September 5, 2013

It's dark in there

I have not been blogging much nor have I been reading much of anything worthwhile in the last  few months but just last night I started with a book of essays by Margaret Atwood called "Negotiating With The Dead," based on a series of lectures, the Empson lectures,which gave at the University of Cambridge. In the introduction, she writes about the motivations for why writers write and ends it with this lovely paragraph that I thought worth transcribing and saving for future reference.
Obstruction, obscurity, emptiness, disorientation, twilight, blackout, often combined with a struggle or path or journey – an inability to see one’s way forward, but a feeling that there was a way forward, and that the act of going forward would eventually bring about the conditions for vision – these were the common elements in many descriptions of the process of writing.

I was reminded of something a medical student said to me about the interior of the human body, forty years ago: "It's dark in there."

Possibly, then, writing has to do with darkness, and a desire or perhaps a compulsion to enter it, and, with luck, to illuminate it, and to bring something back out to the light. This book is about that kind of darkness, and that kind of desire.

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