Friday, August 04, 2006

You Can Make The Whole Trip That Way

I'm reading Anne Lamott's newest book, Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life and there's a passage I just had to share. It's a quote nested within a quote but still...

She writes, "El Doctorow once said that 'writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.' You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you pass along the way. You just have to see two or three ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever seen."


Blogger raknak said...

The problem with this approach is that for most trips, you can't make the whole trip that way, at least not unless you know where you're going (i.e. you have a map or directions, so you know where to turn, etc.) If you didn't have this, you'd probably just drive around randomly. Granted, that might be fun, but it doesn't get you to a defined destination.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Minerva Jane said...

True: the metaphor is flawed. You'd need an overall map, a set of direction. But for me--and the way I write--this kind of approach helps me loosed up a bit. I mean, for the first novel I had everything planned--plotwise--down to fifteen to twenty page increments. A times I think that kind of strictness held me back. With this new one, I'm going to start with an ending point, a few guideposts along the way, and then just freewrite my way through. Who knows... I may decide my original process is better. I'll let ya know.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I like this very much and would suggest it is a way to write and doesn't mean that once you get where you might be going, you can't then find a map and retravel the journey.

I have also heard a similar parable in Hindu religion about using the light for the moment and staying in the moment focused rather than the past or future a kind of simile for "be here now".

4:46 PM  

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