6th January, 2021. Words and Flight.

The sun is shining and the world is blue and gold and white. It has gone silent again, as everybody is indoors, confined to barracks. The normal mutter and chug of the diggers and tractors and vans is missing; the occasional shouts and whoops and hoots of laughter that filter through my window are gone. 

I don’t look at the news. I’m going to stay in this silent world today, and let the gaudy carnival of politics and pandemic go on without me.

My friend rings from her sheep farm in Wales. We speak about the power of the mind. This is one of our favourite subjects. How you think changes everything. I realise, as I’m talking to her, that I’ve woken up a bit old and stiff and grumpy. My body feels heavy; my head is dull. The twenty-seven things on my To Do List feel rather overwhelming.

Ha, I think, I can shift that. I get my mind to work.

I think about writing. I teach writing and every day I put up some little writing thought or inspiring quote on my Facebook page. Sometimes I borrow from the great writers; sometimes I rummage in my own head. Today, I come up with: ‘Let your writing fly’. 

I think of the power of words. That ‘let’ is vital. It’s not ‘make your writing fly’ or ‘concentrate on getting your writing to fly’ or ‘force your writing to fly’. Words want to shoot upwards, into the high skies. They are creatures of the air. They are not earthbound. They are wild swallows, undaunted by the long trek to Africa. 

They fly from your mind to another human mind, halfway across the world. They fly over continents and oceans. They cross cultures and time and place. Even if they set off hundred of years ago, they are still flying. I think of Shakespeare every day; all of yesterday I thought of his little candle, and how far it sheds its beams. He is dead as a dodo, but his words are still alive. That’s a sort of miracle, the same kind of miracle as every atom in the human body coming from the glorious remnants of exploded stars.

That ‘let’ says: allow your words to go where they want. It says: give yourself permission. It says: believe in those words and set them free.

It doesn’t have to be a wrangle and a brangle and a struggle. It doesn’t have to be a chore, hidebound with grammatical rules, hedged about with possible critics. Writing is freedom and exploration and play. It’s what the hell and how about that and whoosh and zoom and sod it. 

It’s being brave enough to make mistakes and learning to laugh at your own absurdities and going hard until you hear that perfect note. The note is always there, if you open your ears to listen. 

And if you do all that, one day, someone far away will read your words and smile and feel connected to a stranger they shall never meet. Which is, I think, another miracle, all of its very own.

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