I've been learning about two things. One is "verticality;" the other, its kinsman, is pace. This has to do not only with writing but with life.
What is verticality? It's a concept that emphasizes depth rather than breadth (horizontality.) In other words, one's writing reflects a more inward, up and downward flow, than expansive, back and forth, if I'm saying it right. Annie Dillard says it best in her essay on "How to Fashion a Text:"
"The interior life is in constant vertical motion; consciousness runs up and down the scales every hour like a slide trombone. It dreams down below; it notices up above; and it notices itself, too and its own alertness. Te vertical motion of consciousness, from the inside to the outside and back, interests me."
A life lived mindfully and "vertically," may I even say "spiritually," will be interesting, if nothing else.
I've always been more of a rabbit than a tortoise - given to great bursts of energy, only to break down and be out of the race for a while. Is it too late to teach an old dog new tricks? I hope not.
Which brings me to my second lesson: pacing. The great philosopher/poet Johann Goethe once wrote: "Do not hurry, do not rest." If one is going for the deep sea diving of verticality, pacing is everything. "Do not hurry. Do not rest." It saves energy and spends it wisely.
So I'm trying this on in life, as well as on the page. Yesterday, as I walked through the halls of the prison where I work, I was conscious of these two things. Slow down. Dive deep. Oh yes, and breathe.