Monday, January 17, 2011
Could Deep Shaft Cure Writer's Block?
Yesterday I actually heard song birds. I thought I was crazy until a friend in the next town wrote a note that said she heard the birds singing in the sunshine. The birds were happy to have a break in the winter too, although more ice and snow are coming this week again. Like the birds, I was energized. Put away more greenery, bows, and such from the holidays, but I still could not part with the red tablecloth and the poinsettia tea pot. I KNOW more winter waits, but I did trade the silk greens for some bright red tulips in the front window, my sign to the world that I am hopeful while waiting for spring. Swept off the front porch, took down the winter wreath, vacuumed the floors, shook the rugs, made Teriyaki chicken, did up the laundry, paid the bills, and was ready to write.
Boom, I got up this morning and faced that block again. Flipped through the notes, pondered, let my mind roam and still nothing jumping from mind to page. Finally I eked out a final draft of a Christmas poem for submission to a publication’s call for next year’s poems. Then I shifted gears to reading. I finished a re-read of Stephen Ambrose’s Personal Reflections of an Historian. I found this read just as interesting as the first time read and wondered what Ambrose would have to say of America now if he were still alive. While I don’t always agree with Ambrose, I always love his presentations and observations.
Ambrose was a jogger but he had to give up physical activities when he wrote about Nixon because the subject was so demanding. He wrote over 2100 pages on Nixon and found himself exhausted after researching and writing. When working on Nixon he had to go to bed at 8 p.m., get up at 6 a.m. and take a nap during the day. It was interesting to learn that this experienced writer found the task of writing so exhausting.
I am also working my way through a small publication on Kansas bootleggers. This is full of amazing information and interests me because my great-grandfather had a still in Crawford County, one of two infamous counties known for an extreme amount of brewing and bootlegging that went on after WWI. Once the war was over, the lead and zinc mining business in the area took a dive, and people needed a way to support their families. Many European immigrants had come to the area to work the mines and then were jobless after the war. With both the taste for wine and spirits and experience of brewing in their own stills, the people went to work making moonshine in dry Kansas. Deep Shaft became a big but illegal business. I am sure there is a story to tell here somewhere!