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A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. When I speak of writing, the image that comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or a literary tradition; it is the person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and, alone, turns inward. Amid his shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man-or this woman-may use a typewriter, or profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I do. As he writes, he may drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time, he may rise from his table to look out the window at the children playing in the street, or, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or even at a black wall. He may write poems, or plays, or novels, as I do. But all these differences arise only after the crucial task is complete-after he has sat down at the table and patiently turned inward. To write is to transform that inward gaze into words, to study the worlds into which we pass when we retire into ourselves, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.
Where am I?
Good question. I’m in the beautiful city of Oslo in Norway for a short stay. For the past few weeks we’ve been nestled in a wooden cabin on the lip of a tiny fjord, for the most part in brilliant sunshine. Friends have come and gone in a continuous succession. But now we’re on the road again. Tomorrow we head over to Sweden and a few days in Stockholm. After that to Helsinki in Finland.
I managed to read a few things, including Colm Toibin’s The Heather Blazing, and Umberto Eco’s On Literature. Both of these are worth a visit if you’re looking for something special.
It’s good that most people are appreciating the Five Questions series, as, apart from sporadic posts like this one, that’s all I have to offer at the moment. I’m collecting a few thoughts and ideas for later, though, when the road is finally behind me and I can become a more regular and personal writer and blogger again.