“What is it like,” Marc asked, “being the writer, writing a novel?” It was a question that, by its nature, released a cascade of others—as Marc’s insightful, complex, wonderful questions so often do.
Where does the writing come from? How do we find it when it’s not there? How do we sustain it? How much is instinct, how much is craft, how much is inspiration?
For me, Writing is (to riff on what Terry reflects in Everything), a living example of noplace-where-it-is-not. It contains all the asks of love, irresistible and undeniable; a condition over which we have no choice, no will but to obey.
“When you met the love of your life,” I answered to Marc’s question, “did you have any control over it? Or were you just obliged to go where it wanted you to be?”
In writing, the borders between instinct, craft and inspiration are blurred. We call upon one of those devotions in one moment, upon another in the next.
But let’s put the love analogy behind us for now.
In writing, we are, at once, the choreographer, the choreography and the dance. We live within the characters that propel the steps; we are carried on the momentum that takes us from one movement to the next.
The plot…it’s our choreography, our intention. In creating it, we are choreographers. In the characters, we are dancers; we inhabit the dance from the inside, living the individual moments, reaching for the flow of line, the perfection of the instant as we execute the choreographer’s ideas. We go from dancing the dance to being the dance.
Sometimes the character drives the dance, an exquisite improvisation that builds its own world around it. We move with the writerly moves of instinct, craft and inspiration. The dance creates itself.
Now, take those distinctions and toss them out the window. There is no difference, no dividing line between one and the other. The imposed and artificial distinctions of choreographer, dancer, dance are the same thing. Or they transit one to another so rapidly that they blur. Do they make a difference to what we’re creating? Not until someone asks.
Lovers. Dancers. Choreographers. Choreography. We don’t take the watch apart: We just use it to tell time.