We All Need Some Darkness

I spent most of the last two weeks in an off-grid cabin, farm-sitting for a friend. It wasn’t exactly an artist retreat. There were early mornings. Water hauled from the creek. I monitored droppings and herded sheep that had managed to open a fence. Meals were humble and eaten in low light as the sun went down.

But there were also long hours in the middle of the day that belonged to me alone. I read two thick books that had been on my TBR pile for months. I took a nap. And I wrote three pens dry on a book project. The book project is what I want to talk about.

Almost nobody knows about it, though it has occupied a quiet little corner of my brain for three years. Nobody knows about it because, frankly, I am a little embarrassed by it. I’m a poet. In an earlier life, an essayist. I have a deep interest in all things political, for lack of a better word, all the things that affect our daily lives, the lives of our neighbors, the lives of all the non-human beings around us. And this project? It’s a romance novel.

I know, I know. But my gut is telling me to write it. And each time my rational, critical brain throws it away, my heart rummages through the trash and drags it back out. Even here, I feel the need to defend my interest in it!

So, this novel. It’s a thing I work on only in bursts and only after all my Very Serious Work is done and, apparently, only deep within the Powell Township wilderness, where no one can catch me doing this shameful thing.

Don’t we all have these fears? For me, it’s my secret trashy novel. For you, maybe it’s a catchy pop song from high school. (My music app played Will Smith’s “Miami” for me this morning and I’m not gonna lie: I was transported.) Whatever your shameful thing is, what do we do with that?

I have a theory: we only exorcise the shame through immersion. We need to just do the things we fear. I need to write this novel. You need to clean your home to the infectious rhythms of “Wild Wild West.”

And what do we do if we need private places for our obsessions? We praise those places. We are grateful for the cabins in the woods, for our journals tucked under mattresses, for our darkness and quiet and solitude.

I want to remind you of an upcoming FREE opportunity to commune with your solitude. Every month, Wild Pages hosts Trips to the Interior, a journaling meet-up group. I offer tea, jumping-off points for your writing, and a supportive environment. Our next meet-up happens Saturday, July 27 2:45-4:00 at our shop in Ishpeming’s historic Gossard Building. Bring your journal and your secret fascinations, and I promise to play Will Smith only if you request it.

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Amber Edmondson