My friend and I were almost at the end of our hour together. Banana cake (me), almond croissant (him). China cups. Such things can still be had. We were talking about the cycles of our writing, how we move between and in books, hoping to surprise ourselves with new bursts of writing just when we think it has gone forever, is all over. The contexts framing these cycles are our books.
He happens to have brought out into the world a pearl of a book this very year. It is grave, and light, and complex and readable all at once. I have loved every line. I can really see what you have done with your different sections, I said, how they are so distinct in their enterprise, how there is movement within and across each section, how they work for and against each other. My friend looked at me. ‘No one teaches you how to do these things,’ he said. ‘I’m glad it came off. You only really learn by looking at others and finding what you don’t like.’ Quite, I said.
We spoke about the midwifing of books into the world. The finishing of them, the letting them settle, the fine tooth worrying at details. And then publication. And how most of this is inimical to actual writing. I told him I had had something in the drawer (I still say that. But then I still refer to making people ‘tapes’.) for a year now. I described how I had gone to look at it just the other day, and found that it ended in a different place from the one I had remembered. It was as if another poem had snuck in there and stolen the finishing tape. I confessed I had thought about moving it back. My friend shook his head as if to say ‘let it go.’ ‘After a while,’ he said, ‘it finds its inevitable shape.’
I’m not blogging NaBloPoMo posts on Sundays. Sometimes you need a day off.