Oh, I was going to write that…

I don’t know if y’all have experienced this sensation before – the readers & writers amongst us are more likely to have done so – I think it is a rare occurrence, but it happened to me today when I read the following passage:

To remake myself and remake you I return to my state of garden and shadow, cool reality, I barely exist and if I exist it’s with delicate caution. Around the shadow is a heat of abundant sweat. I’m alive. But I feel that I have yet to reach my limits, borders with what? without borders, the adventure of dangerous freedom. But I take risks, I live taking risks.

I’m full of acacias swaying yellow, and I who have barely started my journey, I start it with a sense of tragedy, guessing toward which lost ocean my steps of life are leading. And madly I take control of the recesses of myself, my ravings suffocate me with so much beauty. I am before, I am almost, I am never. And all of this I won when I stopped loving you.

Taken from Água Viva by Clarice Lispector (trans. Stefan Tobler, 2012)

I read this when I was in the clinic waiting room and was gobsmacked. It’s as if the words that I read on the page are mine, as if the author has taken the words “right out of my mouth,” as if the passage perfectly says exactly what I’ve been trying (and failing) to say all of my life, as if what I’ve just read was actually written by me. Argh. It’s an odd experience.


It’s incredible to see my feelings on the page, presented in the best way. It’s a kind of happy surprise to read in print what I have failed to put into words; almost a relief, like finally I’m reading something that is perfectly perfect to me.

But at the same time it’s like

“OH MY GOD, YOU HAVE WRITTEN WHAT I HAVE SPENT SO LONG TRYING TO WRITE. IN FACT, YOU WROTE IT OVER 40 YEARS AGO, AND I’VE ONLY STUMBLED ACROSS IT NOW. YET I’VE BEEN TRYING TO WRITE THAT FOR THREE-QUARTERS OF MY LIFE. BUT YOU’VE DONE IT ALREADY. AH. You have effectively done my job for me. What do I do now, now that you’ve said it all for me? Is there anything original left to write? Has everything been penned before? Are all of my feelings already on paper somewhere in the world, hidden in a desk drawer, stacked in a library, or in the local bookshop? Is there anything left to write?”

Gosh. I hope I meet Clarice Lispector in another life, she’s so fucking cool. I’d like to sit in the garden, share a bottle of red with her and laugh in utter despair at how stupid people are, and then walk the dusty streets at twilight in a tipsy, sisterly manner, disturbing the cicadas and discussing the transformative power of Chanel no.5.


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