I wanted to write about the way that I spend hours looking at words before I put them together, and even then, unsatisfied, I pick them up again and shuffle the order. I do this so often, and probably to the detriment of anything I write.
I wanted to write about how hard I find it to even begin to write, because of the fear that I can’t do justice to my subject; how, as a perfectionist, I torture myself about how badly I’ve expressed something… how frightened I am that instead of a glittering diamond necklace, I come away with a cheap imitation, or a broken thread.
I wanted to write about the discipline of writing… writing without editing, plain, honest, raw…
There’s a more than a little irony in the immediate cacophony of internal noise that is triggered by the word ‘quiet’. I hear my dad’s ‘story voice’ reciting Merton’s When we Two Parted‘ against a background hum of ‘Silence is Golden’. A memory of a most beautiful place stirs sleepily and I feel the haze of Burgundy sunshine, lagoon like pools and the muffled sounds of people’s reflection at The Source.
Quiet. A concept known to all. Heralded as a panacea, a state of the soul, a level of consciousness, a discipline, a practice, a revealer, a healer, a sedative.
Yet. Quiet. Used as a weapon, a punishment, a cop out, an ally, an accomplice, a collusion.
Quiet. The absence of noise, yet, the stillness within sounds.
The challenge has been set at http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com
I’m not sure how it all works, this tagging posts and linking up thing, but I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try on this, my not-used-very-much-at-all blog. I think I did set this one up as a writing blog. Not that my other ‘usual’ space isn’t, but the other is a bit more specific, more personal.
Asked to quote a passage that I will always associate with a beautifully crafted setting, I have to refer to American writer, John Steinbeck.
The opening paragraphs of Of Mice and Men read like poetry:
A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlightbefore reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees- willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter’s flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the sandy bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them. Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand in the evening, and the damp flats are covered with the night tracks of ‘coons, and with the spread pads of dogs from the ranches, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer that come to drink in the dark.
The graceful stillness of this place is almost tangible. It makes me desperate to feel the warmth of the water, the dry heat of the dirt tracks and the cool of the Sycamore shade.
When a writer has described the natural world this tenderly, this delicately, it stirs up a sort of ache in me that I find very difficult to explain or understand. The closest I get is to compare this ache to a feeling of homesickness. The tug of something tinged with desperation and shades of sadness. Something in descriptions of the natural world makes me long to return somewhere I often haven’t been.
There are so many other examples I could give… Hemmingway creates settings to die for, and Khaled Hosseni whose ‘Then The Mountains Echoed’ I’m reading at the moment, is an incredible writer who can conjure up scenes so palpably that I can imagine the sights and smells of Afghanistan as though they are part of a memory.