on following one’s nose

proceed as way opens; wikimedia

proceed as way opens; wikimedia

Reader, I didn’t intend to be so blog-silent. But I’ve been doing my own work first.

Last week was the first week in uncountable weeks that everyone was at school all week. Well, all week except for two days of doctor’s appointments. That means I had two days of wide open time for writing and, believe me, I enjoyed them immensely. But I hadn’t done a lot of thinking or planning on what I’d work on. Instead I followed my nose.

to follow one’s nose: to follow an odor to its source; to seek something intuitively; to go straight ahead.

The Quakers have a more elegant way of putting it. They say, Proceed as way opens.

I didn’t plan on sorting poems, but before I knew it my body was sorting them. I didn’t plan on sorting poems, but that’s where the odor led me (dusty old, dingy old poem odor). I didn’t plan on setting many aside as Not As Necessary; others aside as Possibly Redraft; others still as As Finished As It’s Ever Likely to Be (I, uh, don’t like to be too black and white in my labels).

I’ve learned over the years that “Proceed as way opens” is a good maxim for the creative life. Are the drafts tumbling out? Let them tumble. Is the well of new work dry? Time to revise. Are you suddenly surrounded by Way Too Many Poems all over your combination kitchen/dining/living room floor? Sort away.

(BTW, I think it’s good advice for “regular” life, too, although I find it harder to apply — I’m always thinking and re-thinking things.)

(BTW, have I written about this before? Sorry, but I always have to learn and re-learn and re-re-learn things.)

I didn’t plan on sorting, but I learned a lot from it — and now I feel a way opening before me. I shall proceed, at least as far as it dead ends, and then I’ll try again.

2 thoughts on “on following one’s nose

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