Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26: Daydreams, Escape, Reality

In Maine, as in Mount Vernon, Elwyn spent time alone or in daydreams.  Surrounded by his boisterous family but off in his own world, he would stare down through clear water to where pebbles and driftwood on the bottom were crossed by the shadows of water bugs and eclipsed by the boat's own shade...

Even as a child, E. B. White was cultivating the habits of a writer.  In the midst of his large and loud family, White would withdraw into himself.  His own thoughts and daydreams, fueled by the natural world that surrounded him.  It's no wonder he grew up to write a book about geese and cows and pigs and spiders.  These creatures were his muses.

Most writers I know cultivate isolation to some degree.  It comes with the territory.  Charles Dickens, after writing all day, would go for long walks at night.  Sometimes twenty or so miles.  Flannery O'Connor would sit in her room in Andalusia for several hours each morning, sometimes writing only two or three sentences.  That was her daily routine.

There's a certain aspect of escape in the life of a writer.  I know, when I'm working on a poem or story or essay, the world and its problems sort of fade away.  It's all about image and verb, turn of phrase and rhythm of line.  I can't think about jobs or car payments or water bills when I'm being a poet.

The bad part of this writerly escape is the return to reality.  It kind of sucks.  I'd rather daydream all day, watch shadows of water bugs like E. B. White.  That, of course, isn't a very realistic goal.  Most people don't get paid to daydream.  They get paid for answering phones and making beds and paving roads.  That's the real world.

Saint Marty's real world this evening:  he doesn't know if he's going to have a job in a couple of months.  Daydreaming is so much better.

So do I

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