Saturday, August 10, 2013

writing by the light of flowers

“I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you.”

- Annie Dillard

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts? Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so that we may feel again their majesty and power? What do we ever know that is higher than that power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered? Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love? We still and always want waking.”

- Annie Dillard

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else.”

- Georgia O'Keeffe

The sense one has at certain times, the feeling, sensation, that one begins again, with a new understanding, with a deeper and yet unsayable feeling for things. One's grip on what is necessary is renewed, one's eyes refreshed. "Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms," asks Dillard, and this is something I've needed to hear.

"One can die from being unable to write in time the book one has in one's body."

"This is the book that must be braved, it demands of me a courage I desperately seek to call up in myself."

This is Hélène Cixous.

Here is another thing I've been forgetting:

"Knowing how to see flowers: knowing how to live them. It was a bouquet of known flowers that shone, on my table, on my books, on the sheets of paper, and suddenly I understood that I was reading by the light of flowers." 


Here is another thing you will possibly eventually learn when you have decided to cling to that one necessity, when you have learned to brave that book that you must write, when you have learned to write by the light of flowers. It is quite likely that it will not be published. You will go on to write another. And perhaps this is where the real courage must come into play.

"But solitude will be good for a new book."  (Woolf)

"And as usual I am bored by narrative." (Also Woolf)

Many boring books will go on being published.

You will be writing in ever greater darkness. But you will be writing by the light of flowers.

We will always want waking of this sort.


  1. just to say YES absolutely and thanks for being a writer intent on waking the reader,intent on the mysteries,beauties, sorrow, all. one ony favourite Dillard quotes. lovely to literally be woken by these lines - read from my bed this morning in early sunlight ..watching the Indian Ocean with the other eye.


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