Day 10: The Work I Love

I’m writing so much these days. I absolutely adore it. After such a long personal fallow season of writing only diaries and prayers, to be making poems, overflowing with ideas – it’s such a rich time.

I’m watching the first season of Smash, a show I watched religiously when it first came out a few years ago. Seeing people working towards their dreams, following their hearts; it’s such a timeless, sweet theme. Well, most of the time.

When I saw Zootopia last year, despite thoroughly enjoying it, I couldn’t help but think: “Ugh, Disney, another wide-eyed ingenue pursuing her dream. Really?”

It can definitely be overdone and oversimplified, especially in family movies – the endless exhortation to “Follow Your Heart” can be dry and flat, and even frustrating when your passion or interests are particularly elusive. So what is it about now, about this show that makes my sentimental heart flutter against my ribs when last year I might have turned up my nose in disgust?

What I love about Smash, even more than the parts with the actors, is watching the writers. Especially this part at the beginning, when that fragile little bubble of an idea hovers around their heads, and they don’t look at it or reach out in case it bursts. But suddenly they can’t sit still, the bubble in the corner of their eye consumes all their thoughts; an infatuation, an obsession of the most delightful, beguiling nature is born. They forget to sleep, they forget to eat; it all becomes secondary to trying to decipher the silent messages of that infuriating, impossible, completely wonderful bubble of inspiration. These days, I’ve been rubbing up against that feeling quite a bit. And it’s the greatest thing in the world.

I’ve been told so many times I’ll never have a career writing, poets don’t make any money, the arts are full of rejection and failure. That stung for a while but eventually I started again, telling myself I could put up stories online, I could write just for me. Then my ego took hold: you’re not as good as your friends, as that person, your ideas never work out. I stopped again.

I needed a dry period to gather myself, to remember why I write in the first place. I write because it’s the place I’m most myself, the closest I feel to whole. Because if I don’t write, a day feels empty. It lifts my life from banal sameness to a daily attempt to brush fingers with divinity. I don’t need to ever get paid for it. I don’t need to be better than anyone else. I just have to write. Even “have to” doesn’t feel right, because it implies a sense of obligation. And I am obliged to write, but not by anything external, by whatever it is that tingles over my skin and breathes mists of support around me when I have a poem in the works. It’s like falling in love.

I’m addicted to this TV show because they’re all deeply in love, entranced with their work. And so am I.

 

#10

My hair is tangled in thorns and ivy,

it stretches out behind me in ropes of gold.

I kneel in the frost-mint grass,

grey light fabric falling about my feet.

Blinking frogs with black dot toes

crawl into my lap,

down-furred fawns and mice circle me

with heads cocked to the side.

They watch me entwine my fingers

with the bud and dew-soaked branches,

a play at pulling myself free.

Being trapped should awake my fears,

but this prison is so close to heaven

I’m tempted to remain.

Yet so fragile in its hold

I’m scared to breathe

lest I break down the bars.

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