notes

‘At its worst, it feels like alligator wrestling…’

In quotes about writing, writing on January 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Many years ago, I stumbled across an archive of essays written for the New York Times by a series of revered writers; I printed one by Annie Dillard that I especially loved and put it in a writing notebook.

I made a decision in the final days of 2012 to finally polish up my children’s novel manuscript and see if it has ‘legs.’ Coming across the essay again on the first “work day” of 2013 somehow seems meant to be.

A few excerpts of the Dillard essay:

The sensation of writing a book is the sensation of spinning, blinded by love and daring. It is the sensation of a stunt pilot’s turning barrel rolls, or an inchworm’s blind rearing from a stem in search of a route. At its worst, it feels like alligator wrestling, at the level of the sentence.

 ***

Why do you never find anything written about that idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands? Because it is up to you. There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin. You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.

 ***

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?

 ***

Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

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