“The best thing about writing is not the actual labor of putting word against word, brick upon brick, but the preliminaries, the spade work, which is done in silence, under any circumstances, in dream as well as in the waking state. In short, the period of gestation.’
“No man ever puts down what he intended to say: the original creation, which is taking place all the time, whether one writes or doesn’t write, belongs to the primal flux: it has no dimensions, no form, no time element. In this preliminary state, which is creation and not birth, what disappears suffers no destruction; something which was already there, something imperishable, like memory, or matter, or God, is summoned and in it one flings himself like a twig into a torrent.’
“Words, sentences, ideas, no matter how subtle or ingenious, the maddest flights of poetry, the most profound dreams, the most hallucinating visions, are but crude hieroglyphs chiseled in pain and sorrow to commemorate an event which is untransmissible.” (Henry Miller, ’On Artistic Action’, from Henry Miller On Writing, 1964)
All creation is the same then, a summoning of crude markings against the unfathomable wonder which infuses the phenomena of life. How is it possible that I am creating a tiny human body within my own? What magic is this? I have huge bursts of energy and then cravings for slumber. I blaze like a hurricane across the floorboards of my house, the concrete of New York, and occasionally remember to look up at the sky and take a breath. There is much being born and much dying off. I am embedded in the cosmos, and so, I am it. I want to remember that forever.
When I began writing, I recognized that one of the predominant drives I had to capture a moment, a feeling, an image, was the overwhelming sense that it would be gone so soon. Then I realized at nineteen that I couldn’t possibly capture everything I had felt or been moved by. There was just too much. I have stopped that endeavor in many ways, stopped putting my cup in the water to fill my bucket, like a child who wants to hold the ocean in a fishbowl. I turned from cup to hand, feeling the water, putting arm then body into it. Now on this shelf of pregnant contemplation, I am able (encouraged) to climb out of the water and tip out the contents of my cup again, shake the water from my hair.
I can’t imagine the emotions to come, the waves of the sea, the surfing I will learn. I can’t imagine how it will feel to give birth, to hold a small baby in my arms whose body I built with my own. Contemplating the journey our son has been on from conception to eventual birth, dwarfs all worldly concern I have. What a gift it is to be a woman. What a responsibility, a blessing, an opportunity. How else does one prepare but right here, in the inquiry? Watching, feeling, breathing the sky, flinging oneself “like a twig into a torrent…”