God Particles, Thomas Lux – When the first reader in the world said, “Let there be write,” Thomas Lux answered the call. The poems in this book are too good to be true, page after page. Thanks to my friend, Eric, for recommending this one after I sent him a picture of the poetry shelves in a bookstore and said “Tell me which one to buy, quick.” He spotted Lux’s book in the mob.
Stand Still Like The Hummingbird, Henry Miller – Don’t read this one. You’ll hate me for recommending it. But I love Miller’s insistent dislike for human behavior, and the way he beats his drum.
“Speak even when you’re not ready.” This one came from my friend, Kevin. His point was that if you speak enough times when you haven’t prepared anything, eventually you’ll always be ready to speak.
Yesterday. Just watched it for the second time, and it was even better this time. Clever, well-written, and it features music by the greatest band of all time.
The people in my poems don’t behave very well. The men have thoughts about women they shouldn’t be thinking about in the first place, and the young are very much lacking in almost every way that matters. Sometimes people act with grace, but usually not.
My short, short stories are about terrible things I have never experienced. Moments of reckoning that end in abject darkness. The “good” news is I have written only a couple of these, although half a dozen more are queued up and screaming for attention.
My book length works are not dark. They include trouble, people do get hurt, some die, but many hearts are made whole by love, and beauty covers pages as much as darkness.
There is no big takeaway here. I don’t feel like I need to understand why there is all this darkness. I write what I am given to write, when it seems important and real. Why would I want to change that?
I must admit, however, that I am curious. Why so dark, when, as the song says, Your future looks quite bright to me?
Where do you get all your creative energy? I get asked that a lot, sometimes after a just-for-fun rant at Starbucks, sometimes after people check out this site. I usually smile and lie – I run a lot, I do yoga – not because I don’t want to tell the truth, but because I wasn’t asked the real question: Why don’t I (like you) have enough energy to do all the things I want to do?
So here’s the truth: It isn’t insufficient energy that keeps us from doing what we want; it’s a lack of desire. When you have a genuine desire to do something, an insistent compelling desire, amazingly you can go for hours, days, weeks without running out of energy. You’ll feel a tug of fatigue, a pang of hunger, but never insufficient energy, at least not until you’ve done so much that you would never think you should have done more.
1. Don’t confuse the intellectual “wanting to do more” with the actual compelling desire to do a thing. One is an intellectual construct; the other is an emancipating life force.
2. If you feel low on energy, and you know you are doing the best you can with exercise, diet, and sleep to produce physical energy, work on creating desire by doing for the sake of doing. While you are doing, notice how doing makes you feel. It is a love for, and a need for, these feelings that creates compelling desire, not the beautiful words you write or the wonderful speeches you deliver or the beautiful pictures you paint.
3. Be patient when experimenting or trying new things. It takes time to try on a new role, to figure out your way around in that role, to discover what it is about a new thing that might have the power to be compelling. There is nothing more energy-depleting than being in a hurry to be different.
4. Pay attention to what already compels you. It’s good to try new, but don’t forget the things you already love doing and feel like you must do more of.
If you want to do more, but can’t seem to find the energy to do more, find your compelling desire first. Then you’ll find all the energy you need.