She has ideas, as we all do. She looks at them from one side, then another, from the top, the bottom, the reverse, the obverse. She inverts the idea, she subverts it, she follows wherever the process takes her. Talking about one essay, she said in an interview, “During the writing, I stumbled into some questions about memory. I walked around with those questions in my head. They were stuck there, in a good way, and all of a sudden I was writing to figure out . . . not necessarily the answers but why the questions mattered. That happens all the time: you start writing one thing, and you end up in another. Maybe that’s the one you were supposed to be writing all along.”
It’s a great concept. It’s called freedom. Sure, we as writers, like all explorers, need a starting point. But once we start moving, it’s like walking the desert. The terrain is flat, bare, maybe harsh and austere. We see a depression, a watercourse. We follow it; it deepens; the sides get steeper: an arroyo, a gully, a canyon. We move through shadows. The earth changes, the vegetation, the life forms scurrying past the corner of our eye.
Soon we may not know the way anymore, or at least not the way that got us there. There’s no going back. But ahead . . .
. . . ahead lies the great unknown, the infinite unknown. Scary? You bet it is. But oh, the world that’s waiting!
The point is the discovery, each of us finding out for ourselves what’s there. And it’s never the same as what the next person finds.
Revision can take you there, into writing totally different from what you started out to do. Character can take you there, if you give the souls you create the same humanity that the metaphoric God gave me and thee. Gluing your ass to the seat of the chair can take you there, trying the same scene ten different ways till you find the one that works.
Fuck writers block—just keep moving ahead! Lower your standards; flush them down the john. Follow the momentum. If you’re free enough, you’ll never know where you’re going. But if you’re lucky enough, you’ll know damn well when you get there.