I recently acquired The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. I’ve written two poems after him, one of which was recently published.
Today, I opened the book to a random page and landed on a poem called “Stay Home.” It was published in 1980 as the first piece in A Part.
Here’s Berry reading the piece, followed by a musical setting.
I’m not sure, but I think a lot of people who follow this blog are writers.
If you are, I’m curious: do you find it harder to write right now?
It’s true that people can do incredible things in isolation. There’s a sort of romanticism, too, in the trope of the artist, alone in the woods, emerging with some Great Work.
I doubt most people reading this have the luxury of using the current situation as a working vacation. I’m assuming most of us have day jobs and family responsibilities. Children to help and be present for, parents or siblings or friends we’re worried about. Bills to pay.
Don’t be too hard on yourself when this ends and you haven’t produced The Great Gatsby or Leaves of Grass or Death of a Salesman or Rent.
Do what you need to do for you and the people you need to care for.
The work will be here when this is over. The slush pile will be here. The acceptances will be here, too — still fewer and farther between than we’d like.
Some things will change. At least I hope so.
What do you hope will change? What do you long to go back to?
What needs to be left behind?