reede, juuni 04, 2010

so i married a writer

So I married a writer. For outsiders it may sound unique, romantic, but in Estonia, especially in Tartu, sometimes it feels like you can't swing a bag of kama around without knocking over a novelist or poet or stand-up philosopher.

Still, mention the word 'writer' and you might think of Jane Austen and her 19th century English melodramas, or perhaps Anaïs Nin and the bohemian Paris of the 1930s. And whenever someone asks me, other than your abikaasa, who is the sexiest woman in Estonia, my default answer is Marie Under. Sure, she's been dead for 30 years but {sigh} what a writer.

Everyone knows that writers are a little wild and crazy, given to emotional fits and substance abuse. With a reputation like that, who wouldn't want to take one home? After sharing my life with a writer for years, I would say that writers are a little crazy, but not crazy in the way that you think. Because if there is one thing writers adore more than cisterns of alcohol and raw self destruction, it is sitting in one place for a really, really, really long time and writing. Writing is what writers do, and they do it at all the time.

Consider this. While my writer was working on her latest novel, I would awake in the night with a feeling that something was not quite right. I'd drift through the darkness of our bedroom to the top of the stairs, from which I would sense the orange glow of electric lighting on the first floor. Who could have left the lights on? I'd wonder. Then I would descend the stairs to the dining room. And there she would be, behind the table, punching away at the keyboard, hair in her face. "What time is it, honey?" I would ask. "I don't know," she'd respond. I'd look up at the clock on the kitchen wall. "It's 3 am."

When I catch my writer during one of her zombie writing spells, I am grateful that I too am some kind of writer. I think I lack the near religious devotion to the art that she does, but I believe that if I didn't comprehend the narcotic-like allure of a creative project, living with such a person would drive me or any other reasonable person mad. For the average person — your regular lawyer, academic or animal rights activist — living with a writer might positively suck.

Her latest work (and yes, this is an advertisement of sorts) will take you places: from Kloostri Ait in Tallinn to a supermercado in Gran Canaria to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to the Minsk airport. It gets inside your head, it got in my head, and I am the one charged with making sure it becomes available in English this summer. Writing it drove both of us to the edge. "Go to the library!" she would beg. "I need Margaret Atwood, Françoise Sagan!" She gasped. "And poetry, I need poetry -- Viivi Luik, Jaan Kaplinski, Betti Alver, Juhan Viiding, even Heljo Mänd!"

Later, I returned, an avalanche of books in my arms, dumping them on the floor, more fuel for the fire. I even read Bonjour Tristesse during the creative birthing process. And just like delivery, she kee''pts pushing, they kept telling me any minute now, but those minutes seemed to drag on to the horizon.

But, there is light at the end of this tunnel. After weeks of devotion and labor, her manuscript was finally finished and an eerie blanket of calm fell upon our household. Could it be? Was her book really done? I still don't believe her, but she insists it is, it's even in the bookstore as I type this. Which means only one thing: it's time for me to start writing again.

11 kommentaari:

Colm ütles ...

It does sound romantic. I dream of being a writer but I have to admit that I have no determination or sticking-power to put in the hours. I have not the spumf. I'll stick with my path to academia that combines research, teaching and writing. I don't think I could survive by writing alone.

Giustino ütles ...

Writing is fun. I enjoy music, too, but when you play music you have to actually leave the house, associate with others ... yuck!

Eppppp ütles ...

Well, just for the records, I did not read Betti Alver and Heljo Mänd for inspiration. The rest of the names are correct. And Mehis Heinsaar, and Indrek Hirv, and Doris Kareva.
From novelists - I needed to reread Michael Ondaatje, Peter Hoeg and Marguerite Duras.
And at the end I read Elizabeth Gilbert, too :).
I advise you people all these authors.

Eppppp ütles ...

*for the record*?
I will never be perfect in English ;/

Pene ütles ...

From what I've read so far Epp definitely has a wanderlust spirit.

Giustino ütles ...

You should read more Heljo Mänd. L e m m i k!

Unknown ütles ...

One good thing about being a writer is that you do not have inventory that would tie you down to to some particular locality. A writer can toil his or her garden anywhere in the world. This must really suit well with your lifestyle and circumstances. You are lucky.

Doris ütles ...

what, Under above Koidula? blasphemy! :P

'ourse, Koidula was highly scandalous, didn't get married for the longest time, insisted on writing poetry and plays, even musicales (and she accompanied her own plays on piano as well), helped manage papa Jannsen's newspaper... and was a cleptomaniac.

Then again, Under was slightly scandalous too, just... not nearly as much for her own time.

Compared to those two Doris Kareva is very mild indeed :) Funnily enough, I was named after her. Slightly awkward, that.

Giustino ütles ...

All the boys liked Under. See, Adson's even looking down her shirt in this picture.

Lingüista ütles ...

Not being an expert in literary writing, but, as a praciticng linguist, actually knowing what it's like to have the "a-ha!" feeling about some topic that prompts the need for writing a paper, a chapter for an edited volume, or even a whole book on a topic, I can certainly empathize with Eppppp's need to be writing at 3am. Your ideas just won't go away unless you put them down on paper. You have to do that -- you know you won't sleep anyway.

And I'm married to a non-linguist... which means we have had to adapt to my own unexpected writing marathons. She says she just shrugs her shoulders and understands it's going to be one of "those" days.

As for perfection in English... English is a mystery shrouded in an enigma inside of a paradox. You have to go with it, and abandon all your instincts, because they will only obstruct your going with the flow.

Suprih Rustanto ütles ...

I don't think if writers are a little wild and crazy, given to emotional fits and substance abuse, but if you love some one like that, believe me, you will forget about that, I'm looking back of my wedding.