Absence and Absinthe

English: John Steinbeck

English: John Steinbeck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writing can be toxic, like a drug, if used for purposes other than restorative and healing. I’ve found myself lately thinking about writing in ways that I’d hoped I never would. I began to compare my writing with those who I did not want to emulate, but whose style I felt pressure to conform to. I started to think of writing as a means to an end, an elevator to circumvent life’s ladder. I had begun to hope my writing would take me to where my life would begin.

Steinbeck wrote the following in the journal he kept while writing “East of Eden,” –

“In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable. And sometimes if he is very fortunate and if the time is right, a very little of what he is trying to do trickles through – not ever much. And if he is a writer wise enough to know it can’t be done, then he is not a writer at all. A good writer always works at the impossible.”

Those words have struck me into silence. Not because I’ve nothing to say, but because I was writing without saying much. If I’ve neglected putting down my thoughts here for some time, it’s because I have only but one thought left on writing, on creating novels, and on this whole thing that you and I have set out to do. It is that I haven’t yet begun.

For too long I was trapped in my notions of what was possible.

I wish to start again, from the beginning, and work on the impossible.

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10 thoughts on “Absence and Absinthe

  1. Wow. 🙂 what great words from a great writer. I guess it is true… writers are continuously trying to work on the impossible. Nice post.

  2. Getting out of one’s comfort zone, is a great achievement in itself, not just in writing but with anything in life. It’s one step closer to making the impossible, possible 😉

  3. You’ve probably reached this point because you’ve got something to say and are too afraid to say it, something that is right out of the soul, something seemingly impossible to say. I don’t agree with Steinbeck. Everything can be expressed; just not everyone will understand what you’re saying. We have to come to terms with the fact that we don’t always need an audience. Sometimes something just needs to be acknowledged by the self. Write it. I’ll try and understand it! And if I don’t, why should you care?

  4. You are a true writer to question yourself so ruthlessly. Aside: Steinbeck is my absolute favorite, and I loved East of Eden, too–the prologue echoing the sentiment you quoted here. To paraphrase: I have given everything I can (with this novel) and it is still not enough…

    Great byte. If you’re interested, I wrote a mini review on some of his bookery; it’s under Artist Reviews and/or Op-Eds at my site. (can’t remember for sure..)

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