I woke up tired,…

I woke up tired, underslept, a little cranky. A cup of tea, some toast and curry, more tea, and I'm feeling better. I've been reading Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millenium, a slim little book of essays on writing (designed to be given as lectures, and so not dense :-), which I recommend to y'all. From his essay on "Lightness":

"...my working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language..."

"When I began my career, the categorical imperative of every young writer was to represent his own time. Full of good intentions, I tried to identify myself with the ruthless energies propelling the events of our century, both collective and individual. I tried to find some harmony between the adventurous, picaresque inner rhythm that prompted me to write and the frantic spectacle of the world, sometimes dramatic and sometimes grotesque. Soon I became aware that between the facts of life that should have been my raw materials and the quick light touch I wanted for my writing, there was a gulf that cost me increasing effort to cross. Maybe I was only then becoming aware of the weight, the inertia, the opacity of the world -- qualities that stick to writing from the start, unless one finds some way of evading them."

Am I sure what he means? No. But it resonates, somehow, with what I try to do with my own writing.

One thought on “I woke up tired,…”

  1. The amazing thing — I mean, a lot of people like to write essays about their goals and philosophies in their writing, without you ever getting the sense that they actually *accomplish* what they describe — but in this Calvino segment his words feel astonishingly light. There’s no obvious belaboured Style to it but somehow his sentences are these clean gentle feather touches that just float off the page and leave you with a sense of effortless lightness.

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