Saturday, 18 March 2017

TO WRITE ANYTHING SATISFACTORY

To write anything satisfactory you need an undistributed mind and a supply of special first-class energy, a strong sense of self-value which it is delightful to express, the stomach of a lucky general, ‘the subtle experience of his medium which conserves the strength of the quarryman’, the wiliness of the fly-catcher, the grasp of the octopus, the patience of the sheep-dog, the acumen of the microscope-gazer, the taste for high adventure of the Amazon explorer, a head for heights and the nerve of the tight-rope walker, the intuition of the water-diviner, the submissiveness of the nun, a tolerance for claustrophobia and discomfort as of a large square peg in a small round hole, a voice ready to contradict every sentence written, the endurance and piety of a true believer wrestling with doubt, the impatience of Job but of no other kind, and a realisation (which becomes an old familiar) that the pain of the process in which all these qualities are at work, more or less competently, requires the composure of wisdom.  Any question arising, therefore, as to the identity and the value of the writer-yourself to the scheme of things – the World at large – and that question will be felt on the general’s stomach, the explorer’s heart, the high-wire nerve, the intuition, the grasp, and finally will penetrate the finger-bones where it inhibits completely the action of the aching pencil.  In this circumstance, writing does not take place, wisdom goes out of the window and desperate acts occur such as over-eating, over-drinking, foul temper, physical violence offered to inanimate objects; an occasional tendency to feel like dying is offset by the disobliging interest in the thing that never completely fails owing to the work of the ego, the will, virtue and appetite.

Jacqueline Wheldon
from The Leopard on Kamak San


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