A Writer's Process: JW James

When I was 31 the Loma Prieta earthquake in Santa Cruz, California, destroyed my home, and two weeks later, my health.  


At the time of the earthquake I experienced a near death experience and my life was changed. I lost my career as an RN in oncology. Instead I became a dreamer and a mystic.  Waking up without an alarm clock, I began to remember my dreams and started keeping journals. 


At a time of great despair, I found the poetry of Kenneth Patchen and started copying a poem a day.  This opened up a space of light within me. I realized I also could write. 


And that was when I became a poet.


I would try to join in writers' groups but my health usually would not permit it. I applied to three universities and was accepted, but illness took precedence.  


"Beetle-black dreams are glittering.
 I know histories of unspoken grace and uneven light.
 I know histories of loss and faithlessness.
 Stones speak through me.
 They impart dark enduring histories."

When I saw a call for submissions from Mellen Press: Poetry as Ecstatic Vision, A book-length poem; I knew I had the book already written.  I went into my ten years of dream journals, sat down and intuitively culled pages.  


Then, I threw my journals away. A dramatic act of faith; I was ready for my future as a published poet. My work would come from the rich place of dreaming.


I received Special Mention and my book was published in 2004.  As I saw it, a gift from the Universe.  A beautiful hardcover book with a silk-screened cover, with art by my friend, Martha Burke. 


And so it was my dreams became the major part of my writing process.  Not only did I glean from the journals for my poetry, I also learned how to heal spiritually and found some peace while dealing with cancer, surgery, radiation.


"All times exist within our dreams.
 All stories are of significance...
 Inner worth accumulates
 dancing shadows from a bubbling spring."