Friday, 24 May 2013

Remembering why I write

Sometimes I forget. Quite often I forget. Especially between plays, when the world seems to go silent or when I just don't think I can reach in and haul out another work... Why write? Why bother? Why put  myself through that hell that's up ahead?

There are personal answers that partly satisfy: because I love the process of finding the right form for something; because the journey of inquiry is its own reward; because I care about language; because otherwise I'm pretty unemployable.

Beyond myself, there are other answers: because the overlooked among us must be seen; because I want to be part of the wider cultural dialogue; because I still believe that the collective grapple with chaotic humanity is somehow sacred; because in that collaborative offering someone might find a crystallised piece of their life puzzle, and...

Sometimes the answer depends on the play and performance context: with a child's play the answer might be because delight and wonder are utterly enough; with a community cultural development project, one might say because the revolution needs to be rehearsed, or difference needs to be livably negotiated, or social stigma must be not win.

But really, when I'm between plays, and in that fallow wintering land, I've really only found one answer that could keep me contemplating the possibility of ever writing again. I jotted this sentence down years ago without attribution, so I can't tell you who said it, but it is an answer to do with the sustenance of us all:

The job of the poet is to remember where the waterholes are. 

This rings deeply true for me, feels quietly crucial... so, I pick up my pen and...

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