The Big Read Blog (Archive)

WHAT PAGE ARE YOU ON?

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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