Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Jeanette Winterson Writes

Jeanette Winterson (Written On The Body, The Passion, Art and Lies, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Sexing The Cherry) is one of the contemporary authors I really like. Having signed up at Winterson’s official website, Bianca (my dear friend since 5th grade) gets (monthly?) newsletter-style emails written by Winterson on all sorts of topics. She forwarded this to me a couple of days ago. Being someone with the all-too-common compulsion to get as many things as possible done in a single given day, this made an impression on me. I suspect that I have been living with too much haste lately, and have not really been “paying attention”. I wonder, would it be so bad if I did less in a day, did things slower, if I cut my to-do lists in half. Today I went for a medical test in the morning, went to the bank, the supermarket, the drugstore, drove back for the test results, took calls while I was driving, worked at the computer, made pencil sketches for work, saw two doctors in the afternoon, burned workfiles for pick-up, made a ton of calls, had lunch at 5 in the afternoon, wrote and answered work emails. I set two meetings for Friday, made arrangements for a carpenter to come in tomorrow morning, and in a while I will sit down to draw for a project. It is 6.30 in the evening and it is raining outside. Today I was driven by fear, not the love of what I was doing.

Ah well. Here’s that essay:


Last night we were discussing what the modern deadly sins might be, along with the famous ones thought up by the Church, like Sloth, Gluttony, Lust, Avarice, etc. I thought Haste might be a good one. Someone else thought Triviality. What do you think?

Haste is something I am guilty of at home - in the sense that I am naturally a multi-tasking sort of a creature, but that can mean just trying to do too much, never having enough time - the necessary time to stop and stare, to dally, to play, all that stuff, which I know is so important, and yet I still get it wrong.

I went to interview Philip Pullman just before I came away - (it won`t be out until November, and it will be on the site at the beginning of November because the November issue of the glossy magazine Harpers and Queen will be out mid-Oct) - anyway, he said he felt the same. As has he become so well known, every kind of pressure and demand has increased, and making time to do the thing he wants to do, needs to do, must do--WRITE, gets harder and harder. This made me feel better, because it certainly does get harder.

Did you know that 75% of the world`s population has never heard a ringing tone? So the next time we are rushing to make that call, it might be worth remembering that most of the planet can`t be telephoned at all.

Haste... I understand it when it`s about packing in life because life is so short, but hurrying through life when life is so short is like hurtling down the motorway at 100mph; everything passes in a blur, then suddenly, that`s it. The end. Death.

Triviality. What about that? Do we trivialise our lives? Do we get lost in the trivial at the expense of the real? The media does good work reporting world news, but we`d have to admit that most of the rest of what fills papers and TV, is not the stuff of sanity. How much celebrity gossip do we need?

A list of what is important to ourselves, and then a list of what we think is important in the world can be an interesting exercise. How much of our time and resources do we devote to what we would say is important - both personally and politically - and how much of our time do we spend on trivia?

Of course, what`s important to me may not be important to you, different priorities are fine, but I think we should make intelligent choices. The fact is that a lot of what we do isn`t a choice at all, intelligent or stupid, we just do it passively, and wonder where the day has gone.

How many days in a life?

And when it`s gone, it`s gone.

---Jeanette Winterson (September 2004)


Blogger Tee said...

Such a lovely piece of writing--both hers and yours.
I know exactly that. It's past my bedtime and I am still here in the office. I've been praying for work that would not steal from me time for myself so that I won't have to steal from it as well. But for now, I take comfort in the little things. My photos have taught me that. For a fraction of time, I peer into this small opening, find that which makes my heart gets caught in my throat, look in the eye what's in front, hold my breath, and press with utmost care. That's my saving grace from haste..

Also today from a picture in the past of someone passing by in a blur, I remember it is his birthday today.. HAPPY BIRTHDAY J..

October 13, 2004 11:22 PM  
Blogger nini said...

Thanks, t. I remember him with affection. You take care and keep taking those lovely photographs :)

October 14, 2004 10:25 AM  

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