Wednesday, May 16, 2012

writing between the lines

I spend a lot of time thinking about writing even when I’m not.  I picture my hand holding a pen and crawling letter by letter across a blank page.  Forming sentences is my version of counting the rosary – part comfort, part confession.  Writing self-help books say one must believe oneself to be a writer.  And I do – albeit one who doesn’t write much, or as much as I should, or want to.

I’m comforted when I encounter other writers who write about not writing, or the end of their writing, or the things they haven’t written.  There was a great piece by John Barth in a recent Granta magazine – replicated here as a podcast.  And George Steiner’s My Unwritten Books was worth every penny of it’s Poundland price.  It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. 

There are things that I’d like to write about but likely never will - but still such pleasure to imagine what might happen if I did.

Stories about approaching St Petersburg by boat.  Of  something lost in the middle of the North Sea.  About those strange places where oceans meet seas.  Stories peopled by characters with short common names (like Mark) that have far more going on than you would suspect.  I want to cover vast distances without leaving the house, pepper my landscapes with appropriate trees and introduce ‘marram grass’ like I mean business.  I want to tell the tale of what happens when a milliner meets a collector of rare feathers.