This is another passage that I put on my writing tumblr livingtowrite but felt like it could be shared here since it’s about writers.
Sometimes when I am reading classic works of literature by authors who have been dead for decades, even centuries, I have this moment when I can’t comprehend that they, at one time, wrote the words that I am reading, that they were real people who existed and ate dinner and went to bed at night alone their thoughts. And I think that they must have been as convinced of their immortality as any of us, as unwilling to conceive of their own extinction as I am and yet they are gone. I think of Emily Bronte peregrinating over hermelancholy moors; or Woolf traipsing about the countryside or Whitman in the tent hospitals during the Civil War, bandaging up annihilated young men. I imagine Zora Neale Hurston observing people in the Everglades and Sylvia Plath raising her children in Devon and Katherine Mansfield in her permanently exiled isolation in Italy and France. They lived; the words are the proof but it still remains unbelievable, or maybe what’s more confounding is that artists and poets and writers can die at all, that they don’t just perpetually live on and take on new forms and replenish their bodies. I remember when I first learned that matter cannot be destroyed. Scientists tell us that our atoms break a part and then go somewhere else or there are even spiritualists who claim we are made of energy that never dies either. I used to wonder where in the universe the libidinous and exultant energy of Whitman was rippling and vibrating; or what Emily Dickinson’s atoms were doing, what they reconstituted themselves as. So strange but thrilling to think that you can look at a flower or a tree and you might find a poet; they might be right there in the soil or in the wind or part of the wood fibers that went into making the paper that holds their verse or prose. I know that whatever their cells have become, whatever decay has taken place, the erasure is never complete for I know that fragments of them are in me, are in all of us, and always will be.