I’ve been contemplating language a lot of late. Not necessary other languages, although should I follow my thoughts to their natural conclusion I imagine that’s where I might end up. I’ve been considering words, and the ability some people have of putting one word in front of another that can either make your heart sing, or your heart fall. How the arrangement of words in a particular order can make you feel connected to someone you’ve never met, simply because they’ve reflected an experience that you’ve had, stirred a memory deep within you or articulated exactly how you felt.
After a ten year absence, I’ve started writing again. And in a roundabout way, I’ve gone back to reading, although reading is a place I never really leave. Someone recently asked me what sense I couldn’t live without. Sight and sound tustled it out for a while; the thought of never hearing music again is almost too painful to contemplate. I once shared a flat with a girl who could not hear, but she was always the first one on the dancefloor, because she could feel the bass. It’s true she missed the nuance of melody, but music was not lost to her. But to never experience the joy of a word on a page, never curl up with the delightful anticipation of starting a new book, never read aloud an almost perfect sentence, would be death for this girl. And I suppose, tied up in that, is the joy of putting one word in front of another, and delighting someone else with your sentence. Or sentences.
So yes, back to writing. For the last 8 weeks I’ve been huddled with six other writers in a small, booklined room in the confines of Callan Park. The fact that I’ve been writing in a place where we used to look after our mentally ill is not lost on me. In fact, it feels like it’s the only place to house a writers’ centre. Writing is a madness of sorts; sitting down with a blank page and waiting for the magic words to appear. Writing is hard hard work, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or works in advertising. Writing, or at least trying to, is the time I get the most frustrated with myself, with a deadline glaring at you and a story that refuses to hand the words over. But when you crack it, when you realise you’ve just flown over the hurdle and the words reveal themselves, well it’s an experience like no other.
I’ve just discovered brainpickings and there’s a beautiful letter John Steinbeck wrote to his son on love. Without wanting to spoil it for you (go and have a quick look, it will only take a few minutes), it ends with the most beautiful line – Nothing good gets away.
Like I said. I’ve started writing again.