One thing about the festive season is that there is sometimes a little more time for sitting and reading, reading and sitting.
For me, the reading included Stephen King's Billy Summers, and this quotation leapt out at me. How did he know about the unfinished thing that lurks on my i-Cloud drive. I know it's there. Will I ever finish it? And how many of us are the same?
The central character has started to write a book, for the first time. He is really a paid assassin, and living as a writer is his 'cover', but it quickly draws him in.
"He looks at the first line – The man my ma lived with came home with a broke arm – and feels a kind of despair. This is good work, he feels sure of it, but what felt light when he started now feels heavy, because he has a responsibility to make the rest just as good and he's not sure he can do it.
He goes to the periscope window and looks out at more nothing, wondering if he's just discovered why so many would-be writers are unable to finish what they have started. The thinks of The Things They Carried, surely one of the best books about war ever written, maybe thebest. He thinks writing is also a kind of war, one you fight with yourself. The story is what you carry and every time you add to it, it gets heavier.
All over the world there are half-finished books – memoirs, poetry, novels, surefire plans for getting thin or rich – in desk drawers, because the work got too heavy for the people trying to carry it and they put it down.
Some other time, they think. Maybe when the kids are a little older. Or when I retire."
Stephen King, Billy Summers
Hodder & Stoughton, 2021
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I love the idea of the work "getting too heavy to carry it " and "they put it down". I think during this dreadful last year because of Covid we have many of us thought that the load of everything was too heavy to carry, let alone finding the words to write about it. Luckily for me, one day, for no apparent reason, I just suddenly felt the load lighten, and I started wanting to write again, this time my autobiography as a five element acupuncturist and my journeys taking it back to China. So sometimes something happens, and off we go. Let's hope the turn of 2021 into 2022 likewise helps other writers feel ready to lift up the load again. Writing anything for other people is always a daring task, because we are opening the deepest part of ourselves to others, and requires courage. So I wish my fellow writers good courage!
And I am sure what is waiting there on your I-Cloud drive will soon make its appearance in print, dear Nell, when you want it to. Happy New Year!
Making big decisions and writing, for me, has somehow dried up. Will it return? I walk out to remarkable land and wonder. However, the words wait in the wings. At the turn of the year, the darkest night went, and still, there is hope. Much fear leaves us in that hollow space. Instead, we must fill with new words, new thoughts.
The words wait in the wings, and the wings wait in the words....
What is the difference between the exquisite excitement of what could be and the exquisite sadness of what could have been?
Tender-stem broccoli and a perfectly boiled egg.
Plus, in certain circumstances, a little strong spirit in a tulip-shaped glass.
Ah, now. I aspire to the perfectly boiled egg but rarely achieve it. Even more so, the perfectly poached.