Sunday, January 13, 2013
This is a photo of Clarice Lispector. Very hard to choose an image, as I love every picture of her ever on the internet.
I've had some interesting responses to my recent posts on writing and (or as) craft. Two people wrote me and said: "Witchcraft!" Which I can't believe I didn't see, as it was staring me in the face. Of course witchcraft should be in this conversation. Associated with women, but far craftier than quilting. Also I like the idea of a craft that is practiced in private and in secret, as opposed to the type of craft you learn at a workshop. Not that there aren't workshops for witches--at least, I hope there are--but the traditional witch is a woman alone.
I still think that most discussions about writing as craft are not discussions of writing. Because I don't think that writing is plot or character arc or dialogue or pacing. And those are the sorts of things people talk about when they say "the craft of writing." Maybe writing is one thing, and the craft of writing is something else. Maybe you DO learn the craft of writing in workshops, but you don't learn writing there.
So I was trying to think of somebody who talks about writing as writing, and although there must be many of them (?), the only one I could come up with is Clarice Lispector, especially in some of the chronicles and in Água viva, which I've been reading recently. It's translated as The Stream of Life but I prefer Água viva. This is a book about writing, in which CL does something difficult and amazing, which is write and see herself writing and write about writing at the same time. She is not going to tell you how to make your characters believable or how to end your story in a satisfying way. She writes herself writing, she captures herself under the spell of her own words. Writing is witchcraft here, but it has to work on the writer before anyone else.
I go ahead intuitively, and without looking for an idea: I'm organic. And I don't question myself about my motives. I immerse myself in the near pain of an intense happiness--and to adorn me leaves and branches are born from out of my hair.
She was also a painter.
Sometimes she writes about writing and painting together. I find this helpful. I feel like I could understand "the craft of writing" better if someone would draw me a picture of it.
I don't know what I'm writing about: I'm obscure even to myself. Initially I had only a lunar, lucid vision, and then I clasped that instant to myself before it died and perpetually dies. I transmit to you not a message of ideas but rather an instinctive voluptuousness of what is hidden in nature and that I sense. And this is a feast of words. I write in signs that are more gesture than voice. All this is what I used to paint, probing into the intimate nature of things. But now the time has come to stop painting in order for me to remake myself, I remake myself in these lines... Just as when I throw myself into the outline of my sketch, this is an exercise in life without planning. The world has no visible order, and I have only the order of my breathing. I let myself happen.
Last line of Água viva:
What I write you continues on and I am bewitched.
Posted by Sofia at 1:08 PM