Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 12: Come Along Now, Beautiful Writing, Nature Essay

Withe some difficulty, [Ives] waited for the services to begin.  He did not know if it was the candles or the crowd or the heating, or the heavy perfumes in the air, or his age--he was nearly seventy-five--but that morning he found himself frequently yawning.  Lately, Ives had been dozing off during Mass, his eyes heavier with each visit.  A kind of sweet drowsiness came over him, and the sensation that someone was about to whisper, ever so gently, "Come along now."

Ives is near the end of his life, has forgiven his son's killer.   He and his wife have rekindled their floundering marriage.  Ives is, for the first time in decades, happy.  At peace.  I think Ives feels as if he has done all he can to make the world a better place.

But that's not why I chose to start this post with that particular paragraph.  I'm not going to write about forgiveness or happiness.  I'm not going to wax philosophic about making a difference in the universe in the short time you dwell in it.  I'm not going to talk about my beautiful, funny wife.

I chose that paragraph simply because it is beautiful.  The sentences are gentle and long.  They lull me into a state of quiet bliss, where I can almost smell the perfumes of the church and hear the voice in my ear, whispering that invitation.  I love the writing in it.

When I sit down to start a new writing project, whether it's a poem or essay or short story, I always start by reading something that inspires me.  Something that has a certain tone or image or voice that captures my imagination.  And I let that reading guide my writing.  It sort of becomes my touchstone for the duration of my writing process.

I have certain "go-to" writers that have often served as my muses.  Sharon Olds.  Phil Levine.  Billy Collins.  Oscar Hijuelos.  Annie Dillard.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  These poets and essayists and novelists do something to me.  Touch me deeply.  And they all make me want to be a better writer.

My next writing project, now that I've finished my Mother's Day poem, is a nature essay.  I have an idea for the essay, but I have not yet found my muse.  After I'm done typing tonight's posts, I plan to do a little reading.  I'm thinking Annie Dillard or Robert Lowell.  For some reason both of these writers are stuck in my head at the moment.  I'm not sure why.

But Saint Marty will know why when he's done writing the essay.

I guess there are other kinds of inspiration...

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