Thursday, July 18, 2013

Learning to Write Ontologically

I've just finished reading Madeleine L'Engle's Circle of Quiet. It was kind of a slow on and off read when I was in it, but several of the things she said have stayed with me over the past few days. Today, I found myself dwelling on this one: 

“Sometimes he will say, 'It's been said better before.' Of course it has. It's all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I'd never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn't what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.”

Lately, I have had that feeling, seeping in from every corner of my life, that there is something for me to write down, not something necessarily big or especially important for the world to hear, but something essential to my personhood, something "ontological" as L'Engle says. I'm not sure what it is, but I think it may mean getting out of bed more to write down the things that float in my head as I toss and turn. 

But of course, as Madeleine knows, this is no easy feat when you've stayed up too late already and only have a few sleeping hours left before the baby alarm buzzes and the day begins. These days, I'm starting to understand what Virginia Woolf was getting at about the room. I guess what Madeleine L'Engle is saying though, is that you have to try anyway, room or no room, "gift" or no gift, you have to create in the best way you know how, as a part of being your own human self in the world. 

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