I've been substitute teaching 9th and 10th grade literature this past week. The classroom I use is liberally papered with posters and postcards bearing photographs and painted portraits of famous authors and poets. As I was gazing upon the faces of these masters (such as Dickens, Austen, Hardy, Hemingway, Angelou, etc) I discovered something.
Within the eyes of some of the world's greatest writers, there seems to be a sort of tortured but expectant vacancy. This vacancy is not a lack of intelligence or even attention, but rather the expression of a mind which has been utterly splintered by imagination; a view within a source of living creative energy which is so prismatic in its make-up that it cannot be still in even the most mundane circumstance, as I would imagine sitting for a portrait would be.
The creative giant is ever listening to the mythological Muse; she can never be completely content in the moment because a stream of imaginary moments are constantly flirting with each other in the background. Scenes and scenery, action and reaction; particular voices, which reside within the writers' minds may be yelling or whispering, but they are consistent in their chomping at the bit; their anxiety in waiting for this writer to finish whatever current business is occupying her and let them out to BREATHE.
So I need to learn from the masters. Inhale, exhale... and let them out at the appropriate time (those sweet uninterrupted hours I spend alone with my keyboard and screen.) I need to allow for the vacancy without letting it damage my ability to be in the "now"; I need to be ever watchful for when the real and the imagined collide in epiphany ... because Fiction Mirrors Truth.