Pre-Dawn, No Yawn

posted in: Day In The Life 12
Dawn, someplace. Photo: Susanne Nilsson, via Wikipedia.


“The mornings are for thinking; the evenings are for feeling.”

Gertrude Stein said that. The mornings are for thinking, the evenings are for feeling. Don’t you love that? And isn’t it that just the way?

Though I’ve always been a morning person, a few months ago I started waking up earlier. I started waking up at four — and I’m pretty sure that’s gonna be the way it is from here on out because I love getting up that early.

It’s true. When I get up at 4 a.m., I don’t wake up in despair. Oh, I’m a little daunted when the alarm goes off, but it’s exciting for me to know that I have hours to think before the rest of the world gets up and need things from me and I need things from the world.

It started because I had no choice. Between school, Quiltfolk, lecture gigs, and the rest of my life, waking up in the almost-middle-of-the-night and getting to work became the only way out, as far as I could see. And sure enough, day after day, the mornings were for thinking. I saw that I could mountains of work between 4 a.m. and noon, all of it necessary — necessary, of course, if you agree that reading assignments are necessary; that responding to fellow students’ work is necessary; that turning in magazine articles and columns a least within a day or two of their respective deadlines is necessary; if working on my essay collection is necessary.

I think all that’s very necessary. I think those things create what my life looks like and I feel pretty necessary, if only to myself.

So I get up at 4 a.m. and make tea. I take my vitamins and my meds. I stare into space for awhile. If you were to see me there in my reclining chair, holding a hot mug of tea and staring into space at 4:17 a.m., it might not look like I’m doing much. But make no mistake, I am very busy.

I am thinking.

On Technique.

posted in: Art 1
It's a very, very good record. Photo: London Jazz Collector.
It’s a very, very good record. Photo: London Jazz Collector.

Legendary jazz saxophone player Art Pepper, who loved heroin, music, and women very much and in that order, said something that, when I read it, etched itself into my brain. Every time I turn it over in my head, it feels more true. He said:

“You only need enough technique to say what you have to say.”

He was talking about music. I’m talking about anything. Didn’t go to art school? Who cares, unless your soul tells you you need to blow glass to say what you need to say and you haven’t the foggiest how to blow glass. Can’t sew in a sleeve to save your life? So what, if all you want to do is make skirts all your life. Want to write a novel but have never been to Yaddo? Big deal, unless you want to write a real connected-y story about sad people who go to places like Yaddo and then have kids who are “unknowable” (or whatever.)

See what I mean? You don’t have to kill yourself over technique unless your lack of technique is killing you.

You believe that, you can go anywhere. And you probably will.