rooms. every room a world. to be god: to be every life before we die: a dream to drive men mad. but to be one person, one woman — to live, suffer, bear children & learn others lives & make them into print worlds spinning like planets in the minds of other men. (306)
some days, i run out of words, and today is one of those. (i also spent a fair chunk of time today working on an essay i’d like to pitch, which mostly explains the inability to pull together words tonight.) some days, the loss of words comes with a lack of inspiration, and, during such times, i find myself reaching for sylvia plath’s unabridged journals — so here are a few quotes, along with a few images of the new york public library.
in bed, bathed, and the good rain coming down again — liquidly slopping down the shingled roof outside my window. all today it has come down, in its enclosing wetness, and at last i am in bed, propped up comfortably by pillows — listening to it spurting and drenching — and all the different timbers of tone — and syncopation. the rapping on the resonant gutters — hard, metallic. the rush of a stream down the drain pipe splattering flat on the earth, wearing away a small gully — the musical falling of itself, tinkling faintly on the tin garbage pails in a high pitched tattoo. and it seems that always in august i am more aware of the rain. (123)
the dialogue between my Writing and my Life is always in danger of becoming a slithering shifting of responsibility, of evasive rationalizing: in other words: i justified the mess i made of life by saying i’d give it order, form, beauty, writing about it; i justified my writing by saying it would be published, give me life (and prestige to life). now, you have to begin somewhere, and it might as well be with life; a belief in me, with my limitations, and a strong punchy determination to fight to overcome one by one: like languages, to learn french, ignore italian (asloppy knowledge of 3 languages is dilettantism) and revive german again, to build each solid. to build all solid. (208-9)
simply the fact that i write in here able to hold a pen, proves, i suppose, the ability to go on living. (334)
very few people do this any more. it’s too risky. first of all, it’s a hell of a responsibility to be yourself. it’s much easier to be somebody else or nobody at all. or to give your soul to god like st. therese and say: the one thing i fear is doing my own will. do it for me, god. (435)
it is raining. steady straight streams of rain falling, falling, slicking the green tarpaper roofflats, the pink and blue and lavender slates of the slant roof, looping down in runnels, taking the color of the slates and tiles like a chameleon water. falling in little white rings in the puddles on my porch. dropping a scrim of pale lines between me and the pines, filling the distance with a watery luminous grey. (512)
what if our work isn’t good enough? we get rejections. isn’t this the world’s telling us we shouldn’t bother to be writers? how can we know if we work now hard and develop ourselves we will be more than mediocre? isn’t this the world’s revenge on us for sticking our neck out? we can never know until we’ve worked, written. we have no guarantee we’ll get a writer’s degree. weren’t the mothers and businessmen right after all? shouldn’t we have avoided these disquieting questions and taken steady jobs and secured a good future for the kiddies?
not unless we want to be bitter all our lives. not unless we want to feel wistfully: what a writer i might have been, if only. if only i’d had to guts to try and work and shoulder the insecurity all that trial and work implied.
writing is a religious act: it is an ordering, a reforming, a relearning and removing of people and the world as they are and as they might be. a shaping which does not pass away like a day of typing or a day of teaching. the writing lasts: it goes about on its own in the world. people read it: react to it as to a person, a philosophy, a religion, a flower: they like it, or do not. it helps them, or it does not. it feels to intensify living: you give more, probe, ask, look, learn, and shape this: you get more: monsters, answers, color and form, knowledge. you do it for itself first. if it brings in money, how nice. you do not do it first for money. money isn’t why you sit down at the typewriter. not that you don’t want it. it is only too lovely when a profession pays for your bread and butter. with writing, it is maybe, maybe-not. how to live with such insecurity? with what is worst, the occasional lack or loss of faith in the writing itself? how to live with these things?
the worst thing, worse than all of them, would be to live with not writing. so how to live with the lesser devils and keep them lesser? (436-7)