From the first few sentences, I knew that I wouldn’t put the book down until the very end. I’ve been searching for a book that would reassure me that the path that I was on was the right one.
I was looking for a voice that understood my questions and I found it echoing in this book. It lite up my aloneness and made it more comfortable.
He had me at writing embodies the love of paradox.
Yes. It was my love of paradox that inspired me to write as a way of exploring this love. But this wasn’t something I talked about much. I mentioned it to my mother because she was there to listen. It is what inspires me and I find difficult to put into words but it’s what drives me – this love.
I was speaking with my mother the other day and I mentioned to her that everything rests on the beauty of paradox and what lays beyond its edges is beyond words. We can go there but we need to move beyond our comfort. We each have our own personal relationship with it.
Paradoxes are created because our ability to see reality is flawed. Reality simply contains too much richness and complexity for the mind to take it all in and comprehend it in its entirety – we must go deep within ourselves to remain close to it – to know it, to see it. By going within we learn to hold two or more opposing ideas in our hands at the exact same time. Embrace the contradictions.
In writing, you are guided towards a fire in which you most certainly will be burned. It has been burning me away my whole life but now I have a chance to confront it; to become at ease with it. Learn to handle and pass along that fire.
We get our voices from the voices of others – read, imitate, copy but become your own voice. When you start writing you realise just how many words there are to choose from and the many ways they can be strung together. The texture they create is as important as the sound.
Write about that which you want to know and don’t explain – invite the reader to come with you. Be an explorer and not a tourist.
Your first line should whisper in your reader’s ear that everything is about to change.
You have to show up for work. You have to sit in that chair and fight the blankness. – Get the work done. Get back to it. Resurrect it. Unfail it.
No one cares about the writer’s life unless the writing is there first. What appears on the page is what make your life interesting. And the beauty of this is that you can reinvent yourself. Forget about your life as I forget about mine and go deeper into the living of it – the thing that no one teaches you or can teach you.
I could stay on the surface of things and say I am this because of that but no one is interested in hearing the known. They expect it. They don’t expect you to go deeper and transform the depth into a new height.
Don’t worry so much about your word count – your word cut is much more important. I love to cut so I need to learn how to fill and expand – to lead the reader to imagine the places I want them to go.
Writing solves nothing – be joyful about that but never forget that it matters. The freedom of this – the fact that the power of writing is in the sharing – the touching of another and the constant continuation. To move them into some different light.
Risk yourself – this opens up the world.
Be what a diamond is to glass. Scrap your way across.
Study the silences too and have them working on the page. You soon find out how loud the silences really are.
Everything unsaid leads eventually to what is said.
Inspired by Letters to a Young Writer: Some Practical & Philosophical Advice by Colum McCann which is inspired by Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Also another lovely book. All the italic quotes in this post are taken from Letters to a Young Writer.