You Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello

by lisa st john

The scariest moment is always just before you start. Stephen King

 

doorGoodbye 24 year teaching career. Hello writing life. Is it that simple, though? I thought I could teach full time and write part-time, but that proved impossible. The kids will always come first, and they should. But, maybe I can write full time and teach part-time. I can still advise the Poetry Club, and I can substitute teach (whatever these things will look like in September). Teaching isn’t something you ever really stop–it’s a calling, like writing.

It’s easier to say goodbye than hello because hello is the unknown. Hello is walking into a party alone when you’re not sure why you showed up at all when you could be home with a good book. Can you tell that quarantine hasn’t been that big of a stretch for me?

Van Morrison captures how I feel in his lines, “If my heart could do my thinking and my head began to feel…I’d know what’s truly real.” (“I Forgot that Love Existed“) I thought I could structure my day, being the ADD and OCD Virgo (B******t) that I am, like I did at school. Monday mornings will be editing time, Monday afternoons for poetry writing, Tuesday mornings for memoir writing, et cetera.

But art isn’t like that.

I need to wake up and listen to my body, not my brain. Suzi Banks Baum teaches this when she states that creative practice is, “… a way of bypassing my head that yearns for product-oriented work and allows me to dwell lushy in the wisdom of the feminine.”

chaos

Lest anyone think I have traded in my atheistic rationality for some hoo-doo (I wouldn’t want my Skeptic Society card taken away), let me just say that spiritual connection to the muse is no joke. Elizabeth Gilbert explains it well in her TED Talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius.” I rewatch it whenever that smoky, dark fungus called you can’t comes creeping around.

I’ve found that sometimes I work best in chaos. The jackhammer tearing up the old stairs to make way for a new room, the cars going by, the radio (sometimes) on–this is good. Often, I work best outside hoping for hummingbird sightings and grateful that my living space gets so much bigger in the good weather.

blueSo, I started listening to myself each morning. Do I feel a new blog post coming on? Is that poem ready for submission? Should I continue with the memoir? Maybe I should finish reading that novel first. Then there is the daunting task of social media and platform promotion. I might journal or take an online workshop. I could walk the property and look for spiderwebs in the dew. I can check Twitter and see what everyone is saying about Henry James’ Turn of the Screw in a virtual book club discussion via A Public Space. 

In Ruminate’s “The Waking,” Sophfronia Scott, calls it non-writing writing, this time spent with writing but not…writing. So if people ask how much I write a day, I cannot respond in numbers. It’s either a good writing day or it’s not.

Hello, goodbye…both ends and beginnings.

Today was a good day.flower

 

 

 

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Anna Augustine
Anna Augustine
3 months ago

Love you and enjoy!

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