Tuesday, December 05, 2006

opporknockity tunes in*

You know? I keep reading about these writers who say in interviews how they sit down to the blank page and certain characters just show up. I never understood that. What do they mean, show up? You mean they knock on the door and introduce themselves? And tell you what they want to do next?

What kind of mess is that?

But then every morning I get up and get the kids off to school, and then I have a cup of coffee and tape down a few sheets of watercolor paper to wet down and size. I lay in a few washes and then start working with the forms that appear. And certain images do have a way of just sort of materializing and then hanging out a while.

And I didn't plan that. But I enjoy it. It's like opening a window and letting serendipity skate around the page a little.

I finally get it -- what my art school teachers used to talk about. How I should jump into the picture and just let things happen. How not everything can be controlled and how you have to be ready to push the edge just a little bit further than you're ready for. That if you got this far once, you can get there again -- messing up is not really possible.

That there is no perfect state of being, in life or on paper. It's only ever just a sort of loose manipulation of what you've already got to work with. It's not ever irretrievably lost or absolutely perfect; it's just a matter of degrees in any given direction.

This imaginative realm is starting to get to me, though. I drove past a field with a white horse kneeling in it the other day and I could have sworn what I saw was a unicorn. No kidding. I had to look twice to make sure.

Whatever medicine I'm on, it's clear that I need more of it. Or, um, less.

And then this afternoon, I was out shopping and a woman in the next aisle turned to me and started to speak. "Do you think...." she said loudly. Then her voice faltered and broke off and she stood there, awkwardly.

She cleared her throat. "I thought you were my friend, see," she admitted. "But then I looked at you and realized you're not."

I smiled politely to ease her embarassment: "That's okay." But it felt slightly hurtful anyway. Run the sentence over in your head and you realize it's something you never want to hear someone say to you. I thought you were my friend, but now I realize you're not.

I left the store feeling thoughtful, a paragraph of text or two running in my head toward a story I might never write.