What I can’t write

duck watching

duck watching

duck watching

I’ve just finished reading this essay. I can’t even explain what sense of relief it gives me to read something this beautiful in another seemingly endless, demoralising day of job and grant applications, and the piling/chasing up of freelance work, and doing regular work for money. I know nearly everyone can relate to this, so do yourself a favour and go read this wonderful essay by Stephen Wright called, Why I write:

“‘The more I wrote,’ said the French writer Genevieve Jurgensen in her memoir The Disappearance, ‘the more I felt as if I were lying.’ I was thinking of her words as we drove around the incomprehensibly convoluted roads of the villages of the Dandenongs. When I think of all the ways in which I have named my experience, of how much remains outside that naming, of the very processes of language, of how I speak without my own consent, the further I seem to get away from experience even as I build it with my language. We are all so full of unsaid words, our own and that of so many others, words that have their own shape, weight and pile up like leaves on a grave. And yet, even as I become the repository of unspoken words, it is the stammering nature of my experience of others that I am unable to communicate.”

Why these photos to go with these words? I don’t know, they’re just what this essay made me think of. For the past few weeks and months – or, if I’m being really honest, few years, – I’ve felt like a very small duck trying to paddle away in the water unsuccessfully. It’s nice to momentarily feel like all that paddling means something when I read essays like this one. But to be even more honest: I mainly read essays this good to see what I can’t write, what I can’t do, how I can’t communicate, and how interesting other people’s stories are when they do their own particular magic with words.