The writing and reading diary of Redbud Bough, writer par excellence/reader for life
Writing Log – 15.6
Today’s word count: 5,324
Today’s pieces completed: Silent Code: Poems from a Young Heart (sent to publisher)
Today’s pieces started: Not Just Because Mom Says So: A Kid’s Primer on Thinking Things Out
Thoughts and notes: All I want to do right now is write–well, that is, when I’m not reading! I no sooner finish one book and send it off to the publisher than I want start the next! I have so many ideas that sometimes I wonder if I’ll get the chance to get them all down.
I’m trying this thing where I store my ideas in the spaces in my mind–you know, it’s like I feel the words racing through my brain, and they can’t all be on all the synaptic highways at once, so those that have to wait their turn, I just park them in the spaces. Then when I want them, I pull them out onto the highway, and off they go! I think I have about 15 ideas waiting for the green light at this very moment.
It’s tough, too because I’m also getting all these ideas from reading–I’ll write about that later in my reading log section.
For now, let’s just say that writing is sharing the spot with reading for Passion Number One in my life.
The quality of my writing, while good, isn’t yet where I want it to be. Now and then I’ll have a sentence that makes me swoon, but for the most part, it’s like my brother’s cooking. Good, but no sparkles. I’m hoping for excellence once I’ve written maybe 100,000 words. Seems reasonable!
Here’s one sentence that made me want to stop the world forever, just so I could savor it longer: Shadows, found in the heart, as well as the forest, bring needed respite, for without them, would we have the silence we need to truly understand the joys of the patches of sun?
Ok, it’s a little corny and a little cliched and a little cerebral all mixed together, but it’s also got an elegance that I love, and I think it says something. Maybe that’s what I’m after in my writing: elegant constructions that say something. I want to create writing with all the nuances and depths of Sugar’s cooking–I want to make epic reading like she makes epic meals. I want my words to sparkle.
Speaking of epic reading, I’m reading Shakespeare. All of it. I’m on the tragedies now. They suck. I mean, yeah, in places the writing is sublime–and in places it’s really rough. But it’s the plots! They’re so stupid! The characters are so willful, and the tragedy is so needless! I guess that’s what makes it tragic.
But I’m discovering through reading all this needless tragedy, just how needless tragedy really is! I mean, maybe that’s Shakespeare’s point, after all!
For example, I can’t believe Marcus Antony and Cleopatra. Give me a break! This is supposed to be a good relationship? If this is a good relationship, I’m staying single–or at least, to keep the legacy going, I’ll just have a love child and be a single mom. But wait–that’s what Cleopatra did, and that didn’t work out either. Maybe I’ll just skip love all together.
But maybe what Antony and Cleopatra had wasn’t really true love. Maybe it was just what happens when people follow their brain chemicals and hormones rather than slow down and make actual conscious decisions.
Every Shakespeare tragedy–or at least most of them–seems to be about people getting caught up in following the urgings of their hormones and brain chemistry, rather than looking at those impulses for what they are–our socio-biological wiring, designed for the benefit of the gene, not the individual–and then making conscious, considered choices, instead.
Shakespeare teaches me the value of a pause. Three whims, and I needn’t act on any. I can stop, reflect, and choose before I load up the next action in my queue.
So, maybe these tragedies that I hate so much are really divine, after all! Maybe they were written not just to make us feel bad but show us what happens when we blindly follow our coding, rather than slowing down, pausing, and making conscious choices.
Reflections on Daily Life
What do I need with life, when I can learn all about it through reading?
Well, for one thing, my life–and the people in it–provide me with a framework that helps me understand what I’m reading, just as what I’m reading provides me with a framework to understand life. When I read about Othello getting carried away with his passions, it helps me understand this crazy brother of mine, and when I think about my impassioned brother, I understand Othello better.
Sometimes, Alder just whips out and says the meanest things–without even thinking, without even taking a moment to check in and see how his words will make the other person feel. He just says whatever his impulses direct him to blurt out.
I recognize that as the condition Shakespeare writes about–being so caught up in the coding of one’s trait that there’s not even a moment’s reflection.
My brother will pause when he’s alone, or maybe when he’s painting. I wonder if, then, he regrets what he’s said and the pain that his words have caused. If so, it’s almost more of a tragedy, for then the next time that the whim strikes, he will lash out again, and again, in solitude, feel the pain reflected back to him.
I wish my brother could understand what I’m learning through reading. I wish he could take into his heart the lessons we all learn through our yoga practice and remember the wisdom that comes to us from feeling the space within us.
My own yoga practice, though painfully, jaggedly, awkwardly beginnerish, still brings me joy and a chance to stretch these limbs that have become addicted to exercise while also connecting to the silence of the space within.
My brother isn’t always awful, of course. Sometimes, he’s amazing. We’ve become a family of artists. As passionate as I am right now with my writing, Alder, my dad, and Aunt onezero are that passionate about painting. They’re all painting masterpieces every day. It’s gotten kind of silly, except, we’re snobs, my brother and me, so we like being surrounded by works of art. Right now, we’re just sticking the masterpieces down in the basement collection room, but I’m hoping sometime to set up a display so that we can actually enjoy being surrounded with the products of our family’s creativity.
Maybe it’s her painting, maybe it’s because my mom’s not around anymore to badger her, but onezero has become blissfully happy of late. She reminds me of a Shakespearean Fool–the only really sane one, the only one with true sight, in a crazed and blind world. When I want the truth, when I want inspiration, she’s the one I turn to.
We were worried for her when she was mired in grief for her siblings. And when Mom and Uncle Doug were alive, they were always watching out for her, so I was kind of worried that she would feel vulnerable or unprotected without them.
But she’s blossoming! She is happier than I’ve ever seen her, and she has the most amazing things to say.
Just the other day, she told me, “It’s not just words that the universe speaks in. Remember to watch and to listen, too. Light and music! Shape and sound!”
I’m doing my best not to neglect my violin. It’s hard sometimes, when all I want to do is read and write, but I keep reminding myself that the violin develops the mind, too, and that what I learn from music, especially from the structure of composition, will transfer over to writing. I’ve got this idea for writing a novel that follows the form of Bach’s partita for solo violin. I can do it, right?
So, that’s life right now. Everything’s art! Everything’s music! For sure, everything–all the truth and meaning I’ve ever sought–is to be found in words. I’m not really eager to settle down into the role of wife and a mother at this point–for right now, I want to funnel all my creative energy into writing!
I have so much to learn, so much to say, so much to explore. And this is just the beginning.