I work a full-time gig putting in plenty of extra hours. I’m not saying this to whine, only to point out that it takes time and effort to do a job as well as you can, and jobs are what pay the mortgage. I also turn out a script or two, squeezing in time at the fringes to write. It’s not easy to balance these two. Mostly it’s the writing that suffers.
I just returned from a trip to LA to meet on a project in development. I came back with a head full of notes and a deadline for the next draft. And somewhere along the way back to the job I saw my kid and realized that she had grown in the few days I was away.
This can all be overwhelming and serves to dampen creativity. Add to that the fact that the vet told me my cat was probably dying, and you’ve got a recipe for creative impotence.
But then I found a package from Amazon buried under a stack of bills and I ripped open the box to find Jim Harrison’s latest book of poems. For those who don’t know, Jim Harrison is the greatest living American poet. He’s a true American writer who makes love to the landscape and lives for the small details like the shapes he finds in the undersides of bird wings or the damp smell of a thicket after a rainstorm. He’s also a fine novelist and a retired screenwriter.
His latest book of verse, In Search of Small Gods, is absolutely amazing. If you’re a screenwriter and you don’t read any poetry, you should think about that. Poetry exists for the richness of language and imagery. In many ways it’s like writing for film, though for a theater of one that exists within the soft, mushy side of the skull.
I pick a poet depending on the script I’m working on. For my first optioned script, it was Pablo Neruda. For my current project, it’s Whitman’s, Leaves of Grass. But Jim Harrison’s poetry works for just about anything. I tore open the box and read the first poem and was quite choked up. Rescue your creativity. Read good poets.
I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools, the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic, used tires, taverns, saloons…
That’s about all I need. I’m ready to get started. Thanks Jim.