Sunday Scribblings: Writing
This week, Laini and Megg offer a wide-open prompt at Sunday Scribblings - Writing. They might as well have said "write about Life". In fact, in many ways, they have. Writing is where life gets lived, really lived for some people, and there are times when that's how it feels for me.
When did I first hold a pen? My father's fountain-pen was an object of fascination. Maybe he let me hold it and gum it as I sat on his knee, in times before my memory. I remember being allowed to hold it later, but not to remove the cap, because the nib is delicate. It was wine-coloured, marbled, sleek. He carried it in his breast-pocket and it (along with his brain) was the tool of his trade. No, he was not a writer. His work was clerical. He dealt in numbers, wrote them into ledgers and books all day long. Wrote them in his looping, beautiful hand. A letter written by my father was a work of art. He and all his siblings had been taught the same graceful script in the two-teacher school they went to, and a way with words that no-one but Shakespearean actors or high-brow academics use today. His letters were elegant. We all wish that more of them were still around. The few we have found have taken our breath away, in the spare simplicity and beauty of his turn of phrase.
I have been writing since I first learnt the joining of letters into words. When school holidays would come around, and there was no need to write, I would find reason to write anyway. Something, anything. Even down to transcribing favourite passages from books. The physical meeting of pen and page was a place where I came to feel real myself. I wrote poems, a newspaper in collaboration with my siblings. As a teenager, a purloined hardback ledger was covered with ugly green plastic, inscribed on its first page with dire warnings for anyone who should chance upon it and start reading it, and filled with the very important happenings of my days. Who was on the school bus. Who wasn't on the school bus. Who glanced/smiled at me. Why they might have done so. Who didn't. Why they didn't. Its back pages began to fill with poems of the "Why did he leave me? How can I go on?" variety. The "he" was a moveable feast. The pen and page remained constant.
I found God. (or God found me). My pen tried, but couldn't find words. Still can't. Silenced in the face of the un-nameable, ineffable, unsayable.
I reverted to writing of small things. To life as it is lived day to day. I wrote essays, essays, essays. I finished school, friends moved away. I moved away. I wrote letters: packets thick with musings, letters that took 3 days or more to write, written in my garden flat overlooking Lough Gill, when I had no television for distraction, and computers were huge machines filling entire rooms in the factory where I worked at accounts - filling ledgers and books with numbers, just as my father had done.
I married. I became a mother. A blue notebook was intended to be a record of my son's birth and early growing months and years. Finding myself at home, isolated, without company most of the time, the notebook took the role of friend, confidant. It was where, writing, writing of the isolation, the longing for contact, for a sense that I was still alive in the world, I devised my 3-pronged "sanity plan". - Learn to drive; take daily walks with my baby in his buggy, saying hello to everyone I met; invite anyone who responded at least 3 times to come over for coffee. My blue notebook saved my life.
I made friends. I found writers. I started to write poems. My heart found its voice. I felt my feet on the earth and my lungs filling with air. I wrote through heartbreak. I wrote through loss. When I didn't know what else to do, when I felt bereft, robbed, forsaken in discovering that I would have no more children, I wrote. I wrote what a friend said I should write:
I am sad.
I am as sad as...
I am as sad as...
until I had nothing more to write.
I saw that the world has seasons. I saw that this sadness was a season in my life. I wrote through it. I wrote my losses, and found new joys.
I am still writing. Most mornings, I write what I expect to find in the day; what I dreamt, or what fragments of dreams are with me still; what questions I have; what I cannot leave out of my mind. I write Morning pages and they ground me in my life. Most nights, before I sleep, I write ten things for which I am grateful. Sometimes it is breathing and my son, salad, a roof. Other times it is that C's surgery went well, that M isn't mad at me, that I spoke up, that I had an idea. I fill shiny-covered notebooks with ideas and jottings, starts and middles for poems, questions for a story, "what if?"s, quotes and lines, words and memories.
My pen is my companion. The page is where she and I lay down, kick up our legs and muse about life. Writing is life.
Yes. They might as well have asked us to write about Life this week. Writing is life.
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