I never could have thought my keyboard transforms so naturally into a grand piano every time I write. The prelude, the exposition, the recapitulation: it's my mind that creates; the fingers execute.

15th February 2018/ Words get in the way

Last month at a Salon Littéraire in Paris, someone asked me about how important it was for me to touch and to feel my words before I spelt them out on my sheets. His words set me thinking. Perhaps one of the most abstract sounds in the world is a ‘word’ but only until it has been initiated into a conversation or a piece of writing. A word – any word, needs to be concretised so we can infuse life into it. For my part I need to touch a word with my fingertips and my palms and feel its hollows,  convexities; understand the resistance it is capable of exerting; find the degree of vulnerability it can succumb to. I need to know the scope of its malleability, its predispositions, its many sensitivities before moulding it like clay or sculpting it as one would a block of stone – so I can give it its form. Yet, is this extraneous form all there is to it? No, perhaps not. I need to set it on fire, breathe the magic element of soul into it so it can burst into its many dances and scald the paper it springs, lashes, whirls about on. The word is not just a word. It is another name for life.

It has flesh and blood and nails and hair, a sneer or frown, smiles, a sob, a secret. The other evening I was watching The Book Thief, set in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, and what the Jewish man hiding in their basement tells Leisel when he gives her a diary to write on touched me. He tells her of how in his religion every living thing, leaf or bird, is alive because it contains the secret word for life. This was what differentiates the living thing from a clod of mud – a word – because words are life.

When I speak or write, words get in the way to trip me up. I hear songs hidden inside each syllable, each modulation, feel their pulse throbbing within, understand the toughness of their exterior or the tenderness living within their interiors. I spin them around and watch the magnificent dances they are capable of performing. I touch their soul and know, as a man would a woman, or vice versa, if it strikes the right chord with the right thought, to finally make that perfect harmony or maybe bring about a revolution of emotions.