Shaun Levin

Writing as Home

In Writing on June 17, 2011 at 11:42 am

Sometimes even twenty minutes is too much. You plan and decide and think it will be manageable, but then you miss a day – life gets in the way, a class to prepare, dinner with a friend who’s in town for one night only, a general overwhelmedness with things – and it gets harder to come back to it, easier to skip another day. There is always the pull towards silence, towards walking away. And it begins to feel like work, something that needs to be avoided, resisted, rebelled against. So what at the start felt like a project that would bring you great pleasure and would (in this case) be a good way to consolidate what you’ve been doing for over fifteen years – all that consolidating became a bit of a chore. You start with a high level of enthusiasm and you do the first days as if they are summer and you are swimming, running on the beach, everything’s flowing and you are convinced, almost, that you can keep going like this every day. But then you can’t. Five days in, a week in, and you’ve run out of things to say, you feel like you’ve said everything there is to say. And you wonder if this is it, if this, after fifteen years of engaging and preparing and running and thinking and doing and whatever, it has come to this. A week of writing and then you are silent. Doubt creeps in, a horrible nagging gagging mean voice that says you have run out, that your time is up, that what you thought would be possible, no longer is.

All writing is like that. There is the beginning of a project and after a short while the work wants you to shift gear, to go deeper, the trajectory of a narrative is always to go deeper and broader. Auto pilot is not an option, not until you are much further into the work, when the work is bigger than you and you can let go into it. Until then, it’s a constant battle between trust and abandonment.

And then you come home. You write and it is like home, the place where you are listened to. The place where the core of you is accepted and loved and necessary. Writing is home, the ideal home, everything we think home ought to be. There is relief when you come back to it. Relief and all the other emotions and dramas that relate to home. Writing is home, a place to rest, a safe place, a place where you are known. Writing is something early, primal, that moment in your life when you realised you could make everything clear and understandable. Writing is a place where you can choose your secrets and your revelations. Writing is a place to hide and be seen. Writing is the spider scrawl on a page, the thread that makes the web, that web you keep longing to be entangled in and held by like a hammock.

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