WRITING | Writing from the ground up

Posted on 16/12/2009

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Lately, I am finding writing to be hard. Not hard as in difficult, but as in ‘not soft’. I’ve always wanted my writing to cushion and comfort, as if weaving a blanket, as if crafted in some way. Gently and carefully. That kind of want is now feeling like a longing of something that might never be. Instead, my writing feels hard and immovable, sometimes with sharp edges that threatens to slice or sever. This writing feels like a blunt instrument dealing in blunt realities. Perhaps that is its charm? This bluntness can sometimes feels harsh or abrasive, like unwarranted criticism, as if pummelling steel or crushing rock. There is simplicity in that process of bare instrumentality and sparse prose. Sparse as in economical, critical and deft. Perhaps those are the confusions this hardness needs to negotiate – between blunt and harsh, between light and deft, between heavy and harmful. Can it be blunt without causing harm or hurt? That’s what I mean of course – I am wondering if this hardness hurts. I am often criticised for this – a lack of subtlety or circumspection – as if I somehow do not care, am careless, even thoughtless. In this sense, my writing betrays me with every word dropped onto the page like a tear or dirt. So I have cause to wonder whether my writing is indeed placeless.

Places, some say, are soft and pliable. Yet in my own looking and walking, I do so with an unrelenting hardness. I stare these places down, traipse through them and pick them to pieces, only to write of their hardness and their inhumanity. Where are the places that embrace? I am the sort of wanderer or writer who just passes through as if belonging or settling is just a passing fancy. The writing needs some kind of anchor so that it has less flight and my walking needs some kind of string so that passing can be retraced. I should write from the ground up …

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