For a while I lived on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, so close every
wave shook the house. The place was prone to earthquakes. I
probably never should have lived there. At times, I thought the whole bluff
would collapse under me. It had happened at other points along the bluff.
But somehow I got to like it. I'd climb halfway down in the morning and
find a scooped out place in the soft sandstone
where I'd sit, drink my coffee, and
watch the waves, feel them, the heartbeat of the world. I loved that.
It felt as though I were hanging out over the wild edge of myself.
When you're writing well--and sometimes even when you're not--that's what it
feels like, hanging out over a sheer drop and somehow, miraculously, staying
Writing is a process of discovery. When you write a story or a poem, you're
trying hard to reveal a hidden part of yourself, trying to make your unknown
O'Keefe once said. In other words, you're exploring the lost coast of
yourself. That's what this text is about.
In The Art of Fiction,
John Gardner pointed out eloquently that
there is no recipe for real fiction, no formula for poetry. Still, there are
methods that sometimes work better than others. At least it's possible to
do a little trail-marking.
What you find or don't find at the end of the trail is your business.
There are many sites on the web dedicated to discussion, exercises, and
techniques for writing poetry and fiction. What I've done in the pages that
follow is compile some thoughts on writing
and collect links to sites I find useful for writers.