June 5, 2009

The Impossible

A good writer always works at the impossible.
--John Steinbeck

I don't have any salient thoughts, any giddy-up-and-go ideas. I was cleaning out and found this old scribbled note. Along with the above quote, several scribbled out phrases are one on side of this paper, as well as a phone number that I don't recognize, and a crossed out phrase,"You write by sitting" with no end punctuation.

And on the backside of the page, this, with no attribution:
"When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas. I think of the books on library shelves, without" and again, no end punctuation. New York, of course, being a reference to the publishing world, to fame, fortune and riches.

These small missives from my past thinking are always a mystery. What was I thinking? What was I working on? What was hard then?

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Postscript: The quote is from John Updike.
"...By contrasting so sharply with his creator, Henry Bech also defined Mr. Updike more distinctly, particularly his determination to stick to the essentials of his craft. As he told The Paris Review about his decision to shun the New York spotlight: “Hemingway described literary New York as a bottle full of tapeworms trying to feed on each other. When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas. I think of the books on library shelves, without their jackets, years old, and a countryish teenaged boy finding them, have them speak to him. The reviews, the stacks in Brentano’s, are just hurdles to get over, to place the books on that shelf.”

2 comments:

  1. This post of yours makes me want to go write something. And to write it in a place where I will find it again. That is one of the things I love about keeping a journal in my purse, looking back at those bits and pieces of thoughts that have come up in my daily wanderings.

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  2. I love the way we can look up anything, like quotations or lyrics, on the internet and get answers.

    How is the kitchen remodeling going?

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