A look at my work from behind the curtain
Morning light coming over the mountains in Arizona makes a great writing backdrop.
Freeing the mind with pen and paper
Most every morning, before the sun rises and when the house is still, I pull out an old leather binder and write.....by hand, with a pen, not a computer. Its my version of a diary, sort of.
I've started and stopped the practice multiple times over the past 25 years, sometimes out of sadness only to stop when the mood brightens. Sometimes after reading about it or discussing it with a friend, only to have the practice defeated by distraction.
Then, a few months ago, I started again, this time after reading the diaries—he called them daybooks-- of photographer Edward Weston.
I've always admired Weston and his work, and I'm happy to admit that his work continues to inform my own.
Other great figures have written diaries: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and John Muir, are a few I've read.
Their writing has always given me an insight to their greatness...and to their darker sides.
Weston, for instance, writes about his work, of course, but he also covers his simultaneous affairs with multiple women, while his wife raised his children and basically facilitated his photography by absorbing the child care and household duties.
By comparison, my life is dull (thankfully!). But writing in the early morning has become a vital cog in my creative machinery. I'm convinced, its what keeps the gears running, so to speak.
Julia Cameron, in her book, “The Artists Way,” puts a slightly different, – and for me, a more meaningful--spin on the practice, which she calls writing “morning pages.
The describes it as: “..three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind...they provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.”
Call my writing practice morning pages, call it day booking, or a diary..whatever. Writing like this, done first thing in the morning as a stream of consciousness style, is cleansing for the creative self; it loosens the brain, almost like stretching before exercise.
In fact, what gets onto the page, I've found, can be golden. It can even lead to a new project or a deeper understanding of my world and my place in it.
The thoughts are spontaneous, unbridled, uncensored and honest. They are uttered before the brain pulls them back and inserts such things as logic, embarrassment, and self doubt, and colors those thoughts beyond recognition.
The words can focus on a recent trip to a favorite location, a memory spawned by current events, work on an exhibition, ideas for new work, or even ramblings on my own love of the natural world.
When I write at 5 a.m. my thoughts aren't lost to distraction.
The phone isn't ringing, I haven't checked social media, my wife is still asleep, and last night's dishes aren't calling me from the kitchen sink to be cleaned.
It's just me and my leather binder, writing, freeing my mind for the day.
Frankly, I'm pretty sure that without it, I'm not sure my work wouldn't be the same.