Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Lullaying the Lull

n my last post, I wrote about my recent editing frenzy and of the joys and trials therein. This time I want to explore what's happened since.

I have entered a lull. I put so much effort into last week's work that I spent the first part of this week unable to begin anything new. Finally, when the house was quiet on Tuesday evening, I forced myself to do so and, as I wrote, I felt the world ordering itself around me, becoming somehow clearer again.

I think John Berger's words in The Shape of a Pocket on the need to paint apply to writing also:

Painting is first an affirmation of the visible which surrounds us and which continually appears and disappears. Without the disappearing, there would perhaps be no impulse to paint, for then the visible itself would possess the surety (the permanence) which painting strives to find.

In writing (and I assume this is true for other creative acts too) there is a sense of ordering, of making permanent, of slowing down. There is our experience of the world and there is our held experience. I have spoken with other writers and visual artists and they often talk of the deep need they feel to do what they do. I know I couldn't settle this week until I wrote again. I thought, 'I'm too tired to write and I've done so much recently, I'll just read instead.' But I couldn't just read: all those printed words reminded me that I wasn't writing, and I wonder whether as writers progress reading and writing merge. That's how I feel about it at the moment, as though I'm devouring published words to produce something new from them later.

The further I climb the ladder of writing, the more I find I can't divide one aspect of it from the next: reading and writing are becoming the same thing; and what's more, I am no longer sure where process ends and product begins. I don't even know when a poem finishes, as many pieces seem to talk to one another. I remember reading Carol Ann Duffy's Introduction to Answering Back and being excited by Duffy's observation that the poems spoke to one another, not just the new to the old, but generally, as though there was a larger conversation taking place within the entire collection. I suppose it can be explained by influence, by this devouring of other works; and I guess there is also the relationship that forms between people, between objects in a room, poems in a collection, which is always a new and unique thing.

And I am trying to finish this post, to keep it reasonably short, but it wants to grow and ramble across the site. I'll cut it there and see if I can strike a few cuttings.

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