Just finished a big project. Afterward, I lay with my back on the floor and stared up at the ceiling and considered – WOW. The world remains intact. Still carpet. Still a popcorn ceiling and the lingering smell of chicken for dinner. Right in front of me, another human face. Family! Friends! This, after weeks of Massive Writing Days — when my eyes felt stretched and over-big, doing things like rubbing my face and popping Starlight Mints and exceeding recommended caffeine levels. At all times, the book danced on the backs of my eyelids like REM sleep.
I did not, during this period, send many emails. I did not make social media posts. Accordingly, I was needled by the impish cousin of guilt — The ShouldBe. Whispering: Psssst, you shouldbe better at scheduled updates. You shouldbe sharing clever posts about yourself. Shoulbe tweeting, streaming, marketing — I’ve listened to The ShouldBe for years. But I’m starting to disagree.
I’ve had torrents of words rushing through me lately, so I’m going to lean on the words of someone else. I’d like to borrow from Mary Oliver on the nature of art and creative work. This passage comes from her final book of essays, Upstream:
There is a notion that creative people are absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true (. . . ) It is six a.m. and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.
Her words. I love and feel them ring true. I am glad she missed the meeting and burned the beans to bring them into the world. A hundred meals without mustard. A thousand emails unsent.
I will post more messages. I have a vague idea I’d like to repost abbreviated versions of my mailing list letters ever Wednesday or maybe every Sunday? I will try, but I am primarily a humble servant of The Vision. So if you do not find an update here — rejoice.
P.S. (Extended version of this message originally sent to email subscribers– embark here.)