Spend The Night With The Other

“If one has any idea what one was going to write, before doing it, before writing, one would never write. It wouldn’t be worth it anymore.” Marguerite Duras

Every time I sit down to write a blog post I surprise myself with the end result. Before I start I have an idea of what to write about but most of the time I end up writing something quite unlike what I had in mind. What I have come to realize is that the writing itself is what I enjoy most, be it short articles, stories or novels I am writing. It’s as if I am an absolutely different person than the practical prosaic everyday self who bears the burden of the day’s encounters. I am not that charged irritable wife and mother who is scurrying to meet deadlines, running errands, and taking care of my family and home. In the words of Anton Chekhov:

“Any idiot can face a crisis; it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.”

However, when I sit down to write, I am this utterly detached and quiet person with no worries whatsoever and for whom nothing matters other than the words forming on the page with the pounding of the keys on the keyboard or the stroke of the pen. It’s as if there’s a barrier between me and the world, behind which my unconscious self flows freely and richly, bringing at demand all the treasures of memory, all the emotions, incidents, scenes, hints of character and relationship which it has stored away in its depths. As Marguerite Duras wrote:

“Writing is the unknown one carries within oneself: it is not even a reflection, but a kind of faculty one has, that exists to one side of oneself, parallel to oneself: another person who appears and comes forward, invisible, gifted.”

And behind that transparent fence I can grow into my artistic maturity at my own pace. If that is not bliss then what is? Anton Chekhov said about himself:

“Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other.” 

As for myself, I’ve always experienced that my best time is not the moment when my work ends, but when my writing begins. And I do not agree with all those writers and writing instructors, coaches and editors who say that writing is a solitary profession, a confinement. No. When I write I am never physically alone. I am always with my characters, with my scene, with my setting, with my story, and when I have tears in my eyes because my characters got me there, I know I have reached somewhere special.

“Writing comes like the wind. It’s naked, it’s made of ink, it’s the thing written, and it passes like nothing else passes in life, nothing more, except life itself.” Marguerite Duras


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4 Responses to Spend The Night With The Other

  1. Samir says:

    I know what you mean. It’s a wonderful sensation to live with my own thoughts and characters while writing, and know that there is something yearning to come out and be visible, tangible, in the form of letters, even if only to remind myself at some point of my former state of mind.

  2. It’s amazing how your mind carries you to unexpected places. I often start writing one thing and end up writing another. That is the adventure of writing, I suppose, letting the unconscious mind dictate which paths we take. 🙂

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