From the archives
Until I See What I Say
September 16, 2008
One of the reasons I write is to find out what I’m thinking, what I mean to say, and then to be able to hold onto it. When I talk, I often repeat myself with such slight variations that it must be maddening to a listener. I tend to want to summarize. I want to get it right and then lock it in. And if I keep coming back to a problem, circling around it from different angles, I can get closer and closer. Revision is my favorite part of writing–getting the words just right.
In The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor, she writes to her agent, “…I have to write to discover what I am doing. Like the old lady, I don’t know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it over again.” She was 23 years old.
One of the reasons I read is that I love finding those moments that are expressed so exactly right in someone else’s story. Yes, I think, that’s the way it is. I underline them or copy them in a notebook, always trying to hold on to them.