Thursday, 7 August 2014

The life of writing

In thinking about, preparing and discussing this subject, I've been gripped by the idea of the writer as a superhero, possibly disguised as a mild-mannered, unexceptional, inconspicuous mortal - a bit like Clarke Kent who no-one suspects of being "faster than the speed of light, more powerful than a locomotive, able to bend steel in his bare hands." I truly believe in the power of writing, and the courage and dedication of writers - those writers who write because they must.

Tonight Jackie French turned that idea into a testament. She personified it. She shared her own story of great grief and abandonment. She reminded us all, so eloquently and passionately, about the life-saving power of books - for the writer as well as for the reader. Writing can go to the most savage and desperate places, but safely. Writing can conquer death.  Writing can be an escape from reality, but also, more deeply, it can offer refuge, salvation, survival in the midst of calamity and violence.

I believe these things about writing, about books, about reading. Tonight made me feel the truth of this belief, as if I had never known it before.

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