To take a quill in hand and dip the elegantly wrought nib in ink made from ground hawthorn bark, water, wine and iron salts. The momentous thing that is setting words upon a page. Even with the invention of the printing press, the writer first had to render the words by hand.
Wood-block and typesetting, proof-reading and editing. Making the best of your friend’s enthusiasm for, or indulgence of, your peculiar hobby to improve your craft. Perceptions of smoky rooms and chattering crowds as literary magic is forged in speech before being quenched upon the page. Inspiration from the world about or dredged from within by opiate, alcohol or solemn thought. The legends of writers becoming dissolute as they trawled the gamut of human experience to give insight and grit to their prose. Adventures writ large or small upon the senses to conjure grandiose vistas drawn in sentences for those who cannot escape to have adventures of their own.
The dreamers given haven or the marginalised given hope. Focus imparted and passion kindled. Words are mighty things, instruments of enlightenment and accomplishment, of wonder and epiphany. Histories bear witness because of writers so long ago, and stories work visions of histories that could have been. Everything is grist to the mill of imagination and the simple act of wondering ‘what would have happened if that had not?’ has provided the nascent moment for so many tales.
There is one thing that many do not see, a common trait shared between the Chinese scribe of four millennia ago and the writer on a quiet street today: solitude. Writing is a thing of focus, a pact between creator and creation that is simple in its fundamental tenet: the dedication to the work is revealed in the quality. It is a love, an addiction and a calling. If it is within you to write, then you will know this solitude: the calm of forming words and recording them, of refining them and sorting them, of knowing what is right and revising your work to become closer to what you envision with every pass. It is a bleeding of the soul to fashion what you see into words arranged to be emotive and elegant, expressed with finesse and balance. Family, fear, duty and worry evaporate before the solitude of writing. They will influence your words, but for the time you write, they are nothing; but never diminished. A calm that is the whole of you gently places all possible distractions aside whilst the idea that caught your imagination consumes time to realise itself. Solitude, meditation, cold fire of creation; the joy of making and pain of shaping will come later, when the piece is done.
I lay fingers upon keyboard and pause, honouring those who created so much using rudimentary tools in comparison to what I have available from here. Then the solitude descends and only forty centuries of writers know the place I visit.