In essays, ideas are the protagonists and they often develop like characters.
I can't seem to turn out more than two stories a year. I have to have a "story" in mind—some incident or observation that excites me and in which I see fictional possibilities—before I can start a formal piece. But I do try to write at least three hours every morning, since discipline is so important.
The more I write this book the more I discover about self-censorship, that it has more to do with fashion than anything else. [...] There are truths one has sometimes told oneself but has never bothered with in a poem because no one else was writing that kind of poem and therefore they didn't sound like the kinds of things to be said in a poem.
I think of myself writing for one person, that one perfect reader who understands and loves. If the audiences were this one person multiplied by a hundred or a thousand, everything would be okeydokey.
what is the value of the finished work compared to what [one] has found out on the journey of its making?
In the end what is most difficult becomes most easy, what was heaviest to lift becomes light as air...and this happens, of course, when we are not thinking of ourselves at all, but have become instruments of an art or craft.
Because the narrator knew who was speaking, she always knew why she was speaking.
what about the experience
as a means of making some larger sense of things
I was to use myself only to clarify the argument, develop the analysis, push the story forward
must engage with the world, because engagement makes experience, experience makes wisdom, and finally it's the wisdom that counts.
writing as honestly as possible to arrive at what they know
a narrator who was me and at the same time not me
idiomatic language always feels young
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.