Past Justification

Why is it a writer can go into a pub, and come out a drunk?

I opened my front door today and I found this sad and dejected thing sleeping on the porch: a fragile fiction.

You know what I’m talking about, right? These days (and they are adding up) there’s so much happening to reading, books, publishing. It’s all in turmoil and change and it’s so damn hard to keep track of who knows what and what knows who.

I feel like I’m in my foxhole, and so is every other writer out there. And it’s cold and wet in the hole. And each time I pop my head out, I’m afraid some crazy writer with a penchant for violence and guns is going to ask me what the hell is going on.

But I don’t have any answers. I just surface from my foxhole because I want to watch the sun rise, the sun set.

To change the metaphor; it’s a sea of shit out there in the publishing world, so be careful what you lunge for.

Which doesn’t mean I’m simply jaded and pessimistic. In fact, the opposite. Writing is how I engage with the world and I love all the bruises and the punches and the let-downs. Just makes me get up and go back for more. Because for me there is no other art that can contain as much human experience as writing. So I will write as the shit sea laps over my coracle.

You’ve got to fight back. You’ve got to start tossing your handbag (quaint English tradition of having a spat). And mostly with yourself. Because you have to keep reminding yourself: “I am going to keep doing this. I cannot be stopped.”

So, you know what I did with that fragile fiction that found its way to my door. I kicked it. I roughed it up. I sent it packing with its tail between its legs.

Rilke said that art can come only out of inner necessity.

To me that sounds like a rallying cry to write — because I must!

“Allowing space for change is allowing space for grace. That’s what I get from good writing.  I have nothing to say that will change anybody’s mind. Nothing. Being didactic is uninteresting. But allowing space for people to remake their minds about things, to change—or to get angry—is a viable literary purpose. That I fail at this over and over is my reason to continue. Failure is edifying. We break the lights.” Colum McCann


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