I have to agree that one major thing I have never been able either to tell when talking with others, nor explicate when trying to share – about writing, the activity – is the pleasure. For me, if I can move my experience of the world into language and there let language create a new experience with world for me, whether I’m miserable or joyous, in tedium or ennervated, things feel alright with the universe. Sometimes even if I’m just drawing letters onto paper, words or not, phrases or not, discernable meaning or not – I still feel fine. But then, if there seems like a resonant flow – if the language available and the experience felt engage recursively – there truly IS nothing quite like it in my experience of life. David Foster Wallace says it this way, and I’ve heard similar attempts come out of my mouth:
“When I discovered writing I discovered a thing that gave me a combination of fulfillment (moral/aesthetic/existential/etc.) and near-genital pleasure I’d not dared to hope for from anything”
that rang exactly true for me….and…
“when i’d sit down and look up and it would be hours later and there’d be this mess of filled-up notebook paper and I just felt wrung out and well-fucked and, well, blessed.”
I probably wouldn’t blog that term (“blessed” or “f*@ked”), but there it is, and again, it does come as close as I can think to that satisfied, dizzying, emptied loose feeling that comes from a safe and open, intense and releasing session of writing. I am thinking that the words “combination” and “pleasure” and “fulfillment” do the most to describe the process and experience of experimenting and experiencing in language for me. And it is very similar to sexual intimacy, because once you have moved into the other (in this case, language) – the other has as much to do with, as much control over, as much effective presence in, the beauty and sense of meaning of, content and activity of the process and results or engagement as you – the writer – do.
Making it with the world is one of those weird mysterious ecstasies that are incomparable and indescribable. I would be deceptive if I said that anything were “better” than it, though it has (in our limited emotional/emotive base) many similarities to being “spent” with one’s spouse, or those rare and profound connections with one’s children – I guess it ought to make some sense that intimacy-with would draw from the same human wells. There is a quiver of experiences that no one speaks of without a touch of awe, a befuddled amaze, or a glad bafflement, and for me, the activity of reading and writing is one of these.