Bright, Lucid, and Clear

When I was at the Los Angeles Public Library earlier this year, I photographed the step fountains on the way up to the entrance coming in from Flower Street, and was drawn in by their names:  Bright, Lucid, and Clear. Designed by Bertram Goodhue, the building’s architect, they are meant to support the library’s theme, “The Light of Learning.” http://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/lapl/history-printed-word-step-step. For me, they represent states of being that I find sublime and elusive, that I am perpetually seeking and only occasionally finding.Bright

For a couple of weeks, I have felt the opposite: dim, vague, and clouded. I was sick, my husband was sick, and we were sorting stacks of receipts for taxes. Some projects and deadlines were only haphazardly accomplished and met. I thought about what Elizabeth Berg says about deadlines and writing in her book, Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True:  “I believe it’s critically important to try for a certain church and state-like separation” (131). Nonetheless, I was glad to meet at least one deadline. We had a series of events scheduled, but only made it to about half of them, the house got cluttered, and the mail piled up. I had the ongoing feeling I was spinning my wheels in the mud.

On the upside, friends from Virginia have been visiting, and I spent time with them along with other close friends, which was entirely enlivening, and I felt bright and present. The poetry reading on February 21 (last week’s post) was a high point. Somehow, preparing the poems and reading them was galvanizing and uplifting. On that day, I was lucid for at least an hour. LucidCold remedies and medications have prevented me from feeling clear, but I did have a few moments of recognizing what I need to do for the continuing path I am following. Perhaps the clearest moment was one of appreciating the beauty of a beach sunset.ClearBeachsunset

Copies of the most recent issue of Westview arrived, a literary journal published by Southwestern Oklahoma State University, featuring three of my poems. They included visuals with all of them, which was a pleasant surprise to me. One of the poems was an elegy for my father who passed away in 2009. I am gratified that it found a home. I also managed to get some new poems written and hope to send them out this week. Continue, stay on the path, seek illumination, I tell myself.

Westview1

What conditions assist you with your tasks and projects? Or what beliefs and approaches? Here’s wishing all of you the experience of feeling bright, lucid, and clear!

Berg, Elizabeth. Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True.  New York: HarperCollins, 1999.

A Room With a View

I am looking out of the window from our hotel room at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, California. Thankfully, for this professional conference my husband is attending, we were given a room that faces the Los Angeles Public Library, an historic and beautiful building. The hotel itself is the location for several films: In the Line of Fire, True Lies, and Nick of Time, to name a few.IMG_2800Film crews have been setting up all day to film at 5th Street and Flower just beside the library, and I have enjoyed watching them unload huge lights, gigantic cord spirals, and other items I do not recognize. Amplifiers and generators? Storage containers? Electric tools? They have built a structure that looks like a portion of the street after an explosion, and now they are spreading around a black powder that will likely produce some special effects. We were told by the hotel staff that there will be shooting sounds and a car explosion at 10 p.m. tonight. With such a lively and interesting view, I am writing, contentedly settled at the desk in our room, where I will be for several more hours.IMG_2813I know many writers, poets, painters, and musicians, and as you would expect, they all have individual methods for their work, settings they like, environmental preferences. As Alexandra Enders noted in her article called “The Importance of Place: Where Writers Write and Why”:

Conrad Aiken worked at a refectory table in the dining room; Robert Graves
wrote in a room furnished only with objects made by hand. Ernest Hemingway
wrote standing up; D. H. Lawrence under a tree. . . Ben Franklin wrote in the
bathtub, Jane Austen amid family life, Marcel Proust in the confines of his bed.

She also notes that many writers “choose libraries, intermediate spaces that aren’t totally isolated but are quiet, protected, and controlled.” When I toured the Los Angeles Public Library earlier today, I felt myself being drawn to the quiet spaces scattered here and there, especially spaces that displayed tables.IMG_2815I am ultra-sensitive to the environment wherever I am. My long-suffering husband is the exact opposite. He can thrive and work almost anywhere, especially if he has a cup of coffee. My friends know that the ambiance in any given restaurant is supremely important, and it may take me a few minutes to select the right spot (away from bright light, chairs not too hard, tables not wobbly, tasteful décor, no brash TV noises, no traffic behind my chair). Thankfully, they usually allow me to select the space. My senses are so acute that loud noises can seem traumatic, bright light can feel like an assault, and the wrong person seated in the next booth or at the next table can ruin the day’s experience.  At home, I can create the right environment, and when we are traveling or venturing out, I love it when an opportune setting is available. This desk at the Bonaventure is now a sacred spot, and as the sun and clouds shift and create new moods on the landscape, I am having a productive writing day.

Earlier, I sat in the lobby, and I occasionally venture out to hotel lobbies to think and write. The Bonaventure lobby is splendid for many reasons, not the least of which is the beautiful fountain. People watching, the sound of water splashing, a sound table and a chair that doesn’t wobble — these are gifts.IMG_2771 (1)What is the setting in which you write? Are you particular or easygoing about your setting? Do you require certain accouterments? Whatever the case, we all seem to find our way through whatever impediments present themselves. Vive la différence!

Enders, Alexandra. “The Importance of Place: Where Writers Write and Why.” Poets and Writers: The Literary Life. March/April 2008. Web 30 Jan 2016.