Atiq Rahimi, the Afghan writer who won the Prix Goncourt, has crowned me with the title of "ecrivante". He uses this title in our email correspondence. It is a particular word that Barthes used to describe aspiring writers, and it translates literally as a "writing". I am a person who is in the process.
As a blogger, I write almost daily. I compose essays and thoughts. My postings are article vignettes, casual and opinionated. They derive from stream of consciousness. I write freely and my chapters are independent from one another. Unlike Atiq Rahimi who has written novels or unlike Jhumpa Lahiri, novelist and short story writer who has explained how she writes in My Life's Sentences (NYT, March 17,2012).
My sister knows of my reader's reverence towards Lahiri. She also knows of my fascination with words and sentences. I frequently send her writer's sentences by blackberry, as I read along. I take them out of context, without even telling her the narrative of the book I am reading at the time and send them to her like photographic snapshots without explanation. I want to share the magic, the moment, the impact of the sentence. Literary sentences assault me. They bounce off the book or the LeMonde page.
For indeed I am first and foremost a reader. I am on the receiving line. I am the appreciator, the enthusiastic critique, the collector of sentences. Aren't all writers readers? Aren't most artists art appreciators? Aren't singers music fans also?
Jhumpa Lahiri was writing about her activity, about creating sentences while she chopped her vegetables, an activity many of her characters do: much cooking takes place in her stories. She wrote of the bricks, the sentences, that build her novels. These bricks that assault me at red lights as I day dream, or rush to my head with a jolt of caffeine.
She also writes about the books we "encounter at different times in life" as I have Madame Bovary. Realizing also that it is a book that has been shared by millions over the centuries. A book that has been dissected, sentence by sentence. Made sacred.
When will I make the step from collector of sacred sentences to become a writer. When will I exhibit my novels instead of stockpiling them in a vault like Lahiri admits to doing sometimes?