February 1st, 2011
from california

I am in beautiful and sunny California staying with my inlaws while I finish the new book. I cannot get enough of the sun as we have been so deprived while in Vancouver for the last few months. We even had a barbeque last night! I am finally enjoying food again as *i hope* my morning sickness has subsided for good. It has been a challenging few months. But then, as you may already know, I am not one to shy away from a challenge.

I have created a “portable office” as I do not currently have a permanent workspace, and will be working on this new book in a somewhat spontaneous fashion. My book “How to be an Explorer of the World” was also created under the same conditions, I even wrote much of it on a curb in Washington Park, in Troy NY, when we did not have a permanent living situation (and it was one place I could get wireless to do my research). I think it added something to the book though, especially given that the topic was in large part about wandering. I have fond memories of sitting on that curb, sitting amongst some beautiful buildings, watching people go by (some staring at me strangely).

I admit that I have worried that working in this way will cause me to not feel grounded enough, as I require a certain amount of grounding to be able to write. But I have actually found that it forces me to find grounding in the world of the book itself. I get to exist in an imaginary place in my head, which I am now understanding is not necessarily dependent on any real world location. I can go there whenever I want, and add to it, alter it, shape it, or sometimes let it tell me what it wants to do. This new book has been quite an adventure as I am delving into places I have never explored before (the world of narrative). It really has been like jumping off a cliff and having no idea what you are going to land on. I have had to feel my way around in the dark (sorry for the cheesy metaphors but somehow they are completely appropriate here).

I heard an interview with the author Jonathen Franzen recently (I just finished the Corrections last week and enjoyed it), in which he spoke of his own process of writing. He mentioned that writing becomes addictive for many authors because they get to go regularly into their own imaginary places and for some it can be more interesting than the real world. I could totally relate to this experience and saw how it summed up a large part of my own process, (though he was implying that it was potentially a negative thing as in some cases it causes authors to pump out more books than is necessary).

Whatever the case I find this portable existence often quite enjoyable, (even though it exists in opposition to my need for a permanent home). I have always been drawn to (read: obsessed with) portable things, campers, suitcases, compact living spaces, yurts, teepees, etc. So I suppose it fulfills something in me that yearns for a kind of “lightness”, spontaneity, and adventure (living in the unknown). And I’m fascinated with how it actually helps and impacts my books in many ways. The work becomes influenced by the randomness of the location indirectly. Occasionally I will also find myself in a space that is counterproductive (a cafe where someone is having a loud conversation), or I sit at a table where the energy is not right. Often I find that unlikely scenarios offer the best sense of “flow”, park benches, curbs, crowded spaces. It is still an unpredictable method. But I like that feeling of not knowing how its going to go, or if it’s going to happen at all. And those moments when as Dave Eggers says, you “fall into” the work, those are what you live for.

So I will write when I can. But hopefully I will be in another world for a time, one that you will also get to visit in a few months time.

Feb 1 2011
6:37 pm
Christina writes:

Good luck with it Keri! I am at the start of a new creative project and reading your blog inspired me enormously. I actually collect old suitcases and have a beautiful wooden one that my mother used coming out to Australia when migrating from Greece in 1957.

Feb 1 2011
9:36 pm
Tina writes:

I’m taking a course called Experiencing Art and when I heard that we have the option of doing our final project on an artist, the first thing that popped into my head was “KERI SMITH”.
I am going to have so much fun with this one :)
Keep on inspiring!

Feb 2 2011
1:11 am
Sun Owl writes:

you are so COOL.

one of my favorite things to do when I visit your blog is (after reading your most up to date post) going with gut feeling, chose a year on your archives, then choose a month (either the month it is presently when I’m doing this or a month that I feel connected with) and read a post or several from that month. it’s like asking a question and then flipping to a random page of the I Ching to find the answer. super, that’s what.

thank you

Feb 2 2011
2:42 pm
Zom G. writes:

That jump moment, the free fall one? That is the only time human beings actually fly.

Go, go, go… I can’t wait to see the new book!

Feb 2 2011
9:19 pm
:) writes:

have fun, keri. i am on the lookout for your new book. do you have any advice for budding authors? i need to publish a book soon. someones waiting for it.

Feb 3 2011
4:51 am
pixie writes:

ah, i thought i felt the magnetic pull… envisioning you drinking up the sunshine and using what you’ve got.

Feb 3 2011
4:55 am
homa writes:

“I am not one to shy away from a challenge”, how much i like the way you are thinking

Feb 3 2011
2:56 pm
Rhya writes:

Ohh i love the idea of a portable office! So great. i feel like i have a ‘travel bundle’ that goes with me everywhere…consisting of two pencil case, on journal and envelopes filled with various textiles and papers…and then i leave a trail of scraps where ever i go. (it drives kyle crazy)

hope all is well kerry!

Feb 4 2011
3:50 pm
Lisa writes:

Any chance you’ll be teaching while you are down this way?

Feb 4 2011
7:06 pm
Kala/Embark-LovetheLIfeYouLive writes:

Wow Kerri, I guess there are tribes of people, and your line about finding “portable existence …quite enjoyable, (even though it exists in opposition to my need for a permanent home). I have always been drawn to (read: obsessed with) portable things, campers, suitcases, compact living spaces, yurts” I feel the same way. I’m going to include your blog in a post on 10 best sites for Creativity…(title is still in works)
Namaste

Feb 6 2011
7:34 pm
Zann writes:

So happy to be reading your blog again and being inspired by your thoughtful wisdom!

Feb 8 2011
11:19 am
ImGirl writes:

I left you a picture on this post of me, sitting in front of my computer which is generally what I see in front of me from 8-4:30. In my mind’s eye, I am not there.

I like what you said, “living in the unknown”. That’s what we do everyday.. living in the unknown forces us to make choices at the fork in the road.. I like that. From there, we discover who we are or who we can be or what path we will take ~ Never unpack your bags… everyday is a journey!

Your new book,
Cheers!
Kim
IMGIRL

Feb 9 2011
6:27 am
Jenny writes:

Your post made me think of Willem de Kooning’s quote about being a “slipping glimpser.” It’s when we are falling that we are really heading in the right direction! Thank you for your beautiful writing and art.

Feb 21 2011
10:03 pm
SLacKeR writes:

Just picked up your new book… Finally new ways to make my art even more mysterious. I think u could’ve thrown in a page for Marcel Duchamp’s ready made art, but overall you create hope for all that is beautiful and ugly in this world. Thanks!

Feb 24 2011
11:35 pm
Demi writes:

Keri, you inspire me!
I have now begun to set up my very own blog, and it’s all because of you!
It takes quite a lot, usually, for me to be able to read a whole paragraph about someone’s life without getting bored but I get to the end of yours genuinely intrigued!
I would just like to know where you get your ideas from! From things you find around the house to ‘small things you can do to change your perspective’ and what website you used to start your blog? Thank you, and so sorry for the essay! ^ :P Xxx

Mar 8 2011
5:04 pm
:) writes:

You havent written in forever!!!! I miss you Keri!

Mar 23 2011
5:38 pm
wolfie writes:

I <3 your blog so much! im waiting for a new book… right now im hunched over WRECK THIS JOURNAL and i'm defacing the cover.

 
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