Monday, February 12, 2007

how it all started

these quotes from Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival:

The book of the summer was given back to me in the winter. Without the book and the daily act of creation I do not know how I would have gone through that difficult time. With me, everything started from writing. Writing had brought me to England, had sent me away from England; had given me a vision of romance; had nearly broken me with disappointment. Now it was writing, the book, that gave savor, possibility, to each day, and took me on night after night.

I knew the walk by heart, like a piece of music.

Land is not land alone, something that simply is itself. Land partakes of what we breathe into it, is touched by our moods and memories.


I had typed these in earlier today and after Shara commented on a previous post, I realized what the quotes were in reference to.

All of them do explain, in one way or another, how I came to focus in and start writing seriously.

I had been writing since I was very young - even before I knew how to form letters. I would scribble "pretend" writing, pages of it, with what became later my writing tools of choice - a good blue ballpoint pen and a yellow legal pad.

For many many years I wrote stories and vignettes. I called them The Fragments. Everyone who read them said they were pieces of a novel, which I had no ability to even consider at that point in time.

In my late twenties I developed a very vague idea that when I eventually got married and pregnant, I would not only give birth to a child, but to a book. It did not turn out that way -- I had no idea how difficult pregnancy would be for me, and that the last thing I would be able to do was focus on a novel!

Once my son was born, I didn't even think of writing. It wasn't until my second-born, my daughter, was nearing two that something began to shift. I started reading incessantly again, began to attend author readings, and set up a desk and computer. I had an old box with hundreds of pages of notes and writings inside, and I got it out of storage and put it in the same room with the desk and the computer, but high up on a shelf. I wasn't yet ready to open it.

I consider my work in the sand - sandplay therapy with a wonderful man who flew in from California once a month - to be the key that opened the door to writing seriously. It was mid-way the therapy process, which lasted for nearly two years, that I began to make room in my life for the book.

Those Naipaul quotes say it very well.

But there came a time, for me, when not writing simply didn't work anymore. It was a physical sensation, totally visceral and real, that felt like a tremendous pressure inside my head, as though it might blow right off, up through the roof of the house and into the sky.

That's how it started. More later on where it went next.


shara said...

Thank you Billie.

billie said...

You're most welcome.

One memory that just came back to me - I remember buying the desk to set up in that first step on the track to writing.

I got it from the unfinished furniture store and was going to refinish it with a clear varnish. Somehow, 2-year old son got a few minutes alone in the little study with a purple marker and he decorated the entire desk with bright purple marks!

That experience was a blend that most mothers are familiar with -- I was so upset that my one attempt at carving out a bit of space for my Self had been "tarnished" and yet at the very same time I was deeply touched because he knew purple was my favorite color and I suspect that in his young mind he was decorating the desk for me.

My husband sanded it clean and we varnished it quickly so any more decorations would not seep into the wood.

In a way, I wish we'd left those marks there. I never used that desk to write; at that point the desk was primarily a symbol of my progression back from motherhood to being both mother and separate entity.