Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fragmentary Thoughts

Honestly, I think all my thoughts are fragmentary these days.  Life is so fragmentary!  Even the way I read is fragmentary.  Bits and scraps, or as Virginia Woolf would say, scraps, orts and fragments.  Mostly this is fine.  But there are also times when I crave a wholeness, a span of time, a long bath, a thick book.  

I've been waiting for the sun to come up properly.  On a day off, such as today, I have the luxury of walking the dog a bit later.  I can't bear setting off into the darkness.  (Though this is exactly what one does when writing).  

I've had the conversation so often lately, about how we sustain ourselves as writers.  And I've talked here about the book by Betsy Warland called Breathing the Page but thought it would be a good time to mention it again.  She has a wonderful series of meditations on 'sustaining yourself as writer.'  She says things that are plainly true and which as a result make one feel a little less lonely.  She says:

"A writer can often feel that everything conspires against the act of writing."

"I do not recall ever having heard a writer say that he has too much time to write.  There is never enough time to write.  This is our chronic complaint.  To be fair, it is also a fact, not infrequently, a tormenting one." 

"I have come to believe that we writers have a particular, perhaps even peculiar, relationship with time. That our relationship to time may be the basis of our bond with each other as much as is our fascination with narrative itself."  

And this is the part I quoted before, which has resonated with me so often since reading it:

"Although we can understandably long for a period of full-time writing, we can't afford to pine too much for this."  

"It is essential for us to be inventive, tenacious, wily."  

You can actually download a PDF of this essay on her website, very generous I think of her to do this (not to mention inventive).  But I do recommend the book as a whole.  It's just one of those lovely books that you'll want to take off the shelf every now and then when you realize the whole writing life is madness and you're going mad.  

The thing about not pining pops up in my head all the time now.  As soon as I think, oh, for three writing days in a row, without errands or driving my kid to the orthodontist, or going to the grocery store, or vacuuming, or, or, or, that is when I now say to myself, you cannot afford to pine.  Get on with it.  Do what you can.  Write when you can.  Be relentless.  Be inventive tenacious wily.  Stop pining for pete's sake.  Just do.  So, thank you Betsy Warland.  Thank you.  

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