The Island of Words


After this, we’ll write a book

There was a day this week when I was doing what I do, sitting at the computer, listening to music, sipping red wine, and writing. That particular day, I had fallen into a poem, which I only intended to type up. I write poems at work in a blank book on my lunch hour, then type them up when they seem close to done. On the evening in discussion, the poem took over, so that I was replacing words and rewriting lines, spending longer than I expected.

But that’s not what I came here to talk about. I was going to say something about the music that was playing at the time. With rare exceptions, all of my music is through Pandora, and I have 30 stations I’ve started and switch between (that’s counting the three Christmas ones, which are temporary). Some stations I don’t listen to much, like Old Country, but when I’m in the mood for George Jones, there he is, still loving a woman who doesn’t love him back.

But that’s still not exactly what I came here to talk about. I was listening to the singer Jewel, and I stopped writing to pay attention to the music. Since the music and my work are both here at my finger tips, I often look to see who is singing. I’ve learned many singers by doing this, like Jewel, for instance. Of course when I’m stopping to listen and check out the singer, then I’ve interrupted the writing.

And here’s what I came to talk about. I liked the song by Jewel so much I paused Pandora, went to Youtube, and listened to several songs by her. Then I saw an interview with Jewel that Howard Stern had done. I don’t want to explain why I would listen to anything, ever, involving Howard Stern, but in this case I did. I was enjoying hearing Jewel talk about her life, her creativity, and some of the struggle she had when young. Did you know she was homeless for a while?

While I listened, I wasn’t writing. So you might say, “Well, Davy, hard at work, were you? Or goofing off instead of doing the hard work of actually putting words down. And you call yourself a writer, huh?” However, if you said that, you’d be… OK, yeah, you’d be right, but there’s another way to see this.

It’s fairly common to find artists hanging out with one another. Often they run in gangs. There are famous groups, like the Algonquin Round Table with Dorothy Parker, or the remarkable grouping that showed up at Gertrude Stein’s apartment in Paris in the 1930s. Artists also inspire one another, and we’ll cite the fact that Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque together invented cubism. Or you can give your own examples from contemporary music.

Yes, it’s my intention to spend time every evening writing, but in an even broader sense, how much of my life do I spend hanging out with creative people, talking about art, about what it’s like to live this kind of life, talking about ideas and new ways to create, about what inspires us? How much time? On average, maybe 30 minutes a week. On a good week. In other words, mostly never.

How much time should I spend with other artists? Most of the time, damn it. I suppose to some extent I’ve accepted that the one thing in the world that is most important to me, I do on an island. Occasionally, like Gilligan, I have a visitor, who then slips off the island and leaves me still there.

Therefore, when I sit here goofing off, listening to music, finding out about the singers, reading about their lives, I’m also creating my own world of artists, an imaginary world that I go to for about two hours each evening. Otherwise, my exotic life here in the capital of the south does not have a lot of interaction with other creative people. Nevertheless, I’m writing.


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Filed under How We Create Magic, Writing While Living

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