Monday, December 26, 2011

"A Book that Surprises Me"

In the wake of my ruminations about what to write next, I gave myself the Christmas present of ten sessions with amazing poet, essayist, and creativity coach Molly Fisk. I met Molly several years ago when she was the teacher/leader for the annual poetry-writing retreat I attend every January (coming up soon!). Her radiant creative presence turned me into however much of a poet I am. So I figured a few sessions with Molly couldn't hurt as I fumble toward a new book.

I had my first Molly coaching session over the phone on Christmas Eve morning. I told Molly my dilemma. I told her that I want to write something new, different, and wonderful, but if I write on the top of my note-gathering page, "Wonderful New Book," I find that heading a tad intimidating, in a counter-productive way. She asked me how I'd feel about writing instead, "A book that surprises me." Ooh!

I think that's exactly what I want in my next writing project: to write something that surprises me. Molly is going to work with me on leaving room for surprise in my writing, to open myself to the possibility of surprises in a welcoming, but non-desperate way.

Along these lines, I've just read an essay of Molly's on doing something backwards on purpose: "Whatever it is you always do, don't do it." Wear your watch on the other wrist. Move your desk to face a different wall. Habitual behavior dulls our senses and limits our possibilities. Molly writes, "When you get attached to the way you always do things, you are in big trouble. The universe arranges disasters for people like you." She suggests that we can avert disaster "just by wearing unmatched socks once in a while, mowing the lawn in figure eights, eating lemon meringue pie for breakfast, and taking an occasional overnight flight to Mallorca."

It sounds like a plan!


  1. Sounds wonderful, Claudia.

    Are you coming to NYC the morning of the retreat? I can't make it to Morristown again this year, but I'd love to meet for our annual dose of fairy dust!


  2. Alas, no, Laurie, although I just found out via Facebook that my sister is in NYC getting her dose of fairy dust TODAY! Because I'm teaching Winter Term at my university I'm flying straight to NJ on Thursday morning and then renting a car and driving to the retreat, so no fairy dust this year. WAH!!!!!