For years I’ve practiced strange medicine, resting my ear on the body of whatever story I happen to be writing. Is it alive? If so, what does it want to become? Even though we play a part in generating them, stories have heartbeats all their own. Once the draft is out, I listen beyond my …
Beginnings and Endings
Why does this memory return today? This question is endlessly fruitful for those of us who seek the meaning buried in experience. I ask it whenever a memory won’t let me go. My father died in July, and this simple meal on a park bench conjures completely all he meant to me: Our mutual effort to begin again.
We’re fortunate to have the time and space to grieve—together. Had my father died even a month earlier, this might not have been possible. I’m struck by how unusual it is for us (for most Americans?) to come to a full stop like this, to do nothing but love my dad. It’s an immense gift. Grief is beautiful in its own wretched way.
The fact that the artistic process includes emptiness says something important, I think, about creation itself. Emptiness is part of becoming.
You’ve got to deconstruct the old to make room for the new, whether it’s a hallway or a soul. Or, in the case of writers, a rough draft. Or, in the case of climate change, old energy dependencies. Or, in the case of a broken democracy, old complacencies.
The last thing that we find in making a book is to know what we must put first. –Blaise Pascal Why do new writers assume they must begin writing at the beginning and end at the end? Of course this is a silly question. We read from beginning to end, so this order seems obvious. …