On Obscurity

This was my thought at 4.30 am this morning:

In medias race. In the middle of life’s race I am in darkness. But it is only in darkness that I can write. Let but one person switch on a light, look at me attentively, I am lost. I start to look back at that person, think what they would like to read, write for them – and then my own voice os lost. Utterly uttered. Mutterly muttered. So it is when I try to write “a story” or “a novel”. I can just about write a poem because nobody knows what a poem is. I mean, it can be anything. Anything at all: the drip-drop of two tiny words like a presage of rain; a stately or lovely sonnet, a drill of rhyming couplets marching up and down; a wild wind of longing. It could be anything.

So, there is a reluctance to be known.

I have been reading “The Time Traveller’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger.


Two thoughts immediately – I may be treading on some kind of political correctness here but if my name was Niffenegger I would probably change it for the purposes of publication. No offence, but it’s a little unwieldy. The second thought is that I Anglicised (or perhaps Briticised) the spelling of Traveller. Single “l”s upset me unreasonably like a loss – I am wedded to our diphthongs, our excessive Greek vowel clusters, our double consonants and I feel their simplification as a loss.

Anyway, the Time Traveller’s Wife is about someone who travels in time and can’t control it, and his relationship with his wife, whom he meets at various stages of their lives, as well as in “real time”. It has a difficult, because dislocated beginning, but then I got into it and couldn’t put it down. The thought that struck me today was this: that the time travel is the perfect metaphor for creative thought. You can’t control it; it makes ordinary life practically impossible, and, whilst interesting, seems to give you nothing in return. You certainly can’t hold down a proper job.

This has been my experience. It is certainly impossible for me to work full-time and now that I’m being very creative, “work” has dwindled to a minimum. And yet it still seems impossible to derive any “benefit” (in the worldly sense ie money, recognition) from writing. Well, duh! Given my comments above, that’s obvious. What’s not obvious is what to do about it.

I will have to save this for another post.

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