At risk of sounding like I've indulged in one too many magazine over the Christmas/ New Year break, and am about to start walking around telling people "you deserve it," "look after number 1," " and other such individualistic phrases, I find that when I am writing - really writing - I am doing something I love and something, dare I say it, that I was born to do.
NZ writer Katherine Mansfield wrote:
For me, at least now, the answer to this question is to write! I don't think this is all I should do, and writing would lose something of the magic if it wasn't balanced with other things that matter very much too, but I know that I have been sustained, challenged and nurtured through the act of writing for years.
It's like I find myself, or at least some important part of myself, when I find myself in the writing zone. I've never felt this way when running, but I believe runners and other athletes who talk about 'the zone' because I go there too... I lose - and yet find - myself there too.
This morning, and into the beginning of the afternoon, I was there: the zone, the place where nothing else matters and the words come faster than I can think them up. It's like an out of body experience, watching words appear, letter by letter, on the screen in front of me. I know what I'm writing, but I give in to the flow which runs best when I don't get in the way... I find myself writing not just content but form: turns of phrase, language tricks, word games, the pleasure of it all.
Some of it will stay and some of it will go, but for now let me admit that I have a paragraph in which I complain that so much criticism treats Witi Ihimaera and Patricia Grace as the only two Maori writers; as Bonnie and Clyde, the alpha and omega. Too much? Maybe. Compelling or funny enough to stay? Maybe. But for now, I know that I wouldn't have 'thought' my way through to these comparisons - I found it out there (or perhaps in here), in the zone.
Sometimes I wonder if writing is like chocolate: best enjoyed with full attention, one of my life's great pleasures, and always quietly underpinned by the exhilirating risk of becoming either mundane or overwhelming if I overindulge.
Today I 'ate chocolate' after a couple of weeks off. Sitting at my table, typing furiously, I took a moment to savour the moment. I can still taste fragments on my lips tonite.