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By Lois Levinson
I admit that I do not have a consistent writing practice. I have struggled to find the right space, both physical and psychological, that is the most conducive to my creative process. At first it seemed simple enough. After listening to Chris Ransick’s Lit fest craft seminar last year on creating your personal bliss station, I was certain I could find that spot within my house. So, like Goldilocks, I moved from one writing surface to another, one room to another, finding one too hard, another too soft, one just right but for its central location in a room without doors.
Having migrated back to my original desk with computer and printer, but unable to get into a consistent writing practice, I eagerly signed up for Doug Kurtz’s Lit Fest craft seminar on Writing Environment, Rituals and Practices. Doug quickly twanged the raw nerve of my problem. He posed the question: In what way are the conditions of your writing environment causing anxiety? Me, anxious? Yeah.
For me, fear of being interrupted at any moment while I am writing is a major cause of anxiety. And potential interruptions abound in my house. My husband, who is also retired, is around most days, busy and full of ideas which he would like to share. With me. Now. Our adult son, now living with us, is in and out of the house between school and two jobs. Both feel absolutely free to pop into my space at any time to report on just about anything that’s on their respective minds. Admittedly, I have spoiled them over the years with my imitation of rapt attention to their every need. Then there are our two dogs, and my son’s lab puppy, all of whom need to be recognized, loved, validated, fed, comforted during thunderstorms and taken out. And did I mention the two parrots? In short, there’s always someone who needs something from me. Or might very soon.
That’s when the revelation came. It became clear to me that, in order to write, I must get out of the house. Where to go? Coffee house, library, bookstore? Possibly. And then it hit me. I can combine the two great passions of my life: birdwatching and writing. Grab the binoculars AND the notebook, go to the park or the foothills, anywhere there are interesting birds to see, walk, observe, and sit down and write. I have heard that there is something about forward movement that is conducive to stimulating the creative process. Birds have inspired many of my poems, and observation of their behaviors often prompts me to write, even when the poem is not about birds.
I have Doug to thank for inspiring me to create a safe and inviolable zone in which to write. If anyone needs me, I’ll be on one of the trails in Mt. Falcon Open Space, sitting on a rock or a downed tree trunk, writing poetry.