I saw The King’s Speech a few nights ago, and I think it’s the film most relevant to my own experience that I’ve seen in a very long time.
The thing is, it’s not just a charming historical drama about royalty and speech therapy; it’s about people who allow their own anxieties and self-doubt to silence them, and what it takes to overcome that.
On that level, it spoke very powerfully to what I’ve been struggling with as a writer lately, especially for the last five years or so. Some of its images will stick with me for a long time, I think: particularly the scene where speech therapist Logue (Geoffrey Rush) gets the Duke of York (Colin Firth) to read a soliloquy from Hamlet beautifully by having him wear headphones playing music, so that he can’t be distracted by the sound of his own voice.
As a writer, I think I need to figure out how to put on those headphones for a while, to keep my awareness of my own voice from unnerving me.
Which reminded me of an old piece of mine called The Writer’s Prayer (performed in Too Much Light and included in What the Sea Means), about what writers need to tell themselves to overcome what Russell Hoban calls “blighter’s rock,” and get on with it.
I reproduce it here for whatever therapeutic effects that might have, and to let it out to play on the Inter-mo-net.
The Writer’s Prayer
Â© 1999 Dave Awl
I write these words knowing that no eye will ever read them and no ear will ever hear them. I write these words for no one but myself. These words will never be published, read aloud, disseminated, distributed, circulated or shown. These words are a secret between the ink that forms them and the paper on which they are written. I write these words from a place of utter security, knowing that what I say here need not impress or persuade, charm, amuse, uplift, comfort, move, or heal anyone anywhere, for no one but me will ever know they were written. They need rise to no standard of quality or art. These words serve no master but me, and convey no meaning but that which rests lightly on the surface of them, an ephemeral ripple moving vaguely across my consciousness. These words carry no responsibility and no agenda. They feel no pressure and honor no duty. These words will go into the wastes of time unregarded, unconsidered and unremembered. These words are free to be exactly and only what they are, what they were, what they will be; and then to evaporate, erasing themselves in their destined transcendence, returning to the original long word that contains all the other words, and from which they but briefly imagined themselves to be separated.
… and so mote it be.