on the nature of Writing…

an excerpt from Memoir of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada

I have to admit: my life changed because I’d made myself an author.  Or to be precise, it wasn’t exactly me who did that, I was made an author by the sentences I’d written, and that wasn’t even the end of the story: each result gave birth to the next, and I found myself being transported to a place I hadn’t known existed.  Writing was a more dangerous acrobatic stunt than dancing atop a rolling ball.  To be sure, I’d worked myself to the bone learning to dance on that ball and actually broke some bones rehearsing, but in the end I attained my goal.  In the end I knew with certainty that I could balance on a rolling object – but when it comes to writing, I can make no such claims.  Where was the ball of authorship rolling?  It couldn’t just roll in a straight line, or I’d fall of the stage.  My ball was supposed to spin on its axis and at the same time circle the midpoint of the stage, like the Earth revolving around the sun.

Writing demanded as much strength as hunting.  When I caught the scent of prey, the first thing I felt was despair: would I succeed in catching my prey, or would I fail yet again?  This uncertainty is the hunter’s daily lot.


Author: abookwomansholiday

The perfect holiday for a lifelong reader is one with a stack of books and few distractions. Retiring after three decades as a bookseller, I look forward to reading my way through the stacks and shelves and lists of books waiting for me. This blog will be something of a grab bag or commonplace book of reviews, quotations, notes on the history of books, the contemporary book trade, and anything connected with books and language. Reading is a great pleasure. Thinking and talking about books multiplies and intensifies that pleasure.

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