23 October 2013
Sometimes I get to the end of the night and my brain is too tired to hold the threads of thoughts together. Sometimes I write letters in the morning but I’m overwhelmed by so much of what hasn’t happened yet. Sometimes I’m really bad at the logical order of things. Sometimes I can’t make an outline of what I really want to say. Sometimes I can’t ask the right questions, can’t bring myself to the right places. Or ask any questions. Or bring myself anywhere. It’s a funny journey, language.
This really resonated with me from the article you posted yesterday:
I like to understand things and tend to ask questions of myself or another person until there is nothing left that I do not understand. At the time, in the midst of a period when I was training myself so hard in another kind of representation, and seeing more and more clearly into the subtlest workings of my language, I was confronted with this experience of opacity.
– Lydia Davis
I don’t have the same desires to understand everything. Sometimes I’m just okay with the not-knowing, and I don’t probe deep enough, don’t explore far enough.
I saw this 30-day visual challenge, and wondered: what would happen if I made a map for writing for myself? And then thought: is that something you might like to share? Maybe we could each offer up 15 ideas, images, thoughts, phrases, fragments before November starts, and incorporate those themes into our writings for the day? If it’s too much, we don’t have to. It can be optional. But I like the idea of drawing out a map for you. Of course, we can still write about other things too, but it might be nice to have a central thread, even just a paragraph where we dance with the same topic. Like a keystone.
This all came out of the idea that I would like to write more, that I would like to draw myself out of my mind a bit more. I met with my supervisor today, who said, You’re really good at these poems where emotions are embodied in physical places. Whenever you write about the body, everything turns visceral. It keeps you out of over-explaining things. I had no idea I had that connection with physicality. I didn’t even realize it was creeping into my writing.
I do remember writing a poem about grief once, about how it feels like cement in your lungs. But then that weight feels comforting, so you learn to breathe through it until anything less feels terrifying. I added that last part right now. The first poem was just about grief and cement and lungs, like pneumonia, like an affliction we hold inside. Looking back on it, there was so much more I wanted that image to say.
Have you ever tried rewriting an old poem as if you were writing it now? Borrowing from your younger self, and trying to re-speak it through a new lens? That just struck me as something that might be fruitful. For me, for you as well maybe?
How does the memory of writing work?