Saturday, October 10, 2009

October Snow Makes One Think About the Future

Woke to snow
Green leaves blown
From ash trees

October Snow
Dry coneflower stalks bending in wind,
one squash left in the garden bed.

Last night I was reading a blog by someone I knew in college. In the last year she's left the place she lived her whole adult life and moved to San Francisco, where she bikes the hills (we're talking 300 miles in 3 days in one instance, competitive biking), wakes up with coffee and a view of the ocean, has a new lover, spends her mornings writing and her afternoons doing project work and is clearly quite happy. She's living the life she imagined, and her blog is full of great, brief entries encouraging transformation. If you can be clear about what you want, the line of thinking goes, you can make it happen.

One of her techniques is to write out "An Ideal Day." From morning to night, what would an ideal day consist of? After reading hers, I had trouble thinking of my own. Eventually I started imagining two. One is wintery and involves snowshoeing on the farm and writing and a good meal. Another involves giving a reading in a city, waking up in a nice hotel, meeting with friends in that city, giving a reading at a sweet-smelling bookstore, a good meal, the hotel room with a view of the city.

I was surprised that the day would include fulfillment of writing ambitions, though maybe I shouldn't have been. I am not doing the kinds of things that would make that dream come true, like serious and disciplined writing or more serious submissions to magazines. I did send an idea for a non-fiction book past my agent last week, and she was actually kind of excited about its possibilities, but it is a book that is a project, not really the book I want to represent me as a writer in the world. It is a book I probably could write, but not my passion.

Still, what does it take to get that ideal day/ideal days? I had those days very regularly when I had a year off in 2005 and was at the Ecumenical Institute finishing the memoir and a book of poems. It was not sustainable, but maybe it could be in a few years, when Steve's daughter is out of college and his businesses are established enough to provide some breathing room for me in terms of work.

I am actually quite clear about the way I'd like to be living my days. I do realize that I'm losing faith in myself slowly but surely in terms of writing, but I know what it takes for me-- time and attention. And I know that I am still "reading the signs" all around me, as avidly as ever. I also realize the courage it would take at this particular moment in my life to make a change and live my days that way. Lucky for me, making a change, especially in service of my writing life, has always felt more like necessity than a choice.

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