A Confession of Sorts

“To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness.”

– Anthony Doerr

I read an incredible book this week that I can’t get off my mind: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The story is thought-provoking and a little heart-wrenching – as all literary fiction seems to be – but it’s the writing that got me. It’s beautifully done, a true pleasure to read. I recently read Still Alice by Lisa Genova, which was clunky and awkwardly written (in my opinion, at least) but the story quickly sucked me in so that I stopped noticing the writing. Not so with All the Light We Cannot See. On nearly every page there were lines that made me stop and admire. Some continue to resonate even days later, like the one above. Before I even finished the digital copy I checked out from the library I ordered my own from Amazon. I literally cannot wait to hold it in my hands. Why?

Because it’s the kind of book that reminds me why I love to write. The creative ability of language is fascinating. Entire worlds that have never existed in anyone’s imagination become real. Feelings and emotions, thoughts and inward conversations, are stirred to life. We can live our lives in a type of darkness, never imagining what might be beyond it – never even caring, really. But then a story. And all of the sudden our eyes are opened to a world outside. Lives and histories are experienced by people who never lived them, all through a few arbitrary markings filling the blank space of a page.

The idea of it takes my breath.

Then today I awoke with a song in my head, “I Go to the Barn Because I like the” by Band of Horses. As far as songs go, this one is more like poetry than most. Something about the lyrics, combined with the simple melody and poignant harmony, has haunted me since I first heard it. It creates in me a true and powerful longing to write. Like the physical craving for a cigarette I used to feel way back when I was a smoker; I don’t just want to write, I need to write. I need to write beautiful lines filled with beautiful words used in new and different ways that, like Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, will open the eyes of the blind.

I’ve been listening to the song on repeat today. The feeling is not going away.

The last poem I wrote was nearly 2 years ago. It was “Mess,” which I shared a few days ago, and it was inspired by this song. Within the few months leading up to that poem I wrote several – more than I had in years, including a five poem series unlike anything I’ve ever written before.

Since then? Nothing.

Which brings me to today’s confession: sometimes I wish I had an empty, soundproof room, furnished with nothing but a comfortable chair, a laptop sans wi-fi, and a hundred empty notebooks with attached pens. In that room would never be heard the refrains of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood or the Sesame Street “Letter of the Day” song. There would be no teenagers talking about video games or about the philosophical implications of the Harry Potter series (though I confess I enjoy those conversations very much). In my dream I can spend a few hours in that room without feeling guilty for wanting to be there. While there no part of my life is neglected. All of my responsibilities wait patiently for my return. The time I spend in that room doesn’t pass like normal time, in seconds and minutes and hours squandered away by lack of inspiration and distraction. It is creative time – productive, redemptive time – that passes in lines and literary devices and healing. It refreshes my soul, loosens my muscles, and clears my head so that what lies outside it receives my full attention when I return.

A writer’s dream.

So now I truly, sincerely want to know: what’s in the room of your dreams? What do you do there? How do you feel when you’re inside?

No, really. I want to know.

Tell me.

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4 thoughts on “A Confession of Sorts

  1. My room also requires that the outside world absolutely knows that I am in no way leaving them or neglecting them. The outside world is patient and knows that I need this time to learn, create, invent, be. So in the room, I have a window of light, a cozy big chair with all the pens and my Bible, and lots of journals. I can meditate with God and learn. I do like to have a good “workbook” so to speak to keep me on a mission or quest to learn more about myself and how God feels about these things as well. But also in my room I have a fully functioning kitchen. I want to learn how EVERY spice works or does not work with another. I want to know why one spice does not work with one meat and then wonderfully with another. I want to know why some wines work well with a meal and what is absolutely not. I want to learn to make foods and drinks that make people smile as they eat them. I know this may sound crazy, but when I was younger I watched a movie once where a woman was cooking and whatever emotion she was feeling, that same emotion was created in the people as they ate her food. It was a comedy, and not a very serious movie, but I loved it and it has stuck in my mind. I want to learn to cut foods with smooth sharp knives that create masterpieces. I don’t really want to do it for a restaurant that will totally consume my life. I want to do it for my family and friends. I want to have the opportunity to bless them with beautiful and tasty delights! Cheesy?

  2. Your description of this book (and writing in general) reminds me of what I think and how I feel, but have been largely unable to express, when I read your writing. It is indeed beautifully done and a pleasure to read, opening up worlds that I’ve never dreamed of and drawing me in to experience them alongside you in ways I could have never known. It’s pretty amazing and I just wanted you to know that you inspire this same reaction in others. 

    As to your question, “What’s in the room of your dreams?” I think you mentioned two of the most important components of my room that aren’t even physical factors – a guilt-free space I can occupy while nothing in my life outside collapses in my absence from the lack of attention or action. What does that say? To me, it says I’ve put too much on my plate and too much pressure on myself, especially when you throw in that it all has to be done to my (impossibly?) high level of satisfaction. I’m aware of this – it’s a work in progress.
    What would be inside? What would I do there? A large kitchen with tons of counter space and several ovens so I could bake just for the joy of producing something scrumptious (and then eat it without any thought to caloric intake). An oversized papasan chair, a blanket and a side table with a mug of steaming cocoa in front of a huge window with a view of nature’s glory as the sunlight filters through the trees, sparkles off the water and warms my face as I snuggle up and read a book for no other reason than the pleasure of reading. A huge table and unlimited supplies so I could create all of the fun, interesting, meaningful gifts that I rarely seem to find time for to give to those I love. A cozy little nook where I could sit and chat with family and friends for as long as we wanted about things that matter and things that don’t as we laugh, cry and enjoy life together. (Apparently my room has several rooms within it.) And how would I feel? I would feel…weightless.

    • First of all, I love you.

      Second of all, I think I’d like my room to be a part of your house – close to the kitchen, if you don’t mind 🙂 Your dream sounds like the perfect place to utilize all of your wonderful gifts, and for me to continually take advantage of them, unhindered.

      And finally, thanks for always being my encourager. I hope you know how much it means to me.

      ((Hugs))

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