The Church of Writing (30)

It isn’t fair. I try reading other books about writing from my odd “moving to Mexico” collection. But how can any book follow Natalie Goldberg’s? I give it almost two weeks, plodding through the pages, duty and stubbornness combined, hope dwindling. I give up, return to the Ray Bradbury. I’d only read it once years ago, but already, in the first chapter, it makes me cry. It seems unbelievable how lucky I am, to have these two writers who talk about the writing process, who both move me to tears. But it’s a mystery. The other three books don’t touch me, not even Annie Dillard’s whose prose is so lush. So I wonder what it is. Is it like acting? Does the actor need to feel the emotion he’s portraying in order to affect the audience? Is the emotion of the writer able to move into us when we read their work? Is there some mix of mind, heart, body, spirit, the writer’s integrated presence, that hugs their words? Are our words infused, like magic, with how or who we were when we wrote them? Are we transported by a writer who takes us to a world of their own making because the writer was wholly planted there when the words flowed through them, feet buried in the earth? I think so. And I love the idea that our own energy might travel unseen with our writing, ghosts on a night train, lighting people up all over the planet. No wonder libraries are sacred. Holy houses, resonant with this collected energy, like centuries-old cathedrals, dust swirling in the air, caught by the late afternoon sunlight, the smell of old paper, the feel of warm wood beneath your palm, like a prayer.

4 thoughts on “The Church of Writing (30)

  1. maybe it’s being in the seam between here and there. I love that your feet are firmly inhabiting the soil. I fell into Chabon describing an imaginary Alaskan sky and the real visual of the Hudson River, Dylan talking about a 2nd story walk-up in the Village or the ‘cave-like’ kitchen in a basement, b/c always wanted to be able to write those things myself, and those writers really did. You do too. Sometimes we all do. Writing circle.

  2. Thank you, Laurie.

    Those feet were not “mine” in the writing, but sometimes they are. ;-)

    I do think we tend to be moved by writing we have some kind of affinity for. I had a section of this writing I left out of the blog that touched on that idea. But it becomes more complex because depending on who we are, we might be moved by a writer who seems very different from us. And depending on what we are reading, maybe we can’t tell? Not sure. Clearly, too, we can be shocked or angered or ?? by a “report” of any kind, so where is the affinity in those cases, especially things like headlines, maybe, where it is really the words that speak for themselves, that hold their own charge?

  3. Miss the circles too. The freedom of that learning time gets to stay (sometimes.) Thank you! : )

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