In this space are practices that others, other writers especially might find useful.. Or reflective of their own processes. Others are mine alone.
This, I think, might be one of the latter.
I’m writing of the exercise of a tired evening…the (to me) necessary habit of transcribing notes from tape recorder to notebook. Copying takes me to places that the rigors of reading cannot do when I’m tired. These nights, I am little more than a copyist, and am glad to be.
There is something about that simple exercise that is as sensual as it is practical. The feeling of the notebook in the hand. The hand of the paper itself. The deliberate penmanship; the careful curve of cursive. The flow of ink onto paper.
Sensual, yes, but more than that. Even as a copyist, I don’t stop being a writer.
I love these low-energy evenings. These sessions are a re-immersion into the idea, the reacquainting of self and thought. I change little as I copy—the intention is all. Copying gives the words the qualities of a mantra, repeated until the sounds soothe and the ideas beget others. I wonder whether Medieval calligraphers and copyists felt the same.
Transcribing gives my story back to me, a line at a time. It gives me a humble sense of accomplishment. It gives me a safety net in case of tape failure. It gives me a sanity check without intellectual jeopardy: This is the time when mistakes may be safely made. In demanding nothing of myself, I find that I have given myself far more than I asked for.
Makes me look forward to the next night when my mind is empty, my strength is low and my tape is full.