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A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. When I speak of writing, the image that comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or a literary tradition; it is the person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and, alone, turns inward. Amid his shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man-or this woman-may use a typewriter, or profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I do. As he writes, he may drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time, he may rise from his table to look out the window at the children playing in the street, or, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or even at a black wall. He may write poems, or plays, or novels, as I do. But all these differences arise only after the crucial task is complete-after he has sat down at the table and patiently turned inward. To write is to transform that inward gaze into words, to study the worlds into which we pass when we retire into ourselves, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.
Mrs McCullers, I love you.
Margarita G. Smith, the sister of Carson McCullers, remembers “best one evening at a university lecture. After she had recited Stone Is Not Stone in her gentle Southern voice, there was a long silence. Then suddenly a young student stood up and said, ‘Mrs McCullers, I love you.’
Stone Is Not Stone
There was a time when stone was stone
And a face on the street was a finished face.
Between the Thing, myself and God alone
There was an instant symmetry.
Since you have altered all my world this trinity is twisted:
Stone is not stone
And faces like the fractioned characters in dreams are incomplete
Until in the child’s inchoate face
I recognize your exiled eyes.
The soldier climbs the glaring stair leaving your shadow.
Tonight, this torn room sleeps
Beneath the starlight bent by you.