I Wish for You the Recklessness to Believe
I recently read a post on Poets & Writers by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo that reminded me of things I’ve thought and said and because of this, I find comforting. In it he says:
“It’s not that I come back to writing after something revelatory or after a profound moment of change, but rather, it’s something small, inconsequential even. I eat berries, I drink stovetop espresso, I run until my knee gives out, I stand in the middle of my room for long periods of time, I water my plants and talk to them. I read somewhere: Don’t give too much power to the first draft, and I wish I was that reckless.”
This reminded me of a favourite passage by Hélène Cixous where she talks about the reasons one might have difficulty coming to writing:
“Someone, ‘fortune,’ has not wished them well. And after that, it is singular, it is accidental. A question of encounters, of family, it’s infinite. At times some small thing or a person is all it takes for someone to write or not to write.”
Another piece in the same series from Poets & Writers is by Yang Huang, and reading it squeezed my heart. She says:
“During the week I am busy with my day job as a computer engineer, my children and family. I strive to live a low-drama life with a healthy routine. I don’t drink and rarely go out at night. I don’t even speak much. I live an ascetic life in order to bottle up my emotions for my writing. When it’s time for my creative endeavor, mostly on the weekends, I go to the cave. It is just my desk behind a closed door, but it’s the place where I permit myself to be a writer. I have a nice meal with my family first and ask if anyone needs me. I take care of urgent matters, and then everything else has to wait.”
If you’re someone who writes, you know how perilous it all is. The way that you are hoarding a space in time in the future for your writing knowing that so many things could thwart your landing in that space with a clear head, and a fit body.
You’re often counting on people, hoping on people, who don’t really understand why you need to write things that aren’t bestsellers, that don’t get you on popular TV shows, and aren’t reviewed in a national or even local newspaper. They don’t understand what you’re giving up even though it’s similar to the regimen of someone training for a triathlon or the olympic games.
I’ve been re-reading a favourite book by Nicole Brossard, Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon. I was asked to write a short piece on it by 49th Shelf and in it there is a sentence that I had underlined when I first read it. One of the characters says, “You see, I need books in order to come and go in the complex beauty of the world.” The character stops by a book store on the way home...“where I leaf through novels that make me want to write. I always buy at least one book so I can have the pleasure of a new novel in front of my stimuli-starved eyes.”
We need books from a wide variety of voices so that we can understand the complex beauty of the world. We are hungry for voices that we don’t even yet know exist. We are hungry for voices from different cultures, backgrounds. We are hungry for voices of first time novelists, and from people who are writing on the weekends after a long week of work.
You who are writing, alone, and disheartened, we need your book. I wish for you the recklessness to believe in what you’re making. I wish for you the recklessness to make a strong cup of tea or coffee, to go into your room, and to close the door, and to write.