Like most days for the past four years, I sit to write. The blank page often remains blank, presenting me with feelings of anxiety. This can be more acute when writing to the clock. I feel the empty page taunting me. Sentences surface and audition before me. I do polkas with structures. I hope for the spine-tingling line one finds in a Tranströmer poem. An iambic throb in my prose. The clarity of a Henning Mankell line or the whole world of thought in a Lydia Davis paragraph. But nothing worthy emerges. I go down and make coffee and turn on the radio. A song catches my thoughts and sends shivers up my spine. Its a song about an African man called Joseph walking and navigating his journey by the stars.
I think about the imagery in this lyrical quatrain. The sense of place. The tantalising syntax. The gentle, fluid rhythm. The way the artist, Paul Simon, makes a film roll in my head. Where did such poetic magic come from? Did the writer spend a few minutes, several hours or weeks, to perfect this lyrical strophe? I do some research but draw blanks. I return to the blank screen. My foray into the cyber-hive under the guise of research has made me more uneasy. The clock ticks and I sit at my desk, appearing distraught like Pasternak’s lost soul in The Passion of Creation painting. It’s early May. The sound of spring, migrating geese and sweet grass on the nearby island calls me. I lay down my pen for another day and journey on a solitary walk.
So, why do I put myself through this torture? Why not ride a mountain bike round the Scottish Highlands, walk the Camino Santiago or join my local Philosophical Society? Its the strongly embedded desire to tell a story.