Adjectives on the Typewriter

she moves her words like a prizefighter

07 January 2013

On Writing

From Peter Leithart:

"Writing a book is like groping through a cave that no one else has explored or ever will, because you create the cave as you go. When it’s all done I can’t remember how I got through all the tunnels to emerge, blinking, into the sun. Once the book is published, readers will (I hope) be able to follow my simplified map. What they won’t see are all the blind alleys I tried out along the way."

"[T]he process of an almost entirely solitary experience. You might discuss a major decision with an editor or a friend, but even the most diligent editor and the closest friend will quickly find you tedious if you let too much of your hand-wringing show. Time was when there would be physical evidence of paths not chosen, but now that writers use word processing programs most of that is erased, revised, and lost forever. “Submerge” and “surface” are too exact to be entirely metaphorical. For every book, fiction or non, there is a fantasy book that exists (or existed) only in the mind of the author."

"[The experience of writing is] also seductive in a gnostic sort of way. The cave I’ve been in existed only for this book. Next time around, I’ll be creating an entirely new cave to explore. Easing back into life after the book is done, the world seems peopled by unfamiliar beings from a denser reality. I look at them as a spy might who has just returned from a solo mission in an exotic locale. If I could only tell them where I’ve been...but they wouldn’t understand, and the place I’ve been doesn’t exist anyway."