I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
On the first of each month, a guest writer shares how he or she spends the day.
December 1, 2014: BK Loren
This past March at the Writing by Writers Boulder Workshop, BK Loren said, “Strip away to the core that is you.”
What you think is your voice isn’t. You’re not writing from your voice just because you’re writing. You have to strip away to get to you.
Getting to me is where I struggle the most. And not just with fiction, also with bios. I don’t want to be only facts and figures. But who the heck am I? After reading BK’s website bio, I have such a sense of her.
I was born premature. That was the end of my precociousness. Mostly, I have spent my life trying to find quiet jobs that allow some psychological space where I can write in my head as I work. I’ve worked on a ranch, in a candy factory (Russell Stover), in retail stores selling shoes. I’ve built furniture, cooked for a gourmet catering service in NYC, cooked, also, in a weird little cafe run by a reverend healer who cured people’s ailments with a pendulum and herbs. I was an aide on a locked psych ward, a tenured college professor, a graphic artist, a UPS driver, and now and again I still work as a professional brainstormer for branding companies. I was extremely grateful for the chance to go to college (it was never a given), but I also feel that these life experiences inform my writing as much as any class ever has. The publishing editor of my first book told me I wrote like I was raised by wolves. I try to live up to that daily.
In our writing, BK argues that the sound of words matters. Take the example of “I had a bad day” versus “I had a rough day.”
Action and texture make the brain light up. Pondering stuff just sends the brain to the language center.
Notice the sound of the words at the beginning of her first novel, Theft, where we’re in young Willa’s point of view. Notice also how we’re drawn in with details and hooked by story.
On a stand next to a cushioned chair there’s a pair of glasses. Black rims, smudged lenses, across the back of the chair a leather belt, the third hole sticking out like a belly button, the notch there worn deep, someone’s hands cinching that belt every morning, gut hanging over, white sports shirt tucked in, I can see it all. It’s my shortcoming, says Zeb. I see the people who live in a place, not their belongings, and I’ve got no eye for stealing. But I’m learning.
And here’s a paragraph I love from her essay, “Back Words” in Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family and Food. The language reminds me of my ongoing (and slow going) Shakespeare odyssey.
I would like to be a fool. I would like to say hello when I am leaving, goodbye when I am coming. In this manner, I would remember, from the beginning, the potential for loss, and so might learn to treasure before losing; as I bid farewell, I would remember the potential for return, all things circling as they do, into something like fullness, small moments of completion that weave together, like Penelope’s cloth, doing and undoing themselves by turns, an unfinished pattern that guides a weary traveler home, as when Athena says to Odysseus, “Keep the unnameable word in your heart,” and the man, poor rational hero, remains adrift for yet another decade, trying to speak what could not be spoken–the word in his heart, his home; the journey at hand, his home.
Come back on DECEMBER 1st to read how BK LOREN spends her days.