How to Write?

Sometimes I wish I were braver. Sometimes I wish I were bold enough to write everything down. Almost everything. Describe every day, every emotion, every challenge, every failing. My diary – handwritten, the scrawl illegible and on a slant so that you must tip the pages of my journal sideways to read – is testament to single days (mind numbing minutea much of it, who said what to whom why) but emotions, challenges, failings feature large. Private anger, concealed melancholy, occasional clandestine blowing of my own tinny trumpet. But here? Here there are people who would be shocked, outraged, saddened, disappointed.

Once, once a long time ago, I articulated my impotent rage at Outpost living. I ranted. Unabridged. Unadulterated. My husband never reads this. But he did that day. And the shock, outrage, sadness, disappointment was etched into his expression that evening; ‘I read your blog today’.

How must writing be to be believable? To register as authentic?

And what of the emotions, the challenges, the failings? My emotions, challenges, failings?

The emotions see-saw, vacillate between one day and the next, sometimes a single hour and the one that follows (a swim helps, a glass of wine, each narrows the gap between feeling wretched and feeling as if it’ll all be ok). The challenges are many. Where does one go in one’s head when one has been cast off in a veritable sea of silent space? So much space that thoughts have room to jangle. And jangle they do. I long to say, ‘there aren’t enough hours in my day’. But there are too many to fill. Tight schedules necessarily demand direction and discipline. If I don’t get out of bed in the morning, it won’t matter much. Most days. And the failings. Those are they that stalk large and cold at 3am. That’s when I wonder, ‘is it too late?’. Is it too late to write with real success? Is it too late to achieve all the things I want to achieve? Have I squandered the time – and I, for my geography and circumstances, have been gifted more than most: time. How careless to waste it.

How honest to be. Where is that fine line that divides a rant, a moan, the cumbersome wearing of hearts on sleeves and writing well with a believable voice, an empathetic tone, lightly about the dark.

And should we write what we know?

2 Responses to “How to Write?”

  1. Lily Says:

    I have bookmarked the quote below and thought you might enjoy as well. I have read your blog for a long time and followed the threads of your life with interest, as do many others, so isn’t that in itself a sort of success? I always think that when your words become someone else’s memory, then that is a sort of success. A triumph over cliches.
    “In his essay “Late Bloomers,” published (ironically) in the New Yorker in 2008, Malcolm Gladwell makes the useful distinction between late bloomers, late starters, and late-discovereds. You’ll likely see a mix of these appearing in this column, but my personal curatorial bias is toward the late starters. Gladwell writes mostly about artists who require a long, reiterative, “experimental” approach to their work – artists (Cezanne is his primary example) who might begin work on a novel or a painting at a relatively young age but need 10, 15, 20 years to fully develop and execute their vision, to attain a level of noteworthy excellence. My bias toward late starters – people who have lived a whole life, or two, or three before seriously devoting themselves to write a book – relates to the collision of life and art; I’m interested in writers who perhaps had the inkling, or the deep desire, to write, to pursue a creative life, for a long time, but for myriad reasons were impeded – internally, externally, a combination of the two. I am excited and inspired by individuals from whom a determined self-reinvention – a digging in, a deep breath, an about face or leap off a cliff – has been required at some point in order to pursue the vocation that has called from within but for which there has been little native tailwind.” from this link by Sonya Chung

  2. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you Lily. Yes, it absolutely is some sort of success. Absolutely and the writing has brought both personal joy as well as a way to map stuff out when direction gets lost. The post I’m about to upload will poss shed some light. I really love the quote. It is hugely meaningful. The evolution of stories, language, perspectives is often slow and gentle and changes course, and so must be the same of ourselves i suppose? Thank you.

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