On Writing

Writing is a strange business. When life is particularly full, providing all the material that will eventually find its way to these pages, not a word comes out. Putting a blog together now is like harvesting swallows' nests, drunk. The mind is bursting, there is maelstrom in the heart, and I have to rely on scattered notes, often so short as to be incomprehensible. "Strangers but friends". "Held". "Sherlock". Especially the ones made at night on an iPhone with the autocorrect function on are tantalising but useless.

The process can't be hurried, that much I know. Understanding seeps slowly through the layers of our psyche and while that is happening, results are unobtainable. So naturally I turn to all the reams of text that previous times of great quiet or great activity have yielded. But how is it that none of them seem relevant at this moment? Old notes on timeless subjects such as acedia, ring hollow. I remember writing the acedia piece - it's nearly ready to publish - during a sunny, windy week in the countryside. The horses whinnied and the river rose and rose. The text is as good as done, so what holds me back? Perhaps the realisation that what I understood then is changed again by what life is teaching me now. It wasn't the end-all piece on acedia, after all, though at the time I thought it's the best thing I have done.

After pondering the keys to my subconscious on the iPhone again ("Guardians of beauty and wisdom, share it, not spuerficila"), rejecting out of hand all old texts, I rebel. When did I promise a blog every week? Never! Or even every other week? Not even that! Though, ok, to myself I did. Whose life will fall apart if I don't publish? No-one's! Then comes capitulation. True enough, every reader can manage a month or two without Mente Livre, just about, but...there is that frustrating, restless prowl round the keyboard, a thirst that can only be slaked in one way.

When the words don't flow, I chastise myself for the whole self-indulgent business of having a blog: a pretty, public stage to dance upon and parade all my "learnings". Useless, harmful even. But when text comes easily, it never seems that way: it is but a sharing, a conversation, a way of living together.  

Yes, life feeds it, and sometimes all that can be done is to take part in the banquet, at most scribbling a bit on the napkin. And sometimes life bleeds it dry. In either case, one can turn to others who wrote and write, find nourishment and share that, for a while. In the end, I must simply trust that eventually there will be something homegrown again to post.

Conventional wisdom says that promising you, dear reader, a certain amount of output will keep us lazy old writers with our nose to the grind. That without the "promise", there will be less produced. True enough, but that's only half the story. Our lives are full of unnecessary chatter, the harvest of such "promises" to our "users", our readers, our "customers". Pointless output is the order of the day. So, out of respect for you, and for the slow percolation of life, I take back the promise I never made. Instead, I promise to only publish when I think I'm on to something really interesting. Considering the way the creative process works, that may mean an unprecedented flood of blog posts. Equally well, it may be that silence reigns. And that's part of the excitement, isn't it? To look at the cold sunshine of a northern April, and to wait and see!