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Being a writer and getting there Being a writer and getting there
by Abigail George
2010-06-29 09:52:06
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I see how the afternoon light hits the blank page and then I am even more terrified of what awaits. Against all odds, defying them, like magic, pulling the rabbit out of the hat or sawing a woman in half; a willing participant, I have to make it work. The transmission of thoughts, ideas, feelings from my nourished, hydrated bud of my brain to the computer screen.

Today I feel ambivalent. Tomorrow inspired by so many things. I was inspired by the fact that so many people in the world want to be loved. Yesterday I married words, sentences, metaphors, letters and meanings together as if they had some sought of supernatural purpose, a graceful flow and ebb. They embraced each other tentatively on the page at first before striking infrangible bonds. I was left with the thought when I woke up this morning, can I strike it lucky again?

I read about suffering; ghosts that are still devoted to haunting boundaries and borders that are not off limits, stealing beauties that are in a minority of their own making in the pages of fashion magazines, entrepreneurial diamonds in the rough that have made good from rags to riches in Africa.

My love for the written word first began in high school. Colours were brighter, noises were louder, a din, atmospheres were charged with tension, trees became petrified forests, there was a sudden, immediate urgency about everything around me that I touched physically or with my mind’s eye.

As the words and the books grew longer and larger so did I and my descriptions of the world around me. I didn’t just grow to love sushi. I relished it. I relished the fiery aftertaste of the burn of wasabi in my mouth. The family get-togethers in the summer always christened with watermelons, sticky ribs and potato salad with hard boiled eggs, coleslaw, swimming in the ocean and sunbathing next to the pool that smelled faintly of chlorine. My love for words became a healthy one. When I was ill and couldn’t write, I read.

Writing for me meant a thorough investigation into everything that I found to be academic, intellectual; with every spark of creative expression and drive that it came with it brought me to a deeper and higher level of understanding of the human condition, the rights of minorities, cruel injustices in the world that I found sobering. I was hooked.

Pieces of shared thought that seemed random fell into place seemingly elegant on the white page. At first glance there is no familiar recognition, an accounting of burgeoning states of emergency, just the dopamine racing through your brain as your fingertips rush across the keyboard watching the page come alive, fraught with possibility, a novel livelihood that comes afterwards.

I feel that there is a divine comfort that lies here between your heart and your mind. I am caught up in that revelation when I write.

In my work God is in the recalled details, not a superfluous agent. It sometimes kind of leaves me with powerful questions. Will I get it right again? Will this be published? And most of all is it good enough for the public eye; their consumption? What will their opinion be if they read it? Will they be touched by it? Will this or rather that work? All in a day the writer has to figure this out.

Sometimes I am petrified I am going to make a fool of myself reading my work out loud, hearing my voice, waiting, watching for spaces, gaps that are absent; I try and remain as aloof and indifferent as possible.

Words have there own unique, sometimes generous, always forgiving rhythm. For a writer it can be thrilling, joyful, compelling and relevant and you can draw strength from it when you are struggling for a fitting end to a romance, thriller, poem, essay or article.

The writer just has to apply it to his or her own candidate; the character that they’re writing about.

Words walk to the beat of a different drum. I look for appeasement. Writers do not only write for pleasure. Writing for passion can be fleeting, an inane pastime. The weight of it disguised can be befuddling, lumbering, disabling and a crutch. I was always worried, still to this very hour, this very minute that in the morning they would be gone.

When you finally seek a closure that can easily become restive, here is when the writer walks on eggshells, when the writer is on tenterhooks. Words rendered me speechless, made the phases of my difficult years when I was growing up, my teenage depression and moodiness obsolete. It erased without warning all the years I thought I had lost forever; it made me find an inner peace of mind in turbulent times. In suffering, words made me brave, spirited, sated me, gave me a sagacious pleasure and I in return was devoted and compliant to their every whim, fancy and need.

They were my safeguard. When they came, they arrived with the purest, the most perfect of intentions and instructed me when I failed at my art to fail better; to gain candidly a more knowing and vital skill. Sometimes they came with dim pictures that slowly came into view the longer and harder I worked at the prose on the page. Sometimes burdened by all the flurry of the noise inside my head, overwhelmed but not yet discouraged I shrunk back from all the traffic and waited until everything was a bit more composed before I continued on my destination. But I knew loveliness was subliminally embedded there in those letters, comfortably

I usually wait for the words to impinge me in some itinerant way. It usually starts with an itch I have to scratch but cannot reach for goodness sake, a fog on the brain, a stream of words that meanders into a river and then eventually pours out into the brackish ocean. Silence shut up gives way all out, so goes thumbs down, all the stoppers to their mouths vanish into thin air; then I pierce them together like material. I broach the subject of words genteel wholesomeness, their goodness, their contortion all together now with the evildoings of human beings and where they fit in with the terrifying evil business of war and corruption because isn’t this what a writer does? Isn’t this our duty? To sift conscientiously through ancient history, past; whatever, whoever came before and contemporary, however what drudgery it might be; that is our place. Just one of a writer’s hallmarks is faith; the faith that comes in learning about the life lesson of enduring like a battalion or a modern day Becky Sharp, the heroine of Vanity Fair, enduring the hour that fails to fly by.

The ticking of the clock admonishes us writers if we find ourselves in a reverie; sterile daydreaming, killing time by stifling it with endless cups of instant coffee or tea brewed in a teapot or kept in a flask for convenience sake on the writer’s desk.

Words can traumatise. They can have that kind of effect on people. They have that pounding, gravid power. It can be a bold, useful or debilitating exercise in the neuroses of people living on edge in a modern day society for the reader.

Decidedly writers don’t often know their own prowess.  They leave that up to their readers to decide for them by the quantities their books are sold by. Writers like readers don’t like everything they read even if it is a bestseller, has sold over a million copies worldwide and has won both national and international prizes and critical acclaim. In general people are picky.

Words have their own personal freedom, their own inhibitory touch if they want it so.

The text have their own hybrid identity, hygienic ego, a thawed pulse in black as they stare fearlessly back at you from the page. They hustle. It sometimes feels as if they are thankless. You put them there so now you have to take responsibility for them like a small child with grubby, sticky hands from playing in the dirt too much or eating something sweet; stolen candy from a pocket or a purse.

The destination of every writer is to reach the end. The journey is an arduous one. Now not everyone can make a success of this. Some leave the reader wanting salaciously more. Some writers’ stick-in-the-muds quit headlong when the going gets tough; hairsplitting. For others writing is just a pipedream. For some words mass produced are a lifeline, for snobs they have their own clique and there are those that are keen on literary smut, a channel for communication to the masses; the working classes. Then there are those lucky few who type two of the most sought after words in the English language for any writer, in any genre, simply this, ‘the end’.


  
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