The Big Read Blog (Archive)


Photo by Alan Zale courtesty of  Caldwell Public Library's (New Jersey) Big Read of The Shawl

For the month of July, I set myself the challenge of writing a poem a day. While I didn't manage to write each and every day, I did manage to at least start quite a few poems. There's the old saying that writing is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. But there were a couple of times during my writing vigil when my pen seemed to be functioning on 100 percent inspiration, a feeling Cynthia Ozick describes rather fluently in this excerpt from an NEA interview in which she talks about beginning The Shawl.

We read now and again that a person sits down to write and there's a sense that some mystical hand is guiding you and you're not writing out of youself. I think reasonably, if you're a rational person, you can't accept that. But I did have the sense---I did this one time in my life---that I was extraordinarly fluent, and I'm never fluent. I wrote those five pages as if I heard a voice.


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