Wednesday, March 01, 2006

THE instant, not AN instant

The newspaper article I referred to in my last post was titled:
"Life changes in an instant." But to be precise, in "The Year of Magical Thinking,"
Didion's memoir about her husband's death and her exploration of
grief, she writes:

"Life changes in the instant."

What a difference: the use of "the" over "in."

Didion read last night and took questions. Talking about her early
writing days Didion said the editor at Vogue would get furious when
she came in every day with her eight lines of type and there were
"extra words."

Didion's writing is spare, fine-tuned, original. You won't find the cliche, the tired phrase, anything extra. Every sentence receives the same scrutiny. It was a pleasure to hear her read her own rhythmic prose, the refrains suggesting lament.

I wish I had asked her if she produces sloppy first drafts or if it
comes out of her head clean. Damn. My first drafts are blubbering
messes of words.

How about yours?

One more thing: She said she would write pages by day and sit and read them at night and cry.


Judi Pom said...

Blubbering messes of words sounds right and I find them discouraging. I envy Didion her editor, a tyrant maybe, but one who honed her prisoners craft. Once whittling down and fine tuning are second nature, that's when (I imagine) the real fun begins. Or maybe not. It will be a long time before I find out.

The piece "Slow Down" by Judy Reeves crystalized a truth that I know but find hard to practice. Slowing down will be my intention while writing this week.

Sandy's Space said...

I do not know much about writing even though I have done it now for many years. Journaling mostly. I did take one class a year ago but it was more about people’s ego than it was about how to learn to write. My husband died in a car accident in 2003 and I found my writing to be very cathartic. Since then I have struggled with grief and like the author you speak of, often would write my heart out then before I went to bed, cry my eyes out over the sorrow I had expounded to page. It has only been recently, about a year that I actually set up a blog to put it out there, so to speak, and just recently that I have found other blogs that have inspired me to look deeper into writing. You’re being one of them. Thank you.