Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Lonely Writer?

Emailing with my agent yesterday I came upon a thought. She asked for a synopsis of the current book I'm working on, which is beginning to wind down. I replied, "That would be good to get this down on a couple pages because things in Chancey (my fictional town) are crazy right now."
And the thought this led to was that maybe that's why my life right now is very placid and contained because I need all my energy and craziness for those people living in Chancey.
Then this morning I picked up a book of poems from one of my favorites - Emily Dickinson.
Her descriptions of nature, her insight into God, her never bashful gaze at death all stir me every time I read her poetry. She wrote over 1,700 poems but they were only found after her death at age 56 in 1886. She was a recluse in Amherst, Mass. going sometimes for years without leaving her father's house. And when she did venture over the threshold, she confined herself to their yard. And yet, a feeling of being trapped or missing out on life never enters her writing. Never.
She wrote a poem which I think explains her feelings.


No rack can torture me,
My soul's at liberty
Behind this mortal bone
There knits a bolder one

You cannot prick with saw,
Nor rend with scymitar.
Two bodies therefore be;
Bind one, and one will flee.

The eagle of his nest
No easier divest
And gain the sky,
Than mayest thou,

Except thyself may be
Thine enemy;
Captivity is consciousness,
So's liberty.

So our physical and our spiritual bodies push against each other, and we choose where to abide - if we are conscious to the pull. And that choice makes all the difference. My isolation here in the house with just me and my computer feeds what happens in Chancey. Yes, I could probably write in the midst of chaos, but -maybe not. All I know is this balance works for me. Or like in the opening lines of a more famous poem by Ms. Dickinson:

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

So, how are YOU at selecting your own society?

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