There are a few books that I revisit throughout my life. Winnie-the-Pooh, The Tao of Pooh, The Tao-te-Ching, The Name of the Rose. Each draw me back for different reasons, either because of the pleasure they give me in reading them (Winnie-the-Pooh, The Name of the Rose) or because of the guidance and wisdom I find in them (Tao-te-Ching, The Tao of Pooh).
One book that I came to comparatively later in life than those I have mentioned, is Walden, by the American Transcendentalist writer, Henry David Thoreau. I only discovered this book in my mid-twenties, but it is one I go back to often for inspiration.
Today I spent the morning in a contemplative silence, and considered something that Thoreau wrote:
Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
For the past few months, this is a process I have been trying to take myself through. Getting rid of unwanted or unused possessions, reusing rather than replacing items, swapping and bartering rather than buying and disposing. Reducing the clutter, the distractions, the attachments. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically, the emphasis has been on doing more with less, and living a life which, insofar as the 21st Century allows, can be described as “simplified”.
And so too should my writing life be simplified. There are too many distractions, too many works in progress to flit from, never ceasing, never concentrating. To simplify I have cut down on these distractions; removed works in progress that are not truly in progress, deleted blogs that lie unattended, yet are still distracting.
Now here too, on this site, changes are coming, and my response to them will be to simplify, simplify. Too often I find myself stuck for something unique and novel (excuse the pun) to say on the topic of writing – so why not simplify? Rather than speak for my writing, why not let my writing speak for me.
I am not yet sure what form this change will take, but I intend to go back to basics. To write. Just write. For over a year I have been saying that I am a writer. I have worn the appellation, without bringing myself to the application. Return to the basics, and finish what I have started. The final words belong to Thoreau,
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.