I write because I love the angle of the wall as it meets the ceiling, just over there near the head of that black timber window. I write because I love the cold, flat grey light of winter, the stillness of those ugly trees in the chilly midday air, and the way Melbourne’s footpaths change from grey to black under a light fall of rain. I write because I love a messy house, because I hate housework, because I hate going to the supermarket on a Saturday and because I want to exist long after I have turned to dust. I write to remember that part of my day is worthwhile, even while some gets wasted; I write to remember to take it easy, to take it long and low and to draw out the strokes of my lazy afternoons.
I write despite having no ideas about what to write. Having an idea for a story is like having an idea for a poem: it doesn't lead anywhere in itself. It is merely the conscious mind attempting to take control and set the agenda. It is not productive. I seem to get this with poetry more than prose: I begin a poem because I find the fragment of a poem in my mouth and on my tongue, a stray association of words that has sprouted like a seed from my subconscious. I should try this more with prose.
Story ideas are a red herring. They miss the point. They are ‘about’ and not ‘of’. They are desperate attempts to herd fish when the real game is a shotgun blast in a salad bowl. If an idea has value it will emerge from the seeds of free writing. If it does not it will not: something else will emerge instead. Something strange that will take root and grow out of the fertile soil of steady production. And production is everything: to write, and to write and to write.
So I write through interruptions, through rain storms, and through the beats and chimes of this drawn out Friday afternoon. I write through application and concentration. I write through the eye of a needle, threading each sentence through the eye just one word thick, one word at a time. Sometimes I write through a fine, white gauze I call Mental Muslin.
I write imperfectly and impatiently. I write enough for now, and then some more for later. I write up and I write down, and I am working on writing sideways as well, but I am not there yet.
I am therefore I write, but the am came first.