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Rituals of beginning, 3

Rituals of beginning, 2

Woodland dawn 1

From an interview with Toni Morrison in The Paris Review:

"Recently I was talking with a writer who described something she did whenever she moved to her writing table. I don't remember exactly what the gesture was -- there is something on her desk that she touches before she hits the computer keyboard -- but we began to talk about the rituals one goes through before beginning to write.

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"I, at first, thought I didn't have a ritual, but then I remembered that I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it is still dark -- it must be dark -- and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come. And she said, well, that's a ritual. And I realized that for me, this ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space that I can only call nonsecular....

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"Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transition. It's not being in the light, it's being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense."

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Woodland dawn 5Previous posta on pre-dawn writing rituals can be found here and here. (And I should mention that posting times might be a bit erratic this week until we get our Internet service problem sorted out.)


I have found reading these threw a light on my own morning habits, sharpening them somewhat. It has been particularly interesting as I have never ever considered myself a writer; all my creations come through pencil, paint and fiber. Circumstance has altered this somewhat so that the craft of writing and story telling has become more central.

When painting I have to have certain things in place, otherwise I cannot settle. Firstly I prefer to be alone (an ever obliging family go out on swimming trips or walks to help here). I have to be in a room with a window out onto the garden, even if it is pitch black out there I need to picture it in my head.
Drawing and felting can be done anywhere, I will needle felt sitting on the floor, sofa, chair; where-ever. The medium seems to require me to be less in my head and more in my fingers. I also don't mind company.
Writing however, this has been a whole new experience. I write for work all the time and that is done for the needs of others. I switch me off and just do what needs to be done. Creative writing has been completely different. I have needed solitude, my place at the window and the sounds of the world outside. I have wanted solitude but coped better if it is unavailable. What I have needed to do is get up and walk between each section. Just up, to the kitchen and back, nothing more. I seem to need physical space from what I have written before I can go back.
Before starting I have followed more or less the same routine as when painting. A cup of coffee, a perusal of blogosphere and online news, radio on but low in the background then start.

I adore this. How creation involves light.

I realized that I only write at night, when all is mostly still. That's when the words come. My ritual changes ever so often. Usually it involves a warm mug of something, be it coffee, tea, cocoa. Sometimes I have to clean before I write, light a stick of incense. It changes with my needs as the writing progresses, as the seasons shift, as I shift, too.

What a lovely piece of writing! And yes, to rituals, some way of moving from one way of being into another. Trungpa Rinpoche said something like you can't just jump into your art straight from making the grocery lists or doing the shopping. I find I need to sit quietly before I start to paint or write. I have found, especially with painting if I jump write in without quieting myself I tend to just muck about!

Found you through Art Propelled.

My ritual for starting the day is to take a hot mug of tea out to our farm office early in the morning, turn on the computer and give myself 30 or 40 minutes alone, an hour if I'm lucky, before the rest of the household awakes. I visit four or five favourite sites, ranging from this one to a forum for sheep farmers on smallholdings, and kickstart my brain with words, pictures, ideas before the boys, the animals, and needs of the day claim my attention. It's definitely a ritual, and if I don't get it, the rest of the day doesn't feel quite right. Like Toni Morrison, being there as the sun arrives is part of the process.I usually have two dogs at my feet, Bach or Vaughan Williams playing.

I love the first picture of Tilly, the curve of her body, the stance of her two back legs, her alert curiosity.

My ritual: after my stretching exercises and half hour on the standing bike, when it is still dark or crepuscular--and reading while on the bike--is to get dressed, go downstairs, get a cup of tea and sit with the laptop.

The dawn chorus surrounds me, lifts me uo, as if I am flying with the birds. I have entered the doorway to the numinous, and begin to write. Usually the first draft of a new poem.

My day has begun.


Welcome! I love Art Propelled.

Lifted into that space by the birds. What a magical image....

Very interesting to hear about the different working environments that are best for different kinds of work. I'm like that too -- the art and writing/editing sides of me are very, very different.

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