My days, and my mind, are awash in scenes from 75 years ago as I navigate through my current fiction-in-progress.
Once again, I’ve been pondering that curious energetic contrast between those I see everywhere talking on phones and looking at their screens, and the mood of a time when people actually left a room when someone received a call, as a sign of respect and courtesy.
No one could have imagined overhearing something so private — so singular, even. Because people only used a telephone when what they needed to share was of significance. I imagine people back then would have found it hard to imagine using one to distract yourself, or to try not to be alone with your own company.
How can I miss a time I was never actually part of? And yet, I do; my soul does.
I love to linger in its slower, gentler rhythms as I attempt to shape story out of what I encounter within history and my self. I imagine many writers of historic fiction and nonfiction must do the same.
I appreciate anew the thoughts novelist Elizabeth Gilbert shared in an interview with Karen Bouris in Original Story:
“I think creativity is entirely a spiritual practice. It has defined my entire life to think of it that way. When I hear the way some people speak about their work, people who are in creative fields who either attack themselves, or attack their work, or treat it as a burden rather than a blessing, or treat it as something that needs to be fought and defeated and beaten. . . . There is a war that people go to with their creative path that is very unfamiliar to me. To me, it feels like a holy calling and one that I am grateful for.
… I was given a contract, and the contract is: ‘We are not going to tell you why, but we gave you this capacity. Your side of the contract is that you must devote yourself to this in the highest possible manner, you must approach it with the greatest respect, and you must give your whole self to this. And then we will work with you on making progress.’ That’s sort of what it feels like for me.”
The entire interview can be seen at http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?sid=413