More on WritingIn thinking about writing and why I write, the following quote fromGloria Steinem sticks with me. I found it reprinted in John R. Trimble’s
Writing with Style
, which I confess to not having read enough.
For me, writing is the only thing that passes the three tests of metier: 1) when I’m doing it, I don’t feel that I should be doing something else instead; 2) it produces a sense of accomplishment and, once in a while, pride; and 3) it’s frightening. –Gloria Steinem
It’s the first of these three conditions that strikes me most, becausefeeling this way—as if I have complete certainty in the way I’mspending my time—for me is quite unique. Yesterday I made it a point to write in the middle of a busy day. Istopped at a local café, warmed up with a journal entry, and dove intothe opening of a new piece of long fiction that I’ve had in mind forsome time. I dove in without an outline, without a complete idea of who my character was or where she was going, even a full sense of what she’d be dealing with. That I started to find these on the page isn’t remarkable. It’s anelement of that exploration, of finding
one’s story through writing inthe same way a reader does, that many of you commented on in replyto this last post (Why I Write). We love the story, uniquely ours, that wefind through this practice.What I found remarkable about yesterday was what happened after Iwrote: I started looking at the clock. At 2PM, I had to be somewhere. That left me enough time to do X and Y, which I did, then pushed upagainst the clock a bit and became anxious. From my errands I wenthome and read for a while, a right I’d earned, I thought, with mywriting. I had an engagement for dinner, but all through the afternoonand the night, something was stuck in my mind’s craw, an idea that Iwasn’t done at my desk, that I needed to write more.I’m not sure where this came from. By any account, I’d acquittedmyself well in the day’s work and broken through 700 words of newmaterial. This was a noble and impressive amount, I thought. But Ididn’t feel right.What should I have done with this energy? Usually I try to stow it awayfor the next day, use its nerves to get me up early to the desk in themorning. But this time I listened. I went back to the desk late lastnight. The darkness outside my window was broken only by a fewlights on the tops of houses.I wrote and added more to the day’s journal. Then I went back to my