And: I struggle with words. We all struggle with words. We never get them quite right, and even if we do, they can never really capture the thing we mean to express - words are too small, too bound, have limits, have baggage, are finite; once we put a word on something, once we name it, we can diminish it. Once we name something, once it is labeled, it can be claimed, too. And whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, well, depends on what you just labeled. And if you have the power to label, then: that is power, indeed.
I think the most beautiful thing written in the English language, especially when read aloud, is Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." But the most important poem in my life is his "East Coker," which is part II of Four Quartets. Because it's about struggling with words and language and being a writer. It's the exact same thing we all face when we sit down to write. And if Eliot struggled with words, too, well . . . let's just say I feel a little bit better.
Also: the last line of this poem I have repeated, like a mantra, when I am scared or anxious or overwhelmed. It reminds me of my place in the universe.
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres-
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate - but there is no competition -
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.