Well, I am a writer. That’s all. And sometimes writing is very fluid and it takes me somewhere and how grateful I am in those moments, and how amazed. But then sometimes it is like chopping wood. It hurts and it’s repetitious and the wood pile grows so you and your beloved will be warm another day and night but that’s all you can say for it. And it’s enough but still. Still.
What I am saying is, if you care about the product, the object – about the poem, and who reads it, and who loves it, and who buys it, and how much acclaim it affords you – then you’re in trouble. No matter how much attention you get, it won’t be enough. You will die hungry, empty in a not-good way, like a beggar just outside the banquet hall, crows calling dibs on his bones.
But if you care about the writing as a process – like loving a river not for where it goes or for what it gives you but just because it’s fast and lovely and changes with the light of the day and the season of the year – then you have a chance. You have a chance to learn what happiness is, and Truth. You have a chance to catch a glimpse of what is eternal and joyous and loving. And that glimpse will be like a light making safe and clear the next steps, which are not a journey, but a sort of dance with God, a sort of slow and sensuous tumble into the arms of the Beloved, where you belong, and where your writing longs to take you.
So you have to write, a lot, more than a lot, and you have to write when it is cold and difficult, and you have to be willing to be alone, and then more alone, until your loneliness is like all the ice in the world enfolded around your heart, numbing your brain to where all that remains are your favorite words – not even that much – your favorite sounds, one or two syllables only. You have to become mute, fallen, cast out, broken, shunned by your savior, vilified by family. You have to give up everything, even writing itself, and not just metaphorically but really. None of this is a metaphor. If you think it is a metaphor then you are in trouble. Real trouble.
And I am saying that after a long time alone, with only a blunt prayer remaining, with the name of the Beloved the dimmest of dim memories, then a hand may emerge from the darkness to lift you. I don’t say when, I say may. May. You will write it not because you are a writer but because you emptied yourself to make room for what is given, and what is given now manifests through you in language, as for others it manifests in painting or song, or baking or dance, or running or sewing. Who cares? You can’t possibly care when at last the Beloved has given you Her hand, has allowed you to touch the Hem of her gown which is the universe itself, which is life itself. How blessed that moment is, where what matters is the touch – endless exquisite ecstatic – and what does or doesn’t emerge from it is simply flotsam, no matter how excellent, no matter how lovely.
You live forever in Her grace, not in what you make of Her grace.
Are you called? You are called. She always calls. She is always looking for you in the ash heap of the world, the ruins of your cheap loves, your compromised kisses, and the soiled echoes of your crappy songs. She is always out where the forsaken have lost even their faith in begging for mercy. And She comes to you so softly you nearly miss it. You have missed it. You always miss it. And yet she comes to you again, as if what is broken does not interest her, as if what matters is the calling, not the call and not the answer. Listen! In the darkness of 3 a.m., listen. In the frozen forest, listen. Always and everywhere, listen. She says to you that your suffering was only a dream. She says to you the long and hideous drama never occurred. It isn’t over, it never happened. Write it down so you remember, She says. I am you writing, She says. I am writing writing, writing you. And so you do. At last you do. You write. You write yes. And yes. You write yes. Yes.