I’ve always loved this quote on writing from E.L. Doctorow:
“It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Except. Right now. In the midst of the ugliest first draft I have ever ever ever ever tried to wrestle; I feel like I am writing in complete darkness. I can’t see what I’m doing, but I can’t seem to leave it alone either. I’m trapped.
It’s like I am writing in the belly of the whale. Read this poem to see exactly what I’ve been doing.
THINGS TO DO IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE
By Dan Albergotti
Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.
Here’s wishing you lots of light.
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK