by | Jul 31, 2010

On Saturdays, I often use this space to go off-topic, leave books and publishing behind for a day, and turn my attention in other directions. Enjoy.

Everything is the web, and I am the fly. Each thing attracts my attention.

The on-again, off-again rhythm of the chugging dishwasher.

The low snuffling of the Boston Terriers under the wide and burnished table I’m writing on.

The crunch of the rice cakes I’m eating as I write. I’m holding the yet-to-be-eaten bit in my left hand as the right hand wiggles and weaves its tight little patterns across the long blue lines on the page in my composition book.

The bits of sun that catch and stick to the angles of the little windows in the french doors.

The deep pink orchid that rises, vulva-like, over me from its pot.

The deer that squats on the table, candle holders sprouting from its filagreed back.

The jumble of computer, papers, highlighters, keys, calculators at the end of the table where Jill does her morning business.

The confident sheen of the dark leather chairs, waiting for the next gathering that will fill them with diners, conversation, revels.

The paintings that look down from the golden walls bathed by the soft light of the little bulbs that sprout from the ceiling.

The deep plum color of the pottery mug that holds my morning coffee, sitting next to the tall column of rice cakes.

The red oriental stool in the corner.

The wall of bamboo fencing facing the french doors, just a few feet away.

The striped pattern of shadows the big vine throws agains the bamboo fence as it climbs up the wall to the latticework above.

The pottery cherub and happy sun that hang on the sun-dappled fence wall.

Light switches. Rugs. Dog toys. The newspaper. Each thing attracts my attention.

Everything is the web, and I am the fly.

My hand, wrist, arm keep moving as I attempt to free myself from the clutches of the web-spinner. It feels like I’m trapped in the web of my own attention.

Someday a time will come when the trap will spring shut, and although I may struggle, eventually the game will be over. Struggle and rice cakes and fences and Boston Terriers will fade to nothing. That’s it.

Look around. What’s more alive than this moment, right now?

Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by Cybershotking,;

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  1. Lovelyn

    I enjoyed your post Joel. I often write passages like this when I’m trying to get my creative juices flowing. Just writing about the things around me help me warm up a bit. I don’t usually write by hand. I’m pretty much on my computer most of the time. When I get stuck writing I find that writing by hand in a notebook helps me work through it.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Lovelyn. I’ve always enjoyed writing by hand, although I’m a pretty fast typist. There’s something about the pen and composition book, the physicality of it, how you have to write quickly and somehow still be legible, it all appeals to me.

      But the keyboard is much more efficient, I’ll say that. Thanks for the thought.

  2. Betsy Gordon

    So, Joel, it appears you do your Freewriting by hand and not on the computer!

    I’ve enjoyed the material you’ve shared with us on Freewriting, and am awaiting Natalie Goldberg’s book from an affiliate. I’ve done journaling and even dream journals in the past, but this sounds even more interesting.

    I like this column a lot: gives me a framework in which to imagine my new friend and teacher. Have a relaxing weekend in your lovely home!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Betsy, that’s very kind. I did my freewriting by hand for several years, filling up composition books pretty regularly. Now I’ve switched to the iPad, which means I don’t have to try to make out my handwriting or enter stuff after it’s written. But if I were back in a freewriting group then, you bet, it would all be handwriting.


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