Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do I have the strength?

"But shall I have the strength to write this book? For there is a great distance between the words we speak uninhibitedly to a friendly audience and the discipline needed to write a book. When we are lecturing, we become animated by the joy of teaching, and at times, our words think for us. But to write a book requires really serious reflection." Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics of Space p. xxxix

Gaston Bachelard ends the introduction to his philosophical exploration of the architecture of intimate spaces (which my class on silent spaces and the history of contemplation in the West has been reading) wondering if he has the strength to undertake the hard work of turning words that shimmer and dance in space, words that have a life and breath of their own, into words that burrow in between the covers of a book, that wait on light to breathe again. It takes strength to corral words like that, to hold them in place long enough to pin them onto paper.

It's become clear to me over the last few weeks just how much strength and energy it takes for me to write. I've been juggling the teaching of two quite different classes (and despite her delight in my desk and my pen, Fluffy has been no help in grading papers or writing lectures!), Crash's college angst and various unblog-able work issues. The result has been too many fifteen hour days and six hour nights.

It's not just the energy to grab a pen or keyboard and pull the words into place, the ideas themselves seem to mope about in my head, draping themselves exhaustedly around my neural pathways, ashen shadows utterly unwilling to dance for me.

I have a work meeting this weekend, so am taking tomorrow afternoon off to shake the cobwebs out in the silence and see Patient Spiritual Director — holding a friend in prayer as I go, offering my exhaustion and burnt out spirit for her intentions.

For the record, I did have the strength to finish the little book I wrote this summer on the hidden graces of penance....


  1. we are contemplating additional shows for Novemeber and asking the same question. It always seems easier putting it on the calender than living out the days

  2. You finished a book... that is a huge accomplishment, a book of any size. Frankly, I see all that you do and collapse in sheer exhaustion at the sight of it! I myself have had a time of it trying to use my time and energy in more life giving ways; yet the writing still lags.

    God bless you! All will be well and words and paper shall meet - for you!

  3. Hang in there! This too shall pass, and you will get through the difficult time and be stronger for it.

    BTW, if you're having 15 hour days and 6 hour nights, someone is stealing 3 hours from you. Find out who, and get it back! :-)

  4. Oh, sweetie. Lots of prayers esp. that the sabbath day will be tremendously blessed.

    Finishing the book is very impressive by itself--doubly so with all you're juggling! Congratulations on a job very well done.

    Can't wait to read it...

  5. @Stratoz, I think it's like packing for vacation, where you take out clothes and add money -- the calendar always seems more expansive in the future than it does at the present moment!

  6. Dear Fran, Lisa and Rev Dr. Laura ---

    As they say at Bryn Mawr "done is good" -- though it usually means that the student staying is done, too, as in toast! Thank you for supportive words, I think I'm ready to dive into the writing that needs to be done before I leave for the other side of the world on Monday after the afternoon's breather.

    And Lisa, I'm stealing the 3 hours a day from myself, for eating, showering, helping with homework and ... and praying!