July 14, 2008

The Writing Life

"The line of words is a hammer. You hammer against the walls of your house. You tap the walls, lightly, everywhere. After giving many years' attention to these things, you know what to listen for. Some of the walls are bearing walls; they have to stay, or everything will fall down. Other walls can go without impunity; you can hear the difference. Unfortunately, it is often a bearing wall that has to go. It cannot be helped. There is only one solution, which appalls you, but there it is. Knock it out. Duck."
I'm reading The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.
I've never been a "writer" but I enjoy writing. Even though my writing is a jumbled, confused mess of strange thoughts you wish you never knew, I still really enjoy doing it. When I was younger, probably fourteen or fifteen, a couple of times I set to writing some sort of story. I actually sat down to write over a period of several days, perhaps even more than a week. But eventually I got tired of my project and gave it up without a second thought.
As I've been reading Dillard's book, I've been thinking more about the writing process. She says, "Writing a book, full time, takes between two and ten years." Two and ten years! I can't imagine my brain being able to carry on that long, or just flat out having the focus or inspiration to continue writing. Can you imagine writing a story for eight years? I would love it if I could do that. The final product must feel like such an accomplishment. And on top of that, writing something successful that others enjoy reading would be really amazing.
I want to write.
And reading Annie Dillard's The Writing Life has given me a different perspective on the process. It sounds like it might even be a torturous, painful process at times. But I want to do it!
When I was in high school I wrote an essay about a time I saw a baby owl in the desert when I was young. After reading it, my American Literature teacher Mrs. Jackson told me my writing reminded her of Annie Dillard.
I'd say that's a fair review!
Too bad I've forgotten everything I've learned...EXCEPT: forbidden words and sentence openers.

1 comment:

  1. Thats a load of crapo. Yes. You CAN write. I swear I have read one of your stories before or have been read one before back in school. since it was a years ago, i cannot remember what it was about. I DO remember the lovely feeling I got, though... being amazed and forever impressed at your intelligence (stop rolling your eyes). So I hope you DO write that book and I hope like nothing else that it is fiction because you have an amazing imagination.