A few words from Doris Lessing’s book The Golden Notebook. Written in 1962. Still relevant.
‘Why can’t you understand that,’ I said, really wanting to make her understand, ‘that I can’t pick up a newspaper without what’s in it seeming so overwhelmingly terrible that nothing I could write would seem to have any point at all?’
I feel this so deeply. I find it even hard to convince myself that there was a point in what she wrote. Here I am finding solace in her words 50+ years later.
Here is the next part of the passage:
‘Then you shouldn’t read the newspapers.’
Perhaps I can explain my ‘writer’s block’ through this other passage of Anna’s conversation with her therapist:
‘So the diary you started has remained empty?’ ‘No, I stuck in cuttings from newspapers.’ ‘What kind of cuttings?’ ‘Just things that struck me–events that seemed important.’ She gave me the quizzical look, which said: Well, I’m waiting for the definition. I said: ‘I glanced over them the other day: what I’ve got is a record of war, murder, chaos, misery.’ ‘And that seems to you the truth about the last few years?’ ‘Doesn’t it seem to you to be the truth? She looked at me-ironical. She was saying without words that our ‘experience’ has been creative and fructifying, and that I am dishonest in saying what I did.
I said: ‘Very well then; the newspaper cuttings were to keep things in proportion. I’ve spent three years, more, wrestling with my precious soul, and meanwhile…’ ‘Meanwhile what?’ ‘It’s just a matter of luck that I haven’t been tortured, murdered, starved to death, or died in a prison.’
And this is as close as I can get to writing today.