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Observations placeholder

Priestley, J B - Margin Released – The healing power of being engrossed in writing



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

J B Priestley – Margin Released

It is worth recalling how I began that book on Meredith, if only for the benefit of any very young writers in the audience. I was living then at Chinnor Hill, on the far edge of the Chilterns, but spending much time in London, going to and from Guy's Hospital [to see his wife who was dying of cancer].

I got back to Chinnor Hill, late one afternoon, so deep in despair I did not know what to do with myself. I was nearly out of my mind with misery. Had I been close to a town I might have visited friends, gone to a pub or a cinema, wandered about the streets, but Chinnor Hill was miles from anywhere. Finally, just to pass the time while I was at the bottom of this pit, I decided to write something - anything –a few pages to be torn up after I felt less wretched. On my desk was a rough list of chapters for the Meredith book. I chose one of the chapters, not the first, and slowly, painfully, set to work on it.

In an hour I was writing freely and well. It is in fact one of the best chapters in the book. And I wrote myself out of my misery, followed a trail of thought and words into daylight.

Notice - and now I address the aspirants in the audience - the subject was far removed from my own life; I didn't lighten my woes by describing them; both the release from anguish and the good work done came from the necessary concentration, the effort, the act of writing.

Perhaps, as I have already suggested, it would be better not to be a writer, but if you must be one - then, I say, write. You feel dull, you have a headache, nobody loves you - write.

It all seems hopeless, that famous 'inspiration' will not come - write.

If you are a great genius, you will make your own rules; but if you are not- and the odds are heavily against it - go to your desk, no matter how high or low your mood, face the icy challenge of the paper - write.

Sooner or later the goddess will recognise in this a devotional act, worthy of benison and grace. But if what I am saying seems nonsense, do not attempt to write for a living.

Try elsewhere, making sure the position carries a pension.

The source of the experience

Priestley, J B

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps