This, above all:

This, above all: To be God's best for The Coach and for Anna

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The eleventh hour

Oh, the weight of a million things to finish by the day's end.

In a week chock-full of chores, today was an exhibit of fraught multitasking: While keeping an eye out on the pasta sauce simmering to my right, I was washing dishes and studying Dean Alfar's The Dragon in the Bell published in this week's Philippines Free Press. My copy of Free Press was spreadeagled above the sink, two laundry clips pinning it away from the splash of dishwater. Dean's story is up for discussion in my fiction class tomorrow, for which I also need to read another story (gah, must breathe) and submit a vignette that should contain these words: discover, subterranean, shoes, compatibility, and murder. And, just so there's no pressure or anything, our venerable teacher Butch Dalisay requires that we write "fiction that matters."


The food's all done and waiting for The Coach, the kitchen floor's mopped free of stray garlic peel and tomato sauce, and the house is being aired out of the smell of anchovies.

I'm closeted in our bedroom, the curtains swept to the side so I can look out to the skyline for those times when I need inspiration for the vignette. The TV's turned on so I won't feel like I'm missing out on today's Law and Order. My fingers are poised over the QWERTYs.

Several long gazes at the skyline later, I still don't have a clue how to string the five words together. (It's the subterranean that's killing me.)

What was it that Butch said last week? "Fiction: Do it well. Do it honestly."

Well, here I am, honest to the bone, and I remain bereft of a workable plot. So I blog. Particularly about what Janet Burroway said of the paradox of least wanting to do what we most want to do: "We are in love with words except when we have to face them."

This difficulty is my fault, of course. My writing muscles have stultified from disuse.

According to Burroway, "The habit of mind that produces stories is a habit and can be cultivated, so that the more and the longer you write, the less likely you are to run out of ideas." Writing, she says, is mind-farming: "You have to plow, plant, weed, and hope for growing weather. Why a seed turns into a plant is something you are never going to understand, and the only relevant response to it is gratitude. You may be proud, however, of having plowed."

Time, then, to dig through the dirt. I will remember the poet William Stafford's advice to his students to "write to their lowest standard."


Maryanne Moll said...

Hey, Janet. At least your dry spell could be over soon. Mine is still Sahara-like.

janet said...

I hope so, Maryanne! :) And that yours will end soon.