It's November 1st, which means for the next thirty-one days, ordinary people all over tarnation will be tapping and scribbling like mad for NaNoWriMo, the annual, wildly popular project for the umpteen thousand people out there whose life dream is to write a whole novel in one month.
Are you even remotely tempted? Me? Umm, maybe next year.
In honor of all those courageous and hopeful souls who have set out today to pen 1,667 words every single day this month, I offer this bit of inspiration from the brilliant pen of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska (one of my favorite living poets).
The Joy of Writing
Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word "woods."
Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they'll never let her get away.
Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.
They forget that what's here isn't life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.
Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?
The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.
from Poems New and Collected, which I have read cover to cover more than twice.