In October, 2014 I published a blog post I was really proud of. It woke me in the middle of the night, and I went downstairs to the den to write it. I got back in bed, but couldn’t sleep. When I woke again, I was proud of the fact I’d been so moved I had to get up and write in the dark like that. There was the sound of an owl outside. A character came to me and a setting, a strange conflict. It pulled in elements of my past I wasn’t proud of, but felt I needed to dramatize.
Later that year I quit my job and started cleaning out the garage. We were getting ready to move to Germany, that was the plan. There was no work for me on the horizon. I even put in for unemployment, anything was possible. I made contact with my mom’s former boss and friend Rick, who was a writing coach. I sent him a copy of that blog and then we got on the phone and he asked me politely what I was trying to say. And I didn’t have a good answer. But he edited the living hell out of it for me and sent me the markup. And I learned a lot from that.
Tonight I sat here in the den and the moon came out, and it made that milky glow it can some nights. I put out the lights inside and sat by it, thinking about that night I got up to write and how rare that was, to feel that way. I probably hoped the magic of that moment would extend out in a halo to the piece I wrote, but it didn’t. But there was still something to the magic of that moment, despite what I made of it. It’s in the music or films or books I like most I think, it’s more the feeling I sense within them that extends out to me, than it is the content or the message sometimes. The feeling becomes the content.
And I thought that this morning when a Lou Reed song came on the car radio. I was pulling out of the parking lot from the dry cleaner’s driving in to work and the rain was coming on. The song was called “Perfect Day,” and the words, like a lot of his songs, are really simple. It made me laugh, “It’s such a perfect day,” as the rain was picking up, the banality of it all. And it was, perfect.
My friend Anthony wrote a piece for my Saturday guest post series I’m featuring tomorrow, on the artist PJ Harvey. You can submit your story and read more here about how to do so.