On Writing: Running out of ink

Editor’s note: Michelle Bonnet Hale, Jim Hale’s partner, is Jim’s guest columnist for “On Writing” this week. The following is a Sept. 30 entry from her journal.


My pen is a little dry; what will I write next? Yesterday as I was writing I was contemplating how remarkable it is that so much ink can be stored in a ball-point pen. It’s amazing just how much writing can be done with a single pen. It’s also amazing to see a blank line and then fill it with words, words written with the ink from my pen, words that I think and then write.

It’s quite wondrous, actually, to be able to memorialize a moment in this way. When I write about being here in the living room with Jim practicing guitar and the dogs playing, I am memorializing …

My pen ran out of ink. How timely! How remarkable!

… I am memorializing how lovely it is to be here with these notes filling the air and then vanishing, vanishing; how companionable it is to be with Jim and the dogs in the morning with the dark world out there, with our bright lights and our warm home.

I’m writing about time passing. Each blank line can represent the passage of time as it is filled. Each note that Jim plays, fades. In the same way our hearts beat.

It is utterly real and not-real all at the same time. It is contemplating death.

We put on a brave face, but the idea of not being here is a sad one. I love being here so much.

But I also love the beauty of rising and falling, Venus transiting the sun. I glance up at the photo on our wall that I took outside the Anchorage Museum in 2012—volunteers with their telescopes, red film to protect our eyes. I’ve been captivated by the absoluteness of that recurring transit ever since. Venus transiting the sun is my touchstone.

There is some strange beauty in me not being here someday. There is a beauty in the blank line being filled with symbols, with words that were my thoughts, with thoughts that vanish, vanish.


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