Here’s Oliver Sacks listing the reasons that people feel the need to write…
put in perspective
speak for others
“fix” in words
find verbal equivalent
I love lists and this one is particularly perfect.
I love that the late Oliver Sacks tacked up a great big sign in his house to remind himself to decline invitations in order to preserve writing time. The neurologist would jot down thoughts and ideas as they occurred to him, sometimes scrawling on the backs of envelopes, menus and the pages of books when he didn’t have a journal to hand.
The act of writing itself, helped him to come up with, and shape, his ideas. For Sacks, it was a special, indispensable form of talking to himself.
“The act of writing, when it goes well, gives me a pleasure, a joy, unlike any other. It takes me to another place — irrespective of my subject — where I am totally absorbed and oblivious to distracting thoughts, worries, preoccupations, or indeed the passage of time. In those rare, heavenly states of mind, I may write nonstop until I can no longer see the paper. Only then do I realise that evening has come and that I have been writing all day.”
– Oliver Sacks
Here too, is Sacks talking about his desk, complete with metal touchstones from the periodic table, a rather awesome pencil sharpener, and images of platypi and lemurs.
Words to live by, in manuscript form, circa 1993.
Also watch Tom Waits read Charles Bukowski’s The Laughing Heart here: