by Laura Grafham
What the writing life is
is a tree
a deciduous tree.
It is me.
It is college kids with holes
in their closet and clothes.
Dillard says mangrove tough roots
make my pencil into love patterns
on the page,
lovely ink interpretations
of Missus Dee or
All the writers I know
have good hair,
messy, with separate lives
lived out in follicle forests,
conducting orchestras around them
from each scalp possessed.
The difficulty nowadays is not “having enough time to read.” It is having enough time to read without the voices of essays, themes, motifs, and literary technique breathing down my neck.
I read so I can write about my reading later. How can I keep words fresh, something crisp like produce at Pike Place when I do it everyday? If I could stick words into my fridge and keep them all rounded, not self-imploding, till I wanted them, what a wonderful world we’d live in.
These are not our circumstances. We — all of us, don’t lie — bitch about the seemingly menial task of peeling back our scalp skin, pounding keys, pounding our brain for literature’s worldly significance to this sheltered college life. Please tell me that I won’t stay in ivory towers; the street is where the life is at. And my hair’s not long enough to be a rope ladder fire escape.
The eloquent Annie Dillard sheds some light: “You write it all, discovering it at the end of the line of words. The line of words is a fiber optic, flexible as wire; it illumines the path just before its fragile tip. You probe with it, delicate as a worm.” (The Writing Life, 7)
What is The Writing Life actually? Hell if I know. I do know in order to get past the two-buck chuck writing I’ve written (and sometimes, often, continue to write) I’ve got to keep writing, delicately balancing on the tightrope wire between earth and insanity.
Join me, won’t you?