Sunday, July 09, 2006

Journals, Poetry, and Pens
So today I put the last post in my journal, which I've used since last December. I normally fill up a journal in about three months, so either I didn't write as much in the first part of 06 or this journal is just bigger than other ones I get. It's always a mixed bag to finish a journal. In a way, it is gratifying because it reminds me that I am writing regularly, and adding to my journal ideas for stories, along with the thoughts of everyday life. It's also a little sad because once I set aside a journal, I sometimes forget some of the ideas and move on to other things--but the great thing is I can always go back and use the ideas some other day.

I encourage everyone to keep a journal--even if you don't consider yourself a writer. I always find that writing out things I'm thinking for my eyes only really helps me to think through decisions, solidify ideas, etc. My agent gave me this beautiful journal and bookmark from Italy, and that's the next one I'm going to start tonight.

While I'm at it, I might as well give a plug for the best journal-writing pen on the planet. It is a Pilot Precise V5, extra fine in black. The best! I read that Pres. Bush really likes Sharpie pens. I like those too, but not for journal writing.

Yesterday I found at our local library a new book called Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer. It is awesome. He goes through the opening chapter discussing how language is the greatest tool of human beings, pointing us to the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel and reminding us that little in life can be achieved without language. My husband, who just returned from Russia, made the observation to me yesterday that he felt really out of place when he was sitting in a lunchroom with only Russian-speakers all around him. He noticed several deaf girls sitting together in the room also and reflected that they maybe felt as left out of the conversation as he was, since he spoke no Russian. Language binds people together in a way we sometimes take for granted.

Baer reflects further that literature is a wonderful use of language, giving expression to any and every human condition. Then he conclues:

"Thus, great literature can be described as the most sophisticated use of man's greatest tool to consider the most important human subjects with the purpose of moving the reader to serious thought while also affecting the emotions of the heart" (2).

Cool, eh?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Room with a View
Last week, I had the chance to go to Fallingwater, one of the homes Frank Lloyd Wright designed here in Western Pennsylvania. It's a lovely place that fits organically into the landscape. I remember the first time I saw the countryside surrounding Fallingwater. I had seen many photos of the home in the past, but it was along the road leading to the house that I saw the large, rectangular boulders jutting out from the hillside and realized that they must have been Wright's inspiration for the design of the house.

We toured the house, which is actually situated over the creek and a small waterfall. Everywhere in the home, Wright designed the rooms to be close to nature, and the views are spectacular. He also created all these fabulous nooks and crannies and writing corners where I could definitely see myself writing lots of books!

And it got me to thinking about the creative process and the environment. Could I write a better book--or have more creative ideas for books--if I lived in a place like Fallingwater? Not very many people have that type of opportunity to be so close to nature, and have the absolute ideal, picturesque setting in which to create. But that's my latest question: does it matter where I write? Would it change the writing itself?

I'm due to read The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, which I re-read every summer. In that book, as in some of her other writings, she emphasizes writing in the midst of life. Many people hope to take that sabbatical to write their great American novel. But most people can't take a year off their lives. So, the key is to write in the midst of all the busy-ness, the activities, the long work days. So, my gut tells me that no, where I write doesn't matter.

But then I look at a place like Fallingwater, and I am just dying to get to my journal, and sit at one of those fabulous desks overlooking the creek. And it's maybe that response--that longing to write--which a closeness to nature helps.