“For me, being in prison writing in an African language was a way of saying: "Even if you put me in prison, I will keep on writing in the language which made you put me in prison."
Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Bring the writer with you, wherever you are –
As life changes and disrupts our routines we can write from wherever we are, with whatever we have in the moment.
Time and structure can be a friend to the writer-- until they are absent.
Then, what does the writer do? When life interrupts our way of doing things?
Have you heard of Ngugi Wa Thiong'o who wrote an entire book on toilet paper from prison? He decided to “write a novel during his detention as a way of resisting.”
“Ngũgĩ had neither a writing implement nor anything to write on. He solved the first problem by getting a guard to lend him a pen on the pretext that he wanted to write a confession. He solved the second one by writing his novel on toilet paper that was rather hard and tough, fortunately. It was poor toilet paper, but fairly good writing paper.” More from this article: HERE
When structure or safety are gone, come to the page differently, write a poem instead of working on your essay, novel or memoir. Write a song or a letter to the dead.
Take notes about what is arriving around you now. Is it related to what you want to be writing about? Notice that. Write about that.
You may discover other words and worlds that want to come to you and to the page. Let that happen.
What season are you in? Be present in a way that reminds you of where you are through contact with the outdoors: go for a walk, garden, pick berries, swim, transplant a bush, look at the night sky, listen the the birds and life awake at the hour of predawn.
Take your field notebook.
You are not lost.
You are just wandering and wondering where you are.
Write from there.
Write about being here.
Jot down what you notice, think, hear, feel, smell, taste
Instead of being concerned about where you put your time (what you are doing with your time), consider instead––
Wondering where your time has put you.
“I don’t know where I am from”
her face glimmers
like that first morning star I saw that time in Utah
Her body disappears into the sheets of blue pink sky
She hasn’t eaten for days
Life is getting re-ordered
Through dis-ease, letting go
“Did we walk in together?”
Don’t be fooled
Thinking that you are separated
from the lamp that moved with you four times
or the half-filled journals were wasted, or that the Hostas won’t miss you
each object has known you
like no other
Don’t be fooled
Believing that your loved one has forgotten you
she has not
you are here, there,
part of her air
or a memory that chases her home
no need to make a fuss
Don’t be worried
The direction is always forward
For each of us
through this gate
And then that one
Until the last one that will swing open
then out. One final time.
Her gaps between breaths
get longer and longer
Has she stopped breathing altogether?
As her body re-members to forget
to just breathe.
–Hospice, written as I sit with a friend