Tuesday, February 2, 2010

On rivers #2... symbolism and writing

It may be esoterica to some but I adore myths and symbols and legends and the exploration of the unconscious...so when my own writing becomes knotty, I'm drawn to the bookcase in my bedroom. Of the five sets of bookshelves in my home I think of this one as the First Class Lounge, where the most precious volumes sit, must be dusted off regularly and given extra special attention. They're also the books I'd grab first in a fire. If only I could disarm the window and activate a bright yellow escape slide to shoot the bookcase out, should such an emergency occur.
Anyhow, this is the one (middle shelf on the right) where Laurens van der Post, CG Jung, dreams, symbolism, Greek heroes and Roman goddesses contently nestle, and where I seek asylum from the honk and blare of the 21st century.
In Jung and the Story of Our Time, the most-excellent van der Post says that a river succeeds in moving from its source to the sea "only because it finds its own way without short cuts, straight lines, or disregard of any physical impediments but in full acknowledgement of the reality of all that surrounds it, implying that the longest way around is the shortest and only safe way to the sea... The Rhine is one of the great mythological rivers of the world, a dark and angry stream, as dark and in as strange a rage and passion to get to the sea as the Congo issuing straight out of the darkest centre of Africa."
In van der Post's river, my writing process is reflected. 
I'm learning there are no short cuts. Definitely no straight lines (plenty of squiggles). And there's no getting around the impediments of detail and detritus and history and hazards that must be explored then traversed to breathe reality into my story. To this metaphor I add our own famous river system the Murray-Darling - dried up - for those moments when my pen feels empty of words altogether. 
The sea is a long way off yet. I can't wait to swim in it when I arrive.

2 comments:

Brian said...

I have a suggestion for your second book....a diary which documents the journey you took in writing your first book...and consisting of a complilation of all these wondrous thoughts you have been expressing via this blog....a sort of 'stream of consciousness' reflecting the book writing process.

Rubyfire writes said...

Great idea! Do you think anyone would buy it...?