The Act of Writing – Pens and Words

By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times

Last week I said that all writers are good readers. Below are some reflections on the classic instrument that is used by all.

The pen

All the energy of thinking is eventually shown in the nib of a pen. Of course, here we can substitute nib by ballpoint, computer keyboard, or pencil, but the nib of a pen is more romantic, don’t you think?

To get back to the theme: words eventually condense an idea. Paper is just a support for this idea. But the pen will always remain with you, and you must know how to use it.

Periods of inactivity are necessary – a pen that is always writing ends up losing the awareness of what it is doing. So let it rest whenever possible, and concern yourself with living and meeting your friends. When you return to the business of writing, you will find a happy pen with all its strength intact.

Pens have no conscience: they are an extension of the writer’s hand and desire. They serve to destroy reputations, make us dream, send news, trace pretty words of love. So always be clear about your intentions.

The hand is where all the muscles of the body, all the intentions of the person writing, all the effort to share what he feels, are concentrated. It is not just a part of his arm but an extension of his thought. Hold your pen with the same respect that a violinist has for his instrument.

The word

The word is the final intention of someone who wishes to share something with his neighbor.

William Blake said: all that we write is the fruit of memory or the unknown. If I can make a suggestion, respect the unknown and look there for your source of inspiration. The stories and facts remain the same, but when you open a door in your unconscious and let yourself be led by inspiration, you will see that the way to describe what you have lived or dreamed is always far richer when your unconscious is guiding the pen.

Every word leaves a memory in your heart – and it the sum of these memories that form sentences, paragraphs, books.

Words are as flexible as the tip of your pen, and they understand the signs on the road. Sentences do not hesitate in changing course when they make a discovery, when they spot a better opportunity.

Words have the same quality as water: they go around rocks and adapt to the river bed, sometimes turning into a lake until the depression has filled up and they can continue their journey.

Because when words are written with feelings and the soul, they do not forget that their destination is the ocean of a text, and that sooner or later they have to arrive there.

(next week: the text)

© Translated by James Mulholland

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