Going South

Look up the meaning of “go South,” and you will get two completely different sets of definitions. The first:

1. Sl. to make an escape; to disappear.
2. Sl. to fall; to go down. (Securities markets.)
3. Sl. to quit; to drop out of sight.
To make an escape, to disappear. This is I did. I disappeared from my husband, my responsibilities, my dogs, and the familiar Midwestern landscape. To fall; to go down. I fell (stumbled) on the first day when I realized my plans for a manuscript were not working (see an earlier post.) I went down a rabbit hole of worry about what I could accomplish here, how my plans were ruined.  But I climbed out pretty quickly and got back to work. To quit; to drop out of sight. I quit worrying about having a “project” and let the writing go where it wanted to go. And it went some places I didn’t expect, some very different places. (I wrote long poems, people, more than a page long. If you’ve read my poems, you know this is a big change of pace.) I dropped out of sight. working in a room or corner of the house for several hours at a time. At times, if I hadn’t known Kristin was in the house with me, I couldn’t have guessed – she was also “out of sight” and deep in work mode.
The second set of definitions, commonly used:
1. to lose value or quality
2. to stop working
My trip here to Knoxville to write for a week at Firefly Farms, run by Sundress Academy for the Arts, was anything BUT the second set of definitions. Once I gave myself permission to escape, to fall, to drop out of sight, the quality of my drafting and revision work did NOT suffer. I stopped working occasionally, but only because my brain was grinding its gears in overtime for so long that it needed breaks. (And food. And human contact.) From now on, going South will have a different connotation for me than for most people. Tomorrow we rise early to start the long drive home. I’ll be ridiculously happy to be reunited with my husband, my dogs, and my own bed, but the writing I did here and the feeling I had while doing it will go with me. That’s a pretty good week, y’all. Goodnight.
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