On being a writer...

A celebration of the writing process, of being a writer, of all the weird things that pass through a writing brain...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Books and certainties

In the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty....  Such a lot of it about (thank you Donovan).

I was thinking about change and uncertainty in relation to books.  I'm reading E L Doctorow's The Book of Daniel which is about the tempestuous years of anti-communism and the Vietnam War and yet utterly compelling and life-affirming, and I was thinking that what a great book gives us is a rock, a fistful of certainty that is art and story and something that won't be changed, once published.

There are other objects I love:  my umbrella, because it marks out a little dry space; my Yoga mat, because again, it's a rectangle of re-energising contemplation and movement; the inside of a church because of the long years of prayer that have happened inside it; our second hand oak dining room table because of the thousands of family meals that have been eaten around it.

And the books on my shelves fulfil this same function, because they mark the passage of time, and all the words I have read and the thoughts I have had as I read them.  But they're more than that; aside from the contents they represent writers, and the people who have bought the books or lent them to me, or recommended them.  Little packages of pure energy.

Maybe we should relegate the electronic readers for holiday use only.  How can they ever replace that physical chunk of certainty which we can share and hold and reread?

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