26 January 2012

reflections on "The Writing Life"

Tonight, I was reading Annie Dillard's The Writing Life. While her experience with writing is far different than my own (to be expected, I suppose), the book still resonates with me in ways that I am not sure I can search out. And I fear that this musing may prove to be rather solipsistic.

I've been reading since I was five, listening to stories since I was less than a year old. And something of what Dillard had to say about reading seemed apt to my experience: “Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed?” (Annie Dillard, The Writing Life, 1989, p. 72). I read for many reasons. I want to know the story. I want to know the whys, the reasons for a happening. I was profoundly disturbed by a recent dream I had, and much of that was because my dream dropped me into the middle of the story, so I didn't know why the person I was in the dream was doing what she was doing.

I want to know why. I want to start at the beginning, turn the pages, and continue to the end, through the whole entralling journey.

I have been writing since...late grade school? I'd been telling myself stories for years before that. What I write, and why I write, changes year by year, because I change. My motivations shift. Dorothy Sayers' words, "Write it out and get rid of it," have been a primary reason at many times. I work out my thoughts, my feelings, my understanding, through essays and poems and stories. I let the words pour out, and grow to understand my self and my world better. At times it has seemed like I must write. The notebook that lives in my purse attests to this at times, certainly, as would the notebooks I kept for years.

Articulation through words is easy. But articulating what I keep silent is hard. Grasping at the truths found in the stillness, I write, trying to find my way. Much of what I struggle with remains in my mind, where I turn it over and over again, sorting through it, asking again what it means, but little of it finds its way onto the page. Some of it finds itself in conversation, in the discussions that I have with those who are kindred spirits. Sometimes it emerges in what I make, my thoughts silent, yet visible to me in the stitches of the items I knit.

Tonight some of those thoughts are spilling into these typed words. I write to tell the stories that spill into my mind, from circumstance, from thoughts of possibility, from the dreams I experience. And I write to explore what I cannot understand. Tonight, I am trying to follow that resonance with Dillard's words to its source, which I have yet to find.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave a comment and I'll make sure it gets posted as soon as possible. I currently get so few comments that I moderate to avoid spamming.