Monday, October 19, 2009

The ritual of writing

Last night I toyed with the idea of trying to write in the evening. But I cannot bring myself to write at night. Blog comments yes, but not full postings. I only put them up after I have written them in the mornings.

In the mornings I am fresh and able to think. As the day progresses my mind gets cluttered and I lose all confidence at writing. This is a strange process, others seem to reverse that order.

Others prefer to write at night into the wee hours. For me it must be in the morning.

So many blogs inquire about people’s writing practice. I wonder whether others are like me. Do they write in the night or morning? Is there anyone who can write at any time day or night simply at will? I have a sense that for me at least certain rituals apply to the business of writing. Certain times when it is okay to tackle the blank page and other times when it is not.

Midway through December I will go to Varuna for a week. Here I will try to write at all times, night and day. I am excited. I have never had the chance to write for an entire week alone.

There will be other writers in residence and Peter Bishop hopefully might offer guidance.
‘Why don’t you just go to a beach house,’ one of my daughters asked when I described my trip to Varuna.

There’s more to it than just writing. There is the opportunity to run the work past others, to write in a collegial atmosphere.

It reminds me of some of the scenes in Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty where she describes her time at writing residences. The sense of being alone to write coupled with a level of companionship where everyone is embarked on the same quest: to write as well as they possibly can.


Jim Murdoch said...

You're right, so many times people ask questions about other writers' work practices; we love to see photos of their workplaces and pry into their procedures. To my mind this smacks of insecurity. We don't see a 'real writer' when we look in the mirror. I was talking about to another young writer only this morning and I'll share a paragraph from my comment to him which I'm thinking of doing something with as a work in itself. Maybe I'll expand on it or just present it as something for other writers to consider:

Why is it so much easier to stand before a portrait of a writer one admires than to look in the mirror? We all do it. And we persist in doing it convinced that if we just stare at the face of the next portrait down the line for long enough we'll finally see ourselves. And we'll make sense. I've never found anyone out there who writes like me. If I did I'd very likely quit and let him get on with it. No point in the two of us eating ourselves up over a few lines of poetry.

Elisabeth said...

One of my 'writing teachers' urges her students when in the throes of writing, to read writers who give them the feeling that they too can write. She suggests further that they not to read writers who fill them with jealousy, so much so that they go away full off admiration for the writer and are loaded down with loathing for themselves

You're right, Jim. Insecurity breeds these concerns, but I'm the first to claim my insecurity, even as I know that I harbour another level of confidence. A confidence that enables me to write in the first place.