I’ve mentioned before how much I adore A.L. Kennedy’s columns on writing in the Guardian. There are many people who post items on this topic, and not very many are successful at it. Either they sound too academic or preachy or remote from anything that we care about.
But not Kennedy — her pieces have always managed to blend the personal and the practical in a way that leaves you feeling inspired, and realistic, about the tasks ahead of you.
And I’ve been dealing with withdrawal symptoms ever since they stopped appearing last year.
What did I really expect? That she would want — or need — to keep dissecting aspects of her experience as a writer for my benefit forever? Did I think she’d forsake her fiction just for that (her new book, by the way, is the story collection “All The Rage.“)
Oh, c’mon now.
Instead, the Scottish author’s ken has gotten much wider with a new piece that appeared in the past week at the Guardian. With “Insomnia and me,” she talks about something that troubles plenty of people at bedtime.
Her writing life is still there, skirting the edges of the column and informing much of what she says. In a short space, she also offers some affirming perspectives that sound like they’ve been truly hard-won, not platitudinal:
…[T]ime alone in bed with an unreliable mind is still a battle. When I can’t sleep I recite the fears that would harm me most: harm to the man I love, or my mother, ill health, bad ill health, penury, death. It’s horrible and pointless. So now I try to use the inventory to rehearse my appreciation for the good I have about me, to promise I will seize the day. What we love can be lost, so why not love it a lot while it’s here?
In the end, this column, like all the rest, reminds us that what the best pieces do is communicate and connect us. And the best writers, like Kennedy, very rarely stay settled in one space, one topic, when their curiosity is too great and their voices are pulling them somewhere else.
I’m just glad she’s back.
For more of Kennedy, find the link in the blogroll here at Call of the Siren.
RELATED: TWO POWERFUL POSTS