I spent another day courting my ideas, sitting at the desk with them and letting them stir just beyond the corner of my eye. It seemed as though nothing were happening, but then I had a title for this essay, and the title showed me where I really wanted to go, just as where I really wanted to go showed me my title. So now it all starts: I just have to be calm enough to be here, alert and quiet and receptive, when everything percolates. Remember the little glass top on the percolator? If I had one of those on the top of my head, you'd be seeing my ideas bubble up, any time now.
There is a joy in this process that is, in no small part, the joy of knowing that it is my process and that my process doesn't have to be anyone else's--not my prolific neighbor's, not my peers at other schools, not anyone else. The people I love and admire most in the world are the people who are solid and secure enough to do their brilliant things in their own brilliant ways. My way is so celebratory of the unruly life of texts (whether they're books or films or whatever) that I can't even force myself to speed up too much and risk missing a turn in the story, a detail in the description.
When I'd first finished grad school and began teaching full-time, I remember saying to someone, "This is how I'm going to become sane." Something about the near-dailiness of teaching helped me to see that every single class session couldn't be perfect, and that everyone was still going to learn something if I just did my best, even if my best on a particular day wasn't quite what I'd have wished it could be. In the past week or so, I've gained tiny glimpses of ways in which I could be a sane writer. Most of those ways have to do with finally accepting what I actually do, rather than feeling, deep down, that I should be doing what other people do.
This light isn't today's. Today there was no sunlight. Yesterday, though, there was sunlight on tender willows' greening. I am in love with trees. Sometimes I think that I have collected half the trees in Cambridge, even though I know that's not true.