Wednesday, December 26, 2007
We think we know somebody. They think they know us. It’s nice because we can always be surprised.
My son takes present-buying seriously. He went to a hippy shop and toyed with getting me a piece of angel merchandise or a Native American dream-catcher; but fortunately thought better. I received a hastily-wrapped book and opened it rather apprehensively, being choosy. It is Teach Yourself Creative Writing by Dianne Doubtfire, a suspiciously creative name. Its contents are eminently sensible for the writer aspiring to publication “in print”. But I didn’t feel like one of Ms Doubtfire’s intended readers, I mean one of her aspiring writers. I feel like a different species, a kind of engineer who uses literature as medium, and subjective experience as content. Or perhaps an artist who paints from life, using words: inner life as reflected in outer life.
A friend refers to his own “dear blog”. We have much in common: we love our writing instruments. I feel affection for my fountain pens and writing-books. They are sacred objects, as if the inspiration lies actually within them and I am only the catalyst helping them speak. Most of all I love my blog because I write that others may read, for a communion of souls.
My own desire is to be a writing instrument rather than a writer, the recipient of inspiration rather than its owner. Then I can focus on polishing and structuring the words: that is the engineering part. Without inspiration there is only concoction, like factory-made food.
The other day I went to visit a dear relative in London who gave us some crabs to take home, recounting in graphic detail how they were live when she bought them. I was horrified, didn’t want the detail and couldn’t bear the thought of taking them home. She asked what I thought to do with them. I said if they were alive I would drive to the seashore 70 miles away and release them. I was ashamed of saying such an ungracious thing and fled the house for a walk in the fresh air.
It was frosty outside and the suburb was not of an attractive class. Trying to be festive, several houses were decked with inflatable Santa Clauses. The inflated beard of one was so grotesque as to tip me into a pit, I mean a low mood from which it is hard to climb out. I lost that usual detachment which makes the world of other people tolerable, and cursed my sensitivity. In imagination, I was stuck in this chilly suburb, renting a lonely room, with a landlord whose idea of Christmas was to blow up these plastic things and put hideous flashing lights in the windows; and who would invite me to watch television, and serve synthetic dainties out of a packet. In this daymare, I forgot my usual reasons to live.
Teach Yourself Creative Writing could drop me into a pit if I let it, if I followed its exercises, concocting fake prose or verse. Writing is my ladder, not my chute. Writing is my flashlight for the exploration of inner space, not a fancy trick for fame and fortune. Writing is potent magic, to be used in service of truth alone.
Posted by Vincent at 7:23 am