Sunday, December 4, 2011

Vanquishing the Gila Monsters of Writing: Reflections on Staying in the Moment as I Walk My Dog

By Chris Mathews

What advice on writing can I add to the nebulas already out there. I am just now beginning my own journey as a writer (although I have published a one-act play Gargoyles) and continue on the more important quest to become a better person. What is a writer but a person who has trained himself to be more aware of the world? By learning to live more in the moment, I hope to make my two journeys as a writer and a person coalesce. Maybe my words will help you in some way vanquish that writer’s fear of fears, that Gila Monster of self-doubt-- the blank page.

Staying in the moment, a concept so crucial to theatre is also a technique that any writer must practice. I believe all human beings should learn to live in the moment. For me walking my rat-terrier Little Bro allows me to do this. In fact, I have begun to practice this concept by writing what I call Broems, poems about my moment-to-moment journey with Bro.

I believe all of us in this increasingly complex, technological whirl of a world need to soak up the moment—not allow all our free time to be taken up with thoughts of work. Electronic devices and multi-tasking have only left us with tunnel vision—the inability to see what is really all around us. Tunnel vision is the enemy of good writing and good living because we are locking out our senses—the vital organs of all good writing. I am not proposing that writers don’t need focus, just that they need to be able to take in the present with their senses so that they can keep the reader alive in the moment and not sidetracked outside the world they are creating. Writers and all people should spend time living in the moment.

I manage to do this with varying degrees of success when I take Little Bro for walks. These little jaunts have become for me a time of great discovery and pleasure. In a real sense, I am practicing a skill that I can apply to my writing, which I want to resonate with readers. First, however, I must relearn those ways of perceiving we all had as children.

Here is a “Broem” where I have tried to practice staying in the moment.

Night Clouds

Night clouds envelop the moon
Its swift passing upwards
Not to my dog
Little Bro.
He doesn’t know,
As he tests the blades of grass
Each one
For forgotten whiffs.
This one smells like chickweed.
This one sassafras
No, maybe not.
He doesn’t know those words
Only the smells which
Circulate through
Celestial chambers
Layers piled upon layers
Of ripeness and rightness.
He pees.
The moon rises
Time goes on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Staying in the moment, a concept so crucial to theatre is also a technique that any writer must practice. ---great line to remember