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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.
Out of Nothing
I’m frightened of writers, the woman told me. They steal you away. They write you up as soon as they get home.
No we don’t. What we do; it comes out of nothing.
It’s such a weird impulse, this manufacturing of fictions or poetry. The strange concoction of intangibles that writers put together. A bushel of memory and a tray or two of observations.
A paper twist of emotion. A fine gauze of thought. Nothing to hang on to.
A stammered utterance. A roar of silence. Snatched from the air.
The absolute and the implied. Stirred in a pot.