Furlough 13


It’s coffee day. Most days it’s green tea or at the most yerba mate. It was a rough night with a lot of tossing and turning. I also had another nightmare. This one involved Dennis Hopper’s character from Blue Velvet chasing after me with this family of freakish humans in tow. Frigging David Lynch. Love him and hate him. 

I had the intention of working on a few poems, but stayed with one in particular the whole way. Writing is all about feeling the process, and so I stayed with this feeling.

This is the first time I’ve ever sat down to work on a poem. Writing deliberately, a writer friend of mine once described it. Poems have now ceased being mere expression and have wandered into the realm of diligent construction or art with a little a (I hesitate to ever use the word Art with a capital A, unless I want to act like an Asshole with a capital A). 

So it was a good day. Writing deals with the imagination, and it’s fun and it’s playful. It puts a smile on my face.

I like questioning what the poem is about, who the voices are, and what is it that’s being said on the surface and what’s being said underneath it all. (It’s funny how those exact questions on those exact themes makes us so defensive coming from someone else.)

Speaking of which, I’m going to send this to a writer friend when it’s finished. This is a fairly new concept for me. Even after submitting my work to magazines over the years and more recently, to writer friends and a whole writers group, I’m still reluctant to let other people read my stuff. But what’s newest about this is the light-hearted way I’m showing it.

I picture myself handing a sheet of paper across a table, saying, “Here, look at what I’m dicking around with.” It’s really that easy. Of course, your work must be edited enough to get to that point, which I believe it is. It’s just cool to be in a place in my life and in my head where I can do that. He doesn’t even need to critique it. A simple “Interesting” or “Nice” would be sufficient. Feedback can be as simple as that. 

Because we as writers need outside eyes, outside human beings, outside writers who, like us, wonder and worry about their work, who are fighting with their egos and the world, and dealing with COVID and fear and loved ones and priorities as well. We’re truly all in this together, no matter how many judgments and expectations we make for ourselves and others. 

And though it’s new and feels weird, connecting with another writer is a great habit. It tempers your expectations, your ego, and your will. 

I also gave myself fifteen minutes working on my novel. I like this. It’s a short enough time for me to keep my faith in it and myself. Baby steps to confidence. Build momentum slowly. 



Later on, as I was rereading my new novel, I had a sudden attack of fear. I have been practicing Tara Brach’s new RAIN practice, and so I knew what to do.

I got up from the table, took off my writing hat, and sat in my reading chair. I spent time with this fear. It was a fear of dying, like all fears are, disguised as panic, worry, a fear of the unknown, a fear of doing new and different things, as my new novel represents to my ego.

I did not shun it, push it away, but accepted it. I did not resist it, but listened to it, allowed it to sit in my body. I felt it and nurtured it. I let it tell me what it was saying. In that moment, I breathed harder, feeling it. In that moment, I was afraid of fear. 

Later today, I will be extra special to myself for this practice, for the courage and the effort to not shun or ignore or push away or deny fear like so many of us are trained to do at a very young age. I will be gentle to myself later on because, as Julia Cameron once wrote, treating yourself like a precious object will make you strong.

After I stayed with it, after letting it speak to me, I nurtured my fear and my breath, returned to my breath. I rose from my chair, returned to my writing table, donned my hat, and continue editing my novel.

Enjoy your day and when you get a chance, open a window and sip from the wind. It will not kill you. 

Health and happiness to your and your family. We’ll get through this. 

Create and complete. 

P.s. Please excuse the incongruity of font here. As my friend Maegan says “I’m having trouble with robots”. 😀


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