You probe with it, delicate as a worm. Few sights are so absurd as that of an inchworm leading its dimwit life. Inchworms are the caterpillar larvae of several moths or butterflies. The cabbage looper, for example, is an inchworm. I often see an inchworm: it is a skinny bright green thing, pale and thin as a vein, an inch long, and apparently totally unfit for life in this world. It wears out its days in constant panic. Every inchworm I have seen was stuck in long.
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Some we sang together. He had turned the meter off; he drove around midtown, singing. One long song he sang twice; it writing was the only dull one. I said, you already sang that one; lets sing something else. And he said, you dont know how long it took me to get that one together. How many books do we read from which the writer lacked courage to tie off the umbilical cord? How many gifts do we open from which the writer neglected to remove the price tag? Is it pertinent, is it courteous, for us to learn what it cost the writer personally? You write it all, discovering it at the end of the line of words. The line of words is a fiber optic, flexible as wire; it illumines the path just before its fragile tip.
Every year the aspiring photographer brought a stack of his best prints to resume an old, honored photographer, seeking his judgment. Every year the old man studied the prints and painstakingly ordered them into two piles, bad and good. Every year the old man moved a certain landscape print into the bad stack. At length he turned to the young man: you submit this same landscape every year, and every year I put it on the bad stack. Why do you like it so much? The young photographer said, because i had to climb a mountain to get. A cabdriver sang his songs to me, in New York.
In those early pages and chapters anyone may find bold leaps to nowhere, read the brave beginnings of dropped themes, hear a tone since abandoned, discover blind alleys, track red herrings, and laboriously learn a setting now false. Several delusions weaken the writers resolve to throw away work. If he has read his pages too often, those pages will have a necessary quality, the ring of the inevitable, like poetry known by heart; they will perfectly answer shredder their own familiar rhythms. He will retain them. He may retain those pages if they possess some virtues, such as power in themselves, though they lack the cardinal virtue, which is pertinence to, and unity with, the books thrust. Sometimes the writer leaves his early chapters in place from gratitude; he cannot contemplate them or read them without feeling again the blessed relief that exalted him when the words first appeared—relief that he was writing anything at all. That beginning served to get him where he was going, after all; surely the reader needs it, too, as groundwork.
The writer returns to these materials, these passionate subjects, as to unfinished business, for they are his lifes work. It is the beginning of a work that the writer throws away. A painting covers its tracks. Painters work from the ground. The latest version of a painting overlays earlier versions, and obliterates them. Writers, on the other hand, work from left to right. The discardable chapters are on the left. The latest version of a literary work begins somewhere in the works middle, and hardens toward the end. The earlier version remains lumpishly on the left; the works beginning greets the reader with the wrong hand.
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(Are you a woman, or a mouse?). The part you must jettison is not only the best-written part; it is also, oddly, that part which was to have been the very point. It is the original key passage, the passage on which the rest was to hang, and from which you yourself drew the courage to begin. Henry james knew it well, and said it best. In his preface.
The Spoils of trip poynton, he pities the writer, in a comical pair of sentences that rises to a howl: "Which is the work in which he hasnt surrendered, under dire difficulty, the best thing he meant to have kept? In which indeed, before the dreadful done, doesnt he ask himself what has become of the thing all for the sweet sake of which it was to proceed to that extremity?". So it is that a writer writes many books. In each book, he intended several urgent and vivid points, many of which he sacrificed as the books form hardened. The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, Thoreau noted mournfully, or perchance a palace or temple on the earth, and at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them.
After giving many years attention to these things, you know what to listen for. Some of the walls are bearing walls; they have to stay, or everything will fall down. Other walls can go with impunity; you can hear the difference. Unfortunately, it is often a bearing wall that has. It cannot be helped.
There is only one solution, which appalls you, but there. Courage utterly opposes the bold hope that this is such fine stuff the work needs it, or the world. Courage, exhausted, stands on bare reality: this writing weakens the work. You must demolish the work and start over. You can save some of the sentences, like bricks. It will be a miracle if you can save some of the paragraphs, no matter how excellent in themselves or hard-won. You can waste a year worrying about it, or you can get it over with now.
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The new place interests you because it is not clear. In your humility, you lay down the words carefully, watching all the angles. Now the earlier writing looks soft and careless. Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have night grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back. The line of words is a hammer. You hammer against the walls of your house. You tap the walls, lightly, everywhere.
Soon you find plan yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year. You make the path boldly and follow it fearfully. You go where the path leads. At the end of the path, you find a box canyon. You hammer out reports, dispatch bulletins. The writing has changed, in your hands, and in a twinkling, from an expression of your notions to an epistemological tool.
the struggle to surrender. In Chapter 7, the author narrates the story of an artist whom she believes (and to continue the image) has indeed surrendered to the beauty of his art. The man is a stunt pilot who, as the author describes him and his flying, follows a "line of beauty" (much as the writer follows a "line of words effortlessly, instinctively, and always with the pleasure and/or reaction of his audience in mind. In other words, the author here is speaking of the art that can result once the struggle ends and surrender to the momentum, to the life of the work is embraced). Publisher, do not hurry; do not rest. —goethe, when you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miners pick, a woodcarvers gouge, a surgeons probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow.
The middle section of the database book explores the author's personal experience of, and perspective on, her own writing life. She offers her opinion that a writer needs a certain degree of isolation from the outside world in order to focus on the inner world of the characters s/he is creating, the lives they are living, and the reasons they are living the way they. She also examines the nature of the ideas and/or originating images at the core of a work of writing, and how those initial images and ideas are often completely transformed and occasionally even discarded as the true nature of the work, the destination of the. Throughout this section, the author's emphasis is on the intense work it takes to craft a piece of writing, exploring the agonies of distraction and avoidance she and other writers put themselves through, the views of non-writers on the writing process, and how the struggle. Throughout this middle section, the author develops a variation on the central metaphor. This is the idea that the "line of words" can, and often does, take on a life, a presence, an energy of its own that the writer must simultaneously allow to take shape and struggle to give shape. The final two chapters are taken up with lengthy narratives of a pair of encounters experienced by the author, encounters that appear to be clear metaphors for the different aspects of the writer's struggle as defined above. Chapter 6 tells the story of a man who was so determined to bring a beautiful piece of driftwood back to his home that he rowed against the tide until the tide changed and eventually brought him back to where he wanted.
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The Writing Life, summary study guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections: This detailed literature summary also contains. Topics for Discussion and a, free quiz on, the Writing Life by Annie dillard. This short book by renowned novelist Annie dillard explores her perspective on the practice of being a barbing writer. Commentary on the craft of writing is juxtaposed with narration of the author's personal experiences, all of which are grounded in the extended metaphor that creating a literary work is, essentially, following "a line of words." The themes of the book are also grounded. In the first chapter, the author begins with a statement of her central thematic perspective - that a piece of writing is a "line of words" that a writer follows to its natural, perhaps unexpected, end. She then, in considerable and sometimes harsh detail, describes a key component of that process: the cutting away of words, scenes, chapters, characters, incidents, etc. That get in the way of that line being both followed and interpreted clearly by a reader. At the end of the first chapter she returns to the image of the line of words, suggesting that the line is somehow, in some way, connected to the writer's beating heart, and as such will, if the line is followed truthfully, connect to the.