Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Writing

Day 209

So obsessed am I with my Greek that I forgot all about the blog this morning, and jumped straight into a 20-minute lesson this morning when I came into the office. M laughs at me because I’m so competitive, and there are league tables in this Greek-learning app, and I’m always trying to stay top of the league that I’m in. I can’t help it.

Of course, I realised yesterday that saying I’m retired from playing cricket isn’t quite the same as being retired in body and mind, and my body and mind were longing yesterday afternoon to be in Cambridge with the lads (from both sides, actually), and to feel that end of the day sensation of walking off the field, sweaty and tired, kicking off my boots and sitting down on a bench at the side of the field in my socks and sinking an ice-cold beer. But those rose-tinted memories and wishes ignore the fact that all the rest of the game I would have been cursing myself for being mediocre and asking myself why I was spending an afternoon hanging around on a piece of grass rather than being somewhere else doing something else. I woke up this morning understanding that yesterday’s craving and homesickness for the game was just that – taking all the best bits (and I did once write a poem about one moment of happiness being contained in a thousand life-times of sadness – which the children still critique as being too negative) from 43 years of playing cricket and compressing them into a universality that is actually not true.

In therapy yesterday, I did discuss with my therapist this view many people have of me thinking too much, of going round in circles with those thoughts, and explained that without this constant thinking I wouldn’t actually be able to write, that to be a writer, I have to be this whole being, and that my inability to compartmentalise is what allows me to write. Without the pain (if you can call it that) of being constantly emotional, constantly thinking, I wouldn’t be able to create (or hear speak to me) all the different characters that inhabit the worlds of my books. And if this constant thinking is what makes me miserable now and then (and I do think it is only now and then nowadays), then I have two options – keep writing and being occasionally miserable and this overthinking visceral creature; or stop writing, divorce myself from my emotions, put every separate event and thought into a little box, and become a husk devoid of emotion. And if you think that’s extreme, it’s not, because my current state of being is the one that sits in the middle ground, the one that is not extreme either way, the one that doesn’t think writers have to be demented geniuses who always are on the brink of self-destruction, and whose actions can be excused by the fact that they are demented geniuses. Because that extreme is just as bad as the one where emotions aren’t felt or shown.

You might not think it, but I am happy most of the time, just often preoccupied with practical concerns, and mostly with the human condition. And isn’t that the preoccupation of all writers?




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