In need of

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We found this in the wood, a white cross embedded in the tree. Close up the pine bark had trails of sap down it. As if a wound, as if a marker testifying: I Offer Aid I Am Myself Pained.

 

There was no sign of any first aid kit. Unless it had already been taken and not replaced.

 

I am struggling in my own wood. That’s what books are. Dante, speaking of the dark wood he finds himself in on the road to the Inferno, is writing of the book he is writing himself into.

 

The worst thing about writing is the silence around it.

 

The worst thing is one’s own internal judgement stuffed up in cotton, so very tired. Like a hiker in an emergency blanket.

 

The worst thing is the wide day outside your writing space, vibrating with the sentences and structures you are trying to pin the wings of.

 

The worst thing is that there is no one else who can do what you do and you you can’t do it, today.

 

The worst thing is seeing the light while your feet hurt and not knowing how many miles it is. How there is no road through the woods there is only the woods.

 

The worst thing is no Virgil. The worst thing is there are a dozen Virgils. The worst thing is you need nothing but yourself and tea and time and your fingers. The worst thing is you are not sure if this is true.

 

The worst thing is always knowing your catchall of worst things.

 

The worst thing is this is the joyful work and you are not Sisyphus or Tantalus but have chosen, keep choosing, will sing on the mountains of your choosing.

 

The worst thing about being a writer is editing and editing is the only thing that will make you a good writer.

 

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “In need of

  1. Helen, you are across the world from where I sit. There is a gale today throwing whitecaps across the expanse of water outside my writing window (the Juan de Fuca Strait). I read this lovely piece of yours and wondered how you heard the voices I’ve been listening to for the past hour or two. On the days when ‘there is no one else who can do what I do, and I can’t do it today’, I think I should go out into the garden and do what I can do there…

  2. Patricia

    So beautifully expressed: “I offer aid I am myself pained.” Your poetic eloquence in the midst of writing frustration will surely lead you out of your struggles. Your writing is beautiful to read.

  3. I love this line, “The worst thing is the wide day outside your writing space, vibrating with the sentences and structures you are trying to pin the wings of.”
    Perhaps this wasn’t what you want to be workiing on, but you’ve written something beautiful here.

  4. Love this! And yes, there are so many worst things, aren’t there? (I hope tomorrow you are too busy gloriously madly thoroughly ecstatically writing to remember even one of them.)

  5. Helen, I will now imagine you leaning forward and pinning tiny little letters onto paper, one at a time with such graceful precision and thoughtfulness.

    I love how you write. The worst thing is I don’t get to read more of it.
    X

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