‘This love between you and me is simple as a song.
No mystery beyond the present; no striving
for the impossible; no shadow behind the charm;
no groping in the depths of the dark.’
My clearly disintegrating copy of Rabindranath Tagore’s love poems was first published in 1919 and dedicated to WB Yeats. Translated from his native Bengali into english. I brought it two decades ago in India when the southern city of Chennai was still called Madras. As the back cover states;
‘ mango blossoms, the monsoon laden dark clouds and the imprint of Tagore’s genius can be felt in each one of them.’
Tied together with a fragment of sari fabric It is a book I have cherished. For long periods it lies neglected somewhere in the intricate disorder of my possessions yet it is never discarded. A rainy day dawns when I come across it like a shinning jewel, open its now yellowing pages and read.
No one can live without love. Even should we find ourselves alone, these exquisite words exist, echo down through time to pierce my heart and bring tears to my eyes, not in sadness but in an ecstasy of love for their beauty.. ‘No mystery beyond the present; no striving for the impossible..’
I bundle it together with the poems of a long dead chinese poet of the Tang period. Strange yet linked companions both to me and I like to think to one another. Wang Wei drew his inspirations from the landscape around him and his solitude in the Southern Hills where he was banished due to political intrigue. There is a sense of timelessness, of the infinity of space for me as he writes of his lifes journey and one realizes he wrote these poems as an old man, now resigned in some measure to the passing of his years. It would be a good thing to do this as gracefully as he and do so with the same calm heart. These are not love poems it is my love for this old man that makes me cherish this book.
‘ If you say that the spring wind
has no understanding
Why should it come blowing me
these falling flowers?’
We know writing is a solitary pass time. For me this presents no hardship, on the contrary I can happily pass an entire day without noticing the clock, looking up finally to see dusk is beginning to fall, and the light beyond my screen is fading.
I always love my characters and get as involved in the lives which seem to spring from them as though they were real people and not figments of my imagination. I re-read, edit, shape and rush on as events seem to unfold of their own accord. This for me is the magic of writing. Like reading a book I am enjoying, in the sense that I cannot put it down.
I read of other writers even very famous ones of the past as well as very successful ones of the present who do not feel this way, for whom the process is a huge chore, a discipline they have to deliberately impose upon themselves. There are pros and cons to the two camps of course.
Mine means that you begrudge the time to interact. There is just so much to do. To research the agents you hope will feel as passionately as you do about your book for one. Since they are going to have to feel that passion from the first three chapters and your synopsis even the covering letter has to be as carefully crafted as the story. You have to read up on their list of authors to understand the genre they have already chosen to represent, all this is fine, it is writing and reading two things I already love to do. Without this you cannot hope to find you way out into the grown up world of published authors. No, it’s the idea that I should join writers discussion groups even ones on the internet, possibly good advice but I admit, so far completely left out of the equation as far as I am concerned. Apart from my blog, itself writing, therefore a pleasure, all the other chat/ social media for the most part sends me running for cover.
However I am willing to search out as well as take any advice from the professionals that may help me to improve my craft or to spot constructive criticism that may enrich my story line and help me to learn the ‘art and craft’ of writing.
I have started to read Carole Blake’s book ‘From Pitch to Publication’ from whom I take this last phrase. It has already motivated me to search out these writers groups, that is at least the ones on the net. Like the header said you don’t have to go it alone, and just maybe, one day you won’t have to dream alone either.
I read this years ago, in Writers News I think and perhaps it has stayed with me for a reason. The fact is it is not essential to the definition to be a published writer no matter how much we aspire to that and dream of the possibilities it might afford us. A writer is someone who writes.
I just read a blog post where the writer said she felt that she was ‘ not cut out for what being a writer means today’ . I guess a lot of writers feel and have felt this way, Jane Austin for one, in her time after all her chosen life went against the social grain of the time yet writing was what she chose to do regardless. I also lament that the time has passed when it was more about craft and talent than about cash.When the world was more innocent if you like. My blogger pointed out that those who shouted (often crudely, in my opinion,) the loudest and the most provocative is what sells of success. I agree it seems that way sometimes but there are some genius new writers getting published all the time so this is not always true. An original voice, a good story, a unique view on the world, depth of character and moments that live on in the reader’s mind, form and shape us even, are all out there.
We have to polish our own craft to be good enough at putting down our ideas to rank among these shinning ones and this simply means that we keep on writing. Even into a space devoid of any echoes of response. Selling yourself, knowing the right person, all this social media interaction stuff does not go with a modest non aggressive personality who lives in the abstract world of ideas . However to naively believe like a spoilt child that if it’s not going to be enough just to sit at home and write while they stock your book on the front table in Waterstones then you need to take a hard look at the facts of todays publishing world and wise up.
If for you it’s really about creating something beautiful, then it matters. If you have a book idea then just get started. The story will take you where its going. Remember there is at least one person that will get immense pleasure and excitement from it as well as satisfaction at the end of those 100,000 pages and that will be you.