I am preparing for tomorrow’s Word by Word meeting, where I agreed to talk about what I’m writing. I am having a mild existential crisis about being a writer and why on earth I would do something as stupid as try to write a book. I pick up Mark Tredinnick’s Little Red Writing Book and find immediate reassurance.
Reasons for writing about nothing at all
Write – about the wind tonight, your bright and terrified child, the intelligence of the darkness, the opacity of grief, the shape of her breast – because these are small, good things and they need to be witnessed. Write them because writing them reminds you and whoever may listen why we live at all. Write because it’s a practice the world seems to want and civility depends upon. Write to keep in practice for telling the truth. We may need people who are good at that; it seems to be going out of style.
Write because it seems like a better thing to do, in every possible way, than blowing yourself or someone else up, than rioting on a beach, than dropping democracy on a Middle Eastern country from a B-52, or telling a bunch of lies and calling it politics or business. Write because, who knows, you may hear and speak a phrase that just may save a life or change a mind or start a worthwhile rumour.
Write well and write often because it is a way of playing the instrument each of us has been given, that voice of yours, of keeping it alive and humming.
Write most quietly when the politics are shrill. That’s when quietness and calm and inconsequential beauty are most exquisitely in need. Given them to whoever may be listening. Give them back to the world, which gave them to you.
Write because writing is a proof of civilisation. Someone had better do it. And it might as well be you.Mark Tredinnick, the little red writing book, UNSW Press 2006, p 149-150
It doesn’t make it any easier to do the task, but it helps me remember why.