As mentioned yesterday, I’m in the midst of a gap between temp projects, which means I have a bit more time to focus on writing. While I’m still not the kind of writer that wakes up at 5am and writes for two hours straight, I’m starting to understand what it means to ‘make time’ for art. In an MFA program, it’s easy to make time, because you’re hanging out with a cluster of people who believe in writing as much as you do. You can nerd out about John D’Agata and Eula Biss over coffee at 2:30pm on a Tuesday, and not feel the slightest tinge of guilt that most of your non-writer friends are in an office somewhere desperately looking for a way to make it to 5pm awake/alive. When the funding goes, so does the bohemian schedule, and you discover that being paid to be bohemian isn’t all that artsy at all.
That to say: I’m still trying over here, despite the lack of funding, and endless stream of cold rejections from literary magazines. You could call it perseverance, but you can just as easily call it naive.
But, let’s not think about that! I’ve written a new piece for State of Formation called “Staring At Birds”! It chronicles my fear of religious labels…and bird poop!
This marks the second piece for SoF where I’ve not worried about conforming to the brilliant, scholarly writing that the rest of the contributors are capable of, and instead am just doing what comes natural: form questions and images. I don’t know if everyone would still call it “interfaith activism” in the normal way, but I’m energized by it (see that aforementioned “naive” comment). Plus, it’s my attempt to be more transparent about not only the struggle to name one’s faith, but also to name the inexorable joy that it can bring in a way that I’ve not heard it expressed.
So, “Staring At Birds:”
There are times when I’m walking and I catch the sight of a flying bird, its wings akimbo and soaring more like a kite than a sentient being. I get that feeling of wonder—the kind of cheesy awe that will probably make me a “birder” in my twilight years. That is, I’m in awe until it flies directly over my head.
At this point, I crane my neck slightly, bracing myself for something. I stare up at the bird and I get scared that the mere act of looking at it will make its colon relax and unload into my brown hair. I convince myself that this is because I’m staring directly at it, daring it through animal ESP to just try and take a dump on me. I look away when I think about this too much, telling myself that since I’ve stopped challenging its authority over me, it’ll choose a more deserving, defiant target. My last thought before regaining my logical faculties and letting the silly matter drop is: what if it picks me because I’ve stopped staring? Read More