Saturday, April 18, 2015

Freewriting about freewriting while watching the rain

So I attended a creative writing and art workshop this weekend in the hills north of Omaha. We were to write without stopping for a period of time. I chose to free write about free writing. I was sitting in the large and high living room of a beautiful home in the hills of Hummel Park looking out the large bank of windows to the north east: A guided writing project with no punctuation with a free writing aspect in a room with fifteen other creative and talented people. I could start with a phrase - "It was hot that afternoon was cold that morning when...I saw the barest glimpse of a shoulder as she walked away".... One word at a time, one thought cascading upon another. How to consider this? Like Sir Hillary climbing Mt. Everest? Like Thor Heyerdahl on the Pacific? Like don Quixote on his magnificent quest? I'm looking through a wall of windows at flowering trees and bare branches whose silhouettes pose like the sculpted bronze dancing girl on the baby grand piano. I'm looking at stuffed owls on the mantel with a flock of painted birds in flight above. I'm looking at a Loess Hills horizon through the bare trees miles away across the Missouri River. Or perhaps I should look at this as a sojourner on foot moving one step at a time, one word at a time, one word after the other, one foot after the other until a destination is reached. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step although it is still a very long walk. Through that high glass wall I see green grass and tilled earth wet from the morning rain. A word helps construct a metaphor of this writing adventure. The mind attaches words to thoughts as analogies of meaning with both secret and public places. I see a large empty space in the room with furniture grounded and the sky limited. I see the occasional concentric circle of rain drops landing on the deck on a plastic covered planter which has collected a small pool. Capturing a moment is an interesting phrase - one can capture a moment only in the imagination. Moments are not bounded by anything other than ourselves; moments are continuous without boundaries. Like rain drops falling from the sky to become the river or the pond or a puddle, discrete moments fall from time and become memories merged large and small. I walk away for a moment to sharpen my pencil and my thoughts and hear rain drops hitting the roof, the deck floors, the tabletops outdoors. I hear the scratching of pencils on paper with the occasional tap as the pencils dot i's and cross t's. I cannot bring myself to use no punctuation. It's an involuntary response like sneezing. I can no more not use punctuation than Byron or Keats or Ferlinghetti or Ginsberg or my friend Greg when he writes his wonderful poems. A rainstorm is like a poem with its rhythms and cadence. Each rain drop makes a different sound. Some land on wood, some on leaves, some on plastic chairs. Or perhaps rain is like a symphony with rain trumpets and rain clarinets and rain saxophones with the occasional lightning blast of the cymbals. And the thunder of the tympani. Sometimes rain is gentle; sometimes rain is ferocious. I just used a semicolon. Rain sometimes begins quietly and builds to a soggy finale. Sometimes rain begins like Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, dah dah dah duh. Big and loud. It's all good, though. We need the rain; we need the lightning, too, as it does something with ozone that makes the grass greener than it would be otherwise. Maybe we need the thunder, too, as a reminder of the lightning. I hear the rain drops and I hear the pencil points and each of these creates a new word in this downpour of thoughts. "Don't rain on my parade," we say. "April showers bring May flowers," we say. Like the waning rain, my thoughts are wandering and coming fewer and farther between. I wonder if it's ever possible to see and catch the last rain drop. To catch it and look at it and maybe send it back up into the sky. Sometimes we wish a word could be sent back to whence it came. I wrote a blog about semicolons once. The rain is steady right now and I can no longer see the horizon of hills to the northeast. I am reminded of a line from a movie - "All those moments are lost in time, like tears in the rain."


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