The craft of writing is learned through the practice of writing. It is necessary to write constantly in every spare moment. You may be writing inside your thoughts, but you are writing as surely as if you had paper and pen before you. Is this not obvious?
Writers are the eyes of a society that is blind, the ears of a society that is deaf, and the tongue of a society that is dumb. For their service to society writers receive no thanks, nor do they expect any. Literature matters because it offers the continuity of purpose and the depth of meaning that the surface spectacle cannot provide.
A line of Robert Frost’s read long ago retains its appeal to me: ‘May something always go unharvested.’ He is writing of the apples he picks from the trees in the fall. The fall - that resonant American word for the late time of year before winter closes everything down. It is a time of abundance, a gathering of fruit especially. The apples fall from the trees, followed by the leaves. Then it is winter.
It was an irresistible treat to read Virginia’s Woolf Genius and Ink, a collection of essays for the Times Literary Supplement, now published by that same TLS as they were originally written.
The Rites of Paradise, my first full collection of poetry, is in print. I have considered gathering my work for a while. Initial enthusiasm from one publishing house came to nothing.
Like a time of war, the deadly virus spreads changing everything. We are in lockdown when we might be elsewhere. What follows are diary entries at various times in various places.