June 24, 2010

why write? why not read?

Why write? It’s the ongoing question. Sometimes I bore myself thinking about it, so I try not to think about it and just do it. Today it popped out of hiding as I was thinking about writing a new blog entry. “Because I have to,” is a silly answer, though it often enough comes to mind. Maybe it’s really, “because I want to.” If I want to I must think I have something (worthwhile) to say. What could that be? A particular way of seeing the world, perhaps. Maybe I read books by writers who write about writing in search of a better answer.

The daily writing diary has been stop-start jumpy. Days when I forgot, others when I just didn’t do it. Being sick with a cold was a credible excuse for only a couple of those days. Still, rambling away to myself about what I am writing — and not — is something I will carry on for July. Along with a new spurt of editing the novel that keeps slipping into the background.
I found and bought a second-hand copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style which I mentioned in my earlier post. Its “do this” and “don’t do this” approach is an antidote to a lot of writing about writing on the web, which is kind of wishy-washy.

Novels made it back into my reading. Alison Wong’s When The Moon Turns Silver, Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy (three short novels from the eighties), Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs.

And a bit of new writing:

…the other side…
I try not to envy Maria. She’s my best friend, after all, and envy is such a corrosive emotion, not too many steps away from resentment, and you can’t be friends with someone you resent. Married to maybe, I’m sure many are, but not good friends with.

We’ve known each other for forty years, Maria and I, been through a lot together — my illness, her divorce, the horror of her son going into the army, the SAS, no less. Not to mention various financial crises, forced house sales, teenage children in various kinds of trouble. All history now. We talk sometimes about how things we lived through, like the ’81 Sprinbok tour and the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, are the subjects of documentaries about the past. “That’s not history, that’s my life!” we want to say.

We haven’t always lived in the same city or even country, but it never stopped us keeping in touch. How old-fashioned writing and posting a letter with a stamp on it seems now.

It’s so easy to be romantic about something that isn’t and won’t be available to oneself, so easy to think “it must be wonderful to…” and it wouldn’t necessarily be, on a day to day basis,j so wonderful in its happening. But I do envy. Oh, I have my laptop, bless it, that takes me out and about in the world, but it’s not the same as living, as they say, in the bosom of your family.
“Here you go, Helen, here’s your call from Adelaide.” They’re very nice the staff here, mostly from the Pacific Islands, quietly spoken and pleasant

“Hello Helen, it’s so good to hear you.” Maria sounds tired. I can hear her grand-children in the background, arguing with their father by the sound of it. “That’s just started up. I’ll go into the other room and close the door.”

No comments:

Post a Comment