Just came back from an ab fab lunch with the wonderous Brenda Miller. Hung out, had some de'lish Armenian food and generally talked writing. I've been looking forward to seeing her in forever. Our worlds revolve around different suns - hers the University, me the kids and work. She's my memoir writing mentor, the one who showed me the possibilities of lyrical writing, that fiction tools need not be confined to fiction and now, in talking with her, discover the same applies to poetry.
We're both feeling alone, over-'Net, and lacking writing gumption. We see in each other endless possibility, commisserate the slippage of time and the elusiveness of perfect words, perfect subjects, perfect discipline. Connecting is both comforting and invigorating, much like how Richard Bach once described the spiritual path - you can walk toward the sunset, and beckon other on. You can even describe that sunset in perfect detail, each metaphor richer than the next, but really, that Other must walk themselves to the sunset, and even if they follow your footprints, placing toe where you touched your toe, heel where you landed your heel, they will not experience that sunset like you. As philosphers we can point and guide, but we cannot take, are loathe to take, the experience of Being away from anyone else.
What I wanted to know most of all though, was how to make my work more 'spiritual' to which she said she had no idea, it was something she just 'did' in her writing, which is true with my own, I guess. There is no way to show how to do a thing really when it comes to that kind of nuance but to just stumble along and try. I also wanted to know what she remembered most about my writing and she said she remembered Halo Halo Means Mix Mix, that it was playful and so unconventional, my performance being key. She warned though not to imitate myself, to try to replicate what has succeeded before, because that was death to prose and downright boring. When I complained that I didn't trust myself and how I write, she said "None of us do. None of us have that trust." and went on to say that praise was the worst thing, because it had the potential for writers like us to landlock us into 'easy writing' and prevent us from being challenged.
Tough love to hear, but what I /needed/ to hear, that bumbling around, letting the wind carry me from project to project isn't such a bad thing since it produces /something/. That being jealous of other writers is natural if not something to be avoided. Admiration and excitement from reading others work was key. All in all, I'm looking forward to it being a regular thing, she and I, and perhaps the loneliness will be that much less for us both.