Drink from your own well Proverbs

Drink from your own well.” I take those words on board whenever I’m struggling to create. I believe they mean that each of us has to dig deeply into our authentic self as the wellspring for our best work. If we search outside ourselves we may neglect something that is essential to our art.

Poet William Stafford‘s wrote this response to those powerful words that he thought were Kierkegaard’s:

when I get up I the morning and settle down to write, I do not reach for what is timely or is in style, but what suggests itself to me right at the moment. It can be any trivial word or even syllable, or a sound from the trees outside, or what day it is, or that the sun is about to come up––anything. And with nothing to live up to I can relax and catch onto a current within me. *        

I found a typed page of Stafford’s poems in an old file recently. I’d clipped a photo of a wooden crow sitting on my desk as a talisman onto the graph paper.

To be ready again if they find an owl, crows
choose any old tree before dawn and hold a conversation
where they practice their outrage routine. “Let’s elect
someone.” “No, no! Forget it.” They
see how many crows can dance on a limb.
“Hey, listen to this one.” One old crow
flaps away off and looks toward the east. In that
lonely blackness God begins to speak
in a silence beyond all that moves. Delighted
wings move close and almost touch each other.
Everything stops for a minute, and the sun rises.

Susan Dworski
Susan Dworski

Every morning when I wake at 5:00 I hear the crows one jump ahead of me, outraging.

And I lie snug in my bed and watch the sun rise, listening.

And I commit myself once again this day to pay attention to my trivial, wherein lies my creativity.

I lie still and try to catch onto the mysterious currents that will surely flow into a day of creativity.

Sometimes it happens. Often it’s a bust.

But tomorrow will bring a new dawn and another chance to dip into the well.

—Susan Dworski; Stafford quote from Crossing Unmarked Snow: Further Views on the Writer’s Vocation (Poets on Poetry),

Related posts: the power of failure, doubt and stumbling
the origins of ‘random kindness and senselss acts of beauty’
sister corita kent’s enduring rules for making + her art
chimero: ‘everyone is just making it up as they go along’

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4 replies on “drink from your own well…and the current within

  1. Thank you Sally and Susan. Words I so need to remember! Stafford has always been one of my favorite poets, and this poem brings such a smile, as well as that deep sigh of “YES.” And my street is always alive with crows, too…. lest I forget…

  2. Once I was in a [yoga] class, and the teacher said to us while we held some pose or another, “Look around – inside — with wonder.” It was so beautifully put, so unexpected and personal. Thank you also for the reminder.

  3. Great, powerful words. Thank YOU for the reminder.

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