Fighting Writing: Musings on the Recalcitrant Pen

Does a battle assume there has been a victory?

Writing has a threshold that must be crossed, marking the departure from everyday life and its patterns. The space writing affords can be threatening to the underpinnings of everything else. Writing lives within a separate space that I must single-handedly fill. She is lazy and indolent. She crabs snittingly how little I visit. Is it ennui? Do I no longer care? Will I abandon her in this space with only the occasional roses and rumpled sheet? She doubts my constancy. I do as well, but I ascribe it to caring too much.

Let me not give you the impression that the room is empty every time I enter it. Greeting me are previous strings of letters, the past that distracts. Those old efforts sing their song, don’t create something new, play with our shapes that are so set, edit us and continue to luxuriate in our fixed plots. Those same old tunes are so difficult to alter, so difficult to amputate and create anew. They are the sirens in the room, the familiar bosoms of women you know are bad for you, dead end girls. Still, maybe something can be found there. You tarry. The clock hands move.

Business Writing is analytical and conniving. He is communication. That one there, he wears sleek worsted suits effortlessly, with fluid silk ties that are never stained. Struggle is barely known to him, except for those passages that must be massaged to convince, to not inflame.  Those formulas, his connections, he keeps them in a little book in his pocket. His puzzle pieces convince the naïve, the unaware. He coaxes the reader into a deep stretch; they cannot sense the coercion and reflexively open their wallets. Then he’s onto the next thing. He is not made of acid-free materials. That glass has been cleared and bill flaps in the breeze. This writing has a short life and checklist purpose, and is swiftly abandoned to obscurity. The file drawer will be emptied in a few years, and his existence forgotten.


About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.