In reviewing Paul Auster's latest memoir Winter Journal for Readings Monthly recently, the one thing that constantly was his reference to writing as a physical art form. Towards the end of the book, he summarises this phenomenon in a short paragraph:
In order to do what you do, you need to walk. Walking is what brings the words to you, what allows you to hear the rhythms of the words as you write them in my head. One foot foward, and then the other foot forward, the double drumbeat of your heart. Two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs, two feet. This, and then that. That, and then this. Writing begins in the body, it is the music of the body, and even if the words have meaning, can sometimes have meaning, the music of the words is where the meanings begin. You sit at your desk in order to write down the words, but in your head you are still walking, always walking, and what you hear is the rhythm of your heart, the beating of your heart. Mandelstam: "I wonder how many pairs of sandles Dante wore out while working on the Commedia." Writing as a lesser form of dance.
pp.224-225, Winter Journal, Paul Auster
Like Auster, I have always felt that good writing comes from somewhere deep and unchartered, much like the impulse for acting. In particular, I have always admired writing that is resonates within the body. However, I also have always believed that one must be still in order to create movement. Thus the majority of my formative years have involved a desk, a computer screen, and a knot of words on the page and in my brain.
Having been to drama school, however, I am starting to change my mind. Over the past few years I have begun to see my body as an instrument of creation - and indeed throughout my training the body was seen as not ony a conduit for text and emotion but as a connector of impulse and generator of physical text. Although I am unlikely to utilise that training in arenas outside that particular system, it has allowed me to see the mind-body connection more clearly. Often when I am walking or sitting on a train, thoughts and images will come to me. I might be sitting on the tram when a piece of dialogue flitters in. The more I chain myself to my computer, the less inventive I am. In extended periods, there is a danger of embolisation. The mind stagnates, congests. Often physical movement is the only abetment to that.
So how to proceed? With more activity it seems. The image of the lone writer sitting cooped up in his or her tower, although romantic, never has and cannot hold for me. If Auster must walk to write, then I must dance.