Monday, October 4, 2010
I am reading War and Peace. Halfway through, it feels like I am learning how to write. Granted, Tolstoy wrote it in Russian and I'm reading it in English, consequently losing much of the original poetry, but when I open it I am absorbed into early 19th century Moscow.
The best parts are when Tolstoy describes a lover’s quiver, or a transcendental moment inspired by the heavens, or a grain of social minutiae that has not changed in 150 years. The context has changed, but the song remains the same.
Reading Michael Cunningham’s editorial in the New York Times, I was reminded that I am reading a work in translation. And I began to think about the book that I am writing, and who I am writing for (side-note: I’m perfectly aware of the prepositional finish of that sentence, and in a Hemingwavian manner, I am choosing to advance written English in a colloquial sense to better suit my ends. Try saying it the right way and see which sounds better). Sure I’m writing for myself, and I’m writing for you, and I’m writing for future generations and all that, but I’m also writing for writing. I am writing so that anyone who reads what I write will recognize it as supremely sublime.
And so I work. And work. And will continue to work for years, until it is smooth and polished, like the oyster’s pearl, who without trying, simply lives and produces a jewel. And if the world is my oyster…