where are you going, where have you been?

where I’ve been (sorry about the photo quality — what can I say? iPhone 3)

Reader, I’m back. But I’m not back. I’m on that strange fence of re-entry. The place where you keep looking one way wondering where you’re going, and then looking the other way wondering where you’ve been.

(By the way, if you don’t know the story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates, it’s so, so good, so read it sometime. I’m lucky in that my options for where I’m going look better than Connie’s in the story).

So, yeah, I’m back from my writing retreat and it was great and I have lots to share from it. But today I’m just standing around, looking backward and forward. Time away can do that for you — it becomes a natural caesura of before and after. Not that anything life-changing happened at the retreat, but that, actually, yes something life-changing happened: just that I had some time and space to pause in my life as a writer, to regroup, to look behind and ahead.

Not that I can fully know the full view in either direction, but that there’s time to consider, look for hints, be grateful, be wiser, be hopeful.

In case you can’t tell I’ve got a severe case of Post-Writing Retreat Altered State of Consciousness (PWRASOC) going on.

So, while I walk along my fence, arms out for balance, looking one way and another, I’ll leave you with this very cool thought from a VFP (that’s Very Famous Poet) at the retreat:

Poets say the un-sayable and can do it without saying it. That’s why we’re poets. It’s in the details where we can understand the un-sayable, if we can understand it at all.

I’ll be back this week with tidbits from the retreat — stuff I learned and stuff I wonder about. I haven’t forgotten about organdization; we’ll get to that soon, too. Meanwhile, I hope your view of where you’re going and where you’ve been looks rich in both directions.

4 thoughts on “where are you going, where have you been?

  1. I’m so happy for you that you that you’ve had time to “pause in my life as a writer, to regroup, to look behind and ahead.” We all need that every now and then….or even regularly. There never seems to be enough hours in the day anymore. I find myself up until the wee hours just to find some time to do that. I do have a couple days a week *almost* all to myself, but it takes a while just to decompress.

    Love the VFP’s quote.

    Enjoy your time on the fence.


  2. By chance, is the VIP Rebecca Lindenberg?

    Just read an interview with her at McSweeney’s in which she says: ” I think there is a general misconception that you write poems because you “have something to say.” I think, actually, that you write poems because you have something echoing around in the bone-dome of your skull that you cannot say. Poetry allows us to hold many related tangential notions in very close orbit around each other at the same time. The “unsayable” thing at the center of the poem becomes visible to the poet and reader in the same way that dark matter becomes visible to the astrophysicist. You can’t see it, but by measure of its effect on the visible, it can become so precise a silhouette you can almost know it.”


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