June 19, 2016: Downtown

I was out of sorts.  My novel completed, out seeking a partner to bring it to readers.  Tightening and polishing rejected short stories.  Planning my next novel, its first draft to be typewritten during November’s National Novel Writing Month.  Falling behind in my reading.  Seeing my work through a new writers groups’ eyes.  It felt like I’d stepped beyond the point in the lake where the bottom dropped off, my feet no longer planted, my arms splashing to keep my head above water.

I needed to breathe.

I’ve been reading The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life by Natalie Goldberg.  It triggered the memory of another book of hers; The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language.  A book about her True Secret of Writing retreats.

Flipped my calendar open.  The coming five-day week had no court appearances.  No appointments.  No Detroit City FC matches.  Wife out of town for the month.  House completely to myself.

A Zen/writing retreat.  Exactly what I needed.

Since her seminal work, Writing Down the Bones:  Freeing the Writer Within, Ms. Goldberg has taught an approach to writing as a practice.  Influential to my writing, back when I first discovered this book, was the following passage:

When you write, don’t say, “I’m going to write a poem.”  That attitude will freeze you right away.  Sit down with the least expectation of yourself; say, “I am free to write the worst junk in the world.”

I didn’t have to write something great each time I put words to paper.  Freedom.

She also presses handwriting for writing practice.  Back then, I did.  For a spell.  But any insights were lost due to my illegible handwriting.  For the retreat, I would type.

Downtown 01

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Bad luck. Country music in Campus Martius.

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After purchasing lunch in the Guardian Building, I pulled out a pen and opened my notebook.

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Had to rest in the quiet and cool atmosphere of Cobo Hall.  Walking from the Guardian Building, past the Spirit of Detroit statue, through Hart Plaza, along the river to Joe Louis Arena, I looked forward to riding the People Mover back through the area.  However, rail replacement closed the public transportation, making for a long walk back under the blaze of the mid-day sun.  I wrote this in my notebook as I cooled.

Downtown 03 Downtown 04

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The People Mover provided me the opportunity to cover Downtown Detroit on foot. In the sun. With highs in the upper 80’s.
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The place that made me what I am today, as a writer and lawyer.

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The First National Building. I worked for the City of Detroit Law Department in the Labor & Employment Section while in law school. My office was in the shaded indented section, fifteen floors up.

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4 thoughts on “June 19, 2016: Downtown

  1. Normally, the only views of Detroit I see are the ones offered on several covers of my rare ’60s soul CDs, so it was refreshing to read these accounts and enjoy the great pictures.

    1. Thank you. I’m thinking of going back in a couple weeks when the People Mover is running. This way I can cover more ground.

      A friend of mine, Jon DeBoer, who shoots for Detroit City FC, does a lot of nice work capturing the City. http://jondeboer.com/

      Detroit covers a huge area of land. You can fit about three Pittsburgh’s within its boundaries. It has just about everything – good & bad.

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