Yesterday afternoon I sat by the city pool, under a live oak tree, and reread most of Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life.” As someone who is at the hard stage of writing a book, her words rang more true than when I first read them 10 years ago.
“You make the path boldly and follow it fearfully.”
“There is only one solution, which appalls you, but there it is. Knock it out. Duck.”
“The part you must jettison is not only the best-written part; it is also, oddly, the part which was to have been the very point. It is the original key passage, the passage on which the rest was to hang, and from which you yourself drew the courage to begin.”
“Writers, on the other hand, work from left to right. The discardable chapters are on the left. The latest version of a literary work begins somewhere in the work’s middle, and hardens toward the end.”
“Nor does anyone need your manuscript; everyone needs shoes more.”
“Sometimes part of a book simply gets up and walks away.”
“At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it.”
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time.”
Only one chapter left. I have $2 in my pocket. The pool awaits.