I bought this ink for the name on the bottle—Writer’s Blood—to remind me, as Paul Gallico said, to “bleed onto the page a little.”
“It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader.”
Hemingway’s quote is the better known one: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
I often write by hand before I can face the keys, so the right fountain pen filled with my current favorite color ink helps me to get into the flow of feeling-hand-mind-heart coordination.
The “Writer’s Blood” was a little too brown for me, so I added some red to it, not knowing that when you write with real blood, it does turn brown.
I saw this when looked at the work of Buddhists in Eastern Asia who believe that copying a sutra with blood drained from their own body is proof of their piety and devotion to the Dharma. Certain Chinese Buddhists take this idea to the extreme by draining their own blood. In this prolonged ritual of self-sacrifice, since the texts might be hundreds of thousands of Chinese characters, they are literally embodying the holy teachings, sanctifying and animating scripture in a way that ordinary ink, no matter what the name, could never do. And as such, blood written artifacts are revered and worshiped rather than read or studied.
Body and spirit. Blood as spirit. Nietzsche says blood is spirit:
Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt find that blood is spirit. ~ “Thus Spake Zarathustra” (1883-1892)
James Dowd says much the same thing:
I believe that writing with Blood is to write with spirit, to feel the energy in you and around you, and to funnel it into your work. It means including everything that is you; the best and the worst parts of yourself, all there, right on the page.
Then we have Portuguese author Jose Saramago who would rather not speak of it at all. Words that come from the heart are never spoken, they get caught in the throat and can only be read in one’s eyes.
I wondered then what women writers had to say on the subject, and the two I found mentioned the state of being vulnerable.
Jenny Li, in her blog, “After The Ellipsis,” writes,
Bleeding means revealing what others cannot see, what they have never seen, and what you might be afraid to see. You must not be afraid to be vulnerable. You must accept the blood you pour onto the paper as your own.
Jeanette Winterson speaks of being vulnerable, and doesn’t mention blood at all.
Wounds don’t heal. They scar over, but they are always the place where you can be hurt. It is knowing that you’ve got vulnerabilities. And I think that makes you more receptive to the world and what’s going on.
As humans we are fragile, vulnerable creatures. Physically, psychologically, emotionally. Regardless of what sort of armor we develop as we get older, some part of us always remembers the state of complete dependence and vulnerability when we entered the world. Even if we think we’ve forgotten, the body remembers. Writers, along with artists in any expressive medium, who have a willingness to express their deepest feelings or their hidden feelings, serve the purpose of bringing us closer to our own hidden selves. Perhaps the dis-owned self, too.
It can be a risky endeavor for those fearful of exposure. And yet it’s this exposure that brings us together.
For God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Alan Watts
Though we may never know whom we will have reached with our words, John Pavlovitz penned a thank you note to all in his “Love Letter To Writers,” ending with, Thank you for bleeding.
For further reading:
“Why Vulnerability is a Writer’s Most Powerful Tool,” by Jane Harkness
“5 Brene Brown Quotes for Vulnerable Writing,” by Jessica A. Pedraza, Esq.