The writing life annie dillard
You pour yourself a cup of coffee. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. Then, wincing, you step out again through the French doors and sit down on the chair and look over the desktop.
You go home and soak your feet. Either the structure has forked, so the narrative, or the logic, has developed a hairline fracture that will shortly split it up the middle—or you are approaching a fatal mistake.
At the same time, writing a book requires enormous structural craftsmanship and logical stamina, a failure of either of which could produce what we often call creative block.
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I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as with a dying friend. Once you find it, and if you can accept the finding, of course it will mean starting again. How fondly I recall thinking, in the old days, that to write you needed paper, pen, and a lap. The path is not the work. Monthly donation. The sensation of writing a book is the sensation of spinning, blinded by love and daring. The writing has changed, in your hands, and in a twinkling, from an expression of your notions to an epistemological tool. Take a walk. The latest version of a painting overlays earlier versions, and obliterates them. The discardable chapters are on the left. It grows cell to cell, bole to bough to twig to leaf; any careful word may suggest a route, may begin a strand of metaphor or event out of which much, or all, will develop. While I suspect this book will scare off some would-be writers as is its intent those of us familiar with the headaches and agony of creating sentences will probably find glorious inspiration in its pages. In your humility, you lay down the words carefully, watching all the angles.
I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back. Birds fly under your chair. After a couple of hours, you have taken an exceedingly dull nine-mile hike.
Bird by bird
In the cockpit, however, the pilot is experiencing Beautiful essays on writing. But beneath this magic lies a subtle recognition of its necessary dark side: Putting a book together is interesting and exhilarating. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark. The feeling that the work is magnificent, and the feeling that it is abominable, are both mosquitoes to be repelled, ignored, or killed, but not indulged. People love pretty much the same things best. There is no shame in writing slower, taking longer to come up with ideas, and taking more time to edit. It grows cell to cell, bole to bough to twig to leaf; any careful word may suggest a route, may begin a strand of metaphor or event out of which much, or all, will develop. There was a problem adding your email address. You can easily get so confused writing a thirty-page chapter that in order to make an outline for the second draft, you have to rent a hall. You attend.
Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. Is it pertinent, is it courageous, for us to learn what it cost the writer personally?
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You go home and soak your feet. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all your intelligence. Either the structure has forked, so the narrative, or the logic, has developed a hairline fracture that will shortly split it up the middle—or you are approaching a fatal mistake. To top it off, Dillard's technique of juxtaposing apparently disconnected little essay fragments, which in the past has at times led to unexpected richness of insight, in this book leads largely to head-scratching. The physicality of the writer's life--mounds of paper, "refried coffee"--appeals to her and, through her enthusiasm, to us. Dillard confirms that we are indeed crazy, but there is great pleasure in hearing this from another insane person. The gist is that writing is agonizing work and those who are sane should probably avoid it. It grows cell to cell, bole to bough to twig to leaf; any careful word may suggest a route, may begin a strand of metaphor or event out of which much, or all, will develop.
I immediately loved it for her brutal words of reality.
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