From "How I Get to Write" by Roxanna Robinson :
"In the morning, I don’t talk to anyone, nor do I think about certain things.
"I try to stay within certain confines. I imagine this as a narrow, shadowy corridor with dim bare walls. I’m moving down this corridor, getting to the place where I can write.
"I brush my teeth, get dressed, make the bed. I avoid conversation, as my husband knows. I am not yet in the world, and there is a certain risk involved in talking: the night spins a fine membrane, like the film inside an eggshell. It seals you off from the world, but it’s fragile, easily pierced.
"....The reason the morning is so important is that I’ve spent the night somewhere else. This is nowhere I can describe exactly, only that it’s mysterious and limitless, a place where the mind expands. Deep, slow currents, far below the surface, shift me in ways I needn’t understand. There is no sound, no scrutiny. Waking, I’m still close to that silent, preconscious, penumbral state, still focussed inward. I’m still in that deep, noiseless place, listening to its voices, very different from those of the outside world."
(The full article is here.)
I read Robinson's piece (on The New Yorker blog) thinking, "Oh my gracious yes, that's it exactly!" -- for I too like to be up and out to the studio before anyone else in the house is awake, climbing the hill from house to studio by the light of the stars. I don't want to speak or be spoken to; I don't want to be jogged from this liminal state; I want to rest on the delicate threshold between the Night World and the Day World just as long as I can.
At this moment as I write, the sky is still dark, the studio hushed with pre-dawn enchantment; the only sounds are the ticking of the clock, water rushing in the stream outside, and a single owl calling from the woods. I compose these morning posts as I drink my coffee, waking (as Agatha Christie's Poirot would say) the "little grey cells" up. But I musn't be too awake, not yet, in order to slide gently into the writing day before the "fragile membrane of the night" has been pierced.
Tilly snuggles up beside me, yawning, dozing, waiting for our morning walk out in the woods. The tap-tap-tap of the computer keys is a familiar, comforting sound to her. She is waiting for the sun, and the click of the laptop closing, and the words: Okay, girl, let's go.
“Outside, there was that predawn kind of clarity, where the momentum of living has not quite captured the day. The air was not filled with conversation or thought bubbles or laughter or sidelong glances. Everyone was sleeping, all of their ideas and hopes and hidden agendas entangled in the dream world, leaving this world clear and crisp and cold as a bottle of milk in the fridge. ”
- Reif Larsen (from The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet)
The paintings above are by Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009). The photograph at the top of the post is of the Kuerner Farmhouse in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where he often painted. This post first appeared on Jan. 16, 2013.