It happened exactly the way it’s supposed to. It was our second, or maybe our third, day on the island. I woke up early each morning, just as I am accustomed to doing at home. We had no clock, no way to tell the time. Often I woke when it was still dark, or perhaps there was the barest hint of dawn in the distant sky.
Sometimes I would fall back into a profound sleep, but more often I would drift in that most magical place that teeters just at the edge of both awake and not. When our thoughts are loose, and hints of dreams spread out across our minds. Sound would be the first thing that entered my awareness. First the palm branches outside our room’s two walls of windows – suddenly their gentle, incessant flapping would enter; and right after, the waves of the sea coming one after the next.
I would become aware of his body, the parts that touched mine – the cross of limbs, or the barest graze of fingers against my back. Or he would be fully on the other side of the oceanic bed, arms close against his sides as he lay on his stomach, his long frame stretched diagonally. I listened until I could hear his breathing, mixed in with the palms and the waves, before I would allow myself to drift again.
I have been working on my third novel, Pushing the River, for around ten months now. I have had the experience of an entire book – my first novel — pouring from me, a finished first draft in five months. I have also had the experience of a second book that took years to write. And a couple more years to re-re-re-rewrite. I try to ride the waves of bountiful yield and the soul-killing periods of drought as best I can.
And once in a while: magic. An idea comes, a true lightning bolt – in this case, a solution for something that I was not even fully aware was a problem. An entirely different approach to the narrative structure. In other words: inspiration. The moments we cannot force. We just try to trust that they can, and that they will, happen.
Photos by Steven A. Jones