Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Hundred Zulu Warriors

I feel like I must apologize for the sluggishness of my blogging of late. When not wrapped up in wrapping up Christmas parcels, or mailing them off (3 shopping bags full), I have been otherwise engaged in rotten fretting over an ailing leg and knee. It keeps me tense, stressed, and wanting to hide out--instead of ex-cogitating, being creative, or thinking up ways to see the next essay in my mind's eye.

Besides, 'tis the season to be jolly, and I'm having a hard time getting up the stairs. And, I don't like to blog unless I've got something cogent to say about the world. But then, enough is enough, and duty eventually calls. The show must go on. I open up the one book that I keep right next to my computer at all times for random inspiration: Annie Dillard's "The Writer's Life." And, beckoning sublimely, she is right there for me!

"Remarkably material also is the writer's attempt to control his own energies so he can work. He must be sufficiently excited to rouse himself to the task at hand, and not so excited he cannot sit down to it....If you were a Zulu warrior banging on your shield with your spear for a couple of hours along with a hundred other Zulu warriors, you might be able to prepare yourself to write...."

Thing of it is, I can't seem to find my spear. And I have nothing to bang on either.

"If you were an Aztec maiden who knew months in advance that on a certain morning the priests were going to throw you into a hot volcano, and if you spent those months undergoing a series of purification rituals and drinking dubious liquids, you might, when the time came, be ready to write. But how, if you are neither Zulu warrior nor Aztec maiden, do you prepare yourself, all alone, to enter an extraordinary state on ordinary mornings?"

Carrot juice and slow walks on the treadmill don't cut the mustard.

"How to set yourself spinning? Where is an edge--a dangerous edge--and where is the trail to the edge and the strength to climb it?"

Ideally, every writer needs a personal GPS and/or two working legs. Without them, the trail remains both elusive and unnavigable.

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