Looking for Light

WHY IS IT that the best writing ideas always hit when there is no time to pursue them?

and by ‘best’ I don’t mean
that which has potential to go viral,
but the thing about which
you realize
you have something to say
that needs to be said somewhere
and your experience has given you insight
and you have interest in the subject
and you have access to resources
and that you would find it fulfilling (albeit challenging)
to do the work?

WHY do ideas come when there’s no time to strike while the passion is hot?

Is it because the mind more open
when it’s easy to commit with words,
to say “THAT’s what I ought to write about!”
when certainly nobody will be expecting you
to do it, not at this time?

Or does the idea come at that time
because of that old saw
about busy people –
If you want something done, ask a busy person
suggesting a body in motion
tends to stay in motion
and so it’s the heat of current activity
that’s generating creative sparks,
inviting inspiration,
asking to be used to the fullest?
Is that why the ideas popcorn out?

And one teeters dangerously close
to falling into “if only” mode?
IF ONLY I wasn’t  . . .
I could do it.

Thereby we are rendered deaf
quite often.

* * *

a lamp actually,
a lamp
just so high
just so wide
casting light in just such a way
giving me a certain feeling
when I see it,
a feeling I can’t describe
but I’ll know it when it hits.

I searched
then gave up,
called away by the need to tend to people.
Important, that.

And then just last week
in the middle of tending to tasks people,
running errands to fill needs,
I exit a shop,
laden down, hands full, arms full.

A lamp
across the street
in the window of a consignment shop
catches my eye,
calls to me.

But I’m not thinking about that now.
I’m not worrying about a lamp for that window now.
I have people needing this and that
and appointments to be here and there
and only a sliver of time today
and my arms are full.

Doesn’t God know
that finding a lamp
is not on my day’s agenda?

But, ah, I am not Zechariah,
failing to recognize an answer coming,
the very thing.

Why is it the best things come
not when we are free
but when we are deeply engaged
and the mere suggestion
that we consider it
makes us roll our eyes?

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning
– Luke 12:35


carolina in my mind

I am on the road today, James Taylor’s “Carolina in my Mind” playing, thoughts swirling on some big writing projects, what to keep, trash, rework, blog about, send off, check on the status of…yikes!

Good time for a road trip!


The REAL Reason for highway rest stops

Driving home from NC in April,
I was desperate to find a rest area,
not for the usual reason,
but to jot down the many ideas
that had popped into my head as I drove north.

Nothing like a long drive
to get my mind wandering.

The first thing I wrote:
“I now know the REAL reason
they have rest areas…
so writers have a place to pull over
and offload their thoughts.”
(I just found that paper yesterday.)

“Driving kicks over my writing engine…lets me write full throttle…,” writes Julia Cameron, and she includes a quote from Steven Spielberg: “Why is it that I get my best ideas while driving?

Cameron credits the act of getting out, being able to see off in the distance and the flow of images coming at us as the pot-stirrers of our thoughts. The pressing matters that usually consume us are temporarily pushed off to the side. What did writers do before cars were invented?

In defense of all this seeming craziness, The New York Times ran a story just this past week on the Virtues of a Wandering Mind.:-)

Q: Are painters, cooks, business managers, singers, teachers, knitters and others similarly affected? I might think about this on my next drive.

Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life (New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, 1998), 195.

This post is part of an ongoing discussion at The High Calling Blogs book club.