(Note: This post was copied from my blogspot blog, The Daily B, where it was originally published, so I guess what was divided is now unified again.)
You might or might not have noticed that I have been writing less about writing on this blog. It does not mean I am writing less about writing in general. In fact, I am writing more about writing, such that I thought, “maybe I should have a place that’s just about writing,” and now I do. It’s at barringtonsmith.net. It is where you will find all my ponderings about rejection, occasional brags and humble-brags, experiences with “the business,” and sporadic discussion of craft.
Here I will occasionally talk about writing as well, but I will try to be less long-winded about it. I’m still trying to figure out the balance, because much of my life is configured around writing, so something called The Daily B will inevitably brush up against writing like a California King in a small room. In the same way, what I write about writing can only be infused with my life.
After many more years than you would think–considering I identify as a writer–I am at last reading Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Rilke says (to the young would-be poet),
…acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all–ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself of a deep answer. and if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.
I like to think if it were denied me to write, I would probably not die. I would find something else to do, but I’m not sure. I think my first instinct would be to write about the experience of having writing denied to me. And I have, for better or worse, built my life as if it were a necessity, even as I propose it is not a necessity. So perhaps I am the delusional alcoholic who says, “I can quit whenever I want.”