Above all the other reasons, I write because the world is both heartbreakingly sad and hearbreakingly joyful, and the only way for me to bear the pain, the only way for me to bear the world’s bright beauty is to catch it up like a giggling baby and to set it down in front of you, gently, honestly, in words.
— Pam Houston, “Why I Write”
I love that phrase, “catch it up like a giggling baby.” I imagine the feel of picking up the baby, the sound of baby giggles, and a baby’s grin that reaches all the way to the eyes and is accompanied by a spot of drool. It’s a great analogy for writing to capture “moments” and to share what you’ve seen with another.
The drool is my addition as I’m still struggling to get it right — there is a bit of mopping up to do.
Pam Houston is one of my favorite writers. She has published two books of short stories – “Cowboys Are My Weakness” and “Waltzing the Cat”. She also published a collection of essays called “A Little More About Me” and wrote a novel called “Sight Hound”.
I often collect paragraphs I fall in love with as I’m reading a book. I recently ran across what I had recorded from Houston’s book “Sight Hound.” It’s a story told mainly by an Irish Wolf Hound named Dante, who feels it is up to him to teach his owner about love. Here’s one example of Dante’s wisdom:
“She wasted so much time trying to act perfectly trying to guard against the loss, always fearful of making the mistake that would lead to it. My job was to love her in her imperfection, and I did… She calls me a miracle, but this is the miracle: eventually she believed I loved her, beyond a shadow of a shadow of a doubt.”
— Pam Houston, “Sight Hound”
I don’t even need to explain why that paragraph caught my eye.
I haven’t been in the blogosphere much in the last week. I was crazy busy for the past two weeks preparing materials to submit for a writer’s grant with a submission deadline of February 11th. The winners won’t be announced until May.
I’d known about the grant for months but when two weeks were added to the deadline, it struck me that maybe it was a sign. Maybe I should give it a shot. Maybe this is the right time for a door to open. Whether I win or not, the work on setting goals and a plan would be beneficial.
And I’ve been caught up in a pattern of coincidences. Things about writing keep coming into my awareness – magazine articles, TV programs, books, radio broadcasts, articles in the newspaper, e-mails, blogs. There is so much information flying at us from so many places! But when a theme keeps running across my path, like a black cat on Halloween, I sit up, squint – trying to make out shapes, and then I get nervous.
Am I supposed to do something?
As I worked on a proposal and writing sample to submit for the grant, I got very little sleep. I was up until 2 AM last Thursday night putting the finishing touches on things. When my alarm went off at 5:30 AM, I felt dizzy and off balance, like I’d been drinking instead of writing all night.
I downed cup after cup of coffee. I only managed a semi-alive state of being and was starting to feel sick from so much caffeine.
But after a weekend of sleeping in, I feel so much better. I’m doing something important to me!
And I had a superb weekend filled with skiing, riding, skijoring, friends, and spontaneous conversations with other animals lovers that I ran into. I’ll post more on that separately as this is too long already.
And while my brain has been caught up with writing, Java’s brain, is on sticks.