Let the Night Be a Curator
I have a new plan for 2016, in the words of Jane Ellen Harrison, “a beautiful rule and order.”
My idea, inspired by Patti Smith’s M Train, is to write three hours a day, every day, in 2016; but unlike Patti Smith, I like editing and polishing, cutting and honing what I’ve written. So here’s how I see it working: four half-hour writing periods throughout the day, hand-written in a paper journal. Jottings. Scraps of dialogue overheard. Questions Sue asks me. Road Signs. Meeting notes. Bits from books I’m reading. My job, in those four scattered half-hour writing periods, is to gather words, just as I’ve always gathered photographs. A kind of living meditation on life as it unfolds: not a monologue, not yammering on endlessly about what I’m feeling, planning, or remembering (as I have done in journals before). But being present for each day, aware and alert for what can be saved.
For example, yesterday, in a text from California hills where she’s staying, Sue wrote, “about half an hour ago we stepped outside and listened to coyotes singing the night in...wild and moving. It is dark and wild country here....” Save that. The distillation process will take place the morning after, typed on the computer, because I am clearer and sharper in the morning, and because I want to let the night be a curator. Let sleep do the work of sorting and selecting. So each morning, an hour of polishing the writing from the jottings of the day before. And a photograph each day.
This photograph is from the pajama brunch at Laurie and Terri’s house. Her name is Connie, and in this moment she was listening to Laurie read from Find Me Unafraid. To her left, out of focus, are the hands of DeEtte, knitting. From now on, I’ll be posting the preceding day’s photograph with the preceding day’s distillation. I’ll blip the result if Blip continues. I’ll leave comments on, so if someone is bursting to say something or has a question, they can; but I’m not going to try to “keep up” in terms of responding to comments nor commenting on everyone who comments on me. I’m going to let go of the whole commenting thing. If a question comes, I’ll try to answer it. If Blip pulls the plug, I’ll keep on doing this for myself.
I will see how this evolves. It might not be four distinct 30-minute writing sessions. It might be twelve ten-minute sessions. The point is to be alert, all day, for the “found art” of the day. Sentences. Descriptions. Road signs. Junk mail. A snippet of conversation in the elevator. A sentence from an article posted on Facebook. As a meditative practice. As an act of gratitude for what flows toward me. Tomorrow's will be the first real example, as today is devoted to the plan.