How much is a brass farthing worth?
Is it just Mondays that bring this? This wondering why I’m doing this work, this query as to whether I have any talent at all? Mondays bring out the Horrible Writer Why Don’t You Just Get A Job syndrome in spades.
I think it’s the rain, too. Maybe JR in Portland is feeling it too. The thunder and lightning was a rare treat, enough to worry me about my computer’s surge protector — but mostly the dull greys of falling water aren’t doing my psyche any favors. Monday blahs, rain blues, and writer woes. I flipped through Thoreau – but his ascetic snobbery was no help. And then… I read…
Who will teach me to write? a reader wanted to know.
The page, the page, that eternal blankness, the blankness of eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time’s scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch but touching it nevertheless, because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page in the purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with all your life’s strength: that page will teach you to write.
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life, at 58-59 (1989).
I had to read Dillard as an undergrad as part of a Nature Writer’s course, and I didn’t really ‘get’ her. She’s one of those writers you have to sort of digest piecemeal… and in my present state of mind I more ‘get’ the beauty and the starkness of that ‘eternal blankness’ she mentions of the page than much else she says. Yes, I am ruining the sanctity of that page as I blot it with my fitful and stunted observations on the universe, but it’s part of fulfilling the possibilities of that other life within me — and my secret self goes scouting down the ways of a vast myriad of other possibilities as I sit at this keyboard again and again.
I’m torn between laughing at myself for such hubris and saying ‘Gah, how depressing!’ I don’t feel any better. But, this too shall pass.
Write on. Tuesday’s coming.