Validation is the vanity of a writer. I’m human, can I claim to be less so? But the concept of laboriously setting up a blog page and thrusting updates under some unsuspecting noses seems so gross. Like printing and publishing ones own books and taking advantage of hapless acquaintances to parcel them off to.
There. I have done it again, spoken aloud against a common practice gaining ground.
Perhaps, as always, the pressure of keeping the juice flowing is what is really troubling me. Writing is as reckless and indisciplined an exercise as living is. And I worry about the futility of it all.
“Don’t think so much!” has been the common advice I have been handed for years now. An advice I wish was easier done than said, a practice I sincerely had found easy to follow.
Memory is my curse. And a super computer for brain, that frequently short circuits itself. The cross current of thoughts zapping though my cranium would have driven a sounder brain to wrap its game up long ago. But that’s it! I haven’t a sound brain…a rather unsounded one that ploughs through insignificances at all hours of night and day. I’ve found myself wake up in the middle of the night, deep in thought. At odd hours of the 24, in the middle of deeply disconcerting client meetings, while chasing pressing deadlines, my brain wanted to spread wings…with evil intensities of concentration on the absurd.
I remember school terminal examinations were the times Poetry would play havoc with my mind. Rhymes would tease me at the hour when I was supposed to focus on pedantic words of the text books. I could see tunes float in place of the distillation diagrams, words – cheap black and white illusions - haunted me through the stink of formaldehyde and the open gut splayed on the wax tray beneath my scalpel. Blank world maps made me wander the Sub-Saharan territories. Story plots played peek-a-boo in my cranial recesses.
I would grow listless. I, who rarely studied through the year, rarely attended unit tests with any pretence of preparation, read storybooks within the cover of school books by a single vigilant lamp light, knew the folly of diversions in the pre-exam eleventh hour.
Shoo -, be gone, evil temptation: I would say. I couldn’t afford to make love to those coquettish lovers. Darned wrong timing, I regretted, but stayed put. “We would be gone and lost forever,” they whisper-warned. Silently un-bemused, I let them go. And they did, never to return after the last paper was sat for.
The pure relief of having an examination behind me, the giddy light headedness never gave rise to a muse again. The muses were gone. I tried to search back, tried recollecting, to no avail. The story plots had vanished. The rhythmic prance, those foggy words, first seen like floating caravans through my mind’s fighting mist, never reappeared.
I cursed myself. I cursed examinations. I cursed the pedantry which kept me from my true calling. I keened those lost words, sirens from another euphoric universe, like a voice of enchantment across the cosmic ocean. I wished to know the fine balancing act of my most admired prolific litterateur (but then, he had been famously self-educated and never attended formal schooling.)
Soon after my mother sold a bunch of my typescripts with the casually rejected old newsprints – I had been lazy and careless, letting my flock slip shoddily about – my sister remarked one evening: They can sell your writing; they can never sell your ability to write.
This was after I had read her a particular piece which had pleased me.
Her encouragement made my heart brim over.
Here now was validation. It was no longer an invisible waltz inside my thick skull, no longer just I who found the words fit magically alongside one another. Here was no parent’s gloating, creator’s orgasm.
Here were my words. Humbly etched on a scathing foolscap sheet, almost plebeian their invisible fairy cartwheels in my head. Here were they, no longer my pure head trips. They had come into being. Occupied a place in the world on their own merit.
And another human being had liked them. Understood the sound of them.
The dynamics had changed. The entire crystal ball through which the mystery of literary birth is perceived. Here was my child, a full grown human now, untampered by my mushy possessivenesses, in interaction with other strangers. They could touch and feel its existence.
I have no pose of being a litterateur; it is a proud folly to seat myself in the midst of those whom I’ve grown up admiring. But I can already appreciate the tingling thrill of seeing my child occupy shelf space in my favourite book store one day.
Just keep writing…a friend instructed on Facebook. My posts are getting noticed. This is a heady reawakening…these tiny ripples in people's minds my words are leaving behind. Moraines. Scents. Castles on the water’s end, built of fine dust. Words are my first memory. They are my personal gods.
But the absence of an audience is like a deity worshipped by winds in a desert cave.
Here then, is an audience demanding to hear…err, read, more.
For once I feel suitably enthused to keep laziness at bay, to stop thinking, and tap-tap-tap away on the keyboard.