Sunday gratitude, with a side of sleep and musings

View of art
Art at the Best of the Northwest Festival, as seen from the Cloudlift Cellars table in the Wine Garden.

I’m thankful I’ve been able to get up each morning and do my journaling–for making that time even when it’s cold and dark and I’ve slept terribly. I give myself that, and I’m grateful.

I’m also thankful for moments of focus, and those moments when I’m deep in a poem and not thinking about not being good enough or the poem not working or all the readings I haven’t gone to or general anxiety (not of influence, but of failure). I had a few of those moments this afternoon. I had to trade social time with the Seattle Poets (sorry poets, and I missed you!) for writing time, but I’m so thankful for the writing time and for the focus.

I’m thankful for about 10 hours of sleep last night, which I clearly needed and likely helped with that focus.

This week, I’m especially thankful for inspiration–and it’s been a week for it.

Yesterday, I poured wine for Cloudlift Cellars at the Best of the Northwest Festival, which meant that I got to wander around first and see all kinds of art. All these ideas expressed. All these colors. I was struck by all the time. I thought about all the experiments, all the failures, all the practice, all the craft–those 10,000 hours. Wow.

Thursday, I went to Seattle Arts and Lectures to hear Maggie Nelson and Eileen Myles. I arrived ridiculously early, so I sat in the theatre and pretended to rest (hoping perhaps I could fool myself). As I sat in the nearly empty theatre, I started to think about Telegraph Avenue and Michael Chabon and what would it be like to be Michael Chabon and write these long- and wide-ranging books, to dive deep into many subjects. What would it be like to wake up each day and continue your discovery of this world you were creating? What would it be like to wake up each day and write?

Then, after a wonderful poem by a young student (“radio static” was one of my favorite images), Maggie Nelson came on. First she read from The Art of Cruelty. Then she read from Bluets, which I’ve had on my shelf for a while and haven’t read, but now I feel like I have a proper introduction.

What would it be like to wake up each morning as Maggie Nelson and write and research and write?

Then Eileen Myles began to read. Can we say, “charisma”? Can we say, “magnetic”? Can we say we’d just like to follow her around and see what she comes up with next? What would it be like to wake up each morning as Eileen Myles and write?

You’re probably seeing a pattern here.

And then, because it’s Seattle Arts and Lectures, both writers sat down for a question and answer session, so we got to learn–maybe–a little about how they approach their writing.

(Sidebar: According to Ms. Myles, all poems are about sex. This could be a weak part of my poetry, because I’m pretty sure that most of my poems aren’t about sex. And here I’ve been fretting over stories and images. Whoops! And is there a cocktail called a Sidebar? There should be.)

I always love hearing other artists–any genre–talk about their work, making their work, how they bring it together, what inspires them. That inspires me. It gives me new ideas.

I’m thankful for some new ideas, even if they’re mostly about what it might be like to wake up as _____ and live the writing life.

But now it’s time to cook salmon and lentils.

Open the door. Open my heart.