How to Pay Attention to Our Creative Work During Quarantine
From the WMFA Podcast
Writing can be lonely work; WMFA counters that with conversation. It’s a show about creativity and craft, where writer and host Courtney Balestier talks shop with some of today’s best writers and examines the issues we face when we do creative work. The mission of WMFA is to explore why we writers do what we do, so that we can do it with more intention, and how we do what we do, so that we can do it better.
In this episode, host Courtney Balestier reflects on being with our surroundings—and our creative work—in a new way during quarantine.
From the episode:
Courtney Balestier: Last week, I started the latest iteration of my Catapult course about writing place. Because the idea of place has such a different and complicated connotation right now.
I ask the students to begin by writing about a place in their homes that they have come to know intimately during quarantine. This is because it’s been a surprising byproduct of my quarantine, a deeper knowledge of what’s around me. After six months of baking bread, I finally learned the rhythm of my sourdough starter. Aren’t you pleased to keep hearing about people’s sourdough starters? The time it needs to bloom the extent of its process.
Similarly, with my vegetable seedlings, the color of the soil when it’s beginning to dry out. The point at which the plants start to outgrow their containers. Because of them, I am also paying more attention to the weather. Sudden drops in temperature. Can they be left outside tonight? Do they need protection? I suppose this is another way of saying that I have been re-learning how to pay attention. This, it turns out, is a more complex process than I had thought. Consider this passage by Mary Oliver from Our World, in which she writes about her beloved Molly Malone Cook, whom she refers to here as M.
Oliver writes: “This began simply enough to see that the way the flicker flies is greatly different from the way the swallow plays in the golden air of summer.”
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