My book, "The New Now", was supposed to have been started. The Artist's Way sits next to my bed. I initiated the Morning Pages back in the Fall, having identified the Artist's Way as my guide for this project. Yet somehow, everyhow, I've gone too many directions, and -- well, the Artist's Way sits there by my bed.
Inspiration is elusive, so say those who live their life in search for it. "The New Now" is meant to be written, for you, for me, to fill the widening void of support for how to get through a day once life has shown us it isn't what we thought it was.
I want to write like Virginia Woolf. Michael Cunningham wanted to write like Virginia Woolf too, he's the one who came up with The Hours which, in my mind, is so worthy of her they might have been in the same room when he wrote it.
I have emulated Virginia Woolf. I've followed her every breath, from Bloomsbury to Firle. I have camped out in the gardens of Charleston House and sketched the gatherings, so alive it's as if I sat amongst them. I've read Woolf's biography, I've speculated about her life, analyzed the essays and watched her story dissected on stage.
And now, I have a confession. Despite my dedication, or maybe because of it - I never, not ever got Virginia Woolf. Her words, they're so beautiful and perfectly pitched, but what they mean seem just out of my reach. Like a hanger-on at the cocktail party, nodding and laughing, I've been faking it. As if the language being spoken was one I boasted of, but in fact, only had through high school (a long time ago...)
This confession comes by way of closure, many thanks to Michael Cunningham's essay in Mentors, Muses & Monsters. Cunningham, who sits at Virginia Woolf's right hand, says:
"I was ready... or maybe I should say I was ready to be
ready - for Woolf's sentences. I had not only never seen language like that;
nothing I'd read had prepared me for the fact that a human being could do what
she had done, line by line, using the same ink and paper available to anybody. I
had neither read nor conceived of sentences that complex and muscular and
precise and beautiful. It may, perversely, have helped that I didn't quite
understand what the sentences actually meant. It may have helped free me to
better appreciate their tones and variations, the sheer virtuosity of their
structures and sounds. I remember thinking, Hey, she was doing with language
something like what Jimi Hendrix does with a guitar. Riffing, that
is, as only a genius can; finding over and over again an exquisite balance
between recklessness and control, between chaos and pattern."
So now I see. Virginia Woolf wrote not to be gotten. She is the true conduit, she provides life and truth, fulfillment and disappointment, bypainting them into a picture we cock our heads one way then the other to view. Long ago, she gave us the OK to leave the picture with our own interpretation, to apply it as our kind of beautiful to whatever we choose.
This is what I am trying to do in "The New Now". Provide the words for you to take and interpret. Onward, inspiration.