o-w-l-y, presently, every day, and appreciate every opportunity. i want to forget about glancing backwards or forwards, and just let things be.

some of my fear is caused by the things i'm afraid i'll forget. like, for instance, books on my shelves that sit and meekly call my name back into their pages. i wonder if they're just dusty old chests holding memories i once had, like photographs, family outings, jokes, old recipes--all life-altering pieces of life, but of a past life. and then there's the other side. how can i find time to pick up each box, blow off the cobwebs, and dig through each revelation, idea, and enlightenment for the remainder of my life? time simply doesn't allow for that much introspection.

so how is it that one can retain all the literary and philosophical influences that one's read? i think back to a countless array of conversations spurred by scholars and storytellers, and i wish i could record those too. they would be some of my most valuable possessions if they could be possessed, but they're so elusive! mr. thick wind wasn't taught manners, and instead of politely knocking, he rushes in the door of the pub and yanks all our thoughts out with him.

i have hope, though. i have a feeling that they're never completely gone, that they find a way to weave into my motivations. i can only read so much, talk so long, and i want to live more than that.


i wish i were a word factory

here's a worthy read:

"there are few experiences as depressing as that anxious barren state known as writer's block, where you sit staring at your blank page like a cadaver, feeling your mind congeal, feeling your talent run down your leg and into your sock. or you look at the notes you've scribbled recently on yellow legal pads or index cards, and they look like something richard speck jotted down the other night. and at the same time, as it turns out, you happen to know that your closest writing friend is on a roll, has been turning out stories and screenplays and children's books and even most of a novel like he or she is some crazy pot-holder factory, pot holders pouring out the windows because there is simply not enough room inside for such glorious productivity" (from anne lamott's Bird by Bird).

anne lamott is a writer that can make me laugh and cry between commas. she's full of depth and honesty, and has this amazing capability to make readers smile loudly in libraries. much of her writing is dark humor, like Traveling Mercies (it took me much longer to read than Bird By Bird, just from the volume of emotions it sapped.) she also has a strong sense of the spiritual. i'm not completely convinced what religion her category fits into, but that's really not the point.

she's right, of course--about the writing. just like everything else, it can suffer the jealousy factor. since it's a very competitive field, the success of people around us can often get in the way of our own concentration. i hate to admit it, but sometimes i can't read published books or articles without feeling some kind of envy, or self-criticism. why aren't i published like that yet? why can't i be disciplined enough to get my name out there?

then of course i get trampled on with thoughts about the flaky, frivilous Christian publishing world. i start to mourn the decline of quality in our literature. i think to myself, how sad that publishing houses, especially Christian publishing houses, are making many shallow, market-directed decisions based on what we tell them we need. (never mind the fact that they put them out there because WE tell them what we like.)

STILL, despite the state of the publishing world, and despite the agile typing of our friends, there's no reason for writers to feel depressed or hopeless or disappointed when we don't see visible fruit. these are reasons to keep writing. keep disciplined. keep trudging through the marshmallowy marshes (props to dane cook) of rejections. it's a reason to set our own goals and remember that ultimately, we write for Him. he'll set our course as long as we keep our hand to the page.

that's how i get rid of this envious writer's block of mine.