Writers are often asked, How do you write? With a wordprocessor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand? But the essential question is, 'Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?' Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas -- inspiration.
If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn.
This ... this is so true for me. I recently deleted my facebook account and experienced a most astounding silence. It took time to adjust to a life without interesting voices crowding in but I did. And I loved it. I wrote. Eventually though, I realised how little people-contact there is in my everyday world and so I went back to facebook.
The alarm goes every morning at 6.45am here. I have breakfast ready by 7.30am, when I'm home, and I'm usually here at my desk by 8.30am. And then I read my way into the place that I work from.
It's a mixture of going through email, a scan of my facebook wall for news of the world, catching up on my blog feed and picking through a selection of new reading there.
There's no physical journey, beyond climbing the stairs to the first floor but there is some kind of journey into that place where I work.
So much can go wrong ...
I think it's why painters have studios, photographers too. Ateliers. Mine would be locked some days, with no visible signs of life showing. I have this 4 hour window of time where I can concentrate intensely. It's the time when the best of my creativity comes out to play. I know this but I can't always hold onto it.
I'm studying the 'how' of it because I have had 5 disasterous days in a row, with life crashing into me, again and again. I think, in the process of opening your self to dig deep and create something that didn't exist before, or to write of something you love so that the passion leaps off the page and convinces people ... you need to go to a place where you can take off your skin and just kind of feel your way with your nerve-endings, with your senses perhaps.
An argument can lay waste to that 'place', to that state of being. Or realising that this person or that really needs you, or that the house is a mess. That particular 4 hours out is all that I require but it's so difficult to actually take that much time in the world where I live.
Exit Stage right, and Genova.
I have a favourite poem by a writer I've loved for years. I've posted it before so forgive me if you have already ready it. Otherwise, maybe this captures something of the struggle ...
Because my grandmother's hours
were apple cakes baking,
& dust motes gathering,
& linens yellowing
& seams and hems
I almost never keep house
though really I like houses
& wish I had a clean one.
Because my mother's minutes
were sucked into the roar
of the vacuum cleaner,
because she waltzed with the washer-dryer
& tore her hair waiting for repairmen
I send out my laundry,
& live in a dusty house,
though really I like clean houses
as well as anyone.
I am woman enough
to love the kneading of bread
as much as the feel
of typewriter keys
under my fingers
& the smell of clean laundry
& simmering soup
are almost as dear to me
as the smell of paper and ink.
I wish there were not a choice;
I wish I could be two women.
I wish the days could be longer.
But they are short.
So I write while
the dust piles up.
I sit at my typewriter
remembering my grandmother
& all my mothers,
& the minutes they lost
loving houses better than themselves
& the man I love cleans up the kitchen
grumbling only a little
because he knows
that after all these centuries
it is easier for him
than for me.
I had to shower, dress, go find a birthday present for a party this afternoon. I had to get lunch from the supermarket. After it all, I came back upstairs just after midday and experimented with layers and frames for my photographs ... trying to 'play' my way back into writing.
Let's see how the rest of it goes. The shot ... a city street in Genova.