Sometimes, I do this: stroke into stroke into letter into letter into word into word into sentence and another one and look, there’s a paragraph, and then, what?
There is a book, by Stanely Eugene Fish, called, How To Write A Sentence. It is an academic book, a critical analytical reader’s book, a lover of words book, but not a writer’s book. No writer should ever read it.
Flora: “Whatcha doing, Mom?”
Jane: “I’m writing about writing.”
Flora: “Is that as pointless as reading about reading?”
Jane: “Pretty much.”
But I’m doing it because in this moment, writing about anything else is too difficult.
I’m at this conference thing, and there’s a break, and the room naturally, inevitably divides into editors and writers. The editors are talking about participles and dangling modifiers.
The writers don’t actually know what any of those words mean.
That’s why we have editors.
Jane: “Why! Are! You! Guys! So! Evil!”
Cinder: “It’s not our fault, Mom. It’s the way we were raised.”
Flora: “They fuck you up, your Mom and Dad.”
Ender: “I! Am! The! Most! Evil! Thing! In! The! World!”
Stroke into stroke into letter into word into sentence… it’s called practice, perseverance. It becomes chasing flow. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t—there is only word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, oh, fuck, look, 500 words, 1400 words, it’s done. It’s not good. But it’s done. (The editors will make it better. Sometimes, even good.)
You can’t explain that to the people who say “Oh, I just love to write.” See, because they stop as soon as it’s difficult.
I used to procrastinate by cleaning house, did I ever tell you that? My mom or Sean would take the kids out, I’d sit at the computer, the words wouldn’t come, and I’d get on my hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floor until it shone. Clean baseboards. That awkward-to-reach place in the bathroom.
I don’t do that anymore. I chase flow. The kitchen floor be damned.
Sean: “You’ve noticed I clean the kitchen floor now, right?”
Jane: “Um… sure, baby. Yes. Thank you so much.”
Jane: “Um… do you ever clean that awkward-to-reach place in the bathroom?”
Sean: “There’s an awkward-to-reach place in the bathroom?”
Yeah… I wonder what’s growing there…
But not enough to check.