To mark TS Eliot's birthday today -- an extract from 'The Four Quartets'
To me, he was a writer for writers.
Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.
Thomas Stearns Eliot, September 26, 1888 – January 4, 1965.
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Saturday, 1 September 2012
It is just over two months since I gave up the day job as a reporter on the local paper here in Cardigan and the beautiful Teifi Valley in west Wales.
Time to take stock a little – actually a lot!
The decision to stop being a wage-slave was just about the best decision I ever made. I guess I will come down off the ceiling one day, but I am still up there for now.
Enough commercial writing-related work is coming in to keep me going and I have a great part time job working in the open air with dogs that helps me keep fit and provides a good contrast to the rest of my work. So the balance of life is good.
I have been surprised, no amazed (a much overused word these days, but correct in this case) by the creative work that I have done so far and still plan to do.
Allowing oneself the space and time to be creative is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. As soon as I stopped working in the full time job the ideas started coming – and they weren’t the ones I had expected.
I did not plan to write about my journey on the awful lonesome road that followed the death of my life-partner and soulmate. But I am writing that story in a mix of poetry, short stories and flash fiction and a collection of work is beginning to come together.
I was not going to write about all that, but I have been greatly encouraged by the positive reactions to this work so far from my many widow and widower friends, who identify with what I write. And there has been a lot of support and encouragement from good friends who are writers, poets, singers….
I am not a fan of ‘self-help’ books, especially in the area of ‘surviving bereavement’. Most of us find our own ways to survive and we are all different. But I hope that my little collection of work, which touches on my own journey at various points along the way, will help others, if only by showing they are not alone. The most awful moments on that terrible road are shared by many of us, even though we all have to find our own ways to move forward.
Of course, that journey is endless, but there will be a point when I feel that I have written the best that I can about it and then I will publish. And, it may be a never-ending road, but you do find happiness again while still travelling it, I know because I truly have.
One of the surprising things that has happened in the last few weeks is that I have an idea for a novel.
When I finished work many people said to me, ‘Oh, you’ll write the novel now of course.’ Actually, I didn’t expect I would. I write poetry, prose, short stories, flash fiction, not novels.
But on a trip earlier this summer I stumbled on an idea I wanted to write about. I am now researching to see if I can make the idea work. So, there will be a novel and there are many other ideas for other creative work too.
And then there is the call to protest, to write and perform poetry in an attempt to make a small mark against some of the terrible atrocities that are happening in our world and in our country. When I was on the local paper I did my best to raise some of the local issues that really matter to people.
Now, although I am still involved in the local community, my interests in raising issues that matter are more focused on the wider world. There is a great deal to do politically, but there are many people using their creative work to fight for peace, justice, equality. None of us is alone.
I am at my happiest at this very moment, because I am writing about how things are. I am sitting in a field writing this – I am actually in the sun outside the beer tent at the CardiFest music and arts festival just outside Cardigan. I am enjoying being free to sit here and write while I drink a pint of cider and watch other people enjoy their day. In today’s world there are many writers who are prevented from writing in public. I am fortunate that I can choose to do this and I live in a country where I am allowed to write freely (so far).
Giving myself the chance to do this is the best thing I ever did – life is for the living.
I find that it really is amazing where your journey can take you, if you let it. And this is only the beginning for me.
Thanks for reading – if you made it to the end of this very long piece you have my gratitude!