“We have no need for genius – genius is dead. We have need for strong hands …”
How to start writing? Take a building block and set it down. It is Paris, 1930 perhaps, and a day in the life of Henry Miller is moving along.
A place to work is all that is required. It’s more important than a place to sleep: “One can sleep almost anywhere,” says Miller. But it’s impossible to work at writing without a place to do it. He doesn’t mention “routine” but I think this is part of it: you need a place to return to day by day, where you know it can happen. Where even if it doesn’t happen, you know tomorrow might be better.
There are always things to complain about: the noise around and about, the smells of cooking (from food that you are not permitted to eat) and the growling of your belly … The point is to transfigure these annoyances into art, to make what is small and miserable into something joyful.
“Do anything, but let it produce joy!” is the artists’ mantra. When you’re writing in poor conditions, it can seem far from a joyful activity. Transfiguration can be a painful process. And yet the largest part of Miller’s soul is singing its joy as he works at the typewriter.
(I’ve been reading Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.)
(Image is from Pixabay.)