Slog is one of those words that fills the mouth like a caramel, like you’re trying to eat a caramel as you say it, pushing it off the back of your teeth. It’s a nice word. Does that bring comfort? Can you really be thankful for a bad writing day. For a week of slowness. thickness. I don’t know, I don’t think so. But I’m saying it anyway. Performative utterance to make something happen. To keep my fingers on the keys.
Writing at the moment is so much like a millstone churning round. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a millstone in action, but we can all imagine it. The grooves in the stone catch and crush the wheat. Rasp the casings from them very slowly, spreading their insides out until all that’s left is a fine powder. Is this a healthy process? I’m tapping with blank eyes, with dry lips. I’m cutting the flour with white dirt, that’s what it feels like. Nothing is pure as I want for it. And it’s my own doing.
But let’s say that the upside of the imagination currently stalling is that moment to, if not pause, at least look around as you crank the handle, as the internet fizzes about you. Rub your aching hands. Waves hit the sea on a distant beach. The sun lingers a bit in the sky, never quite enough. A cold front moves in West from the Atlantic. Someone sits very quietly in a room, hating their hopefulness and ill at ease with all they have written, and alone with this. And then you find two pieces, one after the other, that help:
I am tired. I am tired of speech
and of action. In the heart of me
you will find a tiny handful of
dust. Take it and blow it out
upon the wind. Let the wind have
it and it will find its way home.
There are beautiful wild forces within us.
Let them turn the mills inside
that feed even
The first is Tennessee Williams, from ‘Blue Song’, and the second, St Francis of Assisi. The internet gives us the illusion of symmetry which is the truth of sympathetic thoughts, across time, across language, across veracity – who knows if St Francis really wrote those words, I am trusting a random quoter on the internet – whatever form, whatever instability is present in both sentiments shared in the one space, it feels good to have faith in the complicated something they give. In the current that passes through them when you bring them together like this, and let them blow out again.