Writing as Re-Collection and Surprise/Writing as Home-work by Robert Romanyshyn
The finished product, the work that is complete, is always a lie, a piece of trickery, a form of deception, because it gives the impression of a continuity that began with an intention that ended in a conclusion. But there are no straight lines in the ways of soul, and such an impression is a fantasy of the ego when in fact the book that is finished is a dialogue, and a continuous compromise between an author’s intentions for a work and those of the work itself. A work chooses an author as much as he or she chooses it and throughout the process a writer is in service to something other than his or her own ideas, plans, outlines, and deadlines.
Throughout the writing of The Wounded Researcher I lived with the question of what does the work want from me. In this regard I would say that creative work, like writing a book, begins with listening. Saying the words, writing them on the page, begins in the ear. At least this is so, it seems to me, for that kind of writing that would attune itself to the depths, that would try to keep soul in mind. It is an aesthetic and ethical act. It is aesthetic in the sense that a work begins with feeling addressed by something other, by what I call in this book the others or the strangers in the work, those for whom the work is being done, those who linger and wait in the work as the weight of its unfinished business. And such writing is ethical because in doing the work one has been responsible to what has called, has been able to respond because he or she has listened.
The surprising thing about this kind of soul work is that in the end it feels like a home-coming. Writing as re-collection, as anamnesis, as un-forgetting, as home-work! Maybe, then, such writing is a love affair and like all such affairs one comes home to oneself changed by the encounter with the other. Working on a work one is worked upon, and even worked over, and in the process writing becomes an alchemy of transformation in which one’s wounds become a work, which while it comes through you is not about you, and which in the end is finished but not yet done.