Sunday, June 19, 2011

Out of it

Only a short post, as it's 11.21 pm. But I wanted to write briefly about what happens when I get completely absorbed in a longish and demanding piece of writing, as I did tonight. I know all the experts tell you to start writing first thing in the morning, but I've rarely done that; mostly I start in the evening, often after 8, and carry on till rather too late. I couldn't follow this pattern while Harvey was ill, as I had to be on deck for him in the morning, but it's how I naturally work. The danger is that I'll get distracted or tired or find some other excuse not to start at all, but providing I can overcome the resistance to sistting down and getting on with it, I'm away for the next few hours. And for that time, I forget everything else.

I remember reading that happiness is a by-product of absorption. (Thanks to Google and Clive James, I can tell you that it was T.E. Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia - who wrote this.) Writing is the most absorbing thing I do. I'm not sure that it makes me happy, exactly, but it occupies my attention so completely that I become unaware of anything else. We set up a bell for Harvey to ring when I was upstairs and he needed me, but every so often when I was writing, I would not hear even that. (I sometimes used to wake suddenly from a deep sleep because I seemed to hear it ringing; even now, this still happens at times.)

This deep absorption in writing is somehow necessary to me; if I haven't experienced it for a while because I've been evading writing (and it is evasion, rather than simply avoidance, especially now, when I have no valid excuse for not doing it), I start to feel the way I imagine runners feel when they haven't been running. It's what Tillie Olsen meant when she wrote about the importance of a woman writer working "to the fullest extent of her powers". I don't think I'm doing that yet, but every time I write in a way that takes me "out of it" - completely away from my everyday life - I feel I'm getting there.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, the writer's joy of total absorption. I know it well. And now you can flow back into your own rhythms.