“The Writing Life,” by Annie Dillard
About dissatisfaction, now. I go for a walk with my dogs (searching for peace: no way). I discuss boring reports with my business partners in HK (tension is growing). I do some volunteering hours (it works! Magically I can forget all the words and stories that are suffocating a lazy man’s freedom).
However, reading again, my writings provoke me dissatisfaction. It is a matter of culture too. I was born in a workshop (in terms of job, please. Actually I was born in my parents’ house because the delivery in the hospital was back then a stupid luxury and the trust on doctors very low), and my boss, Mr Calderini, told me that I should have been always unsatisfied, in order to make a great job. You know, engineers have to be always unsatisfied; have to calculate and to check, to measure again, to double-check, to doubt. What a stress.
One year ago, after thirty-five years of honoured career having that nail of dissatisfaction punched on my brain, I went to an old longhaired Chinese wizard, quite blind according to the stereotype of a wizard, who read my cards. Yes, he was quite blind.
“Why are you unsatisfied?” Soon he asked me. Why? Shit, I spent more than thirty years following Calderini’s suggestions, that asshole! Dissatisfaction was my flag. I ruined my family’s atmosphere; I changed my children’ character; I let my offices’ plants die, oppressed.
“I think you have to buy a sort of optimism,” the wizard said. Thirty years of mistake, of wrong goal: it was truly sad. “Forget coffee, forget your past, be loyal, write and write, be happy.”
I left the magical premises with a sense of agoraphobia. ‘Write and write’, ok; and also ‘forget your past’ made sense, I understand the meaning. But forget coffee, be loyal and be happy, shit, I have to revolutionise myself. No, I need my leash, please, don’t let me alone here!
It is not easy to go out with a pink shirt of optimism, you know. Or to judge my own work with those strange ‘Optimism lenses’: what are you talking about, brother?
“Don’t describe feelings!” Annie Dillard ordered. Ok, I obey.
What about ‘model’ then? Robin Hamley told us that we need a model. Don’t you have a model? Search for a model. Find a model! (First time Robin pronounced the word ‘model’ in a strange American accent I thought of ‘fashion model’, of course, and so I was surprised about that suggestion, imagining that Robin, hidden into the folds of his serious and detached manners, had also a Latin point of view about the right needs of my writing art. Great, matters had taken an unexpected turn! I was wrong, as usual.)
Actually I have no a model, sorry. However, reading “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard, I found extraordinary answers, I have to say, since the book speaks about the experiments and satisfactions of a writing activity or better a writing life: unbelievable. And it is moving and encouraging, and looks inside the process of literary creation telling at the end that writing and the supreme, ineffable art of living are strangely linked. Annie Dillard is great, able to speak to you giving courage, optimism, awareness and reasons. You feel that writing makes sense, and this challenging life (oh, yes, writing is a challenging life indeed) is worthwhile altogether.
No more coffee, please, only a warm cup of optimism.
Having here, yes.
With sugar of course, thank you.