Thursday, April 3, 2008

Teacher, Tell Me, What I Have to Learn

Thinking a lot about Nat’s lessons lately…when you run out of things to write and when you “hide” behind a camera.

I’ll explain the second one first. Nat describes, in one of her books, about going on a whale-sighting expedition. At one point she backed away from the rail a little bit and turned to look at her traveling companions as the whales surfaced out in the water. Everyone else but her was behind a camera.

I’m sure that Nat isn’t against cameras, but, as with any other lesson that she teaches me, she makes the point that anything must be done in moderation. You don’t always have to have the camera there to keep everything. You don’t always have to have the notebook there to keep everything. You do the best you can with lens or paintbrush or ink and then you keep going, you keep putting one foot in front of the other. You live life and you write about it as best you can.

Which brings me to the first point of Nat’s reminders in my mind this week—you keep doing your art no matter what. If the world has stopped you from three pages a day for two weeks, you write what is possible. You write one sentence. Nothing matters as long as you’re still writing. If you have nothing to write about, that’s no excuse. Describe the world. Describe everything red. Describe what it would be like if you didn’t have one of your senses at this moment, or if you had lost all of them. You just pick up the pen and write.

My goal in this Blog 365 was to produce high-quality essays, daily, like a newspaper, for the duration of the year. My job commitments have prevented that. So now I am down to the last expectation.

Just get something on the screen, Jo.

I don’t know when it will improve, dear reader, but I shall always try.

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