Why do I write?

August 16th, 2008

From my journal of 1990 …

Spring beat me back here from Calgary this afternoon. When I walked back to the house from the municipal airport, the wind was warm and turbulent and the bushes in the light-industrial subdivision north of 111th Avenue were surprised with themselves. It’s as though the season has been squirted out of can, like foam hair mousse.

Why do I write?

Why I write in general is one thing. Why I write at a particular moment is another.

The first is out of curious fever for permanence, a hope of existing beyond myself in space and time. It’s a little like sending snatches of Bach and Jerry Lee Lewis out into the universe – signals that may, by some wildly improbable coincidence, be intercepted and decoded. As long as these signals are out there, we still exist – even if we’ve blown up the home planet in the meantime.

Why I write now is the very opposite of permanence. It’s because the sun is going behind a cloud, because a tracasserie of sparrows flew round the corner of the house, because of the cat-tickles of thought and the pond-ripples of memory, the intersection of past and future, the moving target. There is a constant glory in this sense of consciousness bobbing like a cork on the waves. You want to put your hand out and capture it. You get out a pen…

May 2, 1990

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