Quoth the Raven
Every so often I work on a Saturday. It is voluntary but I wake up, begrudgingly put on my favorite weekend jeans, work spectacles (totally made that part up) and head out the door. It never fails that my house always feels extra comfy. The perfect amount of early morning sunlight is pouring in through the gaps in the shades. The quiet of the night is still wrapped around my children and my husband is lying in the shape of a spoon, his warm body practically magnetic as it tugs me back towards the bed.
It always sucks.
This morning, I dutifully put in a few hours at the office. Getting a head start on the coming week and tying up loose ends from the week before. I practically darted out of my office shortly after 2, leaping into my car and letting my foot fall heavy on the accelerator as my SUV whizzed through the winding roads on my way home.
As I entered the final leg of my trip, a light rain began to mist through the gray sky. I turned on my wipers as I rolled onto the 'on' ramp of the highway and looked up, noticing two large black ravens perched on top of a green and white highway sign. The bird on the right had his wings stretched wide and the other bird, wings closed, was at its side, likely not feeling a drop of rain as it was shielded by the wings of the other bird. I slowed down, observing the birds while trying to watch the road, looking back in my rear view mirror as I passed them by - wondering if I just witnessed a strange coincidence or if I could have possibly witnessed some sort of love and/or protectiveness in a species I usually give little thought. Was it a private display of bird monogamy? Bird partners taking a moment to look out on the world as one bird kept the other bird dry? Was it bird parenting? A momma-bird protecting her bird child from large drops of rain falling from the ominous sky? Or was it merely two thoughtless birds, one with wings spread ready for flight and an insignificant, unknown bird that just happened to get it the way?
I totally over thought it.
I've been quieting myself lately. In Stephen King's book On Writing, he devotes a large part of his book to work ethic and taking yourself seriously as a writer/artist. He maintains that, in order to fulfill your potential as a writer, you must eliminate every possible distraction. His says, "When you write, you want to get rid of the world, do you not? Of course you do. When you're writing, you're creating your own worlds."
And because I have made a commitment to be a life long pupil of the craft, I am following his advice. I have seriously cut down on my television watching and have been off social networking sites since November. I have forced myself to be comfortable with the silence (that rare occurrence when the boys aren't screaming) and depart with unnecessary distraction.
The result: I make up stories about birds in my car.
The goal, according to King, is to unleash the muse. His chomps a cigar. Mine has a big fro and writes in silky lavender lingerie (I'm allergic to silk). This exercise in heightened awareness has not only been good for my writing, it's good for my soul. I am sitting at my kitchen table right now and I can smell the scent of the tomatoes and pepper that floats through the air from dinner. I can hear the hum of the dryer in the basement below me, the tick of the analog clock on the wall behind my head, and the feel of the smooth keys as they meet the balls of my fingertips.
It's kind of awesome.
So folks, what have you done to quiet yourself lately?
More importantly, what do you think those birds were doing?!
I've always been a delinquent facebooker, but now I don't feel guilty about it or like I'm missing out. I still watch a lot of TV/movies (I tell myself it's to help with screenwriting) - almost all scripted dramas. (If you can squeeze a show in I highly recommend Scandal.) I try to watch with a critical eye and think about what's clicking. It's taught me how important relationships are to good stories. If you don't understand the central relationship(s) you can't tell a good story. I'm not reading anywhere near as much as I should. But I've also decided to stop guilting myself - it only adds to the anxiety and exacerbates my writer's block.ReplyDelete
I think the birds siblings and the older on was trying to protect the baby.
I can definitely see how watching TV and movies helps with screenwriting! It has a different impact on novel writing because as a visual medium, it doesn’t rely on language to demonstrate setting. That being said, you can't beat the inspiration that watching a good story gives you AND I still have shows I can't miss - Scandal being one of them (and Walking Dead and Game of Thrones when it finally returns) but I am trying to limit my television/movie watching to a few hours a week. Did you ever see the movie Little Children? It's a great movie and it's narrated so it is one of those movies that gives you the feel of a good book AND the visual gratification - which is sort of what Woody Allen does for me (I can write a series of posts about my obsession with his movies).Delete
I am in such awe of Game of Thrones. So many bad people doing such terrible things. It is really about the weakness of the human condition and what cowards most of us are when the chips are truly down. But the relationships are what get me. So many of them, so entangled, so fraught, so obscured by lies but the writers don't bog the viewers down and keep the episodes moving at a brisk clip. It's really masterful. The Walking Dead is amazing, and so intense. Little Children - that's Kate Winslet and the prom king if I recall. It's really a great study of the quiet desperation so many people feel. Have you seen Martin Scorcese's The Age of Innocence (based on the Edith Wharton novel)? It's very heavily narrated and Scorcese said he wanted the feeling of having the story read aloud accompanied by moving pictures. It's one of my favorite Scorcese films. But I think The Princess Bride wins the use of narration game.Delete
Bibically speaking, ravens tend to me messengers of a greater purpose. A raven was sent with food in his beak to feed Elijah, the Prophet of God; During the flood of Noah, a raven was sent out from the ark to search for dry land; and in the Song of Solomon, as Solomon is "wooing" his lover, he says that her hair is as that of a raven's. There's great meaning, I believe, in what you saw.ReplyDelete
I think so too, Dina! I have been doing research, here and there, trying to make sense of it and I have found nothing. If I never figure out what it was, I feel privileged to have witnessed it. It's raining here today and I keep looking up and around at traffic signs, electrical wires and rooftops - hoping to see similar behavior but so far no such luck...ReplyDelete