Thursday, January 28, 2010


What do you get from writing?

Assuming you do get something or, indeed, some things, what do you get that you couldn't get from reading or, for that matter, an idiosyncratic combination of reading and listening to music?

These two activities supply a major source of pleasure, excitement, information, challenge, and companionship, delivered as it were, right at your doorstep. There are any number of splendid men and women who tell stories or ply theses to your satisfaction, allowing you at once an overwhelming sense of knowing you could never catch up with all the reading you want to do, while at the same time being aware of the riches of discovery that await you. There are also untapped resources among the musical composers you already know, triggering the feelings and memories within you to seek time listening or, indeed, recreating them in your mind from memory.

This leaves you with at least one answer to the first question, which is that you get satisfaction from your desire to perform. Although by your account you have written some simply dreadful things, they were not sufficiently dreadful enough nor was there ever a response to you work suggesting they were so dreadful that you found it too painful to even consider much less wish to perform again. Performance is at its best high adventure, lifting you in unanticipated ways, holding you to account in yet other ways. While you are in the act, there is a constant reminder of the time when you had several blue tick hounds and opening a door meant they all scrambled to get out. There are emotions and memories of a piece with the hounds, wanting to get out, to follow their instincts, which is to say their large scent receptors.

Writing then gives you a sense of the scramble within you and, alas, sometimes of the lack of scramble, but this has its cure, which is putting into the equation that excitement, that stimulus that will draw you out of the shell of regular self and into the clamor of the writing self.

Your answers to that opening question become nuanced, multifarious; you get answers to questions you did not know you had, connecting tissue between two or more events you had previously thought to be discreet. You even get memories yanked from your past that were as coins slipped from your pocket into the recesses of a sofa.

Reading and listening to music, pleasing as they are, informative and reflexive as they are, become passive in comparison to writing. You are then performing, doing what you read of others doing or hearing or seeing. You are doing so in the risk of not being up to the standards of the things you listen to and read, you are doing so at the risk of sporting a monumental hubris, thinking, for instance, that you could walk down the country lane with the likes of Beethoven or Ravel or Dvorak and whistle with them. But ah, they are splendid friends; they do not need you and thus they challenge you to keep up with them.

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